Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

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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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Al Qaeda debuts new currency

March 2, 2014

Osama Bin Laden bill

Reportedly, Al Qaeda in Iraq (ISIL) is circulating its own one hundred “Islamic” pound note in western Iraq with a picture of the Twin Towers burning on 9/11 and a portrait of Osama bin Laden.

The new bills are quite a curious development considering that Islamists normally regard paper currencies as unclean “infidel” currencies invented by non-Muslim imperialists.  Islamists prefer gold dinars and silver dirhams such as those used by Muhammad according to traditional Islamic texts.

ISIL may have chosen a denomination of 100 because of the popularity of U.S. $100 bills in Iraq, where they are nicknamed “ghosts” because of Iraqi perceptions of Benjamin Franklin’s sprectral appearance.

Presumably, the new currency is more of a publicity stunt than an actual, working currency that could be used to pay the wages of their fighters.  The money would seem to have limited usefulness to ISIL’s men and their families, because it cannot be exchanged or used to purchase goods beyond ISIL’s territorial control.

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Al Qaeda extorts businessmen in Iraq

February 4, 2014

Al Qaeda shakes down businessmen as a form of zakat, the traditional Islamic tax on wealth.  Other jihadist groups, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have taken the same tack.  Years ago, Osama Bin Laden admonished businessmen to give their money to jihad, and Ayman al-Zawahiri has continued making similar statements since he took over Al Qaeda.  They use the money to pay salaries and to buy explosive devices.

Under classical sharia jurisprudence, zakat is not optional or voluntary in the sense of Western charity or alms.  Zakat is enforceable by the caliph under penalty of death, and Abu Bakr waged Islam’s first war against Muslims who refused to pay zakat.

It is little wonder then that Al Qaeda and the Taliban feel justified in taking money by force from Muslims for the furtherance of Islam.

Thanks to El Grillo for sending this in about Al Qaeda’s extortion of businessmen in Nineveh, Iraq, from Al-Shorfa on Jan. 27:

Al-Qaeda financiers arrested in Ninawa

Police have arrested four members of an armed group involved in collecting money for al-Qaeda by way of threats and extortion, Iraqi police in Ninawa province said Monday (January 27th).

“The police arrested four al-Qaeda-affiliated gunmen involved in collecting money for al-Qaeda by threatening citizens, so they could use it to finance terrorist operations,” Ninawa police spokesman Col. Khalid al-Hamdani told Al-Shorfa.

“The police arrested the group in an ambush set up in al-Sahel al-Aysar, southern Mosul, as they tried to extort a businessman, threatening him with death in order to take money from him,” he said.

“The gunmen admitted to belonging to al-Qaeda during the investigation, after being confronted with evidence collected by police,” al-Hamdani said. “They confirmed that the money was collected for al-Qaeda to buy cars and rig them with explosives.”

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Jihadi grudge match waged over money

December 11, 2013

Two militant Sunni Muslim groups have attacked each other 21 times over the past five months in Kirkuk in northern Iraq.  One group (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is an Al Qaeda offshoot while the other (Ansar al-Sunna) is a group of Baathist terrorists.  They’re squabbling over which will be the most powerful jihadist group in that part of Iraq, and also over access to financial resources, reports Niqash:

Another reason for the fighting has to do with money. Some sources say that part of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s millions were hidden away somewhere between Hawija and his hometown, Awja, and it’s been being used to fund violence and bombing. Other sources say it’s all a spat about ransom money.

Meanwhile, the civilian population is enjoying a slight respite from terror as these two groups target each other.

Perhaps stirring up divisions between jihadist groups could be a useful tactic to attempt replicating elsewhere…

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Al Qaeda makes millions from Mosul shakedowns

July 8, 2013

Merchants, doctors, and sheikhs in northern Iraq are being blackmailed by Al Qaeda to fund martyrdom operations there and in Syria.  At about $1 to $1.5 million in payments per month, Al Qaeda may be grossing between $12 to $18 million a year—a staggering sum for an organization that was on the verge of bankruptcy following the Iraq surge.

