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 demanded by 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 the 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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Terror financing imam claims to be potato chip investor

February 20, 2013

We’ve heard many far-fetched defenses in terrorist financing cases—mostly false claims of charity for the poor—but this one takes the cake.  Or, more precisely, the potato chip.

How will South Florida imam Hafiz Khan’s defense lawyers explain Khan’s tape recorded statement that “Right now I have about 100,000 Pakistani rupees for the Taliban.  People have given me (money) in small amounts, I have given some from my side.”  Is “Taliban” the unfortunate name of the potato chip company, perhaps?

Witness testifies from Pakistan that Florida imam’s money was not for Taliban terrorists

MIAMI – Testifying via video from Pakistan, a man accused by the U.S. of conspiring with an elderly Miami-based Muslim cleric to funnel thousands of dollars to Taliban terrorists insisted Monday the money was for innocent purposes, including a potato chip factory run by the cleric’s son-in-law.

Ali Rehman was the first of as many as 11 witnesses expected to testify from an Islamabad hotel in defense of 77-year-old Hafiz Khan, who faces four terrorism support and conspiracy counts. Rehman is named in the same indictment and refused to come to the U.S. Other witnesses were unable to get U.S. visas in time.

Rehman said he handled three separate $10,000 transactions for Khan in 2008 and 2009. Most of the money, he testified, went to Anayat Ullah, who is married to Khan’s daughter Husna and started the potato chip business with his father-in-law as an investor. Rehman said he has known Ullah since they were children in Pakistan’s Swat Valley and wanted to do him a favor.

“That favor was that his father was sending him some money, and I used to deliver it to him or sent it to him,” said Rehman.

He spoke in Pashto that was translated into English for the 12-person jury watching him on flat-screen televisions.

Rehman kept a three-page ledger detailing most of the transactions, which jurors were shown. “I was just the middle man to give the money to him.”

Ullah also used his father’s money to buy a vehicle for the factory and to buy a house, Rehman said.

Rehman said he and Khan disagreed with the Taliban’s tactics of using violence and force to impose their version of Muslim law. Rehman said he was personally threatened by Taliban fighters who ordered him to remove products containing women’s pictures from a cosmetics store he owns.

“They came to my store one day and said, `You should remove these pictures.’ They also slapped me,” he said. “They said, `If you continue to sell this, it will not be good for you.’”

Rehman said he kept putting the Taliban off and eventually they stopped coming around.

Jurors were also played tape of an intercepted phone call between Rehman and Khan in which they are discussing financing of a road widening project. Khan suggested at one point that Rehman sell some trees he had cut down to help cover the cost…

A road widening project?  Wouldn’t that be the responsibility of government officials?  Sounds like code.

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Charity’s bank accounts closed over Hamas ties

February 19, 2013

The Al-Aqsa Foundation’s account with the First National Bank of South Africa has been suspended.  The alleged Palestinian relief charity is already blacklisted by the U.S.

An intriguing part of this article is a brief reference to Al-Aqsa opening an account with a second bank, Al-Baraka, after Al-Aqsa was notified that First National Bank would be closing Al-Aqsa’s account.  Al-Aqsa must have believed that Al-Baraka, a branch of the Bahrain-based sharia finance conglomerate known as the Al-Baraka Banking Group, would have been a safe haven for its tainted funds.  However, once the attempt to evade international sanctions by simply opening a new account with a second South African bank was discovered, Al-Baraka has no choice but to suspend Al-Aqsa’s account as well.

In similar developments elsewhere, TCF Financial Corp. is closing the accounts of several Iranian students at the University of Minnesota, and UBS closed a bank account belonging to the UK-based Islamic Relief late last year.

From the Daily Maverick:

Banking woes for SA charity suspected of financing Hamas

The Al Aqsa Foundation has had its banking facilities with two South African banks suspended in recent weeks. Despite being registered with the South African government as a bona fide charity, the foundation is believed to be covertly funnelling funds to Hamas. By KHADIJA PATEL.

The Al-Aqsa Foundation, a charity registered with the Department of Social Development focusing on providing aid to Palestinians has recently had its banking facilities with two South African banks suspended. The Foundation is suspected by the US government to be raising funds for Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement and governing authority of the Gaza strip.

In December, First National Bank (FNB) issued Al-Aqsa Foundation with three months’ notice before completely shutting its account. In a statement, the CEO of FNB Commercial Banking Michael Vacy-Lyle explained, “It has come to the bank’s attention that the foundation is expressly listed by the US Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and other international sanctions lists.”

