Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

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Supporting mischief: recommended news reading

July 17, 2014
  • Are we in an age of unilateral easing of sanctions on rogue states without obtaining meaningful changes in behavior first? Case in point:  Japan on North Korea… more>>
  • A University of Texas student has pleaded guilty to luring recruits to wage jihad in Somalia, or, failing that, to prepare for World War IIImore>>
  • Boko Haram is illustrating how ineffective U.S. counter-terror finance policies can be… more>>
  • Smuggling eight guns from Minnesota to Nigeria stuffed in a brown paper bag between the seat cushions of a ’98 Mercury is one way to run afoul of authorities… more>>
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Sanctions needed against Pakistan’s spy agency

March 25, 2014

This piece is also published at Terror Finance Blog today:

When dealing with undesirable behavior by foreign governments, the U.S. has increasingly employed narrowly targeted sanctions against individual officials of those governments, from human rights abusers in Syria to Russian leaders responsible for the annexation of Crimea.

But the same logic has yet to be applied to the ISI, Pakistan’s terrorist-sponsoring intelligence agency, which, compared to Russia and Syria, has posed a more direct threat to U.S. forces and civilians through the ISI’s sponsorship of terrorism against our troops in Afghanistan and through the safe haven it provided to Osama Bin Laden.

New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall revealed last week that, “Soon after the Navy SEAL raid on Bin Laden’s house, a Pakistani official told me that the United States had direct evidence that the ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, knew of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad,”  and that the ISI ran a special desk to “handle” Bin Laden.

The Bin Laden revelation is only the tip of the iceberg.  The Taliban itself was created by Pakistan, which allowed Al Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base for hatching the 9/11 plot.  The perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist attacks against Mumbai that left over 160 dead were also “clients and creations of the ISI.”

In an intercepted conversation, former ISI chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani was heard describing Jalaluddin Haqqani, leader of the terrorist Haqqani network, as a “strategic asset.”  That is the way that Pakistani intelligence has looked at jihadists for decades—that holy warriors provide strategic depth and variety to the conventional armed forces along Pakistan’s borders.  They regard terrorism as a tool in a broader arsenal against Pakistan’s foes, making the country a state sponsor of terrorism in the truest sense of the phrase.

Designating a foreign spy service as a terrorist entity wouldn’t be such a major leap as it appears at first blush.  Interrogators at Guantanamo Bay are already trained to treat detainees affiliated with ISI the same way they would treat detainees affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban.  The approach is partly due to evidence of ISI’s role in coordinating terrorist groups in operations targeting Afghanistan and India.

There is already some support for such sanctions.  Bruce Riedel, former CIA official and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, called for individual sanctions against ISI officials.  New York writer Suketu Mehta said “America and other countries should declare Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, some of whose officials have a long history of backing terrorists attacking India, ‘a terrorist entity’.”  The Afghan National Security Council also expressed strong support last year for designating the ISI as a terrorist organization (see here and here).

Are there arguments against levying sanctions against the ISI?  Yes.  Pakistan could retaliate by ceasing its assistance to us while our troops are still fighting in Afghanistan.  But if it weren’t for Pakistan playing midwife to the Taliban, and the Taliban subsequently partnering with Al Qaeda, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 wouldn’t have happened in the first place.  It makes little sense to mollycoddle the puppet master because we think it will help us attack the puppet.

Unfortunately, sanctions often don’t achieve the desired results.  Foreign aid is fungible, and if the U.S. and U.K. continue bestowing lavish foreign aid upon Pakistan, the government there will simply be able to move money from development and education projects toward military and intelligence operations.

But to the extent that we use sanctions at all as an instrument of foreign policy, it should be done for the right reasons.  Lately we use sanctions like a necktie that we wear to look fashionable, while absentmindedly dangling the tie over a paper shredder.  Rather than a entangling ourselves in the regional or internal affairs of bad actors in places where we have few interests, sanctions should be used as a tool used to serve our own national security interests, and to contain those whose actions do us harm.

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UN lifts sanctions on al-Shabaab entrepreneur

March 24, 2014

UN sanctions against al-Shabaab financier Ali Ahmed Nur Jim’ale have been lifted.  The UN did not offer any explanation for the removal from their sanctions list.  Last year the government of Somalia itself requested the removal, saying that Jim’ale “is innocent.”

