Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

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FSA hammered by Qatar-funded al-Nusra Front

November 10, 2014

The Free Syrian Army, Washington’s best hope for a Syrian alternative to Bashar al-Assad and Al Qaeda, suffered a major defeat last week at the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra—Al Qaeda’s formal affiliate in Syria.  The FSA was recently forced to leave their Western-provided arms behind them as they retreated from advancing Nusra forces.

In case you’ve forgotten who funds al-Nusra, it’s Qatar. And their foreign minister’s cousin.  It’s not just private donors working outside the Qatari ruling class—the money and support for al-Nusra comes from within their very own ranks.  From The Telegraph (h/t Sal):

Minister’s family ties to terror

Cousin of Qatari foreign minister was arrested for terrorist funding but freed after intense lobbying

The cousin of Qatar’s foreign minister has been convicted of funding international terrorism and is believed to be linked to an alleged terrorist known as the “Wolf of al-Qaeda”.

Abdulaziz bin Khalifa al-Attiyah was found guilty in absentia by a Lebanese court of channelling financial support to al-Qaeda.

He was detained in Lebanon – apparently following a tip-off by British and American intelligence – but was allowed to leave the country before his trial after intense pressure by Qatar on the Lebanese government.

On social media, al-Attiyah appears to have energetically supported Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s Syria franchise, the al-Nusra Front.

He also appears to have tweeted support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil.)

The al-Nusra Front last year instructed donors to channel money to it through an organisation closely linked to al-Attiyah.

Al-Attiyah is also associated with Umar al-Qatari, known as the “Wolf of al-Qaeda”. Al-Qatari was named last month by the United States government as a designated terrorist.

In a brief statement, lawyers for al-Attiyah insisted that he had not funded terrorism.

However, they repeatedly refused to deny that he had been arrested and convicted for doing so in Lebanon or that he had written pro-terrorist messages on social media.

The lawyers declined to respond to any further questions about him, despite repeated requests over several days.

Al-Attiyah’s conviction, in June, brings the funding of terrorism closer to the heart of the Qatari government and will increase the growing pressure on the country to end its role as a centre for the funding of global jihad…

Still think that Qatar is a good intermediary for prisoner swap deals in Afghanistan, or for peace negotiations between Israel and its neighbors?  Now we see clearly that Qatar holds the bloody dagger that stabbed Pres. Obama, the State Department, and the CIA in the back in Syria. Will Qatar’s victims learn for this treachery or sit down at the bargaining table to be betrayed one more time?

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Jihadist’s family out of business after secret $9 million transfer to Lebanon

September 29, 2014

Australian financial authorities have foiled an ongoing attempt to keep millions of dollars in transactions off the books by a remittance company owned by a terrorist’s sister and her husband. The case illustrates the possibilities for financial system abuse by small, non-bank financial companies based in the West with significant business operations in high-risk countries like Lebanon. The case also provides justification for probing the money trails and the sympathies of the families of convicted terrorists.

Hat tip to El Grillo for sending in related news. From The Sydney Morning Herald on Sept. 17:

Sharrouf family firm shut over terror funding fears

A Lakemba money transfer business owned by the sister and brother-in-law of convicted Sydney terrorist Khaled Sharrouf has been suspended amid concerns it was sending millions of dollars to the Middle East to finance terrorism.

Damour Sharrouf and her husband Ahmed Alwash have had their Lakemba firm Bisotel Rieh Pty Ltd suspended after the financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC became concerned about millions of dollars sent to Turkey and Lebanon that the firm has failed to account for. It is the first such suspension over suspected terrorism financing.

Ms Sharrouf, 37, is the older sister of Khaled Sharrouf, the 31-year-old who is wanted for terrorism offences and who escaped to the Middle East on his brother’s passport.

Local business owners told Fairfax Media they had seen Khaled Sharrouf inside the Lakemba business, which also operates a travel firm, before he went overseas.

“Yes, I’ve met him before,” barber Mohamad Machlouche, who owns the business next door to the money transfer firm, said. “He seemed different before [he went overseas]. He seemed normal, looking for work, was a normal person.

