Archive for February, 2013

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News on the money jihad: recommended reading

February 28, 2013

• The Muslim Brotherhood played midwife to the birth of contemporary Islamic banking.  All it took was $100 million, an open door policy in Luxembourg, and the blessings of a Saudi king… more>>

• Al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq were paid about $40 a month.  Hezbollah agents in Cyprus?  $600… more>>

• Their tunnels flooded, Gaza’s bulk cash smugglers search for a workaround.  Bank compliance officers, be forewarned… more>>

• Israel’s civil defense minister exposes the “real base” of Hezbollah’s revenues—Europe… more>>

• No longer content to tax coca farmers and drug traffickers, Peru’s Shining Path may target tourists for kidnapping.  Time to reconsider that trip to Machu Picchu… more>> (h/t Jose Maria Blanco)

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Wednesday word: revolutionary tax

February 27, 2013

The “revolutionary tax” is a fundraising method normally associated with Marxist movements and ideology-based terrorism.  One dictionary defines a revolutionary tax, or impuesto revolucionario, as an amount of money “a terrorist group demands from a business or wealthy person under threat of death.”*

W. A. Tupman has noted that revolutionary taxes are most often imposed by urban guerrillas to finance terrorist operations.

The inspiration for the revolutionary tax seems to trace back to Karl Marx and Friederich Engels, who once wrote that “In a revolution, taxation, swollen to colossal proportions, can be used as a form of attack against private property,” in a review of Emile de Girardin’s book Le socialisme et l’impôt (“Socialism and Taxes”).

Money Jihad doesn’t normally link to Wikipedia, but this particular entry describes the phenomenon of revolutionary taxation so succinctly and clearly that it’s a must read:

Revolutionary tax

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Revolutionary tax is a major form of funding for violent non-state actors such as guerrilla and terrorist organizations. Those outside the organization may consider it to be a euphemism for “protection money.”[1] Proponents of such groups maintain however that there is no difference between the revolutionary taxes “extorted” by given groups and corporate taxes raised by governments.

Revolutionary taxes are typically extorted from businesses, and they also “play a secondary role as one other means of intimidating the target population.”[1]

Examples

The Irish Provisional IRA and Corsican FLNC have extorted revolutionary taxes[2] as well as the following organizations.

ETA

The Basque nationalist organization ETA depended on revolutionary taxes.[3][4][5] Small to medium-sized businesses were extorted between the amounts of 35,000 to 400,000 euros each, which comprised most of ETA’s 10 million euro budget in 2001.[6]

The Philippines

In the Philippines most local and foreign companies pay revolutionary taxes to the Maoist New People’s Army. According to the army, the tax is a major obstacle for the country’s development while the New People’s Army justified it as a tax to be paid upon entering territories controlled by the rebels being a belligerent force.[7][8]

Colombia

The revolutionary taxes of Colombian guerrilla movements have become more common in the 1980s and 1990s.[9]

Nepal

The maoist guerillas of Nepal have also widely extorted revolutionary taxes.[10]

Argentina

The national socialist Argentine Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara (MNT) demanded a “revolutionary tax” from many Jewish shops in Buenos Aires.[citation needed]

Soviet Russia

In the Soviet Russia, the Bolshevik government decreed a revolutionary tax on November 2, 1918.[11] Although the Bolshevik government already controlled the country, its opponents were still internationally recognized as the lawful rulers.

