Posts Tagged ‘Saudi Arabia’

h1

Terror finance trio: Qatar, Kuwait, and KSA

July 22, 2014

They left out Turkey. It is great that more people are coming to this realization and that books are being written about it, but it doesn’t seem to be significantly changing the policies of the West (apart from a growing rift between the U.S. and the Sunni powers in the region over how we’re dealing with Iran). We have yet to designate the major institutional terror donors in Qatar Saudi Arabia as terrorist entities. Kuwait was never blacklisted by FATF even though it took it 10 years after 9/11 to outlaw terrorist financing. NATO has retained Turkey as a member even though it is partnering with Al Qaeda in Syria and helps Iran evade sanctions. And we mostly ignored attacks by Qatari-backed rebels in Mali fighting against our oldest ally, France. Instead of doing something significant, we just nod our heads and say, “yep, the Gulf is where the money for terrorism comes from,” and then we turn the page of the newspaper to something else.

From VOA on July 7 (h/t El Grillo):

Islamist Insurgency Fueled by Global Finance Web

Jeffrey Young

The little cans were at cash registers everywhere in Kuwait, where I lived during much of the 1990s. Covered with pictures of children in anguish amid burning rubble, these cans collected coins and cash for “Palestinian Relief” or the like. Sometimes, I put my change into these cans, causing the person behind the counter to often give me a puzzled look. Then, I learned from my Kuwaiti friends that these collection cans were not always helping those kids – many were funding Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and other violent groups.

Now, 20 years later, there is an international web of finance that leads to deadly insurgents such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Part of it runs through so-called “charities,” while another funding stream for terrorists is enabled by official complicity. And, these sources also intersect.

Colin Clarke, author of an upcoming book titled “Terrorism Inc: The Funding of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Irregular Warfare” says much of the cash now pouring into ISIL and other violent groups comes from three regional sources.

“A key component of support to Sunni extremist groups [including ISIL] comes from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf states of Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia,” Clarke told VOA, adding “The majority of donors likely know exactly where their money is going. Some are blatant about it, while others enjoy the plausible deniability of ambiguity.”

Clarke also contends these three states are using this funding stream as a means of achieving influence with insurgent groups. “The Saudis,” he said, “are reportedly fearful of the threat posed by ISIL, but certainly contribute to radical groups, battling for a leadership role with Qatar, another country active in this funding.”

Kuwait has also allegedly kept the flames of insurgency fueled with cash. Until recently, one of those streams reportedly ran through Kuwait’s Aqaf, its Ministry of Islamic Affairs. In May, Aqaf Minister Nayef al-Ajmi resigned in the wake of accusations by a senior U.S. official that he was enabling terrorists…

h1

Gulf charcoal purchases prop up al-Shabaab

July 7, 2014

Money Jihad has long reported on how al-Shabaab profits from Somalia’s charcoal smuggling business, particularly by charging a checkpoint tax authorized by Islamic law. A new report from the United Nations Environmental Programme and Interpol confirms that this activity is ongoing despite a UN ban against Somali charcoal exports, saying that “Al Shabaab retains about one third of the [charcoal] income, which alone constitutes about USD 38–56 million” annually.

A map in the report shows a key al-Shabaab tax checkpoint at Buulo Xaaji, main points of embarkation from Kismayo and Barawe, major delivery locations at Jizan (Saudi Arabia), Dubai and Sharjah (UAE), and Khasab (Oman), with additional deliveries in Egypt, Yemen, and Kuwait.

