Archive for the ‘News commentary’ Category

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Libyan arms issued to regional terrorists

April 21, 2014

Weapons are pouring into Libya from around the Mediterranean, for both domestic use among rival factions and for follow-on trafficking to neighboring African hotspots and to Syria, according to a recent UN report.

The unraveling of Libya indicates that the Obama strategy of “leading from behind” during the intervention was unwise, and included little if any plan for the long-term stabilization of Libya or for an orderly resolution to Libya’s political problems. Libya has turned into a more chaotic state that is destabilizing its neighbors than Iraq became under Bush.

The UN report includes evidence from 2013 that blackmarket merchants near the Libyan-Tunisian border are working with Al Qaeda: “Two main caches were discovered in urban areas in Medenine and Mnilah. According to the authorities, the materiel came from Libya in transfers financed by groups linked to Al-Qaida through commercial smugglers.”

Reason blog has helpful piece highlighting some of the other main points from the UN report:

UN Report: Security Situation in Libya ‘Considerably Deteriorated,’ Arms Exported Throughout Region

Ed Krayewski|Mar. 13, 2014

Arms largely in control of non-government groups in a deteriorating Libya are making their way by air, land, and sea to countries from Nigeria to Syria, according to a United Nations report by a panel of experts on the situation in Libya. That panel was tasked with reviewing the effectiveness of arms embargos, travel bans, and asset freezes implemented by various Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 1973, which authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and was used to justify NATO intervention.

On the arms embargo, the panel complains of “limited resources with which to cover a two-way embargo that is breached on a regular basis and covers the entirety of Libya’s territory” and that the “geographical area covered by the Panel’s investigations expands every year and includes a large part of Africa, Europe and the Middle East.” One of the panel’s recommendations is for more experts to analyze the situations on the ground. According to the report, weapons from Libya have reached Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Egypt, and the Gaza Strip, almost a who’s who of deteriorating security situations in the wider region. The U.N. reports weapons are also trafficked via Turkey, Lebanon, and Qatar.

The panel is concerned, too, that some companies doing business with gun stores in Libya don’t even know about the U.N. embargo. Handguns, in particular, are in high demand, according to the report, which suggests members of security forces could be selling their handguns to civilians. Government agencies in Libya anyway rely on local armed groups for some public security, which the U.N. panel points to as an implication weapons are likely being shared.

The demand for guns among civilians shouldn’t be as a surprise. The U.N. panel describes a security situation that’s “considerably deteriorated” and reports continued significant increases in “carjacking, robbery, kidnappings, tribal disputes, political assassinations, armed attacks and clashes, explosions from improvised explosive devices and demonstrations.”

It’s likely not regular Libyans worried about their personal and family security that’s a primary contributing factor to the overall security situation in Libya. Instead, it’s what the U.N. panel identifies as a “complicated mix of Al-Qaida affiliated and inspired groups” that have set up across Libya in the chaos that followed the 2011 intervention. The panel describes a firefight between Special Forces from the Libyan government and Ansal al-Shariah in Benghazi in November that killed nine. A campaign of assassinations and suicide bombings has followed in the city. The U.N. report also relays a raid on a Libyan military base identified as “camp 27,” where the United States may have been training and supplying Libyan forces. The U.S. government responded to the panel’s questions that “some items that had been transferred to Libyan control were unaccounted for and presumed stolen”…

Thanks to Genug for the news tip.

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Bogus orphans charity banned, raided for financing Hezbollah

April 20, 2014

On April 8, German authorities announced a ban of the Hezbollah-funding Islamic “charity” known as Orphans Project Lebanon and raided their offices across the country.

Orphans Project Lebanon had been under scrutiny for several years. It lost its preferential tax treatment a few years ago, but was allowed to continue operating, as Money Jihad highlighted last year, partly because the EU did not consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization at the time. Since then, the EU has changed its policy, and German authorities have presumably been building their case against Orphans Project Lebanon behind the scenes.

Thanks to Puneet, Sal, and El Grillo for sending in links about this. From AFP/The Local:

Germany outlaws ‘Hezbollah fundraisers’

German authorities banned a group on Tuesday accused of raising millions of euros for Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah and helping the families of suicide bombers. Police staged raids across the country.

The interior ministry said it had outlawed the “Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon” (Orphan Children Project Lebanon) with immediate effect, although on Wednesday morning the group’s website was still up and running.

“The name of the group masks its actual purpose,” ministry state secretary Emily Haber said in a statement.