References

  1. ^ a b Detection of Terrorist Financing, U.S. National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), 2002
  2. ^ MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORISM FINANCING: AN OVERVIEW, Jean-François Thony, IMF.org, Seminar on Current Developments in Monetary and Financial Law Washington, D.C., May 7–17, 2002. “Money laundering and the financing of terrorism may be seen as distinct activities. … sometimes discreetly called a “revolutionary tax” (ETA, FLNC, IRA)”
  3. ^ Terrorism versus democracy: the liberal state response, Paul Wilkinson, Frank Cass Publishers, 2001, p. 70
  4. ^ Suspected ETA supporters arrested in cross-border swoop Euronews 20/06/06
  5. ^ Terror, Fires, Hail: Holiday Time in Europe, ABC News
  6. ^ Counterterrorism: An Example of Co-operation, Juan Miguel Lian Macias, Ministry of Defence of Spain, 2002-2-22: “ETA is funded mainly from one source: the money it collects through extortion of small and medium businessmen, charging them the so-called “revolutionary tax”. At present the amounts required are between 35,000 and 400,000 euros. The annual budget the terrorist organisation needs for the maintenance of its structures is estimated at around 10 million euros. Beyond the Spanish borders, ETA seeks links with similar groups and causes. Hence, it intends to gain the support of ideologically akin groups. It has or has had contacts with the Breton Revolutionary Army, with Corsican and Irish terrorist groups, with revolutionary groups from Latin America, etc.”
  7. ^ Rebels’ ‘revolutionary tax’ adds to cost of business in Philippines, N.Y.Times, October 20, 2004
  8. ^ Chapter 6 — Terrorist Organizations, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, U.S. Department of State
  9. ^ Negotiating with Terrorists – A Reassessment of Colombia’s Peace Policy, NICOLAS URRUTIA, Stanford Journal of International Relations, vol. 3, issue 2, 2002
  10. ^ Trekking in the time of terrorism – The east is red with rhododendron and revolution, DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESTHA, GUPHA POKHARI #243, 15.4.2005
  11. ^ Socialism: Still Impossible After All These Years, Peter J. Boettke & Peter T. Leeson, George Mason University, s. 13; Critical Review, Vol. 17, Autumn 2005

The un-cited imposition of the revolutionary tax against Jews in Buenos Aires mentioned above is documented in The War of All the People by Jon B. Perdue.

Having explained the term, the academic concept of a revolutionary tax really needs to be broadened to include religious-based revolutionary movements, especially Islamist movements.  The Islamic fundamentalist imposition of the twin sharia taxes—zakat on Muslims and jizya on non-Muslims—is an attempt to revive aspects of Caliphate-era tax law and combine them with contemporary terrorist financing tactics.  This has been most clearly illustrated in the 1990s and 2000s in Afghanistan by the Taliban, but also by jihadist groups in Pakistan and Somalia.  And such extortion has not been limited to urban centers; it has been carried out in the countryside too.

Finally, it is important to note that ETA’s longstanding and profitable revolutionary tax mentioned above has reportedly been abandoned.  If the tax on Basque and Navarran businessmen that ETA benefited from for so many years has come to an end, perhaps there is hope that one day, the Islamic terrorists can be forced to abandon their jihad tax.

VOX Media, Diccionario Escolar, 2nd Edition (London:  McGraw Hill Professional, 2011).

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Following the money trail behind the WTC bomb

February 26, 2013

The financial evidence points back to Osama Bin Laden in the World Trade Center bombing that killed six people 20 years ago today.

In Modern Jihad, Loretta Napoleoni wrote that the WTC bombing mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, said the World Trade Center bombing cost $15,000.  This was not verified during Yousef’s trial because it wasn’t necessary to establish his guilt.

And who provided the $15,000?  John Miller, the ABC reporter who once interviewed Osama Bin Laden, wrote this in his book The Cell:

… Ibrahim el-Gabrowny had met with bin Laden a year before the bombing and investigators believe that at least a portion of the $20,000 bin Laden gave el-Gabrowny during that meeting—ostensibly for [Rabbi Meir Kahane’s assassin El-Sayyid] Nosair’s defense—was spent on materials used in the World Trade Center bomb.

Other sources say that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Yousef’s uncle and the architect of the 9/11 attacks, provided the bomb money for his nephew.

In any case, it wasn’t enough cash to carry out Yousef’s vision.  FBI official Dale Watson testified five years after the bombing that, “After his capture in 1995, Ramzi Yousef conceded to investigators that a lack of funding forced his group’s hand in plotting the destruction of the World Trade Center. Running short of money, the plotters could not assemble a bomb as large as they had originally intended. The timing of the attack was also rushed by a lack of finances.”

Al Qaeda would not make the mistake of shortchanging its next attack against the World Trade Center eight years later.

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UN removes fugitive financier from Al Qaeda list

February 25, 2013

Working together with convicted terror money man Pete Seda, Soliman al-Buthe carried out a funding operation for jihadists in Chechnya in early 2000 by helping route money through the now closed Oregon chapter of the Saudi-based Al Haramain Islamic Foundation.  Al-Buthe personally cashed $130,000 in smuggled checks from this operation at the notorious Al Rajhi Bank for subsequent transfer to the mujahideen.

While Seda faced the U.S. justice system, al-Buthe eluded it, but remained under international sanctions—until now.  It may take a little arm twisting and payola at the UN, but even Al Qaeda financiers like this fellow, and Yasin al-Qadi before him, can get themselves removed from the blacklist if they lobby hard enough… This outrageous news comes from Shariah Finance Watch on Feb. 13:

United Nations Caves to Saudi and OIC Influence, Removes Saudi Official Who is Al Qaeda Financier From Sanctions List

The involvement of wealthy Saudis and Saudi charities in funding Al Qaeda and other Jihadist terrorist organizations has been extensively documented for years, including by the US Treasury Department.

