Archive for the ‘News commentary’ Category

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Mayor urges joint venture between investors and armed Marxist guerrillas

August 30, 2014

Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of the third largest city in the Philippines, is urging the Communist rebels to lease or sell 50,000 to 100,000 hectares of land to a group of Malaysian and Thai investors to use for a palm oil plantation.

According to the Philippine military, Marxist violence in that country led to the deaths of 3,000 people between 2001 and 2009. Yet Mayor Duterte thinks that local rebels in his city can be happily bought off with rents paid by foreign investors.

This is the same mayor who let it slip that he himself has paid revolutionary taxes to these insurgents (a common terrorist financing tactic), and he encouraged corporations to do the same. Just what kind of investors are these who would be willing to make such deals? One suspects that corruption between Duterte and this unnamed group of investors is afoot; backscratching is going. The only good news is that the Communist terrorists themselves don’t seem too interested Duterte’s corrupt deal.

It should be noted that the tendency of businessmen to cave into the demands of terrorists and pay them money is how ISIS rebuilt its capital before beginning to sweep down the Iraqi countryside.

From Davao Today in June:

Duterte urges rebels to engage in palm oil “joint venture” with Malaysian, Thai company

By JOHN RIZLE L. SALIGUMBA

June 13 2014

DAVAO CITY — Mayor Rodrigo Duterte urged New People’s Army guerillas to “bury your guns, or hang it on a tree” and engage into a joint business venture with a Malaysian and Thai entity that is looking for a 100,000-hectare area to plant oil palm and sesame seeds plantation.

With Paquibato District a known “stronghold” of the NPA in northern Davao City, Duterte said a plantation in their mid would be solely offered to the guerrillas to grab the opportunity.

Wa ko mangayo nga ang NPA isurrender ilang armas, tagoan lang nila unya akoy mopagador, sabot mo kung pila ilang pangayuon sa yuta. Kay ilang paliton ang palm oil unya naay trabaho. (I do not ask the NPA to surrender their arms; they just have to hide it. You [NPA] should talk [to investors] how much [rent] you want for the land. They [investors] will buy it and provide jobs),” he said.

Duterte said if the NPA agreed, he guarantees to talk with President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the Armed Forces of the Philippines about “closing” Paquibato.

“Inyo na, kamo diri ug mga NPA,” said Duterte during the 116th Philippine Independence Day commemoration program he attended in Barangay Paquibato Proper, Paquibato District here.

Duterte was talking about his proposal several times since May this year but it was only lately that he gave the nationalities of the supposed investors. The size of the supposed plantation range from 50,000 to 100,000 hectares, which are figures given by Duterte himself in interviews with the media.

The NPA has not issued any statement yet on Duterte’s offer but the guerrillas have spoken against oil palm plantations in several statements.

The Communist Party of the Philippines refers to the NPA as “‘the tax enforcement agency of the people’s revolutionary government’ as it collects ‘revolutionary taxes’—especially from foreign-owned enterprises—in the regions where it operates.”

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Terror-weary, IRA shifts to financial crime

August 29, 2014

Coming to terms with their faded, washed out political cause, ex-terrorists of the disbanded Irish Republican Army and their newer generation of recruits have turned to money laundering schemes, organized crime, drug trafficking, and other forms of financial crime.

Like the movie, “The Third Generation,” illustrated, after the wind goes out of the sails of a formerly principled revolutionary group, the newer followers turn to ruthless and petty trifles.

This is something of a cautionary tale for the way the world deals with terrorist organizations and rebel groups who have failed to carry out their main objectives. Is it better to finish them off once and for all, or to let them limp along through banditry? The problem with this case is that the bandits appear to have evolved into a permanent mafia class.

This commentary from the National Post in May sheds more light on the development:

…The more controversial British economic policy post-Thatcher was to effectively allow Sinn Fein’s military wing, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), to launder the huge amounts of money it had acquired through high-profile bank robberies. This bounty was widely labelled by republicans as a pension fund — or pay settlement — for IRA members.

