Posts Tagged ‘Irish Republican Army’

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Terror-weary, IRA shifts to financial crime

August 29, 2014

Coming to terms with their faded, washed out political cause, ex-terrorists of the disbanded Irish Republican Army and their newer generation of recruits have turned to money laundering schemes, organized crime, drug trafficking, and other forms of financial crime.

Like the movie, “The Third Generation,” illustrated, after the wind goes out of the sails of a formerly principled revolutionary group, the newer followers turn to ruthless and petty trifles.

This is something of a cautionary tale for the way the world deals with terrorist organizations and rebel groups who have failed to carry out their main objectives. Is it better to finish them off once and for all, or to let them limp along through banditry? The problem with this case is that the bandits appear to have evolved into a permanent mafia class.

This commentary from the National Post in May sheds more light on the development:

…The more controversial British economic policy post-Thatcher was to effectively allow Sinn Fein’s military wing, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), to launder the huge amounts of money it had acquired through high-profile bank robberies. This bounty was widely labelled by republicans as a pension fund — or pay settlement — for IRA members.

Instead of trying to recover the funds, the British government turned a blind eye and gave the IRA 10 years in which to legitimize the cash. This the IRA did, with property in parts of Dublin exchanging hands well above the market value. The laundering reached such heights that pubs on the outskirts of the city exchanged hands for millions of euros. While all this initially worked well for the IRA, the spectacular economic collapse of the Republic of Ireland, and in particular the property crash, meant that the ex-IRA members’ funds plunged in value.

British Intelligence agencies kept a close watch on the whole process, and became increasingly alarmed as members of the disbanded IRA turned to more traditional forms of organized crime — such as drug dealing and brothel management in order to make up for shortfalls caused by the financial crash. The absence of foreign organized crime syndicates in Northern Ireland (one of the few positive effects of the conflict) meant that opportunistic ex-IRA members were able to quickly fill this crime vacuum with relative ease.

Ex-loyalist paramilitaries had long since been involved in organized crime in loyalist areas of Northern Ireland. Indeed, much of the violence that has taken place in the so-called post-conflict era has been the result of “turf wars” between rival gangs of loyalists fighting over control of the lucrative illegal drugs markets…

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Wednesday word: revolutionary tax

February 27, 2013

The “revolutionary tax” is a fundraising method normally associated with Marxist movements and ideology-based terrorism.  One dictionary defines a revolutionary tax, or impuesto revolucionario, as an amount of money “a terrorist group demands from a business or wealthy person under threat of death.”*

W. A. Tupman has noted that revolutionary taxes are most often imposed by urban guerrillas to finance terrorist operations.

The inspiration for the revolutionary tax seems to trace back to Karl Marx and Friederich Engels, who once wrote that “In a revolution, taxation, swollen to colossal proportions, can be used as a form of attack against private property,” in a review of Emile de Girardin’s book Le socialisme et l’impôt (“Socialism and Taxes”).

Money Jihad doesn’t normally link to Wikipedia, but this particular entry describes the phenomenon of revolutionary taxation so succinctly and clearly that it’s a must read:

Revolutionary tax

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Revolutionary tax is a major form of funding for violent non-state actors such as guerrilla and terrorist organizations. Those outside the organization may consider it to be a euphemism for “protection money.”[1] Proponents of such groups maintain however that there is no difference between the revolutionary taxes “extorted” by given groups and corporate taxes raised by governments.

Revolutionary taxes are typically extorted from businesses, and they also “play a secondary role as one other means of intimidating the target population.”[1]

Examples

The Irish Provisional IRA and Corsican FLNC have extorted revolutionary taxes[2] as well as the following organizations.

ETA

The Basque nationalist organization ETA depended on revolutionary taxes.[3][4][5] Small to medium-sized businesses were extorted between the amounts of 35,000 to 400,000 euros each, which comprised most of ETA’s 10 million euro budget in 2001.[6]

The Philippines

In the Philippines most local and foreign companies pay revolutionary taxes to the Maoist New People’s Army. According to the army, the tax is a major obstacle for the country’s development while the New People’s Army justified it as a tax to be paid upon entering territories controlled by the rebels being a belligerent force.[7][8]

Colombia

The revolutionary taxes of Colombian guerrilla movements have become more common in the 1980s and 1990s.[9]

Nepal

The maoist guerillas of Nepal have also widely extorted revolutionary taxes.[10]

Argentina

The national socialist Argentine Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara (MNT) demanded a “revolutionary tax” from many Jewish shops in Buenos Aires.[citation needed]

Soviet Russia

In the Soviet Russia, the Bolshevik government decreed a revolutionary tax on November 2, 1918.[11] Although the Bolshevik government already controlled the country, its opponents were still internationally recognized as the lawful rulers.