Somali charcoal exports

In addition to “normal” smuggling of charcoal from Somalia to the Gulf states, it is Money Jihad’s belief that rampant trade-based money laundering is occurring between al-Shabaab and these states in which wealthy Arabs are transferring funds to al-Shabaab through over-invoicing for charcoal purchased. In other words, terror financiers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are intentionally overpaying for Somali charcoal as a means of funding al-Shabaab without simple detection. The Gulf states are doing this to pursue larger strategic interests in Africa.

h1

Dialing for terror dollars: recommended reading

July 3, 2014
  • The disembowling of Iraq by Al Qaeda (ISIS) is being funded by Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia… more>>
  • ISIS’s annual report is more than a balance sheet or summary of operations.  It’s actually an appeal to potential investorsmore>>
  • The Taliban taxes poppies and blackmails businessmen.  But the dirty little secret behind most of the Taliban’s wealth lies with Arab sheikhs, say Afghan reporters… ground truth>>
  • An Arab interest group in New York opposed to NYPD tactics turns out to be funded by Qatar, the de facto sponsor of the global Muslim Brotherhood… more>>
h1

ISIS’s original piggy bank was Saudi Arabia

June 26, 2014

Could the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) terrorists truly have funded their ascendancy solely through extortion against local businessmen in northern Iraq? True, that has helped ISIS, and Money Jihad has covered these extortion operations several times (here, here, etc.). But we have also seen repeatedly that successful and multifaceted terrorist groups tend to rely on state sponsorship, whether it’s the Taliban’s seed money from Pakistan, Hezbollah’s support from Iran, or IHH’s money from Turkey.

As Money Jihad has always said, Saudi Arabia didn’t just fund 9/11—it funded the Iraq insurgency. The same elements Saudi Arabia funded during Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to be funded by Saudi Arabia today. Iraq says that this is the case. German security expert Günter Meyer says it is the case as well. The only person denying it is some flunky quoted in this article who lives in a bubble and works in John Kerry’s State Department. It is difficult to characterize Jen Psaki’s quote as anything other than a lie.

This analysis from Deutsche Welle (h/t El Grillo) is important to read for anybody wanting to understand what’s really fueling ISIS’s rise—and it didn’t just start with seizing a bank in Mosul:

Who finances ISIS?

During its conquest of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS fighters looted more than 500 billion Iraqi Dinar, worth about $420 million (308 million euros) at current exchange rates. ISIS is a rebel army composed of Sunni jihadis that calls itself the “Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria.” Its aim is to establish a theocratic Sunni caliphate in the region.

Iraqi officials estimate that the group now has about $2 billion in its war chest. What remains controversial is where the bulk of its money comes from.

Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government accuses Saudi Arabia of supporting the ISIS jihadis. On Tuesday (17.06.2014), Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki said “we hold Saudi Arabia responsible” for the financial and moral support given to ISIS.

The USA, which is Saudi Arabia’s most important ally, has rejected the Iraqi Premier’s accusation. Jen Psaki, a speaker for the US State Department, said on Tuesday evening that al-Maliki’s accusation was “inaccurate and humiliating.”

Money from the Gulf States?

“There is no publicly accessible proof that the government of a state has been involved in the creation or financing of ISIS as an organisation,” said Charles Lister, Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, a subsidiary of the US think-tank Brookings Institution.

Others take a different view. Günter Meyer is Director of the Center for Research into the Arabic World at the University of Mainz. Meyer says he has no doubt about where ISIS gets its funding. “The most important source of ISIS financing to date has been support coming out of the Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia but also Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates,” Meyer told Deutsche Welle. The Gulf states’ motivation in financing groups like ISIS was to support their fight against the regime of President Bashar al Assad in Syria, according to Meyer. Three quarters of the Syrian population are Sunni Muslims, but Syria is ruled by an elite drawn mostly from the Alawite minority. The Alawites are an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Recently, however, the government of Saudi Arabia has recognized the dangers of this policy. “Saudi citizens now compose the largest contingent of foreign fighters in ISIS. When those fighters come home, there’s a danger that they might turn against the Saudi regime,” Meyer said. But there are reasons to believe that financing for ISIS continues to flow out of Saudi Arabia, “less from the Saudi government than from rich Saudis”.

Money from oil and extortion

Additional key financing sources for ISIS, according to Meyer, are the oil fields of northern Syria. “ISIS was able to get those oil fields under their control. They use trucks to bring oil over the border into Turkey. That’s an important source of funding for them.”