The UN delisting notice lays out the grounds for the original sanctions.  It is difficult to read their dossier and come away with an impression of innocence…

Ali Ahmed Nur Jim’ale (Jim’ale) has served in leadership roles with the former Somali Council of Islamic Courts, also known as the Somali Islamic Courts Union, which was a radical-Islamist element.  The most radical elements of the Somali Islamic Courts Union eventually formed the group known as al-Shabaab.  Al-Shabaab was listed for targeted sanctions in April 2010 by the United Nations Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 concerning Somalia and Eritrea (the “Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee”).  The Committee listed al-Shabaab for being an entity engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Somalia, including but not limited to acts that pose a threat to Somali Transitional Federal Government.

According to the July 18, 2011 report of the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee’s Monitoring Group (S/2011/433), Jim’ale is identified as a prominent businessman and figure in the al-Shabaab charcoal-sugar trading cycle and benefitting from privileged relationships with al-Shabaab.

Jim’ale is identified as one of al-Shabaab’s chief financiers and is ideologically aligned with al-Shabaab.  Jim’ale has provided key funding and political support for Hassan Dahir Aweys (“Aweys”), who was also listed by the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee.  Former al-Shabaab Deputy Emir Muktar Robow reportedly continued to engage in political posturing within the al-Shabaab organization during the mid-2011.  Robow engaged Aweys and Jim’ale in an effort to advance their shared objectives and consolidate their overall stance within the context of the al-Shabaab leadership rift.

As of fall 2007, Jim’ale established a front company in Djibouti for extremist activities called the Investors Group.  The short term goal of the group was, through the funding of extremist activities and weapons purchases, to destabilize Somaliland.  The group assisted in smuggling small arms from Eritrea through Djibouti into the 5th region of Ethiopia where extremists received the shipment.  As of mid-2008, Jim’ale continued to operate the Investors Group.

As of late September 2010, Jim’ale established ZAAD, a mobile-to-mobile money transfer business and struck a deal with al-Shabaab to make money transfers more anonymous by eliminating the need to show identification.

As of late 2009, Jim’ale had a known hawala fund where he collected zakat, which was provided to al-Shabaab.

As of December 2011, unidentified donors from the Middle East were transferring money to Jim’ale, who in turn used financial intermediaries to send the money to al-Shabaab.

In 2009, Jim’ale worked with other like minded individuals to undermine the Somali TFG by not participating in Somali reconciliation efforts.  As of late 2011, Jim’ale actively supported al-Shabaab by offering free communications, use of vehicles, food aid and political advisement and set up fundraisers for al-Shabaab through various business groups.

The request by Somalia for the UN to lift sanctions on Jim’ale suggests that the Somali government has been compromised by the very elements which it purports to be at war with.  Just a couple years ago, Jim’ale was considered to be a security threat and an important al-Shabaab money man.  Suddenly he’s free to roam about Africa again.

The lifting of the sanctions, which included an international travel ban, enables Jim’ale to resume his travels back and forth between Somalia and Djibouti.  He holds passports with both countries.

For more on the cryptic UN delisting process, see prior Money Jihad coverage here and here.

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Canada sanctions Signed-in-Blood Battalion

November 26, 2013

Canada has officially named al-Muwaqi’un Bil Dima, often translated as the Signed-in-Blood Battalion, as a terrorist group.  The Signed-in-Blood Battalion was created by Mokhtar Belmokhtar—an elusive terrorist, kidnapping mastermind, cigarette smuggler, and the former leader of Al Qaeda in North Africa (AQIM).  His group carried out the hostage-taking crisis at Amenas gas facility in Algeria that left nearly 40 captives dead in January, and suicide bombings in Niger that killed 20 in May.

The blog Mr. Watchlist, which focuses on sanctions listings, notes that, “This is pretty unusual for OSFI [Canada’s financial regulator]. In the 11 months Mr. Watchlist has been posting, this is the first time they’ve amended their list unilaterally – they usually just follow the changes to the UN sanctions programs.”

The rare independent decision by Canada indicates its concern about the return of Islamist Canadian citizens to Canada after participating in terrorism overseas.  At least three Canadians participated in the terror operation in Amenas, two of whom were killed during the raid, and one who returned to Canada.

The National Post reports that “Canadian authorities are also worried that citizens who have travelled to Syria to fight will return home to spread extremist ideology, recruit others and possibly conduct attacks on Canadian soil.”  The announcement about the Signed-in-Blood Battalion was accompanied by sanctions against the al-Nusra Front, in which Islamist Canadians have enlisted to carry out terrorist attacks in Syria.

