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Five Democrats and their Middle East donors

April 8, 2014
Bill Clinton and Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi

Bill Clinton and Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi

Opponents of George W. Bush like pointing out his family’s links to Saudi Arabia. Fair enough, but let’s not lose sight of the high-profile Democrats who have benefited from multi-million dollar campaign contributions, sweetheart loans, and business deals from Wahhabi or Iranian patrons, or both:

Jimmy Carter—Carter accepted $1 million from the Bin Laden family for his Carter Center presidential library. Carter also received a multi-million dollar loan in the late 1970s to save his peanut business—a loan which was backstopped by BCCI, the Pakistani-operated, Persian Gulf-funded bank that became embroiled in international corruption scandals and was ultimately shut down. BCCI officials had relationships with Osama Bin Laden, gave nuclear secrets to Pakistan, and served as the depository for money made off the Arab oil embargo. Bert Lance, a Carter administration official and close personal friend of Carter’s, was forced to resign during Carter’s presidency for improper banking relationships with BCCI. More recently, Carter refused to give back a donation from the Zayed Foundation, an anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, Saudi group, even after Harvard University had refused to accept a donation from the same foundation. Several observers have concluded that the funding has influenced Carter’s increasingly harsh views and references to apartheid when describing Israel.

(As a footnote, Jimmy Carter’s grandson, who is currently running for governor of Georgia, was accused of accepting too much foreign money when he first ran for office as a state senator in 2010, and Mohammad Bhuiyan, a university professor who is friend and ally of international micro-credit loan shark and alleged tax cheat Mohammad Yunus, has donated to Jason Carter’s political campaigns.)

Bill Clinton—The Clinton Foundation accepted a gift of at least $1 to $5 million if not $20 million from billionaire oilman Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi. Saudi Arabia itself gave between $10 and $25 million shortly before his wife became secretary of state, with Kuwait, Qatar and Oman each giving between $1 to $5 million. These donations followed earlier millions that flowed from the Saudi royal family to the Clinton library in Arkansas. In her dealings with the Islamic world as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton neglected to pursue an agreement with Iraq to provide for its ongoing security needs after the withdrawal of American troops, and she pressed for negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan—two decisions which coincidentally aligned with the desires of Saudi Arabia.

Al Gore—Gore personally made about $100 million from his share of the sale of the Current TV network to the Qatari-controlled sensationalist and anti-Semitic network Al Jazeera. The $100 million windfall makes the Saudi gifts to Jimmy Carter look like, well, peanuts. The purchase gave Al Jazeera its long awaited entre to American audiences, along with some air of legitimacy by being praised by the former vice president after the sale. Qatar has been a primary bankroller of the radical fighters of the Arab Spring, and Al Jazeera has been its cheerleader. The Shiites, secularists, and Christians are suffering from Qatar’s activities, but Al Jazeera and Al Gore have made out like bandits from the transaction. Although Gore was highly outspoken against the war in Iraq, he has been fairly quiet about American involvement in Libya and Syria—involvement which is supported and encouraged by Qatar. A cynic may wonder whether Gore’s silence was purchased.

John Kerry—When Kerry ran for president in 2004, Iranian-American donor Hassan Nemazee gave him $100,000. Nemazee had served earlier on the board of the pro-Khomeini American Iranian Council. Kerry signaled during the campaign that he would pursue areas of mutual interest with Iran, and complained that George Bush didn’t give Iran “nuclear fuel” to see whether or not Iran would use it peacefully. As secretary of state, Kerry has pursued diplomatic negotiations with Iran in Geneva despite Iranian President Rouhani’s history of deceiving the West about Iran’s nuclear program. Eventually, Hassan Nemazee pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison for defrauding banks with phony collateral to borrow money to finance his Democrat fundraising activities. Nemazee also served as a fundraiser and adviser to Hillary Clinton before going to prison.

Barack Obama—Before he was elected, there were allegations that Barack Obama got help as a student from Saudi agent Khalid al-Mansour for law school expenses and as an adult from sweetheart deals by Syrian-American real estate developer Tony Rezko. Like Kerry and Hillary Clinton, Obama also received campaign donations from Hassan Nemazee. Donations totaling $30,000 were made to the 2008 Obama campaign from two brothers in Gaza in violation of campaign finance laws; the donations were said to be returned after the donations became public. California businessman Kareem Ahmed was a “million dollar donor” to the Obama campaign and Democratic causes in 2012, and his offices were raided by the local district attorney last year.

 

A lot of the donors here are anti-Semitic, and they are supporting these politicians because they believe they can help them undermine Israel’s security. Saudi Arabia in particular has a long history of trying to buy elections around the world, not only supporting Wahhabi causes and groups, but “secular” and mainstream entities such as universities and philanthropies in order to curry broad institutional favor from the West. These cases, even if the money had zero influence on the politicians in question, illustrate the great lengths to which wealthy Arab donors and sometimes pro-Iranian donors will go in an attempt to influence U.S. politics and foreign policy in their favor.