The view of Charles Lister at the Brookings Doha Center is that ISIS is largely able to fund itself. “ISIS has made an effort to establish networks in society that generate a continuing flow of money.” As an example, Lister points to the systematic extortion conducted by ISIS in the recently conquered city of Mosul.

“The exortion affects small businesses and big companies, construction firms, and if the rumors are true, even local government representatives,” Lister told DW. “In addition, it’s suspected that the organization levies taxes in the areas that it completely controls – for example Raqqa in northeastern Syria.”…

h1

Terror finance & AML news: suggested reading

June 13, 2014
  • The Washington Post cites the “well versed” Money Jihad blog and its analysis of the world’s richest terrorist groups when sizing up ISIS’s new found wealth after its multi-million dollar seizure of the Mosul central bank… more>>
  • Given the Palestinian Authority’s new unity government with Hamas, Israel wants U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority to cease. Congress is one step ahead… more>>
  • A U.S. court decision leaves the door open to testimony from a key Israeli terror finance witness in the Bank of China case… more>>
  • Hers was a love for laundering drug money from Florida to Mexico, yet a judge saw fit to dismiss her indictment after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Some deterrent… more>>
  • Saudi Arabia is imposing financial sanctions against Hezbollah, its supporters, and its front businesses operating in the Kingdom… more>>

 

h1

Lessons learned from 6 big terrorist windfalls

April 29, 2014

Terror finance trials over the last ten years have frequently involved transfers by individuals of a few thousand dollars to terrorist organizations abroad. Sometimes those cases get as much attention from the news media and law enforcement as multi-million dollar cases of funding terrorism.

This tendency is unfortunate because it causes us to lose sight of the big time patrons of terrorism and their methods. Small transfers are likelier to involve individual actors, small groups, and criminal activity. High-dollar terrorist transactions are likelier to involve state sponsorship, or at least large organizations such as major charities, and sometimes corporations which are targeted for extortion or kidnapping-for-ransom schemes by militants. Consider:

• France paid $15 to $20 million to the Taliban for the 2011 release of reporters Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière. France may have also paid a $34 million ransom to Al Qaeda in North Africa for the release of four captives last year, and an $18 million ransom just last week to release four journalists abducted by Syrian rebels.

• The Holy Land Foundation, largest Islamic “charity” in the U.S. in the early 2000s, gave $12.4 million to Hamas. George W. Bush said that the money HLF raised was “used by Hamas to recruit suicide bombers and support their families.” The leaders of HLF were found guilty of providing material support to terrorism and received sentences ranging from 15 to 65 years in federal prison.

• Qatar has spent an estimated $3 billion (or, less credibly, $5 billion) to fund Al Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria. In so doing they’ve helped turn Syria into a charnel house with over 150,000 dead since 2011.

• Carlos the Jackal received, according to different accounts, either $20 million or $50 million from the Saudi government in 1975 to release the OPEC ministers he had taken hostage. Allegedly, this money wasn’t used by Carlos himself but was pumped back toward international terrorist causes. Eventually, Carlos the Jackal was caught and sentenced to life in prison in France on separate charges.

• The Born brother heirs to the multinational Bunge and Born corporation were forced to pay a $60 million ransom to leftwing Montoneros terrorists in Argentina in 1974. Some of the money may have been kept in shadowy Argentine and Cuban banks. Mario Firmenich, mastermind of the plot, was convicted in 1987.

• The Palestinian Authority just pledged another $74 million to spend as incentives and stipends for terrorist “martyrs” and their families from their annual budget.

Several lessons should be learned from the above sampling of terrorist jackpots:

1. Don’t pay ransoms. Paying ransoms is the quickest way to fund millions of dollars worth of future terrorist attacks and to increase the likelihood of larger ransom demands down the road.