She said the organization, based in the western city of Essen, had raised €3.3 million in donations between 2007 and 2013 for the Lebanese Shahid Foundation, an “integral” part of Hezbollah.

The ministry said the funds were used to recruit fighters “to combat Israel, also with terrorist measures” and compensate the families of suicide bombers.

“Organizations that directly or indirectly from German soil oppose the state of Israel’s right to exist may not seek freedom of association protection,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said in the statement.

He said the group’s goals violated Germany’s constitution.

Around 160 police officers searched premises across six states and confiscated cash, computers and 120 boxes of files. The raids took place in Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Lower Saxony and Rhineland Palatinate.

Two bank accounts with a total of around €104,000 were frozen but no arrests were made.

The ministry said it had kept Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon, which has about 80 members, under surveillance since 2009…

As Money Jihad has pointed out several times, orphans are often exploited by jihadist groups as a cover for transferring money toward their own purposes.

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British Hamas donors active now in Syria

April 15, 2014

Three Islamic charities based in the U.K. who have funded projects administered by a Hamas “charitable” have also become involved with a radical Syrian aid convoy, according to a new report. The UK Charity Commission is proving itself, as usual, to be asleep at the switch with respect to such charities that are exploiting Britain as a financial base to fund jihad around the world.

Special thanks to Ayre for sending in this report from Stand for Peace:

Three UK charities fund Hamas charitable front

Three UK charities involved with Syrian ‘aid convoy’ efforts – Children in Deen, the Abu Faisal Trust and One Nation – are funding projects in Gaza run by the Al-Falah Benevolent Society (a.k.a. Al-Falah Society or Al-Falah Charitable Society). The Al-Falah Society is  one of “Hamas’s charitable societies”, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

The OPEC Fund for International Development notes that it is funded by “institutions in the Arab, Islamic and international world who believe in the right of the Palestinian people to liberate their land”. It is run by Ramadan Tamboura (aka Ramadan Tanbura), who Ha’aretz newspaper reports is “a well-known Hamas figure”.

One Nation is part of the Aid for Syria convoy, which, as Stand for Peace has previously uncovered, is involved with a number of key extremist preachers in the UK. Aid for Syria convoys include trucks named after the convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui…

Read the rest at Stand for Peace here.

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Thousands of NGOs get foreign money but don’t report it

April 14, 2014

MHA warns of terror fundings in NGOs

India’s home ministry has found that the number of non-governmental organizations receiving funds from outside India is on the rise, and that most of the groups receiving the foreign funds aren’t reporting it as they are required to do under the law, highlighting the vulnerability that such funding goes toward terrorist purposes.

Some of the external funding involved comes from Western nonprofits that send money to Islamic front charities or alleged Kashmiri relief groups that are actually turning over the cash to jihadi militants.

India isn’t alone in the struggle to get nonprofit organizations to disclose foreign sources of funding. Compliance in the U.S. with the Foreign Agents Registration Act is a joke. Penalties for noncompliance with 501(c)(3) filing requirements are miniscule. The tendency for regulators globally is to be tougher on existing groups that have gone through the registration process rather than on discovery of groups that have failed to register.

These noncompliant groups need a site visit from the police. The policemen can wait while a manager at the NGO completes the required paperwork.

From the Daily Mail‘s India edition:

Government warns of NGOs’ vulnerability to terror funding and money laundering

By Abhishek Bhalla

PUBLISHED: 21 March 2014

Thousands of NGOs which receive foreign aid, many of whom do not file returns on such contributions, are vulnerable to terror funding and money laundering, the home ministry has warned.

Though there are more than 22,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), intelligence inputs indicate that there are many others that work secretly and are not registered.

On the other hand, 19,000 of the registered organisations do not file returns on foreign contributions.

Foreign funding for NGOs has risen by almost 12 per cent in 2011-12, with Rs 11,549 crore being pumped into these organisations from abroad every year, according to the home ministry’s latest report on the FCRA.

According to the report, foreign contributions worth Rs 2,253 crore come for activities other than the most common causes listed by the Ministry of Home Affairs for foreign contributions.

The common sectors for foreign funding are rural development, welfare of children, health, awareness camps and religious purposes.

“We need to know where this money is being used. We need to coordinate with the authorities of the donor countries and crack down on some of these NGOs,” said an official in the home ministry.

The five major donor countries are the US, Britain, Germany, Italy and Netherlands. Countries like the UAE, Mauritius, Austria, Sweden and Spain are also among the top 15 donor nations…

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Neighbors say Kosovo smuggles drugs and organs

April 13, 2014

The president of the Czech Republic says that Kosovo, a self-declared independent state that is 95 percent Muslim, is funding terrorism from drug smuggling. President Zeman’s comments dovetail with longstanding accusations from Serbia that Kosovo profits from harvesting human organs.