The designation subjects members of the Signed-in-Blood Battalion and al-Nusra Front to Canadian criminal law, to asset seizures and forfeitures, and to penalties for doing business with or contributing to the operations of these groups.

Whether any other countries will follow suit by designating the Signed-in-Blood Battalion as a terrorist entity remains to be seen.

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Iran sanctions eased without compensating its terror victims

November 25, 2013

A deal has been reached to lift—according to different estimates—7, 8, or 20+ billion USD in sanctions against Iran in return for modest concessions on Iranian nuclear development.  A portion of the billions of dollars in sanctions relief could have been earmarked to compensate the victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism instead of letting Tehran spend it as it pleases.

If only the P5+1 had been willing to listen to one of the lawyers representing Iran’s victims:

Iran Owes Terror Victims Billions of Dollars, Says Activist Lawyer

The US talks with Iran about easing sanctions, but an Israeli activist lawyer says Obama overlooks the fact that Tehran owes American terror victims billions of dollars.

By: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Published: November 20th, 2013

Israeli activist lawyer Nitzana Darshan-Leitner: The US should make Iran pay off its debts to American relatives of terror victims before easing sanctions.

An Israeli lawyer who has won billions of dollars for relatives of terror victims has asked Obama administration officials why they are discussing letting Iran off the hook on sanctions while it owes American relatives colossal sums of money.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who heads the Israel Law Center, has won billions of dollars for relatives of terror victims in lawsuits against the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organization as well as banks and other agencies that aid terrorists or act as a pipeline for funds for them.

She wrote Under Secretary Wendy Sherman last month, “Iran must not be allowed under any circumstances to avoid making payment of reparations and due compensations to the families of those whose lives they have destroyed through terrorism…and through the terror organizations it supports: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.”

In a blog posted this past week on The Hill website based in Washington, Darshan-Leitner noted that Sherman did not respond, and she added, “As a result of lawsuits taken by American victims of terror in U.S. courts, the Iranian regime currently owes billions of dollars from decades of terrorist activity resulting in dozens of victims and severed families. This debt has yet to be recognized or paid by the Iranian government with no sign of an intention to do so.”

She called on Congress to ensure that the U.S. government is working to keep the interests of the terror victims’ families on the table.

Darshan-Leitner pointed out that when George W. Bush was President, he conditioned repealing of any sanctions against Libya on payment of reparations to the victims of Libyan terror. “This move resulted in the payment of $1.5 billion dollars to the victims’ families,” she wrote…

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Enforcement action news: recommended reading

October 30, 2013
  • A company in the United Arab Emirates that exported U.S. merchandise to Iran has been caught, fined, and slammed… more>>
  • A new ruling says that the Lebanese bank that funded Hezbollah through an account in New York can be sued by terror victims… more>>
  • The UN casually mentions that the latest addition to their sanctions list may have been involved in the attack in Benghazimore>>
  • Sanctions against Iran have done more damage to the Islamic Republic than anything since its war against Iraq, says a former spymaster… more>>

 

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Obama’s million dollar gift to Iran shortchanges terror victims

October 8, 2013

For years there has been a determined effort to help bankrupt terrorism by suing terrorist organizations.  Families of North American and European citizens who have been killed or injured by Hamas or other terror groups have used the legal strategy with some success, winning several judgments in the courts.

However, collecting on those judgments has been a difficult undertaking.  Victims’ lawyers have frequently argued that their clients should be compensated through the proceeds of seized Iranian property or rental income derived from that property.  When it comes to artwork and artifacts, these cases have come down to technical decisions over the precise ownership of the antiquities.

But with that background in mind, it is quite disheartening to see this latest bit of news, in which the U.S. State Department and Pres. Obama have simply given away a million dollar artifact to the president of Iran on his way home from his trip to the United Nations in New York.  That is $1 million that could have gone to the victims of Hezbollah or Hamas’s terrorism.

The 2700-year-old Persian griffin is on display at the headquarters of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization in Tehran on September 28, 2013, hours before being transferred to the National Museum of Iran. (IRNA/Mohammad-Mehdi Mo’azzen)

The second problem with this “gift” is how it skirts Obama’s self-proclaimed “toughest sanctions in history.”  Although the gift is mostly a symbolic gesture, how kindly would the Treasury Department look upon a gift like this if given to Iran by a private citizen?  Frankly, you could very well be prosecuted for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

In fact, one man recently was convicted for transferring $1 million to Iran.  Hossein Lahiji, a Texas urologist, faces up to 20 years hard time in a federal penitentiary for sending about the same amount of money as Pres. Obama has transferred to Hassan Rouhani through this unsolicited “gift.”  And Lahiji deserves it—but don’t you think Lahiji’s defense lawyers have just been handed a golden opportunity to get a reduced sentence because they can plausibly argue the president did the same thing?

