Posts Tagged ‘France’

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Tricky business in France: news roundup

March 9, 2014
  • BNP Paribas may have disguised transactions with Iran. A major settlement with the U.S. over the alleged sanctions violation may be in the offing… more>>
  • Credit Agricole and Societe Generale are under investigation by U.S. officials for helping Iran skirt sanctions too… more>> (h/t Sal)
  • During this current sanctions pause, delegates representing 120 French corporations have traveled to Tehran about potential business deals… more>>
  • U.S. regulators are concerned about France’s intentions to build satellites for the United Arab Emirates with U.S. components… more>>
  • French anti-money laundering regulator Tracfin finds that crime rings are increasingly reliant on bitcoin and other virtual curriencies… more>> (Fr)
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OPEC hostage shared goals of captors

December 20, 2013

Thirty-eight years ago today, Carlos the Jackal and his band of terrorists forced their way into a meeting of OPEC in Vienna, Austria.  The terrorists eventually received millions of dollars from OPEC’s member nations to secure the release of the hostages after a trans-Mediterranean flight to Algeria.

OPEC leader Sheikh Yamani was spared for two reasons:  1) he paid off Carlos the Jackal, and 2) he also believed in armed Palestinian resistance against Israel.  Carlos’s fellow terrorists never understood why Yamani was a target.

From the documentary “Terror’s Advocate”:

After all, Yamani had orchestrated the Arab oil embargo that damaged the West economically, and Yamani would later fund Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, according to the Golden Chain document.  So Yamani was really on the same ideological side as Carlos and Arab terrorist groups from the outset.

The other thing is that radical Muslims have always wanted to control the oil in Saudi Arabia.  Although the Saudi royals are Siamese twins with the radical Wahhabi clerics, and impose strict sharia law against their subjects, the government of Saudi Arabia is seen by Islamists as too friendly to the West from a foreign policy standpoint.  Perhaps Carlos regarded Yamani as a representative of the “establishment,”—or perhaps they had worked out a side deal all along.

Today’s jihadists want control of Arabian petroleum to induce oil shocks against the West like Sheikh Yamani himself had done just a couple years before the OPEC hostage-taking.

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France fuels Al Qaeda with €25m infusion

November 8, 2013

Talk about funding both sides of the conflict.

While France has led the way in the fight against jihadists in Mali, it also continues to pay ransoms to Al Qaeda and its offshoots to secure the release of Frenchmen abducted abroad.  The latest ransom—a 35 million USD transfer to Al Qaeda in North Africa—is a direct violation of the G8’s recent public pledge against making such payments.

See this and this for previous Money Jihad coverage of multi-million dollar French ransom payments to terrorists.

From International Business Times on Oct. 30:

France ‘Paid Al-Qaida €25m to Release Hostages in Niger’

France paid up to €25m ($34m, £21.5m) in ransom to al-Qaida to free four Frenchmen who had been held hostage for years in the African Sahel, according to sources close to the operation.

The sources dispute claims by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian that no money was paid to secure the release of Pierre Legrand, 28, Daniel Larribe, 62, Thierry Dol, 32, and Marc Féret, 46.

Le Drian said the four, who had been kidnapped in 2010 in Niger, were released thanks to the brokerage of the country’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.

“There was no assault. There was an initiative taken by the networks of [President Issoufou] which permitted liberation without clashes,” Le Drian told France’s TF1.

However a source close to the Nigerian negotiating team told AFP a large sum was paid to the group responsible for the abduction, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Between 20 and 25 million euros was paid to obtain the release of the French hostages,” the source said. Similar claims were made by Le Monde…

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French burger joint robbed to fund Syrian jihad

September 22, 2013

Four Islamists from a 12-man terrorist cell in Paris have been arrested after an armed robbery of a fast food restaurant in Yvelines, France.  The men, all in their 20s or early 30s, stole 3,000 euros which authorities say would be used to finance jihad in Syria, including travel by cell members to the war front.

Some of the cell members have already departed for Syria.  French authorities say that at least 100 fighters currently in Syria are from France or were living in France prior to joining the battle against Bashar al-Assad.