Funding jihad from such activities wouldn’t be unprecedented. Elsewhere in the world, Hamas makes money from the illicit organ trade, and terrorist groups including the Taliban and Hezbollah make hundreds of millions of dollars annually from drug trafficking. Profiting from drugs is often justified by Islamists on the basis of ushr, the classical Islamic tax on crop harvests.

Thanks to Twitter user El Grillo for sending in this report from CTK, the Czech news agency, via the Prague Post:

Czech president is critical of Kosovo during his trip to Serbia

Belgrade, April 1 (ČTK) — Terrorism should not be underestimated, mainly because it is comfortably financed from drug sales, Czech President Miloš Zeman said at the beginning of his two-day official visit to Serbia today, and he indirectly mentioned Kosovo in connection with terrorism.

At the opening of an exhibition on Czech-Serbian military cooperation in Belgrade, Zeman said Islamic fundamentalism is the most visible form of terrorism.

“The Taliban enjoys strong economic support in the areas it controls because the production of opium in these areas has risen 10 times. Let alone the fact of some regimes are being financed via dealings with human organs,” Zeman said.

Serbia accuses Kosovo leaders of dealings with human bodies in the late 1990s.

In 2011, Belgrade submitted a draft resolution demanding an independent international enquiry into the suspicious cases to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

Accusations of human organ trafficking in Kosovo appeared in 2008 for the first time.

In 2010, investigator Dick Marty mentioned them in his report for the Council of Europe. He accused the Kosovo rebels’ army (UCK) of having taken organs away from Serbian war prisoners and from Kosovo Albanians who disagreed with UCK’s practices.

The present Kosovo prime pinister, Hashim Thaci, was allegedly involved in the dealings.

Kosovo, former Serbian province, unilaterally declared its independence, which Belgrade has never recognized.

Zeman, too, is against the recognition of independent Kosovo, though the Czech Republic recognized it under the then right-wing Cabinet and president Václav Klaus in 2008.

Zeman previously labeled the Kosovo regime “a terrorist dictatorship financed by drug mafias.”

In Belgrade today, Zeman said the biggest enemy of the Euro-Atlantic civilization is international terrorism.

“Let’s not underestimate the danger, if for the fact alone that it is comfortably financed from drug sales,” Zeman said…

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Farid Foundation defends ICNA donation

April 10, 2014

This also appears at Terror Finance Blog:

The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is the progeny the Muslim Students Association and the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami movement. ICNA was previously directed by Ashrafuzzaman Khan, who was convicted in absentia by Bangladesh last year for war crimes committed during that country’s war of independence in the 1970s.

Tariq Farid, founder and CEO of the fruit basket company Edible Arrangements, and trustee of the Farid Foundation, has donated money to ICNA. This revelation comes from the Farid Foundation’s own website and from Farid’s attorney, who wrote last week that, “…the Farid Foundation’s only contribution was to a special fund of the ICNA called ‘ICNA Relief USA’, an organization in New York City, which, among other things, helps women with temporary housing.” The lawyer’s statement was made in response to an article published at Blue MauMau, a website for franchisees.

The Blue MauMau article highlighted a lawsuit filed by former Edible Arrangements controller Tara Perino, who says that Farid maintained a hostile workplace and discriminated against non-South Asians and non-Muslims. The lawsuit also describes the Farid Foundation’s support to ICNA: “Farid and his brother, Kamran Farid (Edible Arrangements’ Chief Operating Officer), at all relevant times hereto have been the two trustees of a foundation called the Farid Foundation, operated out of the same location as Edible Arrangements. Farid Foundation makes significant contributions to Islamic causes and organizations, including the Farid Foundation Pakistan; the Salma K. Farid Academy; Islamic Circle of North America Relief; the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut; the Inner-City Muslim Action Network; the Wallingford Islamic Center; Masjid AI-Islam; and the Islamic Association of Southern Connecticut.”

The author of the Blue MauMau article, Corbin Williston, noted that, “The head of ICNA at the time the suit was filed was Ashrafuz Zaman Khan”—the same man convicted of war crimes—and that the argument that the ICNA donation was “only” to a special fund wouldn’t comfort the people whose loved ones were tortured and murdered by Khan.