One such individual is Soliman al-Buthe, who is currently a Saudi government official and previously started a charity here in the United States in Oregon that has been tied to Al Qaeda.

This week, the UN has decided to remove al-Buthe from its Al Qaeda sanctions list. This no doubt comes due to pressure from Saudi Arabia and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The OIC is a 57-member nation bloc in the UN which increasingly dictates policy to the UN…

Read the rest from SFW here.  Unfortunately, Islamic charities have played a major role in the international financing of terrorism, and Al Haramain has been one of the most prominent examples.  Viewed in this context, the UN decision is a significant step in the wrong direction for international counter-terror finance policy.

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The top 5 terror finance films of all time

February 24, 2013

Thrillers about terrorism focus on adventure, explosions, and tension; while they may depict specific terrorist attacks and the logistics behind them, such movies rarely address the financing.  Meanwhile, movies about bank robberies, jewel heists, and corporate malfeasance show how bad guys finance themselves, but these financial crime films tend to boil down to greed, or the acquisition of money for personal use, rather than raising money for broader social objectives.

We are left with a handful of movies dealing with the actual financing of terrorism or rebel insurgencies, and those that do often address the subject briefly.  Although it’s tough to find movies that incorporate both elements, it’s worth the investment.  These five movies help illuminate important concepts in terrorist financing in ways that news articles and scholarly research cannot, and in ways that simple bank heist movies can’t either.  They’re also sure to entertain you along the way.

By the way, it took a long time to compile this short list, so please acknowledge Money Jihad if this ranking is reproduced elsewhere.

  1. “Casino Royale”—Le Chiffre is a bankroller to the world’s terrorists.  But he is being pursued by terrorists who want access to their funds immediately.  Le Chiffre sets up a high stakes poker game in Montenegro to get more money and restore his credibility with his terrorist clients.  His rival?  None other than James Bond, 007, who enters the match with money fronted by the British government.  If Bond wins, the international financing of terrorism will be setback; if he looses, the government will have directly funded terrorists.  While the men play their game, is Bond’s love interest being forced to work for an unnamed terrorist group in Algeria?This film shows how skill, charm, and a little bit of luck by Britain’s best spy can triumph over shadowy but well-connected forces behind the international financing of terrorism.
  2. “The Path to 9/11″—The television miniseries (especially Part I) that aired on ABC in 2006 includes an ensemble cast and multiple story lines, one of which focuses on the money trail that led U.S. intelligence to recognize the threat posed by Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s.  The trail begins with the cunning bomb maker, Ramzi Yousef, who bombs the World Trade Center and becomes and international fugitive.  From the Philippines to Pakistan, Yousef works on his explosives, causing mayhem wherever he goes.  He’s planning a massive attack–bombs detonating aboard flights, but to do it he needs money—real money—for materials, equipment, electronics, and men.  His comrade tells him about a Saudi millionaire who can help. Meanwhile, tired of going after “small fish,” the FBI’s John O’Neill and other senior members of the U.S. counter-terrorism community try to find out who’s funding Yousef.  The U.S. gets a nervous informant who is about to depart with Yousef on a trip to Afghanistan, where Yousef says they can meet his financier, whom he calls “the tall one.” The money chase story line earns this miniseries its place on the list, but even without it, the movie is a devastating portrayal of bureaucracy and politics getting in the way of mid and lower level agents who are trying to stop Bin Laden 9/11.  This important film is unfairly maligned by liberals who have flooded the Internet with an endless stream of angry, overly politicized criticism.
  3. “The Long Good Friday”—Unbeknownst to an English mafia boss, one of his lieutenants delivers cash to the Irish Republican Army, but skims a little for himself along the way.  The lieutenant ends up dead, and the boss, played by Ed Hoskins, and his loved ones wind up the target of a seemingly inexplicable bombing campaign. It turns that out another of his key gang members, a real estate developer who employs Irish workers, was the one responsible for the ongoing payments to the IRA.  While the bombs are exploding, Hoskins is trying to complete a major business deal with an American investor played by Eddie Constantine (who also appears in another noteworthy terrorist financing movie, “The Third Generation,” as a West German businessman who funds terrorism in order to sell equipment to security forces fighting it.)  His best advisers tell him to back down, but Hoskins thinks he can go toe-to-toe against one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world.  It’s a tense, exciting film, and it’s somewhat unique among movies for providing a glimpse into how front companies can be used to fund terrorism. Hoskins was widely praised for his performance, and Helen Miren who plays his wife is absolutely superlative.
  4. “Baader Meinhof Complex”—The movie portrays the terrorist acts committed by the Red Army Faction, or Baader-Meinhof group, in West Germany in the late 1960s and ’70s.  The group also carried out bank robberies which they regarded as legitimate “expropriation” to finance the revolution—a common Marxist terrorist fundraising technique.  Ultimately the first generation of the Red Army Faction fell apart.  It’s a well-done film that illustrates how the terrorists’ search for bigger and better attacks ultimately destroys and shatters not just the lives of their victims, but their own lives too.
  5. “Nighthawks”—Wulfgar, an international terrorist mercenary—sets off a bomb in England, striking “a blow against British colonialism” in Northern Ireland.  But children are killed in the attack, and the IRA refuses to pay him.  Struggling to overcome a shortage of pay and his damaged reputation, Wulfgar gets plastic surgery and sets off for New York.  There he hopes he can launch a major terrorist attack that will be covered by the news media capital of the world, and prove his worth again to international terrorist organizations that would hire him again if he succeeds.  He is aided by “Shakka Kappour,” a ruthless Moroccan terrorist in her own right.  Only cop-on-the-beat Sylvester Stallone can stop them, with assistance from his partner Billy Dee Williams and counter-terrorist expert LeGard, who does as good a job as anybody since Col. Mathieu from “The Battle of Algiers” in getting inside the mind of terrorists to defeat them at their own game.  Explosions, dramatic tension, and great pacing earn this overlooked thriller a place in the top five.

