Archive for July, 2012

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Anti-graft board reveals Koran buying scandal

July 31, 2012

It’s never been clear who’s funding the recent, massive Koran giveaways in traditional non-Muslim countries such as Germany and Hong Kong, although religious ministries or charities from Islamic countries are the likeliest sponsors.

And if recent developments from Indonesia are any indication, one should also wonder how aboveboard the contracts between the Koran printers and the distributors have been.  From Foreign Policy:

In the name of Allah, most gracious and merciful, I steal

Posted By Endy Bayuni Friday, July 6, 2012 – 1:51 PM


Before performing any deed, a good Muslim would say “In the name of Allah, most gracious and most merciful” — either to make sure that he or she is not committing an act of sin, or asking God to show mercy in case a sin is committed. But would a Muslim say that before stealing, too? The bad ones probably do.

The Muslim politicians and bureaucrats involved in the latest scandal over the procurement of a Quran, no doubt would have said bismillah (in the name of God). But while they may believe God will be merciful, don’t expect the public to be so forgiving.

In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, you don’t go any lower than stealing in the name of God.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has named Zulkarnaen Djabar, a Golkar Party member of the House of Representatives, and his son as suspects in the scandal. It’s possible, though, that the case may soon expand to include more suspects.

Zulkarnaen, a member of the House’s Budget Committee and Commission VIII (which deals with religious and social affairs), played an active role in pushing the House to approve hefty increases in the budget allocated for the government’s program to procure Qurans. Zulkarnaen had a personal interest in the project: His son, Dendi Prasetya, got the lucrative contract to supply Qurans to the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Other Commission VIII members have since confessed that they each received over 500 copies of the Quran from the Ministry. None of them saw this as a kickback for securing the budget increases. Some claimed they were simply helping the Ministry to distribute Qurans (no doubt to appease voters before the 2014 elections).

Others claimed that the free, government-distributed Qurans would help promote moderation and tolerance in Islam as part of the campaign to fight radicalism. This claim has been refuted by an Islamic group that found that the government-issued Qurans carry translations that promote violence and radicalism.

At a cost of Rp 1 million ($106) each, these volumes of the Holy Book must be among the most expensive Qurans ever found in Indonesia.

Public reaction to the news has been largely muted — primarily because no one was really that surprised. It’s not the first time that God’s name has been corrupted. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has already earned a reputation as one of the most corrupt state institutions, according to a Corruption Eradication Survey conducted in 2011.

Rather than a fortress of morality, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has long since become a bastion of hypocrisy.

To many bureaucrats and politicians, God has become a commercial project, whether it’s procuring Qurans, or dispatching a huge Indonesian delegation to the haj pilgrimage in Mecca, the most lucrative of all government projects. Not surprisingly, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has jealously guarded this project in spite of repeated calls to leave it to an independent agency that would subject it to closer scrutiny to ensure better management.

Indonesia sends more than 200,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia each year, the largest contingent from any country. As far as business goes, this is a captive market over which the government holds a monopoly. The ministry rakes in huge profits from the project, and it now sits atop a $4 billion endowment.

The temptation is just too big…

There is more at this link, particularly about corruption in Indonesia’s hajj allowances.

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How North America can checkmate Saudi Arabia

July 30, 2012

Citi estimate of global oil production

The U.S., Canada, and Mexico can reduce the relative power of Saudi Arabia by harnessing North American energy sources.  We can actually out-Saudi the Saudis.  From Power Line Blog on July 10:

U.S.–The Saudi Arabia of Oil?

I recall how in the late 1970s, back during the dark ages of the government-caused “energy crisis,” President Jimmy Carter liked to say that the United States is “the Saudi Arabia of coal.”  Yes—there was a time when liberal Democrats were in favor of expanded coal use (unlike today), and Carter’s pro-coal policies led to a significant expansion of coal-fired electricity in the 1980s.

But as usual Carter was too narrow. Turns out the United States might well be regarded as the “Saudi Arabia of oil” as well as coal (not to mention natural gas, about which everyone has caught up to speed).  This is the graven of Mark Mills’s terrific new report out yesterday from the Manhattan Institute, Unleashing the North American Energy Colossus: Hydrocarbons Can Fuel Growth and Prosperity.  Mills is a pal, from whom I’ve learned more about some of the fine points of energy than anyone else.  The point is simple: the United State is a hydrocarbon superpower, and together with Canada and Mexico—no slouches themselves in terms of hydrocarbon reserves—North America could become the dominant hydrocarbon energy supplier for the world.  Forget inward-looking”energy independence” (a stupid idea anyway); let’s become an energy export continent.  It’s enough to give your average Arab oil sheikh night sweats.