Thirdly and lastly, why are we giving gifts at all to a state sponsor of terrorism like Iran?  Could you imagine the outcry if we gave a present to Sudan, Syria, or North Korea?

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EU court further limits blacklisting authority

September 23, 2013

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) set a high bar this summer for justifying individual sanctions against terrorist financiers by tossing an appeal of the court’s earlier decision on sanctions against Yasin al-Qadi, the Saudi multimillionaire creator of the Muwafaq Foundation.

In 2008, the ECJ ruled that the authorities levying such sanctions had to provide a summary to the sanctioned individual of the information that led to the sanctions.  The European Commission complied by providing a summary to al-Qadi and his lawyers.

But ECJ and al-Qadi still weren’t satisfied.  An even higher standard has been promulgated:  the allegations in the summary must be “well founded.”  Surely, the litigants in the case which included the U.K., the European Commission, and the EU’s Council of Ministers, believed the evidence was well-founded enough to impose the sanctions, but not well-founded enough to meet the ever shifting standards of the ECJ.

The law firm of Brick Court Chambers notes that the judgment “is of considerable general significance in relation to the standard of review to be applied in sanctions cases, and the treatment of national security-sensitive material, in the European courts.”

Indeed.  The judgment essentially forces European governments to divulge sensitive intelligence to terrorists to explain why the terrorists are being sanctioned by those governments.

European Voice has a good article explaining the background and the ruling:

Top EU court clears Saudi terror suspect

By Toby Vogel  -  18.07.2013

European Court of Justice rules that the UK and the European Commission failed to provide evidence of Al-Qaeda links.

In a final judgment delivered today, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has sided with Yassin Abdullah Kadi, a Saudi national who had fought his blacklisting by the United Nations and the European Union for over a decade.

Kadi was blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council in October 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, over alleged links to al-Qaeda, with the European Union following suit days later. He launched a legal challenge against the freeze of his considerable assets in the EU. In 2008, the ECJ ruled that his rights had been violated because he had not been given the reasons for his blacklisting. The United Kingdom, the European Commission and the EU’s Council of Ministers appealed against that ruling.

Following the 2008 ruling, the Commission provided Kadi with a summary of the reasons for his blacklisting and re-imposed sanctions against him.

The ECJ has now dismissed the appeal by the UK, the Council and the Commission, ruling that “no information or evidence has been produced to substantiate the allegations, roundly refuted by Mr Kadi, of his being involved in activities linked to international terrorism”, according to a summary of the judgment.

The Court also found while the summary the Commission gave to Kadi of the reasons for the sanctions was sufficiently detailed and specific, there was insufficient evidence for his alleged terrorist links.

While the court procedure was underway, and following a decade of litigation in the EU, the US and Switzerland, the UN last year removed Kadi’s name from its sanctions list, following a recommendation from the UN’s ombudsman. Once again, the EU simply implemented the UN’s decision and removed Kadi from its own list as well.

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UK lifts sanctions on Al Qaeda henchman

September 10, 2013

The British have removed Mohammed Daki—who is the former roommate of a 9/11 planner, a convicted forgery expert, and a recruiter for the Iraq insurgency—from their list of sanctioned terrorists.  Mr. Watchlist notes that the decision follows similar de-listings of Daki in August by the United Nations, Australia, and Canada.

As is usual in such cases, no explanation for the removal has been provided, but the move is clearly the result of yet another cryptic recommendation made by a UN ombudsman.  Like instances covered by Money Jihad here, here, here, and here, the ombudsman makes confidential reports for removal with no opportunity for public hearings, public comment, or testimony from Al Qaeda’s victims or their families.  The decisions are made in closed-door meetings between the ombudsman and undisclosed parties.  There are no apparent disclosure requirements on who may be lobbying the ombudsman, such as wealthy Saudis and their lawyers.

The confidential recommendations made are then rubber-stamped by the UN’s Al Qaeda sanctions committee,  many Western governments follow suit, and the public is the last to know.

And who is Daki?  The Washington Post once reported that, “To Italian law enforcement officials, Mohammed Daki, a Moroccan expatriate, former engineering student and mosque preacher, was a dangerous terrorist who mingled with 9/11 plotters in Germany and, from a base in Italy, recruited suicide bombers for attacks in Iraq.”