Honorable mention:  “A Bullet for the General”–Chuncho (or sometimes Chucho) and his bandits traffic arms for General Elías, a rebel leader during the Mexican Revolution.  Chuncho is joined by “El Niño,” an American man with mysterious motives.  They conduct a good, old-fashioned train robbery, seize rifles from a military garrison after assassinating its commandant, and dispossess the richest man in San Miguel of his wealth.  The film may not be the best of the Italian produced “Zapata westerns” set during the Mexican Revolution which all touched on similar themes, but it is one is quite germane to how an insurgent movement is armed and financed.

A problem worth noting about terror finance movies is that about half of them are designed convince audiences that terrorism is an artificial phenomenon created and funded by capitalists to increase profits circuitously.  While movies in this mold such as “The Third Generation,” “Burn!” and “The International” are relevant to the subject of financing terrorism or a revolution, and are entertaining, they are based on fundamentally flawed premises about the nature of the threat and cannot be wholly recommended.

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Bank offers $2-3m bounties on singers’ heads

February 22, 2013

UAE-based money transfer business accused of plotting contract killing of two East African musicians

The Dahabshiil money transfer company is promising a $3 million reward for the murder of Djibouti singer Nimo Djama after singing about Dahabshiil’s role in financing terrorism.  This allegation by Djama herself was nearly impossible to find in English-language print media (or even by the blogosphere) when the story began circulating among Somali sources last fall.

One outlet that did report on it was the Somali-Dutch news site, the Suna Times, excerpted below with some light editing for readability:

Dahabshiil—Facts, Violations, and Terrorism

The Djiboutian singer Nimo Djama accused Dahabshiil company of putting a three million dollar bounty for her death.

“Dahabshiil Bank, Ottawa branch has been assigned to assassinate me. They have received three million dollars to carry out the assassination. Dahabshil or Dhiigshiil wants to kill me. I’ve informed the Canadian law enforcement agencies. They installed cameras in my home,” said Nimo Djama in an audio interview on Oct 13, 2012.

Nimo Djama, aka the Mother of Djiboutian Singers, is a popular figure, and was part of the independence struggle in her country, but fled from Djibouti after being arrested by the administration of president Guelleh.

The well-known Somali singer Sado Ali Warsame who overthrown [sic] said Barre regime with her songs also accused Dahabshiil of putting a two million dollar bounty for her death, shortly after she released a song called Dahabshiil ha dhigan (“Don’t Deposit with Dahabshiil”).