“No one on earth was expecting anything like this.”

According to the money transfer firm’s website, it has an office in the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli, seen as an epicentre for Sunni extremism in the country and a gateway to funding militant groups in neighbouring Syria – raising the possibility that money could even have gone to the brutal Islamic State group.

AUSTRAC’s acting head John Schmidt told Fairfax Media the agency’s concerns were based on the fact that Bisotel Rieh was failing to report all of the money it sent overseas and often refused to reveal who was ultimately receiving the funds. Also, it was sending money to “high terrorism financing risk jurisdictions”.

“We’ve had some concerns about the quality of their reporting. For example, for the period from January to August this year, they reported international funds transfers of $12.3 million. We believe from other sources that it was in fact closer to $21.3 million,” Mr Schmidt said.

“So in that eight-month period, there’s already a $9 million discrepancy. That causes concerns.”…

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10 companies that make money from terror ties

July 15, 2014

Longtime Money Jihad readers already know that sharia banks are conduits for funding jihadist groups, but may not be aware of some of the other corporations and businesses that are in financial cahoots with terrorists.

  1. Tajco Ltd.—A Lebanese-based company that uses supermarkets to launder South American drug money through grocery stores in Gambia back to Lebanon for dispersal to Hezbollah. According to former Treasury official Stuart Levey, Tajco and its subsidiaries constitute a “multinational network [that] generates millions of dollars in funding and secures strategic geographical strongholds for Hizballah.”
  2. Dahabshiil—A money services business (technically a remittance company, not a bank) that pays a $500K stipend twice a year to al-Shabaab. Somali journalists and musicians have alleged that the payments aren’t just for “protection,” (ie, the freedom to operate in Somalia without being bombed) but that Dahabshiil shares tribal links and policy goals with the terrorist group.
  3. Al-Aqsa TV—The U.S. describes the media outlet as “a television station in Gaza financed and controlled by Hamas.” Hamas raised the initial capital to create Al-Aqsa TV, negotiated for a satellite provider, and allocates money for its budget. Its programming seeks to prepare children to join and fight for Hamas as they age.
  4. Crescent Foods—the “caterers of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Crescent Foods is routinely selected to provide food at conferences and functions held by a variety of North American Muslim Brotherhood front groups and affiliates including the radical American Muslims for Palestine and organizational co-conspirators of the Holy Land Foundation, a defunct Hamas front charity. Crescent Foods also markets halal foods to the constituencies of these Islamist groups.
  5. Sniper Africa—A South African hunting gear company which is majority owned by a dentist who raised $120,000 for Al Qaeda. OFAC has listed Sniper Africa under its specially designated global terrorist category.
  6. Zurmat Group—A company operating in Afghanistan that sells components that wind up in roadside bombs against our troops. Additionally, the Army Times found that “approximately $1-2 million per month — flow to [the Haqqani network] to finance its activities” from Zurmat Group profits. CENTCOM describes the company as actively supporting the insurgency.
  7. Darkazanli Export-Import Sonderposten—Owned and operated by Imam Mamoun Darkazanli, a longtime Al-Qaeda financier and manager. Darkazanli supports al Qaeda from Hamburg, Germany, and behaved as a type of godfather figure to the Muhammad Atta cell as it prepared for the 9/11 attacks. Darkazanli’s company has provided “cover, business collaboration and communications” for Al Qaeda figures visiting Germany.
  8. The Bank of China—The Chinese bank funded Hamas and Islamic Jihad when it “carried out dozens of wire transfers for the two terror organizations, totaling several million dollars,” from 2003 to 2007 according to a lawsuit by victims of terrorist attacks in Israel. The bank knowingly continued making such transfers even after being warned against it by the Israeli government in 2005.
  9. Jihad al-Bina—Hezbollah’s construction company in Lebanon. Its relationship with Hezbollah apparently transformed it from a $1.8 million business in the 1990s into a $450 million operation by 2006. It has been able to cash in on public contracts to rebuild Lebanese infrastructure through international development aid even though the firm is basically controlled by Hezbollah leaders and Iran.
  10. Al Manar/Lebanese Media Group—This Hezbollah news outlet serves as a “Beacon of Hatred” that runs advertisements encouraging donations to Hezbollah and airs commercials for Hezbollah. The television channel’s programming includes vitriolic anti-Semitic messages and glorification of suicide bombing operations.

