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Top terror finance stories of 2013

December 30, 2013

From massacres on the streets of Syria to the streets of Boston, 2013 has offered far too many illustrations of how terror-borne bloodshed is financed:

  1. Sunni and Western powers risk funding Syrian rebels despite their Al Qaeda allegiance
    Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the U.S., U.K., and France have provided money and supplies to the enemies of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad despite the risk of the materiel falling into the wrong hands.  Gulf-based support has gone directly toward Salafist fighters; Western aid has been targeted toward the supposedly moderate Free Syrian Army, but entire brigades of the FSA have pledged allegiance to al-Nusra Front—Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria—during 2013.  Reports this month of a “suspension” of U.S. aid have been somewhat exaggerated; as one official conceded, “the suspension of aid only applies to the opposition in northern Syria, adding that supply lines from Jordan in the south would continue.”  Foreign support has prolonged the conflict in Syria and increased the chances for Al Qaeda to take over the country.
  2. Boston marathon bombing made possible by Saudi money
    North Caucuses militants have been funded for decades by Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis and their wealthy expatriate terrorists like Ibn al-Khattab  and Osama Bin Laden and invested millions of dollars into the training and recruitment of fighters, the construction of radical mosques, and the creation of jihadist websites in Slavic languages.  Tamerlan Tsarnaev read and engaged with these websites and pursued support from these Saudi-sponsored sources when he traveled to Russia in 2012.  Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar also learned from Inspire magazine by deceased terror imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who presided over Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.In effect, Saudi money created the breeding environment both online and on the ground in the North Caucuses in which the Tsarnaevs’ plot was hatched.

    Sadly, the media and public officials have been slow to recognize and expose the connections between the Saudis, the North Caucasus militants, and their followers living in North America.  Two Democrat-appointed federal judges inexplicably reversed the conviction this year of Pete Seda, a Muslim “peace activist” who sent money through a Saudi-based charity from Oregon to Chechen terrorists in the early 2000s.

  3. The U.S. became the world’s #1 energy producer in 2013.  This development reduces our dependence on Arab oil and the flow of petrodollars that fund terrorism.
  4. The compensation of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism was ignored during negotiations in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program.
  5. The Somali Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab’s finances rebounded in 2013 despite their loss of control in 2012 of the key harbor in Kismayo to Kenyan, African Union, and allied forces.  The main ingredients in their financial resurgence included an expansion al-Shabaab’s lucrative charcoal smuggling operation, the resumption of payments from the Dahabshiil money service to al-Shabaab, and indirect support from the Gulf.  The funding has allowed operations such as killing sprees in Mogadishu and the September terrorist attack on Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya.  Nevertheless, a British court injunction has forced Barclays to continue partnering with Dahabshiil to facilitate remittances to Somalia.
  6. Qatari money fuels jihadist insurgencies in Middle East and Africa. Qatari mischief has swollen to the point of financing rebels that are attacking French troops in Mali.  Financial aid from Qatar to Salafist rebels may also result in replacing the Assad regime in Syria with Al Qaeda.  Qatar has become, in effect, a state sponsor of terrorism—and a rich one at that.  Qatar has also been spreading the wealth around this year through charitable fronts in Gaza and Somalia, and through real estate ventures in Europe and the U.S.
  7. Human and organ trafficking fund Hamas and Syrian gangs.
  8. Sharia banks fund the Taliban and keep Hamas afloat.  In addition to the nine sharia-compliant banks that fund terrorism already identified by Money Jihad in exclusive analysis earlier in 2013, additional evidence has emerged on the connections between the Islamic financial sector and the bankrolling of jihad:  two unlicensed sharia financial institutions have begun providing services to Hamas, and Pakistani bankers have revealed that the Taliban receives money from the Islamic banking system.
  9. The payment of ransoms to terrorists is finally seen as a serious problem.  Awareness has been growing for a year or two, but intensified after the Algeria hostage standoff in Amenas in January.  The G8 made a joint statement against the payment of ransoms to terrorists during a meeting in June.  The British are proposing a new ban in the U.N. against such payments.
  10. Islamic charity leaders charged as war criminals in Bangladesh.  Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, a former trustee of the charity Muslim Aid and a leader within the Muslim community in Britain, has been convicted of war crimes by Bangladesh for murders he committed there as an agent of Pakistani Islamists.  Mir Quasem Ali, the former country director for the Bangladeshi chapter of the Saudi-based Muslim World League, is currently in jail for war crimes.  Ashrafuzzaman Khan, former secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North America, has also been charged.  It cannot be regarded as random luck that men such as these have risen to the upper echelons of Islamic charity and advocacy groups.

For a longer bonus list of the top 20 terror finance developments of 2013, be sure to follow tweets via @MoneyJihad over the next few days!

Newer readers may also want to look back at our biggest stories of 2012 and 2011 to see how the threats are evolving over time.

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