During its pre-9/11 heyday, Al Qaeda was pulling in $30 million a year, but had arguably collapsed to $5 million following the invasion of Afghanistan.  Viewed with that trend in mind, the Mosul extortion racket isn’t just a regional threat to Malaki or to Syria, but a reversal of fortunes that puts Al Qaeda back toward the upper echelons of well-funded terrorist groups worldwide.

From the AP via NPR, with some paragraphs omitted for brevity and relevance:

In Northern Iraqi City, Al-Qaida Gathers Strength

by The Associated Press

June 20, 2013

BAGHDAD (AP) — Al-Qaida’s Iraq arm is gathering strength in the restive northern city of Mosul, ramping up its fundraising through gangland-style shakedowns and feeding off anti-government anger as it increasingly carries out attacks with impunity, according to residents and officials.

It is a disturbing development for Iraq’s third-largest city, one of the country’s main gateways to Syria, as al-Qaida in Iraq makes a push to establish itself as a dominant player among the rebels fighting to topple the Syrian regime.

The show of force comes as Mosul residents cast ballots in delayed local elections Thursday that have been marred by intimidation by militants. Al-Qaida’s renewed muscle-flexing is evident in dollar terms too, with one Iraqi official estimating that militants are netting more than $1 million a month in the city through criminal business enterprises…

Other Sunni militant groups, including Ansar al-Islam and the Army of the Men of the Naqshabandi Order, are also active in Ninevah. Mosul is the capital of the Sunni-dominated province.

Al-Qaida’s growing power is particularly worrying because it is thought to be behind the bulk of the bombings across Iraq and because it is trying to assert itself as a player in neighboring Syria’s civil war. The head of al-Qaida’s Iraq arm last week defied the terror network’s central command by insisting that his unit would continue to lay claim to al-Qaida operations in Syria, too.

“We’re definitely concerned about it,” said a U.S. diplomat about the deteriorating security situation in Mosul. The diplomat, who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record, said al-Qaida’s Iraq arm sees an opportunity to try to build support in the area and is “out blowing things up to show that the government can’t protect and serve the people.”

Al-Qaida’s growing strength in Mosul is painfully clear to businessman Safwan al-Moussili. Traders like him say they are once again facing demands from militants to pay protection money or face grave consequences. Merchants say that practice had largely disappeared by the time American troops left in December 2011.

“They tell us: ‘Pay this amount.’ And if it’s higher than before, they say something like: ‘You recently went to China and you imported these materials and you made such and such profits,’” he said. “It seems they know everything about us.”

Small-scale shop owners, goldsmiths, supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies are all being hit up for money these days.

Al-Moussili and his fellow businessmen feel they have little choice but to pay up. About two months ago, he recalls, one businessman refused to pay, and insurgents planted a bomb inside his shop that killed the man.

“That forced everybody to pay, because we don’t see the security forces doing anything to end this situation,” he said.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Backstabbed: How Iraq helps Iran skirt sanctions

April 11, 2013

Nobody has been as good at tracking the painful truth of Iraqi-facilitated evasion of international sanctions on Iran as financial crime consultant Kenneth Rijock.  Consider:

  • The Kurds in northern Iraq have “allowed both rampant money laundering, and widespread facilitation of global Iran sanctions evasion” though their banks. In central Iraq, U.S. dollars are flowing in bulk from Baghdad to Iranmore>>
  • Lebanese banks and Bank Melli, a sanctioned Iranian bank, are operating in northern Iraq.  EU and North American businesses that use Lebanese banks may not be taking sufficient steps to prevent their transactions from benefiting Iranian end-users… more>>
  • “Iraq blatantly disregards UN sanctions on Iran” in accepting an Iranian-flagged vessel‘s shipment at its Um Qasr port, for example… more>>
  • Five Turkish banks in Iraq may be facilitating Iran’s sanction dodging behavior… more>>
  • Iran will reap $16 billion annually from a new natural gas deal with Iraq… more>>

Reading about the dangerous anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) policies of Iraq may be upsetting to those who have made personal sacrifices fighting for Iraqi freedom, but we have to face the current facts.  How does Rijock describe the Iraq invasion?  “Military success, yes; but AML/CFT utter failure.”