References

  1. ^ a b Detection of Terrorist Financing, U.S. National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), 2002
  2. ^ MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORISM FINANCING: AN OVERVIEW, Jean-François Thony, IMF.org, Seminar on Current Developments in Monetary and Financial Law Washington, D.C., May 7–17, 2002. “Money laundering and the financing of terrorism may be seen as distinct activities. … sometimes discreetly called a “revolutionary tax” (ETA, FLNC, IRA)”
  3. ^ Terrorism versus democracy: the liberal state response, Paul Wilkinson, Frank Cass Publishers, 2001, p. 70
  4. ^ Suspected ETA supporters arrested in cross-border swoop Euronews 20/06/06
  5. ^ Terror, Fires, Hail: Holiday Time in Europe, ABC News
  6. ^ Counterterrorism: An Example of Co-operation, Juan Miguel Lian Macias, Ministry of Defence of Spain, 2002-2-22: “ETA is funded mainly from one source: the money it collects through extortion of small and medium businessmen, charging them the so-called “revolutionary tax”. At present the amounts required are between 35,000 and 400,000 euros. The annual budget the terrorist organisation needs for the maintenance of its structures is estimated at around 10 million euros. Beyond the Spanish borders, ETA seeks links with similar groups and causes. Hence, it intends to gain the support of ideologically akin groups. It has or has had contacts with the Breton Revolutionary Army, with Corsican and Irish terrorist groups, with revolutionary groups from Latin America, etc.”
  7. ^ Rebels’ ‘revolutionary tax’ adds to cost of business in Philippines, N.Y.Times, October 20, 2004
  8. ^ Chapter 6 — Terrorist Organizations, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, U.S. Department of State
  9. ^ Negotiating with Terrorists – A Reassessment of Colombia’s Peace Policy, NICOLAS URRUTIA, Stanford Journal of International Relations, vol. 3, issue 2, 2002
  10. ^ Trekking in the time of terrorism – The east is red with rhododendron and revolution, DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESTHA, GUPHA POKHARI #243, 15.4.2005
  11. ^ Socialism: Still Impossible After All These Years, Peter J. Boettke & Peter T. Leeson, George Mason University, s. 13; Critical Review, Vol. 17, Autumn 2005

The un-cited imposition of the revolutionary tax against Jews in Buenos Aires mentioned above is documented in The War of All the People by Jon B. Perdue.

Having explained the term, the academic concept of a revolutionary tax really needs to be broadened to include religious-based revolutionary movements, especially Islamist movements.  The Islamic fundamentalist imposition of the twin sharia taxes—zakat on Muslims and jizya on non-Muslims—is an attempt to revive aspects of Caliphate-era tax law and combine them with contemporary terrorist financing tactics.  This has been most clearly illustrated in the 1990s and 2000s in Afghanistan by the Taliban, but also by jihadist groups in Pakistan and Somalia.  And such extortion has not been limited to urban centers; it has been carried out in the countryside too.

Finally, it is important to note that ETA’s longstanding and profitable revolutionary tax mentioned above has reportedly been abandoned.  If the tax on Basque and Navarran businessmen that ETA benefited from for so many years has come to an end, perhaps there is hope that one day, the Islamic terrorists can be forced to abandon their jihad tax.

VOX Media, Diccionario Escolar, 2nd Edition (London:  McGraw Hill Professional, 2011).

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The top 5 terror finance films of all time

February 24, 2013

Thrillers about terrorism focus on adventure, explosions, and tension; while they may depict specific terrorist attacks and the logistics behind them, such movies rarely address the financing.  Meanwhile, movies about bank robberies, jewel heists, and corporate malfeasance show how bad guys finance themselves, but these financial crime films tend to boil down to greed, or the acquisition of money for personal use, rather than raising money for broader social objectives.

We are left with a handful of movies dealing with the actual financing of terrorism or rebel insurgencies, and those that do often address the subject briefly.  Although it’s tough to find movies that incorporate both elements, it’s worth the investment.  These five movies help illuminate important concepts in terrorist financing in ways that news articles and scholarly research cannot, and in ways that simple bank heist movies can’t either.  They’re also sure to entertain you along the way.

By the way, it took a long time to compile this short list, so please acknowledge Money Jihad if this ranking is reproduced elsewhere.