The move received widespread condemnation from the South African Muslim community, with at least one prominent cleric calling for a boycott of FNB. The Media Review Network, an organisation focused on the representation of Islam and Muslims in the media, deplored FNB heeding to the dictate of “foreign” agents, despite the Foundation receiving a clean audit from the Department of Social Services.

FNB, however, has sought to dismiss allegations that it has been bullied by the US government into closing the account. The listing is said to have come to the attention of the bank over a year ago during routine internal governance processes, and closing the account is an act of expedience that allows FNB to keep up its relationships with other financial institutions in the US.

Vacy-Lyle said, “The international financial community imposes stringent obligations in respect of the maintenance of banking relationships with entities listed by OFAC and the decision by FNB to terminate its relationship with the foundation is a consequence of this fact alone.”

Annette Hübschle, a researcher focused on the organised crime-terror nexus, said the move to close the Foundation’s account in light of the US listing was revealing of who holds the greatest power in global politics.

Last week it was revealed that another South African bank, Al-Baraka bank, had also frozen an account of the Al-Aqsa Foundation – this account had been opened after FNB had indicated it would be terminating the Foundation’s account.

According to another statement from FNB quoted by Channel Islam International, “The closure is a requirement of global banking governance and is applicable to all South African Banks including Al-Baraka Bank.”

Hübschle agrees. “They have all signed up to the Basel regulations,” she said. “In essence, banks do have to comply, not necessarily with the US, but more if they want to do business in the US then they actually do have to comply.”

She names the example of The Palestinian Relief and Development Fund (Interpal) as a case in point. “In 2003, the US Treasury named Interpal a ‘specially designated global terrorist group’ that directly financed Hamas, while the British Charity Commission gave Interpal a clean bill of health. This perhaps reflects a disagreement about where charity ends and extremism begins,” she said.

The Al-Aqsa Foundation has been described by the United States as a “critical part of Hamas’ transnational terrorist support infrastructure”. According to the US government, Hamas “uses humanitarian relief as cover to provide support to the Hamas terrorist organisation”. Hamas, the governing authority of the Gaza strip, is further designated by the US Secretary of State as a “Foreign Terrorist Organisation”. According to the US, Hamas is known to raise millions of dollars per year throughout the world using charitable fundraising as a cover. Al-Aqsa Foundation is alleged to be one such mask for more nefarious Hamas activity…

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Taliban doles out Rs 150 million in funding

February 18, 2013

Freelance journalist Syed Shoaib Hasan reports that the Muraqaba shura, a council of regional Taliban and Al Qaeda faction leaders, routinely distributes millions of rupees to affiliated terrorist tribal organizations at two to six week intervals.  In an example from May of 2012, the shura disbursed 70 million to the Pakistani Taliban, Rs 50 million to another Taliban faction, between RS 30 and 40 to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and smaller amounts to Harkat ul-Mujahideen and Jaish Mohammad.

In his piece, Hasan also analyzes the history of financing militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11.  He argues that forcing front charities to register with the government actually worsened matters by giving terrorists the patina of legitimacy and access to the international financial system.

Complicating the fight against terrorist financing is the militants’ new tendency to steer donations to small trusts affiliated with mosques rather than madrassas, which is more difficult to track.  Hasan reveals that one in three mosques in Karachi admits to funding militants.

Hat tip to Sal and Colby Adams for sending this over via Twitter.  From Money Matters magazine:

The militant economy

The slush funds accumulated by the militants were fed into the global financial system and were fed into the global financial system and were used to buy legimate businesses involved in construction, shipping and transport. Revenues from these concerns are now fuelling the insurgency

By Syed Shoaib Hasan

On a bright May afternoon in 2012, five men with assault rifles strode into a two-storeyed building near the bazaar in Miramshah. All wore their hair long and oiled under their Chitrali hats but the rangy frame, the narrow, aquiline nose and deep-set eyes instantly betrayed Zulfiqar alias Hakimullah Mehsud, ameer of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. An hour later the coterie emerged, with a staggering Rs70 million in cash.

The money was Mehsud’s share from a fund administered by the Taliban’s Shura-e-Muraqibat (Council of Common Interest), ostensibly an oversight committee that handles matters related to various militant groups headquartered in the tribal areas. (While some western news agencies have described it as an Al Qaeda-formed and managed entity, the shura is clearly of Taliban origin and character.) But managing and distributing funds from the Afghan Taliban structure – ‘the emirate’, as it is referred to in militant circles – is one of its primary functions.