Given that France has Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, the use of France as a funding base for Islamic terrorism is critically important to understand and monitor.  Thanks to Arun for sending this in from AP:

French police detain 4 suspected of robbing restaurant to finance jihad in Syria

Friday, September 6, 2013

By The Associated Press

PARIS – French authorities have detained four suspected extremists accused of robbing a fast food restaurant in order to finance their planned travel to fight alongside Islamic extremists in Syria.

Prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre says the four men, all French citizens, are being held on suspicion of preparing a terrorist act, as well as armed robbery of a Quick hamburger restaurant Wednesday in the suburbs of Paris.

She said the suspects were being questioned Friday by anti-terrorist investigators.

They can be held up to four days under France’s anti-terrorism laws.

More details are available in French from Europe1.

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Drugs, Al Qaeda, FARC, and arming the rebels

May 12, 2013

Mounting evidence suggests that weapons given to Libyan militants in the rebellion against Qaddafi were subsequently leveraged to purchase cocaine from FARC for follow-on distribution to the same European countries that helped arm the rebels in the first place.  No lessons will be learned from this fiasco, as it’s full steam ahead with the same players arming Syrian rebels.

From the Mirror (h/t Aisha):

Al Qaeda’s £168million cocaine smugglers: terror group flooding Britain with drugs

28 Apr 2013

Profits are being used to fund terror plots in the UK and western Europe

Al Qaeda has teamed up with other terror groups to smuggle cocaine to Britain, the Sunday People has ­discovered. One plot involved a staggering four tons of the illegal drug with a street value of £168million.

Al Qaeda, led by 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden until his death in May 2011, is using profits to fund terror plots in the UK and western Europe.

And they have paid for the cocaine with weapons looted in Libya during the mayhem following the death of Colonel Gaddafi in 2011.

Spooks from MI6 and the UK’s criminal intelligence agency SOCA have joined forces to investigate al Qaeda’s links to drug cartels and terrorist groups in Africa and South America.

Two Colombians – one a member of left-wing terror movement FARC – were arrested after a probe by the US Drugs Enforcement Agency.

It is understood the South American group, now a major ­cocaine cartel, sold a large quantity of the drug to bin Laden’s North African branch, al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb.

They paid using cash and also weapons looted in Libya.

The drug was shipped to North Africa and moved across the Mediterranean into southern France where it is believed to have been distributed to other European ­countries, including the UK. A second operation carried out by secret intelligence groups led to the arrest of the former head of the navy in West Africa’s Guinea-Bissau, now classed as a “narco-state” because of its reliance on the cocaine trade.Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto and six others have now been flown to New York and charged with drugs trafficking. Four also face terrorism charges.

They were caught in a sting ­operation in which they believed they were talking to members of FARC. They agreed to supply ground-to-air missiles and a quantity of AK-47 assault rifles and grenade launchers in exchange for four tons of cocaine with a street value of £168 million.

Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb has long been involved with cocaine traffickers, receiving large payments to ensure drug runners could safely cross the Algerian Sahara with multi-million-pound consignments.

But spies say this is the first time evidence has emerged suggesting the organisation are themselves trafficking cocaine into Europe.

A highly placed crime ­intelligence source in London said: “It is a very worrying development and both MI6 and SOCA will be working ­together to find out as much as they can.

“When there is an overlap between straightforward crime and security matters, the two agencies work together. There will be a lot of interaction with security forces from several countries.

“France will be particularly involved given the Algerian connection and the fact that France seems to be the main entry point for the al Qaeda shipments. There will also be strong American interest”…

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Revisiting Ghaith Pharaon’s ties to Bin Laden

March 28, 2013

A French parliamentary report released shortly after 9/11 revealed that Ghaith Pharoan and other Saudi elites were “directly linked to [Osama] Bin Laden through banks, holding companies, foundations and charities…”

This is the same Ghaith Pharoan who was involved with the $1.7 billion savings and loan scandals of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and CenTrust in the 1980s.  Although not officially charged with financing terrorism, Pharoan remains under U.S. indictment for “having been a front man in B.C.C.I.’s secret and unlawful acquisitions of American banks, including the National Bank of Georgia and the Independence Bank of Encino, Calif.”

Like many prominent Saudis, Pharoan peddled influence in the U.S. prior to his indictment without regard to political party, allegedly forming relationships with Henry Kissinger, members of the Carter administration including Bert Lance, and George W. Bush before he became involved in politics—a sign of the great lengths to which the Saudis have gone to curry favor with American officials.

