Archive for October, 2012

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IMU money man tapped Europe, Turkey

October 31, 2012

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned Qari Ayyub Bashir for his role as a financier for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and probably Al Qaeda, too.  The designation prohibits Americans from doing business with Bashir, and freezes any assets Bashir has in U.S. banks.

The designation also gives us more insight into where the IMU is accessing funds.  Rather than the typical Gulf sources of Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., Qari Bashir is said to have collected money from Europe and Turkey prior to transferring it to a man described as “a financial facilitator for Al Qaeda.”

From The Long War Journal on Oct. 18:

…Treasury described Bashir as being the “head of finance” for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan as well as a member of the group’s shura, or executive council. In this role, he provides financial and “logistical” support for IMU operations in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and fundraises from outside the region.

“Bashir received funds from sources in Turkey and elsewhere in Europe and delivered these funds” to Fazal Rahim, an IMU facilitator who was designated by the US as a terrorist in September 2011 and is thought to be in Pakistani custody. Rahim was also described as a “financial facilitator for al Qaeda” [see LWJ report, US adds 5 al Qaeda, Taliban, Haqqani Network, and IMU facilitators to terrorist list].

Prior to taking on the role of chief financier for the IMU in 2010, Bashir “led attacks against Afghan police in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, and recruited IMU fighters at his madrassa in Pakistan.” Additionally he helped IMU recruits reach their units and commanded “an anti-Coalition militia” in the Afghan provinces of Kunduz and Takhar.

Bashir is an Uzbek national and is based out of Mir Ali, in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. Mir Ali is known to host the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and several other local and foreign terror groups.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a key ally of al Qaeda and the Taliban, and supports operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as plots attacks in Europe. The IMU is known to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and has integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in the north. [For more information on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, see LWJ reports, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan, and IMU announces death of emir, names new leader.]…

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Muslim charity honcho embraced by Obama

October 30, 2012
Palestinian Arab from Jordan

Abed Ayoub, CEO of Islamic Relief USA

Ryan Mauro reports that the executive branch of the federal government has been consulting with Abed Ayoub, the chief executive officer of North America’s largest Islamic charity, Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA), for the past two years.

IR-USA serves as a conduit for zakat donations from Muslim Americans to fund programs overseas—a portion of which is transferred to Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), its British-based parent organization.  IRW has been implicated by Israel for funding Hamas, and at least one high-ranking source in the Department of Justice equates Islamic Relief with the infamous Holy Land Foundation—formerly America’s largest Muslim charity before its leaders were convicted on all counts of financing Hamas.

The revelation of Mr. Ayoub’s involvement in lobbying U.S. officials on matters of diplomacy and foreign aid is disturbing but not surprising.  The State Department has previously issued press releases praising Islamic Relief’s operations, for example, in Haiti.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also worked directly with IR-USA on food programs.

Yeesh.  From RadicalIslam.org on Oct. 24:

Exclusive: Islamist Adviser to the State Dept and USAID Exposed

Abed Ayoub, the CEO of Islamic Relief USA, a powerful charity with links to Hamas is an official advisor to the State Department and USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), a RadicalIslam.org investigation has found.

Ayoub has been advising the Obama Administration since at least April 2010. He and his organization have been publicly embraced by President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Ayoub was born in a Palestinian refugee camp and raised in Jordan. After high school, he moved to Yugoslavia and Germany and ultimately ended up in California. He became a volunteer for the Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) and went on to become its CEO in 2008. He is a governance committee member of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), IRUSA’s parent group. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty.

Ayoub joined the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group in November 2011, specifically the Sub-Group on Faith-Based Groups and Development and Humanitarian Assistance, according to IRUSA’s press release. It says he will “take part in dialogue and provide input on relevant topics including the challenges and opportunities for partnership. The group also will identify model action programs or projects for collaboration between the U.S. government and NGOs.” The release says it will “meet through November 2012.” The timing and phrasing suggests that this isn’t the group’s expiration date and that the election will determine whether its work continues next year.