  1. “Casino Royale”—Le Chiffre is a bankroller to the world’s terrorists.  But he is being pursued by terrorists who want access to their funds immediately.  Le Chiffre sets up a high stakes poker game in Montenegro to get more money and restore his credibility with his terrorist clients.  His rival?  None other than James Bond, 007, who enters the match with money fronted by the British government.  If Bond wins, the international financing of terrorism will be setback; if he looses, the government will have directly funded terrorists.  While the men play their game, is Bond’s love interest being forced to work for an unnamed terrorist group in Algeria?This film shows how skill, charm, and a little bit of luck by Britain’s best spy can triumph over shadowy but well-connected forces behind the international financing of terrorism.
  2. “The Path to 9/11″—The television miniseries (especially Part I) that aired on ABC in 2006 includes an ensemble cast and multiple story lines, one of which focuses on the money trail that led U.S. intelligence to recognize the threat posed by Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s.  The trail begins with the cunning bomb maker, Ramzi Yousef, who bombs the World Trade Center and becomes and international fugitive.  From the Philippines to Pakistan, Yousef works on his explosives, causing mayhem wherever he goes.  He’s planning a massive attack–bombs detonating aboard flights, but to do it he needs money—real money—for materials, equipment, electronics, and men.  His comrade tells him about a Saudi millionaire who can help. Meanwhile, tired of going after “small fish,” the FBI’s John O’Neill and other senior members of the U.S. counter-terrorism community try to find out who’s funding Yousef.  The U.S. gets a nervous informant who is about to depart with Yousef on a trip to Afghanistan, where Yousef says they can meet his financier, whom he calls “the tall one.” The money chase story line earns this miniseries its place on the list, but even without it, the movie is a devastating portrayal of bureaucracy and politics getting in the way of mid and lower level agents who are trying to stop Bin Laden 9/11.  This important film is unfairly maligned by liberals who have flooded the Internet with an endless stream of angry, overly politicized criticism.
  3. “The Long Good Friday”—Unbeknownst to an English mafia boss, one of his lieutenants delivers cash to the Irish Republican Army, but skims a little for himself along the way.  The lieutenant ends up dead, and the boss, played by Ed Hoskins, and his loved ones wind up the target of a seemingly inexplicable bombing campaign. It turns that out another of his key gang members, a real estate developer who employs Irish workers, was the one responsible for the ongoing payments to the IRA.  While the bombs are exploding, Hoskins is trying to complete a major business deal with an American investor played by Eddie Constantine (who also appears in another noteworthy terrorist financing movie, “The Third Generation,” as a West German businessman who funds terrorism in order to sell equipment to security forces fighting it.)  His best advisers tell him to back down, but Hoskins thinks he can go toe-to-toe against one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world.  It’s a tense, exciting film, and it’s somewhat unique among movies for providing a glimpse into how front companies can be used to fund terrorism. Hoskins was widely praised for his performance, and Helen Miren who plays his wife is absolutely superlative.
  4. “Baader Meinhof Complex”—The movie portrays the terrorist acts committed by the Red Army Faction, or Baader-Meinhof group, in West Germany in the late 1960s and ’70s.  The group also carried out bank robberies which they regarded as legitimate “expropriation” to finance the revolution—a common Marxist terrorist fundraising technique.  Ultimately the first generation of the Red Army Faction fell apart.  It’s a well-done film that illustrates how the terrorists’ search for bigger and better attacks ultimately destroys and shatters not just the lives of their victims, but their own lives too.
  5. “Nighthawks”—Wulfgar, an international terrorist mercenary—sets off a bomb in England, striking “a blow against British colonialism” in Northern Ireland.  But children are killed in the attack, and the IRA refuses to pay him.  Struggling to overcome a shortage of pay and his damaged reputation, Wulfgar gets plastic surgery and sets off for New York.  There he hopes he can launch a major terrorist attack that will be covered by the news media capital of the world, and prove his worth again to international terrorist organizations that would hire him again if he succeeds.  He is aided by “Shakka Kappour,” a ruthless Moroccan terrorist in her own right.  Only cop-on-the-beat Sylvester Stallone can stop them, with assistance from his partner Billy Dee Williams and counter-terrorist expert LeGard, who does as good a job as anybody since Col. Mathieu from “The Battle of Algiers” in getting inside the mind of terrorists to defeat them at their own game.  Explosions, dramatic tension, and great pacing earn this overlooked thriller a place in the top five.

Honorable mention:  “A Bullet for the General”–Chuncho (or sometimes Chucho) and his bandits traffic arms for General Elías, a rebel leader during the Mexican Revolution.  Chuncho is joined by “El Niño,” an American man with mysterious motives.  They conduct a good, old-fashioned train robbery, seize rifles from a military garrison after assassinating its commandant, and dispossess the richest man in San Miguel of his wealth.  The film may not be the best of the Italian produced “Zapata westerns” set during the Mexican Revolution which all touched on similar themes, but it is one is quite germane to how an insurgent movement is armed and financed.

A problem worth noting about terror finance movies is that about half of them are designed convince audiences that terrorism is an artificial phenomenon created and funded by capitalists to increase profits circuitously.  While movies in this mold such as “The Third Generation,” “Burn!” and “The International” are relevant to the subject of financing terrorism or a revolution, and are entertaining, they are based on fundamentally flawed premises about the nature of the threat and cannot be wholly recommended.

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