Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

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Who finances Hamas’s rockets?

July 14, 2014

Short answer: Iran.

Iran manufactures missiles, loads them up at its Bandar Abbas port, ships them to Sudan, where they are transported by ground to the Sinai for final transfer through smuggling tunnels to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Smuggling was rampant particularly when the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Egypt under Muhammad Morsi, making a significant contribution to Hamas’s 10,000 missile stockpile. “Under Morsi it was almost a highway,” said one observer.

Shorter-range missiles are built in Gaza itself. Technical expertise lent by Iran is helping develop Hamas’s homegrown rocket program, although even as recently as two years ago one analyst observed that Hamas lacks the capacity within Gaza to build a banana plantation, much less a missile factory.

Some missiles, such as the M-302, are manufactured by Syria “under license” from China, which designed it. Assad would not be able to produce these weapons or remain in power without Iranian backing in the first place.

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Terror finance news: recommended reading

July 10, 2014
  • Babar Ahmad to be sentenced for managing websites that raised money for Chechen jihadists, the Taliban and Al Qaeda… more>>
  • Victims of Iran-backed terrorism could seize Iranian Internet domain names to satisfy $1.2 billion in judgments they’ve won in court… more>>
  • Businesses engaged in commerce in Panama and Venezuela should take note of a bill before Congress to prevent the financing of Hezbollahmore>>
  • A Muslim Brotherhood figure accepts a $140,000 check from a Hamas-linked Kuwaiti charity to build a new mosque in Switzerland… more>>
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5 big terror finance stories so far in 2014

May 30, 2014

Money Jihad has blogged or tweeted about all these news stories, but they’re all significant enough that they merit a second look by anybody interested in the topic of terror finance. Here are some of the most significant news articles and commentaries written about terrorist financing news developments of the year so far:

Australian money laundering bust: “Project Eligo” resulted in at least 105 arrests, 190 criminal charges, and over $500 million in assets seized in Australia since the beginning of the year. Exchange houses involved in the laundering operation were delivering a cut of profits to Hezbollah, illustrating the control that Hezbollah exerts over global financial transactions…more from the Sydney Morning Herald>>

Canada seizes $7 million in Iranian assets: The seizure is significant not only because it delivers justice to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, but because it demonstrates the validity of the legal theory that terrorism can be partially bankrupted through litigation. Previous judgments have been just that—judgments without seizing or disbursing assets. Now legal methods prove that the lawyers of terrorists’ victims deserve a seat at the table along with military operations, intelligence, law enforcement, sanctions, and other counter-terror techniques…more from the CBC>>

Turkish corruption scandal: The ongoing Turkish corruption scandals boil down to a rivalry between two Islamists, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and the cryptic Pennsylvania imam Fetullah Gulen. But the scandal has also revealed the degree to which Turkey has enabled Iranian sanctions evasion, and at the same time we’re learning more about Turkey’s support for Al Qaeda and Hamas…more from Jonathan Schanzer>>

Sanctions relief offered to Iran could fund terrorism. Easing Iranian sanctions as part of a larger diplomatic push offers no controls over how Iran uses the money. Not only will the money not be used to satisfy judgments won by the victims of Iranian terror, but the money could be given to the perpetrators of Iranian terror, including Hezbollah, the IRGC, Hamas, and the Quds Force…more from Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon>>

Kuwait’s terror financing cabinet minister proves too hot to handle. Kuwait, whose hide the U.S. saved during the Gulf war, brazenly stabbed us in the back after 9/11 by failing to outlaw terrorist financing for 10 years. Then Kuwait added insult to injury in January by promoting a top private fundraiser for jihad in Syria to not one but two major government posts simultaneously. This prompted US Treasury officials to grow a spine and actually condemn Kuwait for rewarding this kind of person. Nayef al-Ajmi finally quit earlier this month… more from Reuters>>

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News roundup: following the terrorists’ money

May 29, 2014
  • Britain’s Charity Commission has historically been passive about investigating Islamic charities. Now the Commission is participating in an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood, which critics say constitutes “disproportionate” scrutiny… more>>
  • After stuffing 20,000 euros in her panties and attempting to fly to Syria, a British Muslim student denies that she intended to fund terrorists… more>>
  • Iran will restore funding to Hamas with $200 million per year in exchange for Hamas’s support of Iran’s involvement in Syria… more>>
  • The United Nations is levying sanctions and an arms embargo against Boko Haram, citing its relationship with Al Qaedamore>>
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Hezbollah tells its cells to find new sources of money

May 23, 2014

Cash-strapped Iran can no longer lavish its overseas Hezbollah cells with money to finance their operations while simultaneously trying to revitalize its own economy and supply Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria. Consequently, Hezbollah’s military command has instructed subordinate entities “to find new sources of funding,” according to the Lebanese newspaper, The Daily Star.