2. In cases of suspected terrorist financing, always look at both the source and the beneficiary of the funding—not just one party in isolation. With the Holy Land Foundation, we tend to focus mostly on HLF as a contributor, without examining how Hamas uses Islamic charities in the West to finance its operations. Likewise in the Taponier and Ghesquière case, what little coverage there was in English language media focused on the ransom negotiations and French foreign policy, while completely ignoring the aftermath of what the Taliban and the Baryal Qari group did with the money. We learn more from each case when we look at both sides of the equation. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Philippine jihad relies on Saudi zakat

April 18, 2014

The terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf Group relies mostly on kidnapping for ransom for its revenues. ASG also collects money from extortion and from the collection of zakat according to a March 2014 report from Thomson Reuters. The key point of origin of the zakat for the jihadist group is Saudi Arabia. An excerpt from the report follows:

…The ASG has also maintained the collection of Zakat, one of its traditional sources of funding, though not as profitable as its criminal activities. Zakat, which prescribes Muslims to donate 2.5% of their net revenue to charity, is legitimate under Shariah law. The ASG which claims to struggle for the establishment of an independent Islamic state in Mindanao, benefits from Zakat collected locally and abroad. Locals and those abroad who believe that militant groups are in pursuit of jihad donate substantially to support their operations and upkeep. Some donors however, are not aware that their donations end up in the treasury of militant groups.

Crucial to the collection of Zakat in the Middle East are a small number of sympathetic Filipino workers who help source donors and channel funds to the militant groups through the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) remittance system. The Philippines is one of the major exporters of labor to Saudi Arabia with more than a million Filipino workers in that country. Annual remittances amounting to more than a billion pesos have literally kept the Philippine economy afloat. Lack of regulations or monitoring of these remittances allows the flow of funds from supporters abroad to militant groups like the ASG. The ASG has not established a stable support group in any other country except for Saudi Arabia. They depend only on a few core supporters, mostly relatives and friends, both locally and abroad. In the past they collected donations during Friday congregational prayers and used the proceeds for the procurement of ammunition, medicines, and military supplies. It is estimated that from 1992 to 2007, the ASG collected almost ₱20 million from Zakat.

Propaganda is critical for the continuity of Zakat. There is no recent evidence that the ASG is publicly engaged in propaganda which suggests less reliance in Zakat. Previously, the ASG organized lectures and seminars to encourage people to take part in jihad by sharing their wealth through Zakat. The ASG is also known to compile video footages of militant training and actual combat operations. In October 2007, the ASG had appealed for funds and recruits on You Tube by featuring a video of two slain ASG leaders…

h1

Armed, funded jihad: recommended reading

April 17, 2014
  • “Although funding terrorism was criminalised in Finland 12 years ago, no-one has yet been convicted”… more>>
  • Anti-tank missiles are being shipped through Turkey and Saudi Arabia to Syrian rebels… more>>
  • Pakistani front charities like JKART are funding the Indian Mujahideen… more>>
  • A love for his friend or a love for jihad? Prosecutors say Khurram Syed Sher knew exactly who he was funding… more>>
h1

Five Democrats and their Middle East donors

April 8, 2014
Bill Clinton and Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi

Bill Clinton and Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi

Opponents of George W. Bush like pointing out his family’s links to Saudi Arabia. Fair enough, but let’s not lose sight of the high-profile Democrats who have benefited from multi-million dollar campaign contributions, sweetheart loans, and business deals from Wahhabi or Iranian patrons, or both:

Jimmy Carter—Carter accepted $1 million from the Bin Laden family for his Carter Center presidential library. Carter also received a multi-million dollar loan in the late 1970s to save his peanut business—a loan which was backstopped by BCCI, the Pakistani-operated, Persian Gulf-funded bank that became embroiled in international corruption scandals and was ultimately shut down. BCCI officials had relationships with Osama Bin Laden, gave nuclear secrets to Pakistan, and served as the depository for money made off the Arab oil embargo. Bert Lance, a Carter administration official and close personal friend of Carter’s, was forced to resign during Carter’s presidency for improper banking relationships with BCCI. More recently, Carter refused to give back a donation from the Zayed Foundation, an anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, Saudi group, even after Harvard University had refused to accept a donation from the same foundation. Several observers have concluded that the funding has influenced Carter’s increasingly harsh views and references to apartheid when describing Israel.