Concern over Dahabshiil’s threat, which lost around 70% of its customers, resulted [in] reinforcement of Sado’s security…

A written description accompanying a video published on YouTube on Feb. 11 reveals further details about the hit ordered against Ms. Warsame (whose name may also be written as Saado Cali Warsame):

A Somali super star singer sings against Dahabshiil money transfer

A top Somali super star Sado Ali Warsame, had released an album against the Dahabshiil money transfer which she warns the people to send their money to the company because of what the singer called ‘a linkage to tribalism and extremism’.

The nationalist icon of Somalia top ten super stars, Sado Ali Warsame, who is well respected for her role in fighting against the military dictatorship through her cultural-rich music, is now taking the platform to challenge against all the actors against the pan-Somalia.

Her new song “Ha dhigan Dhiigshiil” which means don’t send your money through Dahabshiil, is a great challenge to the company which currently lost a court case against a well-known investigative journalist Dahir Abdulle Alasow in Breda Netherlands after the company accused the reporter of humiliating figures in the company, goodwill defamation and accusation related to Dahabshiil’s attempt to assassinate singer Sado Warsame.

The song relates Dahabshiil to Alshabab [al-Shabaab], a militant group allied to Alqaeda [Al Qaeda] which rules much of Southern Somalia with brutal laws, and a slow genocide going on in the Sool, Sanag and Ceyn (SSC) regions in Somalia by Somaliland forces, which Warsame is originally from.

Dahabshiil rejected the accusation and sued the investigative reporter whose website waagacusub.com published the articles relating Dahabshiil attempt to assassinate the artist Warsame and the linkage to the terror group and the slow genocide in SSC regions.

But the judge in Breda district court ruled out Dahabshiil’s argument and ordered the reporter to keep doing his job freely, and states the accusation as baseless.

The company’s name Dahabshiil means Goldsmith, while the singer calls it in the song as Dhiigshiil, which means Bloodsmith, a previous name of the company in early 2000s, which the company owners refute to be called now for their business goodwill.

The song had attracted a big number of listeners who clicked more than 30,000 times on one link in waagacusub website and the controversial comments on the songs divided the public opinion.

A comment with anonymous person says, “The song is true, Dahabshiil feeds Alshabab, and I agree that we don’t need to send our money to it”…

It’s not just an anonymous person on Youtube, or even an enterprising Somali-Dutch reporter.  A presiding judge at a 2005 hearing in Guantanamo Bay told detainee Mohammed Sulaymon Barre, “I am convinced that your branch of the Dahabshiil company was used to transfer money for terrorism.”

Now, we leave you with a music video by Warsame.  She sings about peace, national unity, satirizes the terrorists, and tells the truth about the financing of extremists.  For this she gets death threats from Dubai?

UPDATE—FEB. 28, 2013:

Money Jihad has again (see comment below) been contacted by legal counsel for Dahabshiil, who makes the following response to this post:

Dahabshiil refutes the allegations made about it in this article in the strongest possible terms. The allegations are absurd and entirely false. For the avoidance of doubt, Dahabshiil has no involvement whatsoever in violence or terrorism of any kind.Dahabshiil considers these allegations to be highly defamatory and has accordingly commenced legal proceedings in The Netherlands to restrain further publication of them by their original author [of the Suna Times].

By way of background, Dahabshiil is a major international financial organisation, founded in 1970. Dahabshiil operates in approximately 150 countries across the world (including the USA and most European territories) with over 5,000 employees. Dahabshiil has a large and loyal customer base and a number of major international organisations rely on Dahabshiil to provide payment services for their staff, contractors, government institutions and partner NGOs. Dahabshiil has its headquarters in the United Kingdom where it is regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

For further general information about Dahabshiil , please visit Dahabshiil’s website at www.Dahabshiil.com

For media enquiries, please e-mail news@dahabshiil.com

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Illicit finance news: suggested reading

February 21, 2013

Shariah Finance Watch writes that the latest sanctions by Treasury against the leader of Al Qaeda in North Africa are “purely political theater”… more>>

• World traveler Richard Chichakli, the Syrian-American who helped Viktor Bout run guns to Hezbollah, seeks bail. Australian judge: “Bit of a flight risk, aren’t you?” more>>

• Need to get a supply shipment to Afghanistan?  On your way, be sure to dock in Bandar Abbas, Iran, just like the Americans.  Starr asks, “Why is the United States Subsidizing Iran?”  more (or here)>>

• If Mazaheri thought he could smuggle a 70 million dollar check, what else has Iran’s former central bank chief gotten away with?  Ken Rijock investigates… more>>

• One man’s search for Noah’s ark could help bankrupt terrorism… more>>

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