Indeed, and ICNA Relief USA isn’t exactly a ‘special fund’ anyway. It is a tax-exempt entity operated by ICNA. The statement that ICNA Relief USA provides transitional housing to women may be true, but it is quite misleading in terms of the charity’s primary activities: according to their own last tax return, ICNA Relief USA spent just $580,000 on housing for women out of its total $5 million in annual expenses.

On the revenue side, ICNA Relief USA received a $30,000 grant in 2012 from Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a Michigan-based Islamic charity with links to a Pakistani front charity that funds Hamas.

Tariq Farid’s attorney is doing his best to defend his client against some very damaging claims. But an admission that the Farid Foundation donated money to ICNA Relief USA doesn’t do much to clear the air.

Blue MauMau should be commended for reporting on the lawsuit against Edible Arrangements, and for keeping the article on their website despite the demand from Farid’s attorney to retract the article.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Paul for alerting me to these developments

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New book: Danish company paid off imams

April 7, 2014

Arla, the Scandinavian dairy conglomerate, paid a “significant amount” of money to Gulf state imams in 2006 in exchange for a fatwa declaring Arla’s products halal.

The deal was struck in the aftermath of violent protests that followed Jyllands-Posten’s publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad. Ahmed Akkari, a Danish Muslim who originally helped inflame the “Cartoon Crisis,” makes these allegations in his new book, Min afsked fra Islamism (My departure from Islamism).

The Danish website Metroxpress explained the deal recounted in the book, in which Arla “would donate a substantial sum for a purpose of the [Islamic] scholars’ choice. In return, they would [issue] a statement saying that it is now again religiously acceptable to buy the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian dairy products.”

In other words, the scholars would bless off on Arla products in Bahrain and the UAE and help simmer down the anti-Danish sentiments that they themselves had whipped up about the cartoons in exchange for what was likely millions of Danish crowns to be spent as the imams saw fit.

The 2006 agreement may have been a violation of Denmark’s anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws. Section 299 of the Danish Criminal Code prohibits bribes among private entities in exchange for a “return commission” (ie, kickback). In this case, the return commission for the money paid to the imams was the profits earned from sales stemming from their endorsement of Arla’s products, thus giving Arla an unfair advantage in the Middle East over its competitors who did not arrange similar off-the-books payments there.

For its part, the Arla conglomerate has been arrogant and dismissive about the seriousness of the new allegations, saying that “We have decided to put the matter behind us,” and that Arla will not comment further events from eight years ago.

The cavalier attitude expressed by Arla may be indicative of the broader Danish attitude toward corporate bribery overseas. Denmark, which by most measures has very little corruption, was admonished last year by the OECD for its failure to do more to investigate allegations of foreign bribery. Danish companies were previously revealed to have paid bribes to Saddam Hussein regime officials as part of the scandal plagued UN oil-for-food program.

The 2006 agreement could also be viewed as simple extortion by the Islamic scholars. There would be a precedent for that as well:  shakedowns for halal certification against Denmark by Saudi Arabia’s Muslim World League were revealed last year. The Gulf monarchies and their elites seem to have realized that Danish companies are rather pliant to their demands.

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Indian Mujahideen cell paid dues for ops

April 6, 2014

A five-man Indian Mujahideen (IM) cell in Rajasthan funded its activities from monthly dues paid by the members themselves, according to India’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). The men received bomb training and planned to travel to Afghanistan for further training.

Self-financing of jihadist lone wolves is a well-known phenomenon. Self-financing of terrorist groups by paying membership dues much less common, and is more characteristic of civic groups, labor unions, and extreme political groups without major institutional backing, such as the National Socialists in Germany during the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Communist Party USA.

The dues involved are small, ranging from 100 to 1000 rupees a month ($2 to $17). Big things have small beginnings…

From TNN via the Times of India on Mar. 29:

IM terrorists contribute to self-finance their activities: ATS

JAIPUR: The five youths who were arrested from Sikar used to self finance their terror activities and arrange accommodation and logistics for Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) trainers by collecting money from among themselves every month, ATS officials said. The five youths were produced in a court and taken on a 7-day police remand for further investigation. Some laptops and pen drives were also seized during raids at their houses in Sikar on Friday.

“The five youths, three of whom are students, used to arrange money from among themselves to self finance their terror activities. Each of them used to contribute Rs 100 to Rs 1000 every month,” a senior ATS officer said.

The officer said Waqar, an engineering student who was arrested from Pratap Nagar-Sector 35 in the city, had provided some training to these five youths including on how to make electronic circuits for bombs.