Instead of trying to recover the funds, the British government turned a blind eye and gave the IRA 10 years in which to legitimize the cash. This the IRA did, with property in parts of Dublin exchanging hands well above the market value. The laundering reached such heights that pubs on the outskirts of the city exchanged hands for millions of euros. While all this initially worked well for the IRA, the spectacular economic collapse of the Republic of Ireland, and in particular the property crash, meant that the ex-IRA members’ funds plunged in value.

British Intelligence agencies kept a close watch on the whole process, and became increasingly alarmed as members of the disbanded IRA turned to more traditional forms of organized crime — such as drug dealing and brothel management in order to make up for shortfalls caused by the financial crash. The absence of foreign organized crime syndicates in Northern Ireland (one of the few positive effects of the conflict) meant that opportunistic ex-IRA members were able to quickly fill this crime vacuum with relative ease.

Ex-loyalist paramilitaries had long since been involved in organized crime in loyalist areas of Northern Ireland. Indeed, much of the violence that has taken place in the so-called post-conflict era has been the result of “turf wars” between rival gangs of loyalists fighting over control of the lucrative illegal drugs markets…

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Bangladesh probes terror-linked sharia bank

August 26, 2014

The government of Bangladesh is reviewing a report from Islami Bank Bangladesh, Ltd. (IBBL) on its expenditures. Authorities will review whether IBBL has accurately disclosed the organizations to which it contributes money, and perhaps whether the bank maintains any accounts for individuals listed on international blacklists.

IBBL has previously been documented to have diverted profits to militant Islamist groups as a form of corporate zakat. The bank was also cited by the U.S. Senate as one of the financial institutions with which the British bank HSBC should not have been doing business with due to terror finance concerns.

Thanks to readers Talha, Ranel, Ononto, and MFS for sending in the news. This account comes from Bangladesh 24:

Govt is investigating Islami Bank’s spending

The government is looking into where the Islami Bank spends its profit, State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has said.

“Islami Bank already gave a report on how its profits are spent. The intelligence people have been instructed to look into whether there are any discrepancies in it,” said the minister.

He was speaking to reporters after emerging from a meeting of the ministry’s Antiterrorism Committee on Thursday.

Kamal said the government was monitoring a few other financial institutions, operated by the bank, accused of terrorist-financing.

“The key to terrorism is funds. If that can be traced then wiping out terrorism will be easier,” said the minister.

Islami Bank has been under international pressure in the last few years after a US Senate Committee report accused it of terrorist financing.

Banks like HSBC, Citi Bank NA and Bank of America have suspended transaction with it since then.

According to Bangladesh Bank officials, the bank maintained accounts of people, who were on the UN’s suspicious people’s list.

Islami Bank authorities did not disclose information of those accounts to the central bank…

The bank, widely believed to be supported by the Jamaat-e-Islami, has come under fire from pro-liberation forces for their alleged funding of Islamist groups.

The party itself is facing investigation of the International Crimes Tribunal for the crimes against humanity committed during the War of Independence.

The Board of Directors of the bank is always dominated by people linked to Jamaat-e-Islami.

According to claims of Islami Oikya Jote leaders, the incumbent Chairman Abu Naser Mohammad Abduz Zaher was a leader of Al-Badr, a vigilante group of Bengalis raised by Pakistani occupation army, in Chittagong.

Islami Bank’s former Vice-Chairman Mir Quasem Ali is a member of Jamaat central committee and now facing trial for alleged war crimes perpetrated during the 1971 Liberation War.

He is also the member (administration) of Islami Bank Foundation and a member of Ibn Sina Board of Trustee, an associate organisation of the bank.

Islami Bank’s former Chairman Shah Abdul Hannan is known to be closely linked to the party, which had opposed the nation’s independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Its Deputy Managing Director Syed Abdullah Md Saleh is the sibling of former Jamaat MP from Chouddagram, Syed Abdullah M Taher.

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ISIS stealing everything but the kitchen sink

August 25, 2014

Ninevite officials allege that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have stolen utility infrastructure, furniture, city cars and lorries in a coordinated heist. It’s not so hard to believe; ISIS has stolen just about everything else, including oil wells, dams, and military equipment.