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Iraq convicts Arab-American of terror funding

October 11, 2012

Omar Rashad Khalil, a Muslim Palestinian Arab who acquired U.S. citizenship, has confessed to helping finance terrorist activities in Iraq.  Khalil is said to have received money from an unnamed Syrian while both men were in the U.A.E.—a well-known hub for money laundering and terror financial transactions.

An engineer, Khalil probably brought skills that would have been helpful to Al Qaeda in Iraq in their attacks against the government of Iraq, its security forces, and U.S. and coalition soldiers.  From AP via ABC News:

An Iraqi court has sentenced an American citizen to life in prison on charges of assisting al-Qaida and financing terrorist activities in Iraq, according to a government statement released Thursday.

The Interior Ministry said Omar Rashad Khalil, 53, was recruited by al-Qaida in Iraq in 2005. Khalil, an architectural engineer, is of Palestinian descent and entered the country in 2001, the ministry statement said.

The ministry released excerpts from a confession it said Khalil made in which he allegedly admitted to receiving money from a Syrian man in the United Arab Emirates to pay for terror attacks.

Khalil, who the ministry said was also known as Abu Mohammed, was sentenced by Baghdad’s central criminal court on Wednesday. Iraqi government officials could not immediately be reached for more details.

U.S. embassy spokesman Frank Finver issued a statement saying that the embassy officials were aware of the reports…

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Iraqi-Canadian financed deadly truck bomb attack

October 3, 2012

Sayfildin Tahir Sharif transferred money to a fellow jihadist in Iraq to sponsor a bombing that killed five American soldiers.  The “Albertan,” actually a Muslim Kurd living in Canada, could be extradited to the U.S.

The money in question, $2,800, may not seem like much, but it’s similar to the amounts that Amina Farah Ali transferred from Minnesota to al-Shabaab, and the amount that a Long Island hawaladar gave to the failed Times Square bomber.

From the Canadian Press via the Calgary Herald:

Albertan facing extradition to U.S. on terror charges sent cash to holy warriors

EDMONTON – An Alberta man facing extradition to the United States on terrorism charges told police he sent money to a group of holy warriors in the Middle East.

Sayfildin Tahir Sharif (SAY’-fill-din TA’-here SHAW’-reef) is accused of supporting a terrorist group that took part in a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2009 that killed five American soldiers.

His extradition hearing is being held in Edmonton, where he was arrest on Jan. 19, 2011.

A videotape of a police interrogation shows that Sharif told police after his arrest that he sent $2,800 to a mujahedeen group.

Sharif, who has been held in custody since his arrest, said the money was to repay a debt.

The video was shown to determine if it can be used as evidence in the hearing, which is expected to continue until at least October.

There is no publication ban on its contents.

The video shows that RCMP Cpl. Ian Ross also questioned Sharif about counselling a young woman in Morocco named Fatima over the Internet to become a suicide bomber, asking if she wanted to go to heaven and have angels all around her.

“She was saying she wanted to die, to strap on a belt (of explosives) and die for you,” Ross says on the video.

Sharif says he was just showing off to get her attention and wanted to have a relationship with her, perhaps marry her. He says his comments were just talk.

“The girl is in love with me.”

Ross suggests police gleaned the information from monitored Internet conversations and information from Sharif’s computer, which officers seized when he was arrested.

Sharif tells police he just talks too much, didn’t help anyone and doesn’t believe in suicide bombers.