“The five youths were planning to leave for Afghanistan for further training. Maroof had asked them to be prepared for leaving the country. They always followed Maroof’s instructions,” the officer said…

 

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A look at Boko Haram’s financing

April 4, 2014

Boko Haram has enough money to buy its own artillery now according to Voice of America. Analysts interviewed by VOA said there probably isn’t enough funding within Nigeria for buying heavy weapons, indicating that much of Boko Haram’s funding comes from abroad. Several revenue sources were named:

Foreign sources

  • West African piracy
  • Drug smuggling
  • Unrest from the Arab Spring has created and weapons trafficking “highway” to Nigeria

Domestic sources

  • Bank robberies
  • Stealing from the Nigerian military

In addition to the Boko Haram bank robberies, previous Money Jihad coverage has shown that zakat has been funneled by Boko Haram supporters through Nigerian banks to fund terrorist operations.

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Catalan rangers catch falcon smugglers

March 31, 2014

Arab falconry - http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/257/cache/abu-dhabi-desert-falcon_25765_600x450.jpg

British and Spanish authorities have unraveled an international falcon smuggling ring in Catalonia. The news report doesn’t mention it, but the demand for falcons is almost exclusively from the Middle East. The main market is the Persian Gulf, and Dubai is a key port of entry and transit (as it also is for smuggled ivory, big cats, and other wildlife contraband). From Wildlife Extra on Mar. 20:

Bird crime ring busted by Spanish and UK wildlife crime units

The UK National Wildlife Crime Unit have helped COS AGENTS RURALS DE CATALUNYA (Catalonia Rural Ranger Corps) uncover an international bird laundering ring.

Agents in Spain investigating individuals keeping Peregrine falcons, became suspicious of documentation that they had seized, which indicated that falcons in their possession had been captive bred in the UK.

Enquiries by the NWCU revealed that leg rings being worn by some of the falcons in Spain were not the original rings referred to on the documentation.

Evidence gleaned by the NWCU suggests that fake rings are being manufactured to match genuine permits…

What is the connection between hunting with falcons and financing terrorism, apart from the fact that both involve wealthy Arabs? The filmmakers of “Feathered Cocaine,” the 2010 documentary about falcons and Osama Bin Laden, revealed the following:

Feathered Cocaine interviews Robert Baer, a former CIA agent, about the Royal Falconry Camps and how they are used to funnel huge amounts of cash to Terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The money transfers are cash only and are flown between countries in large military Government airplanes that are not checked by customs upon arrival. The CIA believes these planes are used to deliver cars, cash, weapons and supplies to militant terrorists. The Persian Gulf rulers have refused to shut down these camps when asked to do so…

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Interpol targets al-Shabaab’s charcoal smuggling

March 30, 2014

Finally. Action against al-Shabaab’s exploitation of the lucrative Somali charcoal trade is long overdue. Al-Shabaab exacts a 2½ percent tax at several stages of production from the point the charcoal leaves the kilns until it is loaded and shipped illegally to Persian Gulf buyers in contravention of a UN ban on the trade.

From Thomson Reuters on Mar. 27 (h/t El Grillo):

…“The al Shabaab-controlled charcoal trade is emerging as the new security threat facing the country’s biodiversity,” Henry Wafula, a district commissioner in eastern Kenya, said in an interview with Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Charcoal worth more than 140 million Kenya shillings (about $1.7 million) is being shipped out of eastern Kenya illegally every month, Wafula said. The lucrative trade involves cutting down and burning mature trees, particularly in protected wildlife areas. The loss of trees reduces cover for wildlife and worsens soil erosion.

In 2013, the annual report of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia estimated that al Shabaab’s charcoal exports from eastern Africa could be as high as 24 million sacks per year, for an overall international market value of $360 to $384 million.

Laws passed by Kenya in 2013 impose tough punishments on illegal logging and related activities, but concern about al Shabaab’s possible use of charcoal trade revenue has drawn INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organisation, into an alliance trying to stop the trade, though there is scant evidence it is used for terror-related operations.

“We have reports linking illegal charcoal trade in Eastern Africa to terrorist activities in the region. But this is not something governments are responding to,” David Higgins, of INTERPOL’s environmental crime programme, told a recent media briefing in Nairobi.

He did not give details of the activities, but said he has information, mainly from non-governmental organisations, that there are links between the charcoal trade and terror cells operating in the region.

INTERPOL began taking an interest in the charcoal trade soon after Kenya passed the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, which spells out penalties up to life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of logging, clearing land or setting fire to vegetation in protected wildlife areas…

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