What’s interesting is that the looted municipal and residential property has been transported to Syria. One may have originally suspected that international sanctions against Syria would make it more difficult to re-sell the pilfered items in Syria than in the relatively open Iraqi economy. Apparently not.

Thanks to Brian for sending this in from Al-Shorfa on Aug. 14:

Ninawa tribes accuse ISIL of theft, smuggling

The Ninawa tribal council said Thursday (August 14th) the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) has stolen public and private property from Iraqis and smuggled it to Syria.

“ISIL recently stole electric cords, light poles, electric appliances, office furniture, municipal vehicles and trucks from Mosul and transported them to Syria,” said Ninawa tribal council deputy head Ibrahim al-Hassan.

ISIL fighters also stole the contents of dozens of residential buildings and tourist complexes and sent them to Syria to be sold to smuggling gangs, he said.

The magnitude of the operations indicates they were part of a targeted plan, al-Hassan told Al-Shorfa.

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Audio: Moscow funding Donbass militia

August 24, 2014

Russia claims its 260-truck convoy into eastern Ukraine was just delivering humanitarian aid, not weapons and supplies for pro-Russian fighters.

This would be a good time for a quick review of who has been financing the separatists from the outset of the conflict. Previous reports include:

  • Money for the breakaway movement is passed through four Russian banks including state-owned Sberbank;
  • Potentially billions of dollars worth of funding was and continues to be provided by former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich;
  • Reuters recently reported that weapons for the separatists come from Russia; and
  • Pro-Russian forces claim their arms come from Ukrainian weapons depots.

Yet most signs suggest that catspaw elements in eastern Ukraine, such as the “Donbass People’s Militia,” receive funding on orders from the Kremlin. Here’s a report from Buzzfeed last month after the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, which includes the possibility of a 5 percent tax on businesses to fund pro-Russian rebels:

Ukraine Says New Tapes Prove Russia Finances Rebels Who Shot Down Malaysian Plane

DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukraine says it has unearthed new evidence that the separatist militia in the country’s east shot down a Malaysian airliner last week and is funded from Russia, after releasing recordings of rebels discussing strategy and military movements.

Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, posted three recordings to YouTube on Friday that it said were phone taps of the separatists’ political leader, military commander, and the loose cannon rebel it alleges shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing all 298 on board. The new tapes could not be independently verified, though the content of some other conversations previously leaked by the SBU — some of which involve the same men — has been proven genuine.

The first tape purports to be a leaked phone conversation between Alexander Borodai, a Russian citizen and prime minister of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic,” and Alexei Chesnakov, a former senior figure in the Kremlin administration and deputy secretary of President Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia. During the conversation, which has been edited, the men discuss financing the revolt against Kiev’s government with cash from Moscow and debate how to rein in the militia’s mercurial Russian commander, Igor Strelkov.

“The military situation sucks. You know and understand that,” says the man alleged to be Borodai. “The DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] looks like a dick with Donetsk as the head and it’s not looking promising.”

The man alleged to be Borodai then discusses difficulties implementing a 5% tax on local business that he says is part of a plan prepared by the Russian presidential administration, and then asks the other man for more money.

“The biggest problem I have now is that I’m running out of dough,” he says. “Out of the 150 I took with me, they’re basically all gone, because I gave 50 to Zakhar, a million hryvnia [$85,000] to Igor [Strelkov], plus all the other expenses.”…

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Islamic charity pleads guilty to tax fraud

August 17, 2014

Al Haramain, a Saudi-based international charity which once maintained its U.S. branch in Oregon, has pleaded guilty to tax fraud 14 years after filing a false return designed to conceal a $150,000 check issued to Chechen jihadists.

The Associated Press reported on July 29:

…On Tuesday, the charity pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Eugene to one count of filing a false tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. The group was placed on probation for three years, and it agreed during that time not to resume operating as a tax-exempt charity in the U.S., prosecutors said.

The charity failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service that a $150,000 donation in 2000 went overseas to Saudi Arabia and was meant to be sent to Chechnya, prosecutors said. The charity falsely reported on its tax return that the money was used partly to buy a building in the U.S.