(As a footnote, Jimmy Carter’s grandson, who is currently running for governor of Georgia, was accused of accepting too much foreign money when he first ran for office as a state senator in 2010, and Mohammad Bhuiyan, a university professor who is friend and ally of international micro-credit loan shark and alleged tax cheat Mohammad Yunus, has donated to Jason Carter’s political campaigns.)

Bill Clinton—The Clinton Foundation accepted a gift of at least $1 to $5 million if not $20 million from billionaire oilman Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi. Saudi Arabia itself gave between $10 and $25 million shortly before his wife became secretary of state, with Kuwait, Qatar and Oman each giving between $1 to $5 million. These donations followed earlier millions that flowed from the Saudi royal family to the Clinton library in Arkansas. In her dealings with the Islamic world as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton neglected to pursue an agreement with Iraq to provide for its ongoing security needs after the withdrawal of American troops, and she pressed for negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan—two decisions which coincidentally aligned with the desires of Saudi Arabia.

Al Gore—Gore personally made about $100 million from his share of the sale of the Current TV network to the Qatari-controlled sensationalist and anti-Semitic network Al Jazeera. The $100 million windfall makes the Saudi gifts to Jimmy Carter look like, well, peanuts. The purchase gave Al Jazeera its long awaited entre to American audiences, along with some air of legitimacy by being praised by the former vice president after the sale. Qatar has been a primary bankroller of the radical fighters of the Arab Spring, and Al Jazeera has been its cheerleader. The Shiites, secularists, and Christians are suffering from Qatar’s activities, but Al Jazeera and Al Gore have made out like bandits from the transaction. Although Gore was highly outspoken against the war in Iraq, he has been fairly quiet about American involvement in Libya and Syria—involvement which is supported and encouraged by Qatar. A cynic may wonder whether Gore’s silence was purchased.

John Kerry—When Kerry ran for president in 2004, Iranian-American donor Hassan Nemazee gave him $100,000. Nemazee had served earlier on the board of the pro-Khomeini American Iranian Council. Kerry signaled during the campaign that he would pursue areas of mutual interest with Iran, and complained that George Bush didn’t give Iran “nuclear fuel” to see whether or not Iran would use it peacefully. As secretary of state, Kerry has pursued diplomatic negotiations with Iran in Geneva despite Iranian President Rouhani’s history of deceiving the West about Iran’s nuclear program. Eventually, Hassan Nemazee pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison for defrauding banks with phony collateral to borrow money to finance his Democrat fundraising activities. Nemazee also served as a fundraiser and adviser to Hillary Clinton before going to prison.

Barack Obama—Before he was elected, there were allegations that Barack Obama got help as a student from Saudi agent Khalid al-Mansour for law school expenses and as an adult from sweetheart deals by Syrian-American real estate developer Tony Rezko. Like Kerry and Hillary Clinton, Obama also received campaign donations from Hassan Nemazee. Donations totaling $30,000 were made to the 2008 Obama campaign from two brothers in Gaza in violation of campaign finance laws; the donations were said to be returned after the donations became public. California businessman Kareem Ahmed was a “million dollar donor” to the Obama campaign and Democratic causes in 2012, and his offices were raided by the local district attorney last year.

 

A lot of the donors here are anti-Semitic, and they are supporting these politicians because they believe they can help them undermine Israel’s security. Saudi Arabia in particular has a long history of trying to buy elections around the world, not only supporting Wahhabi causes and groups, but “secular” and mainstream entities such as universities and philanthropies in order to curry broad institutional favor from the West. These cases, even if the money had zero influence on the politicians in question, illustrate the great lengths to which wealthy Arab donors and sometimes pro-Iranian donors will go in an attempt to influence U.S. politics and foreign policy in their favor.

h1

Mookie moves to export the revolution

February 17, 2014

Bahrainis busted for smuggling weapons from Iraq

Bahrain is alleging that Iraqi militia strongman Muqtada “Mookie” al-Sadr is training fifth columnists to seize power in Bahrain when the time is right.