The Guardian examined the French report (h/t History Commons) in this difficult-to-Google article below.  Thanks to Rushette for suggesting more coverage related to this subject.

City ‘haven’ for terrorist money laundering

Report says Bin Laden has extensive interests in UK

Osama bin Laden’s extensive financial interests in Britain are outlined today in a French parliamentary report that says the City is a money laundering haven for billions of pounds of tainted and terrorist money.

Up to 40 companies, banks and individuals based in Britain can legitimately be suspected of maintaining direct or indirect relations with the terrorist, according to a 70-page annexe, The Economic Environment of Osama bin Laden, attached to the French report. Compiled by an independent team of financial experts whose identity the French parliamentarians have undertaken not to reveal, the annexe reveals that the structure of Bin Laden’s financial network bears a striking similarity to that used by the collapsed BCCI bank for its fraudulent operations in the 1980s.

“This document clearly shows the great permeability of the British banking and financial system and the fragility of the controls operated at its points of entry,” write the authors of the French report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian.

The annexe establishes numerous links between Bin Laden with international arms and oil dealers and even members of the Saudi elite.

It also pinpoints the relationship and its subsquent breakdown between Osama bin Laden and his family’s holding company, Saudi BinLadin Group, and its multiple subsidiaries, investments and offshoots in Europe.

Many of the individuals concerned, several with British connections, were also involved in various senior roles with BCCI, the report says. Hundreds of banks and companies are mentioned, from Sudan, Geneva and London to Oxford, the Bahamas and Riyadh.

The names of half a dozen former BCCI clients and officials, including Ghaith Pharaon, wanted by the US authorities for fraud, and Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi banker who was closely involved with the bank before it was closed down by the Bank of England in 1991, recur throughout the annexe and are directly linked to Bin Laden through banks, holding companies, foundations and charities, at least one of which, the International Development Foundation, has its headquarters in London.

“The convergence of financial and terrorist interests, apparent particularly in Great Britain and in Sudan, does not appear to have been an obstacle with regard to the objectives pursued [by Bin Laden],” the annexe concludes. “The conjunction of a terrorist network attached to a vast financing structure is the dominant trait of operations conducted by bin Laden”…

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Money trail news: recommended reading

March 21, 2013
  • Of course, old chap, Bank Saderat has financed Iran’s nuclear program. But that doesn’t give you the right to impose economic sanctions, says an EU court… more>>
  • The web, smartcards, and cell phones were sold as glittering innovations that would empower the world’s poor. Now Bangladesh is desperately wading through massive rivers of fast-moving data in time to catch the next terrorist transaction… more>>
  • Nine men have been convicted of fundraising for the jihadist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. An overdue update to this story from Paris… more>>
  • Iranian state-run newspaper claims it has proof that Saudi Arabia is funding Al Qaeda fighters of Syria’s al-Nusra Front.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day… more>>
  • A Muslim Brotherhood group is helping coordinate events in Tunisia thanks to some money from an unexpected source.  The British taxpayer… more>>
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Recommended reading from the Economic Warfare Institute

February 10, 2013
http://www.unodc.org/unodc/secured/wdr/Graphs_Cocaine_globa_seizures_all.pdf

Chart from UNODC’s World Drug Report 2012

Terror finance expert Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Ken Jensen have written a new piece on the Economic Warfare Institute Blog entitled “Trafficking Cocaine in the Name of Allah.”

Ehrenfeld & Jensen report that terrorists in Mali and Algeria use the drug trade to finance their activities, noting that, “While Islam forbids the use of drugs by Muslims, there are no such limitations in selling it to the infidels.”

The article also accounts for several other funding sources of the Mali rebels, which, as Money Jihad has indicated, include Saudi Arabia and QatarIt’s all well worth the read; check it out here.

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Qatar funding Islamist rebels in Mali

February 1, 2013

A French military intelligence source has divulged that Al Qaeda-linked rebels in Mali have received financing from Qatar.  This disturbing but predictable news comes as France attempts to pacify the Malian countryside while receiving logistical and political backing from the U.S.