Sharif, an ethnic Kurd, was born in Iraq but moved to Toronto as a refugee in 1993 and became a Canadian citizen in 1997…

The Americans accuse him of being part of a terrorist network that helped a Tunisian man enter Iraq and drive and detonate a truck filled with explosives at a military checkpoint, killing the U.S. soldiers…

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Index reveals corruption rife in Islamic world

August 13, 2012

When we post articles about financial crimes, corruption, graft, bribery, and theft in predominantly Muslim nations, we are sometimes told that we’re being biased, because corruption is a “global” or a “third world” problem.

Of course corruption is universal, but we shouldn’t just through our hands up in the air and say, “everybody does it,” and willfully ignore where it is the biggest problem.  Any suggestion that there may be a correlation between such activity and religion or culture is immediately dismissed as “racist,” “Islamophobic,” etc.

But shouldn’t we at least look at the evidence?  Transparency International’s annual corruption index provides some insight.  Their list is based on “surveys and assessments [that] include questions related to the bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and the effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts.”

Notice that of TI’s top 10 cleanest nations–those perceived to have the smallest levels of public corruption–nine are predominantly Christian while one, Singapore, is plurality Buddhist:

  1. New Zealand
  2. Denmark
  3. Finland
  4. Sweden
  5. Singapore
  6. Norway
  7. Netherlands
  8. Australia
  9. Switzerland
  10. Canada

Further notice that of the worst 10 countries, six are majority Muslim, with North Korea and Somalia coming in last out of 182 countries rated:

173.  Venezuela
174.  Haiti
175.  Iraq
176. Sudan
177. Turkmenistan
178. Uzbekistan
179. Afghanistan
180. Myanmar
181. North Korea
182. Somalia

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Iraq’s jihadists short on bombs, money

June 3, 2012

The commander of the Iraqi infantry reports that Al Qaeda in Iraq is broke and busted.  This is consistent with the trend of American successes in the wake of the Iraq surge in draining the financial capacity and bomb-making ability of AQI.

This does not mean, however, that there is no fundamentalist Islamic threat in Iraq—there are plenty of Shia militias and non-AQI Sunni radicals afoot in that country today.  But it does suggest that Iraq’s security forces are strong enough to at least keep Al Qaeda crippled.  From UPI last week:

BAGHDAD, May 25 — A high ranking Iraqi military officer says al-Qaida in Iraq is facing financial and logistic difficulties in the country.

Commander of the Iraqi army’s ground forces, Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, told al-Shorfa newspaper Friday that al-Qaida militants in Iraq were losing ground; stressing recent attacks had proven the terror militants’ inability to access explosives and finance grand scale attacks.

“The quantity of explosives in each car bomb or locally made improvised explosive device has dropped by half in the last two months,” Ghaidan said. “Investigations conducted by the Iraqi forces have confirmed that there is a severe shortage in explosives and money needed to finance terrorist operations.”

Ghaidan attributed this “to the success of Iraqi security forces in discovering dozens of weapons caches this year and to tighter control along the borders with neighboring countries”.

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“Near East” dominates U.S. foreign aid budget

January 16, 2012

The Congressional Research Service published a report on Jan. 6 with a title dreadful enough to guarantee that nobody will read its contents.  Buried within “State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2012 Budget and Appropriations” was this chart on U.S. foreign aid distribution by region:

CRS State Foreign Ops Figure 5

Note that the smallest amounts of foreign aid go to Christian Europe, Buddhist East Asia, and Catholic Latin America.  The largest amounts go to Africa and South and Central Asia (88 percent of which is for Afghanistan and Pakistan only), and the region that will get the most in FY2012 is the “Near East,” which is mostly Islamic.

Israel will get a share of the Near East aid, but Muslim countries will get major chunks of outlays for Africa and Asia.

The FY2012 budget would provide aid of a billion dollars or more to five countries.  One is Israel; the other four are Islamic.

We’re not just funding “both sides of a conflict.”  We’re giving money to those who are hostile to America in a time we can least afford it.

 

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