In addition to the companies above, there are conventional Western corporations like Chiquita and Echo Bay that have have paid bribes or protection money to rebels or terrorists to prevent their employees and facilities from being attacked, and banks such as HSBC that have dropped the ball on anti-money laundering, sanctions compliance, and counter-terror finance programs. This is totally unacceptable behavior which ultimately helps finance terrorism and increases the odds that more corporations will be exploited by terrorists. At the same time, it should be recognized that these abysmal compliance programs resulted from a combination of mismanagement, lousy judgments, and long-term business motives, but not because of ideological alignment with the terrorists themselves.

A final note: there was an extremely popular article within the past year circulating the Internet about corporations making money off of the global war against terrorism (which itself was only the latest in a decade-long stream of Internet tirades and social media screeds against “war profiteering” in Afghanistan and Iraq). It should just be remembered that for every company allegedly making ungodly profits from providing basic security services that there are companies like those above that are actually funding or making money directly from terrorism. So when you run across articles like that, ask yourself a question: which seems worse to you—a greedy corporation that fights terrorism, or a greedy corporation that funds terrorism?

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Recommended reading: financing terror right under our noses

June 5, 2014
  • Gotten an email saying something like “I solicit your assistance in transferring trapped funds in Nigeria into your bank account”?  Turns out the old email fraud could be enriching Boko Harammore>>
  • After leaving Britain, a Syrian-born imam involved “in every aspect in supporting terrorism” has been arrested in Lebanon… more>>
  • The Sabadia Family Foundation funneled over $1 million to Muslim Brotherhood affiliates and Hamas financiers over a ten year period while Mr. Sabadia himself maintained a security clearance and federal contracts… more>>
  • If you’re using the Internet to do due diligence, there are a few techniques that can help you get past tricks used by online reputation defendersmore>>
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Drug money bust reveals Hezbollah’s control

February 3, 2014

The Australian Crime Commission has foiled an international narco-trafficking and money laundering scheme involving 18 organized groups and 40 separate money laundering operations.  “Project Eligo” has resulted in 105 arrests, 190 criminal charges, and over $500 million in assets seized so far.

Agence France Presse (hat tips to Willauer Prosky and El Grillo) has the highlights of the story:

Australian police crack global money-laundering racket

Sydney — Australian police revealed Thursday they had cracked a major global money-laundering ring with operatives in more than 20 countries and funds syphoned off to groups reported to include Hezbollah.

The Australian Crime Commission said more than Aus$580 million (US$512 million) of drugs and assets had been seized, including Aus$26 million in cash, in a year-long sting codenamed Eligo targeting the offshore laundering of funds generated by outlaw motorcycle gangs, people-smugglers and others.

According to the ACC, the operation had disrupted 18 serious and organised crime groups and singled out 128 individuals of interest in more than 20 countries, tapping information from agencies including the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

The full details of which countries had been involved were not revealed but acting ACC chief Paul Jevtovic said “the reality is that the Middle East and Southeast Asia have featured prominently”…

The Sydney Morning Herald noted that, “It is believed at least one of the ‘exchange houses’ used in the Australian laundering operation delivers a cut from every dollar it launders to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, whose military wing has been proscribed in Australia as a terrorist group.”