Among Mark’s conclusions:

An affirmative policy to expand extraction and export capabilities for all hydrocarbons over the next two decades could yield as much as $7 trillion of value to the North American economy, with $5 trillion of that accruing to the United States, including generating $1–$2 trillion in tax receipts to federal and local governments. Such a policy would also create millions of jobs rippling throughout the economy. While it would require substantial capital investment, essentially all of that would come from the private sector.

The underlying paradigms embedded in American energy policy and regulatory structures are anchored in the idea of shortages and import dependence. A complete reversal in thinking is needed to orient North America around hydrocarbon abundance—and exports.

In collaboration with Canada and Mexico, the United States could—and should—forge a broad pro-development, pro-export policy to realize the benefits of our hydrocarbon resources. Such a policy could lead to North America becoming the largest supplier of fuel to the world by 2030. For the U.S., the single most effective policy change would be to emulate Canada’s solution for permitting major energy projects: create a one-portal, one-permit federal policy for all permits.

There’s more; worth looking over the whole thing.  By the way, despite the efforts of the government to stand in the way, and environmentalists to rend their garments, the new hydrocarbon revolution is likely unstoppable. Double good news: the environmental movement is about to get run over flat by a hydrocarbon-fueled, coal-bearing freight train.

But again, it will take political commitment to use our own resources.  The Obama administration poses a particular obstacle by limiting offshore oil production, by reducing production on federal lands, by opposing the Keystone Pipeline, and by impeding hydraulic fracturing efforts.  Out-performing Saudi Arabia will require a pro-energy American president and Congress.

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Jamaat-ud-Dawa defies toothless ban, solicits Ramadan funds

July 29, 2012

Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) is blacklisted by the United Nations as an Al Qaeda associate.  JuD’s leader has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head.  And JuD is formally banned in Pakistan where it is based.  JuD is a front charity for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist organization responsible for the 26/11 terror attacks against Mumbai, India, among other offenses.

But that international blacklisting hasn’t stopped JuD from trying to tap into the Ramadan gravy train by making recent public fundraising appeals online.  Pakistan is pretending to be concerned, but Pakistani officials are really just embarrassed that JuD is soliciting donations in such a public fashion.  They would prefer JuD to raise money quietly behind the scenes.

From Zee News yesterday:

‘Banned’ JuD asks for Ramadan donations; Pak mum
Last Updated: Saturday, July 28, 2012, 20:55

Islamabad: Pakistani terror outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has sent out messages on social networks like Twitter and Facebook asking Muslims to give donations during Ramadan, despite an international ban.

JuD, via its official Twitter account, appealed for donations for itself and also for Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation, an organisation of the terror group formed in the aftermath of the UNSC sanctions.

The group’s message on Twitter, which had a link to Facebook as well, asks people to donate zakat in any form either by cash, by donating an ambulance or by sponsoring medicines or meals for Sehr and Iftar, the Express Tribune reports.

According to the paper, JuD claims that since the organisation was not banned in Pakistan, it could collect funds.

“Everyone knows that when the UNSC placed sanctions on Jamaatud Dawa, we went to the court against the ban and the Lahore High Court had decreed in our favour, categorically saying that the JuD is not a banned organisation,” said Khalid Waleed, the chief coordinator of JuD’s political cell said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik categorically denied that any unregistered organisation was involved in such activities.

He had also vowed to take action against such organisations involved in collecting funds.

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Bin Laden’s bookkeeper granted early release

July 27, 2012

Osama Bin Laden’s former accountant and Al Qaeda payroll manager (and cook, driver, and bodyguard) has been released from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after serving only two years of his 14 year sentence.  Pentagon officials say that the commutation was part of an agreement reached before Ibrahim al-Qosi’s trial in exchange for “cooperation.”  But there has been no word on the nature or results of said cooperation.  Qosi is being repatriated to Sudan.  What could go wrong?

From the LA Times:

Bin Laden aide released from Guantanamo, sent home to Sudan

July 11, 2012 |  1:52 pm

Ibrahim al-Qosi at a press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday

One of the longest-held prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has been released and sent home to Sudan after serving two years of a 14-year sentence for providing support to Al Qaeda’s late founder, Osama bin Laden.

Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud Qosi, 52, had been held at the compound for suspected terrorists since early 2002, shortly after it was opened at the U.S. Navy base in southern Cuba. His release and transfer to his homeland on Tuesday fulfilled a plea deal at the time of his July 2010 conviction for providing assistance in the form of cooking, driving and bookkeeping to Al Qaeda’s terrorist training center in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Qosi’s release spurred new calls by human rights organizations for President Obama to release or transfer the remaining 168 foreign men still held at Guantanamo and to close the prison and military tribunal that have brought international condemnation of the U.S. practice of indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without charges or trials.

With the release of Qosi, one of only seven to be tried among nearly 800 detainees brought to Guantanamo over the last decade, the Obama administration “has no justification” for continuing to hold dozens of men who have never been charged with any crime and aren’t considered dangerous, said Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.