According to his bio, Ayoub was appointed to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid in April 2010, where he “provides advice, analysis and recommendations to USAID on the most pressing development issues in the world today.” He was reappointed to another two-year term in May…

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Yunus swoops down on Haiti

October 29, 2012

Multi-millionaire Muslim banker Muhammad Yunus is pledging to load Haiti with hundreds of thousands of dollars in new debt to finance a new “plantation” and some chicken farms.  This individual, who once won a Nobel prize, has come under increased scrutiny in recent years for his suspicious business and philanthropic activities:

  • Yunus was the subject of an investigation by the government of Norway in 2010 for misappropriating Norwegian donations made to his bank.  (The Times, Dec. 3, 2010)
  • Yunus was released on bail over slander charges from officials in Bangladesh, who have also investigated Yunus for tax evasion.  (Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Jan. 18, 2011)
  • “A separate review of [Yunus’s Grameen Bank] has been underway since May this year.” (Business Recorder, Aug. 3, 2012)
  • “Bangladesh’s cabinet Thursday ordered a new probe into Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.”  (Business Recorder, Aug. 3, 2012)

But the Associated Press doesn’t mention any of the recent controversies surrounding Yunus, and presents his promised loan as a groundbreaking effort to create jobs and reduce poverty in the hard-hit Caribbean nation.  The AP doesn’t include a single negative, critical, or alternate point-of-view, source, or quotation in its “news” article, which reads more like a Yunus/Grameen press release than an act of journalism:

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Nobel peace laureate Mohammad Yunus announced Saturday that his pro-business development group is financing several endeavors through a mix of loans and equity.

The projects that incorporate Yunus’ development philosophy of “social business” include two poultry farms, a bakery and a plantation of jatropha plants that can be used for biodiesel, offering an alternative energy source while creating jobs for 200 farmers.

The amount invested in each will range from $80,000 to $500,000, and feature loans with interest rates ranging from 6-10 percent.

Such “social businesses” must each have a social mission like a non-governmental organization, but also generate revenues to cover costs like a profit-making business.

Yunus, an international development expert, made the announcement on the first of a three-day trip to Haiti that includes field visits and a conference examining ways to use his development philosophy to ease poverty in Haiti.

It was the second time Yunus had come to Haiti since visiting a year ago to introduce his “social business” philosophy to the impoverished Caribbean nation…

Prior Money Jihad coverage on Islamic activity in Haiti has revealed that Muslim Hands, a British Islamic charity that belongs to the Hamas-funding Union of Good network, has worked there with the Zakat Foundation, an Illinois-based charity.  The Global Muslim Brotherhood Report has also reported on Islamic Relief USA, a Muslim Brotherhood-linked charity, for its aid distribution in Haiti.

Why is the island so appealing to Muslim investors or NGOs when there is almost zero indigenous Islamic population in Haiti?  Because Muslim groups see failed states as a perfect breeding ground for their purposes.  Think of Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia.  Once Islamist elements realize that a central government is weak, that poverty and social chaos are on the rise, they swoop in to fill the void, and transform society into something far bleaker than what preceded it.

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Turkey failing to stop terror finance

October 28, 2012

The Financial Action Task Force has threatened to suspend Turkey if it doesn’t fix its laws on terror financing within the next four months.  The financial and money laundering watchdog organization says that Turkey doesn’t yet have a legal means for freezing terrorist assets.  How can Turkey be a good NATO ally if it can’t even identify and freeze the assets of terrorists in their banking system?

Turkey probably should have been suspended long ago for its sponsorship of IHH, the radical charity that manned the Gaza flotilla and has since been designated by Germany as a donor of Hamas, but FATF is more focused on financial regulatory frameworks.

From Bloomberg (h/t news link from TTFB) on  Oct. 19:

Turkey Given Four Months to Fix Terror Finance Law

By Selcan Hacaoglu

Turkey was given a February deadline by the OECD’s Financial Action Task Force to tighten laws blocking the financing of terrorist groups or face suspension from the organization.