Yet the headline and allegation cannot be read at face value:  this Bahraini newspaper Gulf Daily News represents the ruling Sunni monarchy and so does the legal system that produced the forced confessions of the Shia defendants in the alleged Sadrist plot.

By the way, it is cases like this that Bahrain’s neighbor Saudi Arabia may replicate if and when it seeks to enforce its new informant rewards program.  Like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia has strategic interests in crippling internal Shia dissidents.

That being said, the very real possibility that Sadr would back elements to Bahrain and wait to take over has a definite ring of truth to it.  Iran and its Iraqi ally Sadr would both love to see an arc of Shia control spanning from Aleppo to Manama.

Here’s the Gulf Daily News account, with thanks to LatLongPacific for notifying Money Jihad about the story:

Arms smuggling six remanded

By NOOR ZAHRA,  Posted on Friday, February 07, 2014

SIX men who allegedly smuggled large hauls of weapons into Bahrain were yesterday remanded in police custody for 30 days.

The Bahrainis reportedly travelled to Iraq last year to receive militia training in weapons with Shi’ite strongman Moqtada Al Sadr’s Mahdi Army, according to case files.

They have been accused of conspiring with a foreign country, joining the movement of Al Sadr, recruiting others and being part of a terrorist cell.

They have also been charged with receiving militia training in weapons and explosives.

One of the men, who was arrested on September 25 last year, was allegedly recruited through a middleman in Iraq.

“We went to Iraq and received militia training along with the army of Moqtada Al Sadr,” said the 23-year-old in his statement to prosecutors.

“The Iraqis told us not to get involved with riots in Bahrain, so we will not be arrested over something small.

“They told us to prepare ourselves for when chaos happened and that is when we come into the picture.

“We went to Karbala and received training in AK47s, explosives and RPGs. We also received $400 each.”

His co-defendant, an 18-year-old Bahraini, told prosecutors they used charity money donated by political societies in attacks against policemen…

h1

What’s really behind the Saudi rewards program

February 16, 2014

Saudi Arabia says it will offer rewards to people within the kingdom who provide evidence about terrorist financing that leads to a conviction (hat tip to El Grillo).

It has been rumored that the maneuver is designed to reign in Saudi-backed elements among the Syrian rebels whom Saudi Arabia can no longer control.

Money Jihad suspects that the initiative, which resembles the U.S. Rewards for Justice program, is a Saudi smokescreen designed to placate Western diplomats, U.S. Treasury officials, and international financial watchdog FATF.

Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the first instance of Saudi deception about a counter-terror finance initiative.

In 2008, Saudi Arabia announced that its central bank, SAMA, would review charitable contributions from Saudi Arabia overseas (which are rife with donations to terrorist causes), but meaningful oversight has never occurred.  Saudi public statements about the SAMA program have been documented to be false.

In 2010, Saudi Arabia’s ulema council issued a ruling against terrorism, but the very same ruling defended zakat, which has often been used by wealthy Saudis to finance terrorist causes.  Saudi pronouncements against terrorism have often focused on protecting its own oil and gas infrastructure, and have pointedly excluded suicide bombers in Israel or Iraq from its definition of terrorism.

In 2014 we are told that Saudi Arabia will pay rewards to those who provide information about terror finance.  If this is actually enforced, Money Jihad predicts that it will be used against Shia dissidents, particularly in its oil rich, Shia-dominant Eastern Province (see related commentary by Amy Myers Jaffe here), or against those who transfer money to Shias in Bahrain or Syria.

It will not be used to curtail Saudi money flowing to Somalia, Bangladesh, Chechnya, or any of the other countries where Saudi Arabia has strategic interests.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,102 other followers