“As Obama embarks on his second presidential campaign, he should uphold the promises on which he was elected the first time, including closing Guantanamo and ending this shameful chapter in U.S. history,” Azmy insisted.

The Pentagon said in a statement Wednesday that Qosi’s release was in accordance with a pretrial accord in which the government agreed to suspend all but two years of his sentence in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors.

Qosi’s departure means only four convicted prisoners remain at Guantanamo, said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale. Only one of the convicts, Pakistani-born Majid Khan, is a “high-value detainee” accused of having a role in the Sept. 11 attacks or other major terrorist crimes.

Two of the three prisoners in the convicts’ block of the maximum-security Camp 5 prison could also be released in the near future: Omar Khadr of Canada is already eligible for transfer to his homeland once the Ottawa government agrees to accept him, and Noor Uthman Mohammed of Sudan may be released as soon as next year, once he has provided testimony in other pending trials, as agreed in his plea deal. The third convict at Camp 5 is Ali Hamza Bahlul of Yemen, an Al Qaeda propagandist serving a life sentence.

Khan was a legal U.S. resident in the Baltimore area at the time of his arrest in 2003 during a family visit to Pakistan. Initially detained and interrogated at a CIA “black site,” Khan was accused of plotting with Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to blow up U.S. apartment blocks and businesses. The terms of his plea bargain remain confidential, and his sentencing has been put off for four years, during which he is expected to provide testimony against other major terrorism suspects at Guantanamo.

Two other Guantanamo convicts,  Salim Hamdan of Yemen and David Hicks of Australia, have served their time and gone home.

Obama had pledged to close Guantanamo within a year of his January 2009 inauguration but was thwarted by opponents in Congress who passed legislation prohibiting transfer of terrorism suspects to U.S. soil. His administration conducted a review of the remaining prisoners in 2009 and concluded that cases could be brought against some but that there was insufficient evidence to charge 46 of those considered too potentially dangerous to release.

Efforts to repatriate the majority who will neither be charged nor indefinitely held have stalled amid the political gridlock in Washington and refusal by some home countries to take back their suspect citizens.

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Terror conspirator rewarded bomber’s widow

July 26, 2012

Taimour Abdulwahab blew himself up in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010, injuring two people in the attack.  His widow who lives in Great Britain moved in with a friend shortly after the attack.  While there, she was wired £1,000 by Nasserdine Menni, who had conspired with Abdulwahab to carry out the Stockholm strike.

Her defense?  “It is a cultural thing that when someone passes away, you ask the family if they need anything.”

“Passes away”?  Yeah, like Muhammad Atta and Osama Bin Laden “passed away,” right?

From the Daily Record last month:

Stockholm terror trial: Bomber’s wife had money wired to her, court in Glasgow hears

THE wife of a man who blew himself up in a busy Stockholm street had money wired to her by an accused conspirator to further her husband’s terrorist aims, a court has heard.

Taimour Abdulwahab died in the explosion on December 11 2010 in the Bryggargatan area of the Swedish capital.

Nasserdine Menni, whose age is unknown, is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow charged with conspiring with Abdulwahab and others to further terrorist aims, which included the use of explosive devices in the commission of an act of terrorism directed against members of the Swedish public, with intent to murder them.

Abdulwahab’s wife, Mona Thwany, 29, gave evidence at the trial today and said that in the weeks following her husband’s death, she left the family home in Luton, Bedfordshire, with her three children after it was searched by police.

She stayed with a friend, Hemel Tellis, a 29-year-old science teacher also from Luton, for about two weeks before looking for a new place, Mrs Thwany told the court.

During that time, Menni, who Mrs Thwany said she only knew as Azzedin, sent £1,000 to her through Mrs Tellis’ bank account, she said.

Mrs Thwany told the court she did not know Menni personally but that she had seen him around and had probably heard her husband mention him.

She said: “It is a cultural thing that when someone passes away, you ask the family if they need anything.”

The court heard that Abdulwahab’s parents and sister lived in Sweden.

Mrs Thwany also told the jury that her son had changed his name from Osama but would not say what he had changed it to.

At one point during her evidence, trial Judge Lord Matthews gave Mrs Thwany a warning after she refused to answer certain questions.

As she took to the stand, she told the Advocate Depute Andrew Miller: “I am here for one reason and one reason only, and that is to assist with the case concerning Mr Menni.

“As you know, previously I have had contact with the police, so I am respectfully asking you to ask questions which are relevant to this case please. I wouldn’t want to incriminate myself.”

Lord Matthews said: “It will be for me to judge what questions are and are not relevant, so you just answer them.”

Later in the proceedings, Mrs Thwany refused to say her email address out loud over fears for her privacy, but the judge told her: “Whether you like to or not, you will just have to give us it.”