There have been earlier allegations of financing Malian jihadists by Saudi Arabia as well.  This would be consistent with the flow of money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to dissidents and rebels in countries undergoing “Arab Spring” uprisings.  The difference this time is that Western officials are on the opposite side.  Saudi and Qatari state sponsorship of enemy fighters united against France suggests a burgeoning proxy war between Nato and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

From France 24:

Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?

Oil-rich gulf state Qatar has a vested interest in the outcome of the north Mali crisis, according to various reports that have been picked up by French MPs, amid suspicion that Doha may be siding with the rebels to extend its regional influence.

Since Islamist groups exploited a military coup in the Malian capital of Bamako in early 2012 to take control of the entire north of the country, accusations of Qatari involvement in a crisis that has seen France deploy troops have been growing.

Last week two French politicians explicitly accused Qatar of giving material support to separatists and Islamists in north Mali, adding fuel to speculation that the Emirate is playing a behind-the-scenes role in spreading Islamic fundamentalism in Africa.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Communist Party Senator Michelle Demessine both said that that Qatar had questions to answer.

“If Qatar is objecting to France’s engagement in Mali it’s because intervention risks destroying Doha’s most fundamentalist allies,” Le Pen said in a statement on her party website, in response to a call by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani for dialogue with the Islamists.

‘Cash from Doha’

The first accusations of Qatari involvement with Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups came in a June 2012 article in respected French weekly the Canard Enchainé.

In a piece title “Our friend Qatar is financing Mali’s Islamists”, the newspaper alleged that the oil-rich Gulf state was financing the separatists.

It quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying: “The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.”

A month later Sadou Diallo, the mayor of the north Malian city of Gao [which had fallen to the Islamists] told RTL radio: “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”

The presence of Qatari NGOs in north Mali is no secret. Last summer, in the wake of the separatist takeover, the Qatari Red Crescent was the only humanitarian organisation granted access to the vast territory.

One member of the Qatari humanitarian team told AFP at the end of June that they had simply “come to Gao to evaluate the humanitarian needs of the region in terms of water and electricity access.”

Deeply entrenched

Regional geopolitical expert Mehdi Lazar, who specialises on Qatar, wrote in French weekly news magazine L’Express in December that Doha’s relationship with predominantly Muslim north Mali was deeply entrenched.

“Qatar has an established a network of institutions it funds in Mali, including madrassas, schools and charities that it has been funding from the 1980s,” he wrote, adding that Qatar would be expecting a return on this investment.

“Mali has huge oil and gas potential and it needs help developing its infrastructure,” he said. “Qatar is well placed to help, and could also, on the back of good relations with an Islamist-ruled north Mali, exploit rich gold and uranium deposits in the country.”

Qatar’s foreign policy is also motivated by religion, wrote Lazar, and success in Mali would “greatly increase the Emirate’s influence in West Africa and the Sahel region”…

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Eid meat used as cover for funding Al Qaeda

December 13, 2012

Attorneys for two of the defendants say that their clients only collected money to buy meat for Eid, but French prosecutors allege that the money went to an offshoot of Al Qaeda.

Eid presents a noteworthy opportunity for Muslims living in the west to transfer money to the Middle East under the guise of charity for meat purchases for poor families.  The radical Turkish flotilla “charity,” IHH, which has been banned by Germany for funding Hamas, has used Qurbani meat distribution as its pretext for operating in 95 countries.

From Radio Free Europe on Dec. 4:

Paris Trial Begins Of 10 Alleged Fundraisers For IMU

Ten defendants have gone on trial in the French capital on charges that they helped finance the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an extremist group accused of links to Al-Qaeda.

The suspects, who are described as mainly of Turkish origin, are alleged to have collected thousands of dollar from people at mosques in French cities to send to the IMU between 2003 and 2008.

They were arrested in 2008 in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Lawyers for at least two of the defendants have rejected the charges, saying the money was collected for “humanitarian” uses.

The IMU, which was formed to overthrow the Uzbek government and create an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia, is officially considered a terrorist group by the United States.

In October 2001, the UN Security Council formally listed the IMU as being “associated” with Al-Qaeda.

H/t to Twitter user El Grillo for alerting me.

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Ramadan’s $430 million halal windfall in France

August 10, 2012

Ramadan isn’t just big money for terrorists.  It’s big money for the halal food manufacturers, distributors, and advertisers too.  Particularly in France.  From Voice of America on Jul. 31:

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