The good news is that Iran is still having a hard time funding all of its terrorist group proxies. The bad news is that those same groups are becoming more desperate and inventive as they’re weaned off the Iranian teat.

Hat tip to El Grillo:

Hezbollah cutting costs as Iranian aid dries up

Sources close to the central command at Hezbollah told The Daily Star that the party has begun to take budget-cutting measures due to the shortage of Iranian aid caused by the Islamic Republic’s tough economic situation.

Although Iran’s economy is expected to improve in the coming months if it reaches an agreement with the West over its nuclear program by a July 20 deadline, the Islamic Republic is also helping the Syrian government cover its fiscal deficit, a strain that is less likely to end soon.

The U.S. and European countries have been keen on monitoring Hezbollah’s funding sources in Latin America, Africa and other Asian countries, with a special focus on religious organizations connected to the party. These organizations and the businessmen involved with them are said to be the main source of donations in these countries. Recently, for example, Germany banned a charitable foundation after it discovered its connections to one of Hezbollah’s organizations.

Most of the money sent to Hezbollah comes from the African continent and is under the supervision of one of the party’s top officials, the sources said.

The sources also pointed to the huge financial impact of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria.

Tehran, which uses Hezbollah as a tool to implement its regional agenda, wants to deepen its power and control in Syria, and the sources believe that it also plans to increase its strategic influence in south Lebanon. The claim is backed up by a recent statement by an aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Yahya Rahim Safavi, who controversially described south Lebanon as Iran’s first line of defense.

These difficult times have forced Hezbollah’s military wing – also known as the “Jihad Council” – to ask non-functional cells and the party’s external security apparatus to find new sources of funding. The instruction to these cells – which are spread around Russia, Romania, Germany, France and some parts of America – to find new sources of money seems especially urgent now that European security services are closely monitoring individuals suspected of being connected to Hezbollah.

According to sources in the party, Hezbollah has also fired many employees working within the party’s social, health, media and service institutions to cut costs.

In addition to this, the party has reduced its aid for Sunni civil and scholarly organizations that are close to Hezbollah…

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Money and jihad: recommended reading

May 22, 2014
  • Boko Haram‘s rise to prominence might be explained by foreign funding to the tune of $70 million… more>>
  • Witness:  A mosque in Long Island funded a militant jihadist group called Supporters of Shariamore>>
  • Saynab Abdirashid Hussein perjured herself before a Minnesota grand jury about money she raised for jihad in Somalia. Her sentence? Just probation… more>>
  • CAIR is furious that banks have closed risky accounts with Iranian students in the U.S….more>>
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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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Illicit transfer news: recommended reading

March 13, 2014
  • Eight have been arrested in raids over zakat raised in Britain to fund terrorism in Syria… more>>
  • Is a millionaire bitcoin trader copping a plea over money laundering allegations?  More>>
  • By sea, land, and air—Iran’s history of busted arms smuggling operations is exposed… more>>
  • Speaking of Iranian weapons trafficking, Iraq has been a helpful facilitator to their neighbor lately… more>>
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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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Illicit transfer news: recommended reading

February 20, 2014
  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad “receives between $100-$150 million dollars annually from Iran,” says an Iranian expert… more>>
  • FinCEN shuts down a Michigan-based hawala dealer who sent 8,000 wires to Yemen and never checked a single customer’s ID… more>>
  • We don’t know how much money is financing terrorism, and we don’t know how much it costs to combat its financing either, so how do we know if what we’re doing is working?  More>>
  • A New Jersey company illegally shipped $70,000 worth of protective gloves to Iranmore>>
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