Disbursed at two- to six-week intervals, these funds comprise the largest chunk of revenues for all militant groups in the tribal region – barring the Arab Al Qaeda – and, for some, are the only source. That May, other than the TTP, the Taliban factions headed by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir got Rs50 million each while the former Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, now known as the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, got between Rs30 million and Rs40 million. Other recipients of these stipends from the emirate include the Taliban faction of Omar Khalid as well as splinter factions of the Harkatul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Takfeeri Group of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. (Some analysts believe that the TTP also funnels money from its share to the Punjabi Taliban.)

The money is to cover the operational costs of militancy. The bulk of it is, of course, spent on arms and ammo. The rest is distributed over transport costs; communications equipment (including satellite and cellular phones as well as walkie talkies) and – in an interesting sign of the times – media cells. (The Afghan Taliban themselves, for example, have a 100-plus dedicated media cell staff that operates a website available in five languages and manages high-tech studios with editing facilities.) Besides this, small amounts are also made available for the ‘shuhuda fund’, which enables payments between Rs5,000 to Rs10,000 for the families of the successful suicide bombers.

The 9/11 shift

The role of the emirate in funding is relatively new. Before 9/11, most militant groups operating in the Af-Pak region drew funds from two main sources: the Pakistani and Middle Eastern Islamic states and large and small private donors. From the times of the Afghan war till about the nineties, say militants, the size of this pie was around $6 billion. Historically, as much as two-thirds came from the states, with Saudi Arabia leading with contributions that went up to 50 percent of total funding. Close on the kingdom’s heels were Iraq and the Gulf Arab states.

Post 9/11, the situation changed. The US-led crackdown on militant groups began with the now-famous ‘follow the money’ directive and the US Patriot Act of 2001. As a result, funds from state sources all but dried up. As the world and Pakistan woke up to the abuse of hundi and hawala – the traditional trust-based system of money transfer in vogue for money transfer to militant organisations as well as conventional Islamic charities – private donations also disappeared.

Over the next 18 months, the flow of money to militant groups ebbed to an all-time low. The period coincided with the time militant operations were at decade-long nadir and many in Pakistan were quick to call it the ‘end of jihad’ in the region. That could well have happened – without funding, the militants could not have continued undermining the US-dubbed ‘War on Terror’. But a loophole emerged – inadvertently provided by the Pakistani authorities themselves, as they looked to close down all non-formal avenues for money transfer.

A better mousetrap

In their bid to screen all ‘suspicious’ transactions, the authorities hit many Islamic charities and some individuals suspected of transferring funds for militant operations. While a few were involved – the Al Akhtar Trust, for example – most were simply what they said they were: welfare organizations and people working primarily among the urban and rural poor. Accordingly, after a thorough examination of their sources of funding, these groups and individuals were allowed to continue their activities.

However, in order to distinguish them from the militant groups, the charities were required to register themselves and maintain bank accounts for financial transactions. This ensured that only those who had valid ID cards issued by the then newly instituted National Database Authority (Nadra) could open bank accounts. Further, the move also ensured that even where occasional hawala transactions were used, the monies did eventually cross banking lanes and were thus documented. The final salvo was the provision of a list of proscribed organizations – the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi and Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan, among others – to the State Bank of Pakistan, which was to make sure their accounts were frozen.

At the time, this may have seemed a leak-proof system, especially to western observers. But in a corrupt third world bureaucracy, there were more holes in this ‘fool-proof’ mechanism than Swiss cheese.

Step up and identify yourself

For starters, the basis of the system – the newly introduced CNIC – could easily be subverted. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Canada’s taxpayers unwittingly fund Hamas

February 17, 2013

IRFAN, the Islamic charity whose tax-exempt status was revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency over suspicions that it finances Hamas, has received funding from a slew of smaller Islamic groups—some of which include Edmonton-area mosques and nonprofits that have been beneficiaries of grant money from the provincial government of Alberta.  This is the conclusion reached by Point de Bascule after detailed research.

A tip of the hat to Gisele for sending in the link.

Point de Bascule has many diagrams depicting the relationships among the Canadian mosques, charities, and front groups involved.  Here is just one of the diagrams, which shows how the Millwoods Mosque, an Alberta grant recipient, donated zakat in the last decade to middlemen that funded IRFAN.

http://pointdebasculecanada.ca/articles/10002905-alberta-gave-$250,000-to-islamists-who-financed-hamas%E2%80%99-fund-collector-and-invites-promoters-of-sharia-in-edmonton.html

Read the full PdB piece here.

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