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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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Nefarious finance: recommended reading

April 3, 2014
  • Back in each other’s arms:  Iran’s financial relationship with Hamas “has returned to what it was,” says Iran’s shura council… more>>
  • The pro-Hamas Islamic charity IHH  is hinting that it will launch another Turkish-based, Mavi Marmara-style “peace flotilla”… more>>
  • Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria has its own revenue sources and doesn’t feel the need to answer to Ayman al-Zawahiri… more>>
  • Smuggling gold to keep Iran in the black?  Prosecutors uncover a sanctions evasion crime ring in Turkey that may go all the way to Prime Minister Erdogan’s office… more>>
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Passport fraud poses terror finance threat

April 1, 2014

The presence of two Iranians with stolen passports on the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight 370 highlighted the ease with which foreign nationals from state sponsors of terrorism can fly with a false identity and gain entry to a NATO country.

Although the men may not have been responsible for the plane crash, the situation raises the question of how often passports are stolen or forged and what threats this presents to the criminals’ purported country of origin.

Interpol says that only three countries in the world screen air passengers against Interpol’s database of stolen passports.  Phony passports are a big problem too.  Earlier this month, customs officials in Dubai seized 52 fake passports on the way into the U.A.E.

In 2010, ABC News reported, “A decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks brought to light the dangers of fake IDs, federal undercover agents are still able to easily obtain genuine U.S. e-Passports using clearly fraudulent information that should have raised red flags at the State Department.”  The Government Accountability Office had confirmed previously that obtaining a real passport using fake identification could be done “easily.”  More recently, the Daily Mail reported that fake passports can be purchased through the online Silk Road black market.

Benefits of a fraudulent passport

Individuals can carry out many activities with a fraudulent passport other than boarding a plane.  They can set up bank accounts and apply for credit cards, like one eastern European mob boss did in Canterbury—accounts which he used “to rip off casinos, high street stores, petrol stations and banks.”  Hackers can also set up bank accounts in the U.S. from overseas using false passports, and use those accounts as repositories for money obtained as the result of malware attacks, as a case from a few years ago demonstrated.

Basically, obtaining a fraudulent passport allows malicious actors to “buy citizenship” in a target country.  The Telegraph reported this month that a Bulgarian passport can be purchased underground for £150,000, which enables the buyer to pose as a European Union citizen, even if he or she has a criminal record, and become eligible for government services and public benefits.

PBS’s Frontline has reported that Al Qaeda uses counterfeit passports and has conducted passport forgery workshops “to travel internationally in order to raise funds, recruit operatives, train the operatives in Afghanistan and send them out to plan and conduct terrorist attacks.”

False identities also complicate law enforcement’s efforts to investigate crime.  The CBC recently highlighted the threat of “synthetic ID fraud,” saying that “Fraudsters have been able to obtain driver’s licences, passports, phone numbers and credit cards, as well as open bank accounts, take out bank loans and create companies, all under fake names. By the time police move in, many of the fraudsters have vanished, leaving investigators trying to locate people who never existed.”

Diplomatic passports

Possession of diplomatic passports by ambassadors, consuls, and other diplomatic officials immunize travelers but from bag searches at airports.  This “diplomatic pouch” carve-out presents a significant smuggling risk.

Financial crimes analyst Kenneth Rijock revealed that Hezbollah agents based in South America were granted diplomatic passports by Venezuela, meaning:

Hezbollah agents could transport cocaine in international commerce, without fear of arrest. They also can carry bulk cash, or financial instruments into offshore financial centres, this moving Hezbollah drug profits along on their journey to controlled entities inside Lebanon.  One wonders whether how many Hezbollah agents are running around Europe with Lebanese diplomatic passports, moving cash or cashier’s cheques through EU banks, in support of the organisation’s terrorist goals…

The Venezuela connection was followed by an uproar in Canada over an Iranian national who entered the country with a diplomatic passport issued by St. Kitts & Nevis after the Iranian paid a $1 million bribe to Caribbean officials.

Author of the book Dirty Dealing Peter Lilley once observed that possession of a diplomatic passport from “an obscure country” could be red flag for money laundering.

What can be done

There can always be tighter controls and better physical standards for passports to prevent counterfeiting, the same way that officials do with currency.  More countries could use Interpol’s database of lost and stolen passports, although there are costs associated with that.  The Heritage Foundation has argued that the biographical questionnaire in the U.S. passport application should be modified.  Individuals should also take steps to safeguard their own passports from being stolen or copied.

Another measure to consider would be for some countries to increase the penalties for counterfeit passports.  Hollywood actor Wesley Snipes got off with simply being able to return to his country without even paying a fine after allegedly being caught abroad with a fake South African passport.

This piece has also been published at Terror Finance Blog.

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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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