Posts Tagged ‘France’

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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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French arrest formidable financier of jihad

July 12, 2012

We’ve seen a several cases over the past year or two of individual Muslims living in the West who each raise anywhere from one to 15 thousands dollars a pop to fund jihad overseas.  The fact that French authorities have referred to this suspect as a “formidable financier” suggests that this individual may have acquired $15K or much more, but time will tell.

This news development is also an indication that Al Qaeda in North Africa (AQIM) isn’t just receiving money through abductions for ransom.  We have already seen indications that AQIM has enough money to send some of it to Al Qaeda itself.  Could French Muslim money be passed through AQIM to Al Qaeda as well?

From the Associated Press, July 3:

French police arrest website administrator suspected of financing Al Qaeda

PARIS –  French authorities have arrested the administrator of an extremist French website who is suspected of playing a key role in financing and recruiting for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups from Pakistan to Spain, the Paris prosecutor’s office said Tuesday.

The man — whom prosecutors call an “operational vector and formidable financier of the bloodiest terrorist groups” — is being questioned Tuesday. He faces preliminary charges of planning terrorist acts and financing a terrorist enterprise, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The man, a Tunisian born in 1977 based in the southern French city of Toulon, was arrested Friday after a yearlong investigation, the prosecutor’s statement said. It did not give the man’s name.

The prosecutor cited “serious and concordant evidence” that the suspect sent material from his computer to terrorist groups. It says he played a “centralizing role” in collecting funds for terrorist groups to buy weapons, but did not elaborate on how much money was involved.

Prosecutors say he is suspected of acting as a financier and recruiter for groups including Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (North Africa), Fatah al Islam, and the Islamic State of Iraq.

Investigators studied thousands of email messages and analyzed a “considerable mass” of data, prosecutors said.

They called it an exceptionally advanced example of “the use of the Internet for terrorist ends in the domain of radical Islam.”

The arrest comes three months after a gunman who police said claimed allegiance to Al Qaeda killed Jewish schoolchildren and paratroopers in a rampage in southern France, in France’s worst terrorist attacks since the 1990s.

Also earlier this year, a French court sentenced an Algerian-born nuclear physicist to five years in prison for his role in plotting terrorism with Al Qaeda’s north African wing via online contacts. Adlene Hicheur, a former researcher at Switzerland’s CERN laboratory, was convicted of “criminal association with a view to plotting terrorist attacks.”

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