Turkey needs to adopt legislation “to remedy deficiencies in its terrorist financing offense” and set up “a legal framework for identifying and freezing terrorist assets,” the Task Force, sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said on its website today at the end of a three-day meeting in Paris.

Failure to do so by Feb. 22 will result in Turkey’s suspension, it said. The Task Force said it is “deeply concerned by Turkey’s continued failure to take action.”

The group had warned in June it would “call upon its members to apply countermeasures” against Turkey if rules weren’t tightened by October. A terror financing bill drafted to address them is still held up in Turkey’s parliament. Exclusion by the Task Force could impede transactions with Western banks.

A suspension would hurt Turkey’s reputation and “alert the international financial world, possibly causing some problems in transactions,” Nihat Ali Ozcan, a terrorism analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara, said by telephone today. “However, since nearly half of the Turkish economy is not registered, tightening rules might also put the government under domestic pressure from some circles, even including its grassroots supporters.”

Busy Schedule

Turkish officials say the measure has been delayed by a busy legislative schedule…

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Energy output falling on federal lands

October 26, 2012

One of the best developments of the last couple years has been increased energy production in the U.S.  No thanks to government policy, crude oil and natural gas production have grown on private land.  Meanwhile, oil and natural gas production on federally owned land have fallen during the Obama administration.

From Energy Tomorrow blog on Oct. 19:

…First, graphing U.S. crude oil production from federal and non-federal areas:

Oil output in America:  public vs. private

As you can see, U.S. crude production has increased steadily since 2008 (blue top line). Remember, the oil production timeline is a long one. Offshore and onshore projects can take up to a decade to develop, from leasing to actual production. Broken out by area, crude production on non-federal lands (69.7 percent of total production) has risen dramatically since 2010 (red line). Since 2010 crude production from areas controlled by the federal government has fallen (green line).

Here’s a look a natural gas production, federal and non-federal:

American nat gas output:  private vs. public

Overall domestic natural gas production (blue line) has climbed sharply – owing to advances in shale development through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Look at the red line. Production from non-federal areas parallels the top line, indicating overall growth is being driven by production from areas not controlled by Washington. Indeed, natural gas from federally controlled areas started declining in 2009.

These charts suggest something important: Imagine what could happen with U.S. oil and natural gas production with increased access to public resources, with increased drilling. With the right policies in place the production line for federal areas could mirror that of the non-federal.

Actually, we don’t have to imagine too much. According to Wood Mackenzie’s analysis, we could see more domestic energy produced, more jobs and more revenues to government. In less than 15 years we could see 100 percent of our liquid fuel needs met through domestic oil and gas production, increases in biofuels and crude from friend and neighbor Canada. And we could see all of the plot lines on both these charts heading up, reflecting a more secure U.S. energy future.

As good as the increased growth overall has been to help wean America off Saudi sharia oil, think of how much farther we could be with energy independence if we had leaders willing to use the oil and natural gas sitting underneath land owned by the taxpayers.  We as taxpayers own the land, but we’re not getting a good return on our investment.

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Pakistan turns blind eye to Arab smugglers

October 25, 2012

Arab falconers are smuggling endangered birds out of Pakistan at an alarming pace.  According to a Pakistan Today article on Oct. 17, Pakistani customs officials are forced to turn a blind eye to the export violations; those who attempt to stop the practice are “taken to task.”

This is being done in the name of fostering amity between Pakistan and unnamed Arab states (which include Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, etc.)  The falcons are treasured by the Arabs.  It’s good politics for Pakistan which maintains warm relations with virulent Sunni allies, and it’s good money for those involved in the illegal trade.

But it’s bad for the birds—many of whom die in transport—and bad for the biodiversity of South Asia.  Much like illegal logging by the Taliban in Pakistan, the government is either powerless or complicit in the despoliation of the country’s resources.