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Jihad: now powered by amphetamines

January 31, 2014

Unlike poppies in Afghanistan, which the Taliban simply taxes on the basis of traditional Islamic law, terrorist organizations in Syria and Lebanon are taking things a step further by taking control the amphetamine trade lock, stock, and barrel.  All’s fair in love and war, especially when the war is against heretics, which is how the Sunnis regard the Alawites in Syria.  And smuggling “Captagon” is netting them $300 million, which is no chump change—it’s 10 times Al Qaeda’s budget at the time of 9/11.  That means plenty of firepower for the revolutionists.  The only upside for Assad is that his Shia sponsors from Hezbollah are in on the trade too.  What a mess.

The information comes from a Time article that was recently republished by AINA (h/t El Grillo):

Are Drugs Funding the Syrian Rebels?

Fifteen days into his job as Lebanon’s top drug-enforcement official, Colonel Ghassan Chams Eddine got a tip-off that something big was going down at the Beirut shipping port this summer. How big? Nearly 5.5 million tablets of a locally produced amphetamine expertly hidden inside an industrial water heater destined for Dubai. His men had to use acetylene torches to remove the white tablets, each embossed with an off-kilter yin-yang symbol and packed into 1,000-piece units in heat-sealed plastic bags. “The boiler was made in Syria, and the way the tablets were hidden, it was clear that they hadn’t been just stuffed inside,” says Chams Eddine. “That unit was formed around the drugs, at the factory.”

A week later, on Aug. 21, Chams Eddine got another tip-off. Six Syrian-made cargo trucks destined for Saudi Arabia from Lebanon were stopped just as they were about to cross the border. Each of the containers’ steel reinforcing ribs concealed a cleverly designed drawer packed with loose pills — 6 million of them in total. A few days later, a Syrian was caught at Beirut’s international airport with 11,000 tablets hidden in pastries. Then two more Syrians destined for Saudi Arabia were stopped at the airport with 8 kg of the stuff in their luggage.

In one month, Lebanese authorities confiscated more than $200 million worth of a potent amphetamine that is almost entirely unheard of in the West. But in the Persian Gulf, Captagon, as the amphetamine is known, is the most sought-after drug on the street, and the conflict in Syria, with its attendant lawlessness, is making it even easier to obtain.

As the war drags on, it is all the more likely that Captagon will take on a significant role funding warring parties in the conflict. The captured cargo trucks were owned by a Sunni Syrian clan long linked to the drug trade that fled the besieged city of Homs last year to set up shop in Lebanon, says Chams Eddine, who suspects that the proceeds may have been used in part to fund anti–Bashar Assad rebels. “They run two or three operations like that, and they can easily get $300 million. That would buy a lot of guns.”

But it’s not just Syrian Sunnis who are involved. Hizballah, the Iranian-funded and Lebanon-based militia that is fighting in Syria on behalf of President Assad, also has a hand in the trade, according to former U.S. Treasury official Matthew Levitt, a fellow at the Washington Institute and author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God. “Hizballah has a long history of dabbling in the drug trade to help with funding, and Captagon, with its high profit margins, is to them just another business opportunity,” Levitt says. It’s not yet clear if Captagon finances the war effort directly, he adds, but profits from the trade, like Hizballah’s other criminal activities, help fund the organization, freeing up capacity for efforts elsewhere. A Hizballah security official tells TIME that the organization does not engage in drug trafficking, as the practice is considered sinful in Islam. However, he admits, Hizballah has worked with drug mafias for what he called security operations. “It was never to benefit or fund Hizballah, it was more to collect information. After all, the end justifies the means.”…

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Recommended reading: front charities, ATM bombings, and sanctions violations

January 30, 2014
  • Members of a terror cell that bombed ATM machines across Bahrain have been convicted for detonating explosives and laundering money… more>>
  • Money for training of Islamic militants around the world was routed through Vienna by the Turkish charity IHH, reports a Bosnian newspaper… more>>
  • An Iranian-U.S. dual citizen packed 44 boxes of blueprints and technical specs about the F-35 fighter jet and shipped them off to Iran.  Customs agents weren’t fooled by his shipping label: “House Hold Goods”… more>>
  • Four years after it was revealed that IFCO helped funnel money for George Galloway to Hamas, the IRS might strip IFCO of its tax-exempt status… more>>
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