She eventually wrote the email address down and it was handed around the jury.

Menni is also charged with transferring money to or for the use of Abdulwahab, in the knowledge it would be used for the purposes of terrorism

Oh, and “Cultural”?  No, it is religious.  It is common for terrorist groups such as Hamas to pay money to the families of suicide bombers.  This case illustrates how it is done privately by individual Islamists as well.  The common root is Islam, not “culture.”

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Waist deep with Al Rajhi Bank: HSBC

July 25, 2012

Among other correspondent relationships that HSBC maintained with prominent sharia banks that fund terror, HSBC did business with Al Rajhi Bank as late as 2010, according to a report from the U.S. Senate.

Al Rajhi Bank, a Saudi-based sharia bank created by Sulaiman Al-Rajhi, has been implicated by several Western intelligence services for funding terrorist activities from Bosnia to Indonesia.  The bank has also resisted attempts by the 9/11 victims’ families to investigate the funding of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

From Jihad Watch and Business Insider:

Global finance completely compromised. “Report Shows How HSBC Maintained Its Ties With One Of Osama Bin Laden’s Key Benefactors,” by Linette Lopez for Business Insider, July 17 (thanks to Twostellas):

Yesterday, the Senate released a report on HSBC’s ties to the darkest actors in global finance. Today, the details of the 335 page investigation are trickling out and shocking everyone.The laundry list of offenses includes everything money laundering for Mexican drug cartels to ignoring U.S. regulations meant to prevent dollars from reaching our country’s known enemies.

Enemies like Al Qaeda.

One of the most damning parts of the report details HSBC’s relationship with Saudi based Al Rajhi Bank, a member of Osama bin Ladin’s ‘Golden Chain’ of important Al Qaeda financiers. The relationship has spanned decades, perhaps that is why even when HSBC’s own internal compliance offices asked that it be terminated in 2005, even when the US government discovered hard evidence of Al Rajhi’s relationship with terrorism, HSBC continued to business with the bank until 2010.

Al Rajhi bank is owned by the billionaire Al Rajhi family and holds $59 billion in assets. It is Saudi Arabia’s largest private bank.

Al Rajhi’s links to terrorism were confirmed in 2002 when U.S. agents searched the offices of a Saudi non-profit and U.S. designated terrorist organization, Benevolence International Foundation (page 193). In that raid, agents uncovered a CD-ROM listing the names of financiers in Osama bin Ladin’s elite ‘Golden Chain.’ One of those names was Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi, a founder of Al Rajhi bank….

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Pakistani jihadists use Ramadan for revenue

July 24, 2012

No surprises here.  The alphabet soup of Pakistan’s terrorist organizations (LeT, HuM, TTP, JeM, etc.) are using the laws of the Koran and the traditions of Islam to their advantage once again this Ramadan.

The one error in this article is the claim that ordinary Pakistanis don’t know the true nature of the organizations they make their donations to.  The problem is that many of them know exactly who their zakat is going to, and they understand that it supports militancy.  Otherwise, a very helpful article.  From Central Asia Online:

During Ramadan, Pakistani militants collect money for terrorism

Authorities take action, analysts say

By Zia Ur Rehman

2012-07-20

KARACHI – As the holy month of Ramadan begins, charitable fund-raising appeals are getting under way across Pakistan. But security analysts and social activists are concerned about terrorist groups posing as charities seeking to take advantage of zakat donations.

Zakat is an Islamic tradition of donating money during Ramadan to help the needy. Although legitimate charities do remarkable work, militant groups rake in billions of rupees to fund terrorism instead of helping the poor, charity activists say.

However, law enforcement made it much harder for jihadists and fraudulent welfare organisations to raise money in 2011, they agree.

Zakat collection a lucrative business

Because Ramadan emphasizes helping the poor, activists of political and religious parties, including outlawed militant organisations, do whatever they can to maximise the amount they raise, said Faizan Jalil, a Karachi-based journalist who covers terrorism.

They take advantage of the generosity of Pakistani Muslims, who annually contribute billions of rupees as part of zakat and fitrana, donations of food at the end of Ramadan, Jalil told Central Asia Online, citing various reports.

Naive Pakistanis unwittingly donate to terrorist fronts in the name of Islam and humanity, Shah Wali, an aid worker helping flood victims in Badin District, said, stressing the need to raise public awareness.

Every citizen should demand the credentials of the person seeking a donation before giving him or her money, Wali told Central Asia Online. Doing so will thwart phony organisations from receiving money and defaming Islam, he said.

Banned jihadi charities working with new names

Banned militant organisations linked with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and al-Qaeda pose as charities, said Raees Ahmed, a security analyst who closely monitors jihadi organisations. Read the rest of this entry ?

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