Hat tip to Cites.org:

…Conservationists worry that there are cases where the government [of Pakistan] is not just apathetic about biodiversity loss but also collusive in its destruction for political or diplomatic reasons.

Raja Zahoor, a customs official, said many animals and birds are hunted for sport by foreign nationals with special permission granted by a government eager to “foster good relations” among influential countries in the Middle East. “Rare species of falcons and the houbara bustard are being taken away to Arab states on dubious documentation.”

Arab falconers hunt the internationally protected houbara bustard on special permits issued by the ministry of foreign affairs. They often bring in their own hunting falcons, but take back endangered Pakistani species using re-export permits. “It is very easy to swap the falcons,” said Panhwar.

“We know this is illegal, but our hands are tied. Customs officers who have tried to stop local falcons from being smuggled out of the country in this way have been taken to task,” Zahoor said.

One wonders what else, or who else, is being smuggled in and out of Pakistan so easily with government approval.

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Turkish Bank fined £294,000 for violation

October 24, 2012

Turkish Bank has settled with Britain’s financial regulator for breaking rules written to prevent money laundering.  What’s surprising about this story is that the U.K. had already warned Turkish Bank about its practices, but the bank continued the same behavior anyway.  One wonders who exactly, such as corrupt politicians in the Middle East, may have been depositing funds into Turkish accounts without adequate screening procedures.

From this month’s edition of Anti-Money Laundering Magazine:

Turkish Bank loses its sweetness

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined Turkish Bank (UK) Ltd (TBUK) £294,000 for breaching the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (MLR).

These breaches – which related to TBUK’s correspondent banking arrangements – were widespread and took place over two-and-a-half years. They led to an unacceptable risk that TBUK could have been used to launder money. This is the first occasion in which the FSA has taken enforcement action against a firm in relation to money laundering weaknesses in its correspondent banking arrangements.

TBUK is a wholly owned subsidiary of Turkish Bank Limited which is incorporated in Northern Cyprus. TBUK’s customer base is mainly retail. TBUK offers a range of financial services, including correspondent banking. Correspondent banking involves a bank (correspondent) providing banking services to an overseas bank (respondent) to enable the respondent to provide its own customers with cross-border products and services, such as payment and clearing that it cannot provide them with itself. TBUK acted as a correspondent bank for nine respondent banks in Turkey and six respondent banks in Northern Cyprus between 15 December 2007 and 3 July 2010.

Under the MLR, providing correspondent banking services to banks based in non-European Economic Areas states is recognised as creating a high risk of money laundering that requires enhanced due diligence and ongoing monitoring of the relationship. During this period, Turkey and Northern Cyprus did not have anti-money laundering (AML) requirements that were equivalent to those in the UK.

The FSA visited TBUK in July 2010 as part of a thematic review of how banks operating in the UK were managing money laundering risks. This thematic review resulted in the eye-popping report released in July 2011. It contained alarming findings. The FSA’s visit to TBUK gave serious cause for concern in relation to TBUK’s AML controls over correspondent banking leading to this enforcement action.

TBUK’s breaches of the MLR included failing to:

  • establish and maintain appropriate and risk-sensitive AML policies and procedures for its correspondent banking relationships
  • carry out adequate due diligence on, and ongoing monitoring of, the respondent banks it dealt with and failing to reconsider these relationships when this was not possible
  • maintain adequate records relating to the above.

While not deliberate or reckless, these failings were more serious because the FSA had previously warned TBUK of deficiencies in its approach to AML controls over correspondent banking.

Tracey McDermott, Acting Director of the Enforcement and Financial Crime Division, said: “Turkish Bank fell far short of the standards we expect of firms in managing their money laundering risks. This was despite clear warnings from the FSA that it needed to improve”…

In other news, Turkey faces expulsion from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for its insufficient efforts in “blocking the financing of terrorist groups” if it doesn’t tighten its laws within four months.

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