History Commons notes that Daki lived at the same address at the same time as 9/11 facilitator Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and Global Jihad notes that, in 2005, Daki was sentenced to 22 months for forging documents.

But none of the rap sheet matters, and neither do our opinions.  All that matters is the recommendation of an unelected ombudsman whose reports none of us are allowed to read.

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Anatomy of an embargo buster

September 4, 2013

Step 1:  Let North Korean Air Force Gen. Yi Pyong-chol place an order for MiG-21s with the Castro brothers in Havana.

Step 2:  Hide 25 containers of jet fighter and anti-aircraft missile parts under 200,000 bags of Cuban sugar in the cargo hold of a North Korean bulk carrier.

Step 3:  Lie to the world by claiming, upon discovery of the smuggling attempt, that the aircraft were being sent to Pyongyang “to be repaired and returned to Cuba,” while the fighter jets are actually intended for end use in North Korea.

38 North has the details, which illustrate common state-sponsored sanctions evasion tactics:

Full Disclosure: Contents of North Korean Smuggling Ship Revealed

By Hugh Griffiths and Roope Siirtola

27 August 2013

All is seldom as it first appears in the world of North Korean sanctions busting. Six weeks after the inspection of the North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang by Panamanian authorities on suspicion of drug trafficking, the full extent of the ship’s illicit military cargo falsely declared to be sugar and spare plastic sacks appears to have been much larger than previously reported. Moreover, key parts of the shipment seem intended for Pyongyang’s own use in its conventional military defenses, not to be repaired and returned to Cuba. Finally, the results of the search by Panamanian authorities provides new insight into North Korea’s illicit procurement priorities as well as evidence of its preferred maritime concealment methods and raises a host of still unanswered questions.

Undeclared Artillery and Small Arms Munitions Discovered

While initial media reporting suggested the seizure amounted to a few shipping containers with anti-aircraft missile components, two jet fighters and related engines, in fact a total of 25 shipping containers have now been recovered, together with six military vehicles. These were camouflaged at the bottom of five of the ship’s holds beneath about 200,000 bags of sugar, weighing approximately one hundred pounds each. This amount of sugar together with “two thousand empty polyethylene bags” were the only declared items listed in the cargo manifest signed by North Korean Captain Ri Yong Il.

A report compiled by various Panamanian authorities and the United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Container Control Programme (CCP) together with photographs of the seizure make clear that contrary to both the North Korean shipping declaration and Cuban government statements the shipment was without a doubt a violation of United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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While Syria uses nerve gas, Iran buys uranium

September 3, 2013

The Iranian appetite for weapons of mass destruction seems to be shared by their Alawite catspaw in Syria.  While Bashar al-Assad, the butcher of Damascus, has been busy gassing civilians with sarin, the leadership of Iran has been in secret negotiations to buy additional uranium for their nuclear program from Zimbabwe.

The deal has been struck, notes Global Security Newswire “despite international sanctions,” which appear to be woefully ineffective in achieving Iranian disarmament.  Read it all:

Alleged Iranian Uranium Deal With Zimbabwe May Revive Sanctions Debate

Aug. 21, 2013

By Diane Barnes

WASHINGTON — An alleged clandestine deal in which Zimbabwe might sell sensitive nuclear material to Iran could revive debate over the Persian Gulf nation’s ability to import uranium ore, despite international sanctions.

Zimbabwe’s government took pains last week to deny allegations that it was secretly preparing to supply Iran with unrefined uranium, going so far as to hunt down a journalist who had reported the story and to demand a confession that he had fabricated substantiating comments from a government official.

Some analysts, though, say the southern African nation has parsed its denials, leaving open the possibility of backtracking later on, should it ever decide to sell uranium ore to the suspected nuclear arms aspirant.

The Times of London on Aug. 10 quoted a senior official in Zimbabwe’s mining ministry describing a memorandum of understanding “to export uranium to the Iranians.”

The article’s headline describes the understanding as a “secret deal.” Paraphrasing the official, the newspaper said the arrangement was known by “only a handful of people at the top of Zimbabwe’s government.”

If true, the planned transfer of the sensitive material could potentially violate international sanctions against Iran. Washington and its allies contend the Persian Gulf nation has flouted its U.N. atomic safeguards agreement and previously hidden military efforts aimed at ultimately developing nuclear warheads…

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