The foundation was disbanded after the U.S. government declared it was a terrorist organization and froze its assets…

Far from being a lawless series of raids in the early- to mid-2000s against innocent Islamic charities that CAIR and the ACLU have depicted, the successful convictions against the Holy Land Foundation and guilty pleas such a this illustrate that the Bush-era crackdowns on front charities was legitimate.

As part of the plea deal, Al Haramain’s former U.S. director, Pete Seda, who was previously convicted for his involvement in the case, is getting charges dropped against him.

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Mexican extortion scheme spreads to Texas

August 14, 2014

“Virtual kidnapping” ransom schemes have migrated from Mexico to El Paso according to border city medical doctors. Criminal groups call the physicians and tell them a loved one has been kidnapped, and demand that a ransom payment be wired to Mexico.

This development is ominous because it indicates the spread of socially destabilizing extortion rackets from the Northern Triangle and Mexico into a U.S. border state. Whether drug cartels, human smugglers, cuota syndicates, street gangs, or garden variety con artists are behind the scheme isn’t really the point.

The thing to do is to educate the people who are at risk for being targeted, to persuade them to report such incidents to law enforcement, and to refuse payment. Otherwise, if the ball really gets rolling and Americans comply with ransom demands more often, then that will drive up the amounts demanded and the trend will become more difficult to stop.

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “doctors without borders”… From the El Paso Times (h/t @1389):

‘Virtual kidnapping’ scam targets El Paso doctors

Scam strikes area medical professionals, does not appear cartel-related

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times

Posted:   08/02/2014

A terrifying telephone scam known as a “virtual kidnapping” is targeting doctors in El Paso and other Texas border cities.

An El Paso Police Department spokesman on Friday confirmed that police are aware of the extortion scam and a warning that has been circulating among the local medical community about the threatening phone calls, which purportedly come from a drug cartel.

The scheme is a new version of similar telephone scams and “there is nothing to indicate” it is cartel related, police spokesman Officer Javier Sambrano said. The number of reported doctor scam cases was not available.

Virtual kidnappings sprung up in Mexico several years ago feeding off fears of drug violence and abductions. It is called a “virtual kidnapping” because the victim is made to believe a loved one has been abducted when no kidnapping has taken place.

In the latest version, a person calls a doctor’s office and asks for a doctor by name. The caller claims to be from a drug cartel and that the cartel has kidnapped the doctor’s son or daughter. There is sometimes a crying child on the phone. The caller barks instructions, demands a ransom amount and the victim is ordered to wire the money to Mexico.

The victim does not realize no one has been actually kidnapped until after sending the money.

“It is important to take a minute to step back, try to think and remain calm,” Sambrano said.

The scam has been reported in other parts of the Texas-Mexico border.

Last month in South Texas, KRGV reported that a doctor in McAllen received a call claiming that his daughter had been kidnapped by the Zetas cartel. The caller demanded $50,000 or they would deliver his daughter’s head in a bag. Then, a girl crying and begging for her life was put on the phone. The doctor said that the call seemed frighteningly real for about 30 seconds before he became suspicious.

No ransom was paid. The doctor’s daughter was safe and had never been kidnapped.

In April, the FBI website warned about virtual kidnappings targeting U.S. citizens staying in hotels in Mexico.

“Callers impersonate themselves as cartel members or corrupt police officers who claim they’ve kidnapped a loved one and demand a ransom,” according to an FBI podcast. The victim is told to follow instructions in a scam that can run for three days. The FBI said that scammers are suspected to be Mexican prisoners using smuggled phones.

The FBI said the calls have warning signs — the calls come from an outside area code, the ransom is only accepted by wire transfer and the calls never come from the victim’s phone.

Sambrano said the calls are a variation of the “emergency” or “relative in Mexico” telephone scams that have previously hit the El Paso region. In those scams, a caller tricks a victim into believing they are a relative in Mexico. They usually start a call saying “Guess who it is?” They then claim to be the person that the victim guessed. The caller usually says they are coming to visit but then call to say they have been in an accident or arrested in Mexico and ask for money to be wired to save them from their predicament…

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