Posts Tagged ‘Somalia’

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The money behind the jihad: suggested reading

December 18, 2014
  • During Operation Protective Edge, Israel Defense Forces seized kalashnikovs, electroshock weapons, uzis, and RPG’s among other goodies smuggled through tunnels by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihadmore>>
  • The Union of Arab Banks is concerned that U.S. courts will allow even more cases to be brought against them for facilitating terrorism… more>>
  • A human rights lawyer decries the Salafi business cartels that have taken over Somalia… more>>
  • Congressman wants answers on whether CENTCOM attempted to make a payment for the release of Bowe Bergdahl from its $5 million fund … more>>
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Claim: Somali remittance firm bought bombs, suicide vests (updated)

December 5, 2014

(Updated 12/9/12 to include a response from Dahabshiil)

The Somali news outlet Waagacusub claims that a shipment of bombs, suicide vests, military uniforms and combat boots to the financial services company Dahabshiil has been intercepted. The container was transported by a United Arab Emirates vessel, but Emirati security forces say the container originated in China. The shipment was allegedly intended for delivery to Dahabshiil’s office in Mogadishu, which Dahabshiil denies.  Suicide bomber attacks by al-Shabaab fighters are common in and around Mogadishu.

The allegations against the notorious remittance company could not be independently substantiated by Money Jihad. However, there are some indirect suggestions of potential Dahabshiil involvement in brokering illegal arms deals. In 2013, Inter Press Service reported that weapons are being trafficked in a similar manner as hawala—in other words, arms are being transferred to different owners without being physically moved. The IPS report featured a photograph of Dahabshiil’s Mogadishu office. Waagacusub has previously videotaped witnesses who said that Dahabshiil is involved in the procurement of weapons and vehicles for use in clan warfare. UN investigators recently disclosed that as many as 70 to 80 percent of weapons shipped to Somalia intended for use by the government have been “diverted” for resale in the public marketplace.

Dahabshiil denies involvement in UAE shipment, telling Money Jihad that “Dahabshiil strongly refutes the allegations that it was in any way involved in this incident. Dahabshiil has no involvement whatsoever with the weapons trade.”

Dahabshiil routinely makes payments to the terrorist group al-Shabaab according to reports from multiple Somali news sources, although Dahabshiil denies the charge. Its offices have previously been closed when Dahabshiil has failed to pay or delayed payment. The British bank Barclays is severing ties with Dahabshiil over concerns about money laundering and terrorist financing. Dahabshiil offices in Denmark were recently referred to the police after financial regulators there determined that the remittance company’s offices compliance programs were “completely inadequate.” At least one Dahabshiil branch was found by a Guantanamo military judge to have financed al-Shabaab.

© Text copyrighted 2014 by Money Jihad. Blog URL: moneyjihad.wordpress.com. Any unauthorized reproduction, duplication, or retransmission of this post without the express written consent from Money Jihad is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Money Jihad with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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UAE: ISIS licking chops over vital sea channels

November 20, 2014

Threats to key choke points like the Strait of Hormuz from a joint venture between al-Shabaab and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are possible according to the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates.  The UAE foreign minister’s comments are being construed somewhat narrowly as a warning that ISIS could engage in piracy with al-Shabaab. But that overlooks the wider influence that al-Shabaab wields over shipping, controlling Somali ports and exacting taxes on illegal charcoal exports to the Arabian peninsula.  In other words, al-Shabaab could help ISIS undermine freedom of the seas not just through piracy, but through smuggling and illicit business relationships with Gulf states.  The foreign minister’s warnings should be read within that wider context.

From DefenseNews (h/t El Grillo):

…On Oct. 29, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan raised the piracy concerns, calling for the international community to be more vigilant regarding new threats at the fourth UAE Counter Piracy Conference in Dubai.

“As groups like Daesh [Islamic State] develop ties to criminal networks and arms networks like al-Shabab, it is essential that we prevent them from expanding their operations into the sea and threaten vital channels such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Red Sea, Bab al Mandab and the Gulf of Aden,” he said.

“The nexus of criminal groups, violent extremists, and weak states will require a coordinated response from governments and the private sector,” he said. “We have to ask ourselves these questions and prepare ourselves in case a union of [the Islamic State group] and al-Shabab occurs”…

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Somalia interdicts shipload of bombs and guns

November 16, 2014

First time for everything. Thanks to a UN resolution authorizing searches and seizures of ships by Somali security forces, one fewer Gulf-backed arms shipment is making its way into the arsenals of al-Shabaab. The resolution will also make it somewhat harder for al-Shabaab to profit from the illegal export of charcoal from Somalia into the ports of the Arabian peninsula.  From Sabahi Online (hat tip to Chris for sending this in):

Tightened security off Somalia’s coast aims to bankrupt al-Shabaab

The recent seizure of an illegal arms shipment off the Somali coast signals the government’s increasing ability to manage maritime security, analysts say, but it also highlights the need for more effective ways to degrade al-Shabaab’s access to weapons and money.

Somali security forces seized a shipping container filled with weapons and explosives October 28th, just days after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorising the inspection and seizure of vessels in Somali waters suspected of carrying prohibited items.

Under the resolution, states and regional partners can search ships in Somalia’s territorial waters and on the high seas when there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect they are transporting illegal arms or charcoal, a key source of funding for al-Shabaab militants.

Despite an international ban on charcoal exports, the illegal trade has increased, with al-Shabaab holding on to approximately one-third of the $250 million annual trade, according to a report by the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea released in June.

“Charcoal is giving Al-Shabaab a lifeline,” said British Ambassador to the United Nations Mark Lyall Grant after the resolution passed October 24th.

Grant said Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud had written to the Security Council October 8th, requesting assistance. “Today we have responded to that call for help,” he said in a press statement, stressing that the fight against al-Shabaab was at the heart of the resolution.
Resolution provides welcomed support to Somali security agencies

Somalia’s security apparatus is not yet capable of monitoring and controlling all maritime traffic to the ports under its control and could use the help from its international partners, said retired Colonel Sharif Hussein Robow, a former intelligence officer during the Mohamed Siad Barre regime.

Robow praised the government for seizing the container of contraband weapons and explosives at Mogadishu Port last month, but said there are many more shipments carrying prohibited items that fall through the cracks.

“The entry of these types of weapons and everything else that is illegal in a country depends on the government’s capacity [to stop it],” he said.

Currently, security at Somalia’s ports is weak because personnel are not properly trained and officers lack motivation because they are not paid regularly and lack strong supervision, Robow said.

Nonetheless, the UN resolution will help Somalia’s international partners stop the flow of illegal weapons into Somali ports, he said. It can also help stop the export of charcoal, a key source of revenue for al-Shabaab.

“One of the ways [al-Shabaab] gets money includes collecting taxes from traders who bring charcoal from the forest,” he said. “The second way is they could actually own the charcoal that is being exported, and third, they extort money from the big businesses in the charcoal trade.”

Daud Abdi Daud, secretary general of Somali Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture, a non-profit organisation that aims to expand and improve media coverage of key issues from climate change to civil insecurity, said he welcomed inspections carried out by international partners off the coast of Somalia.

“Taking such a step to stop Somali charcoal exports is a good thing because this issue poses a big problem for both the Somali people and the environment,” Daud told Sabahi. “Cutting [trees for] charcoal has resulted in desertification in Somalia and the migration of wildlife out of Somalia because the trees they would have sheltered under are being cut.”

“Cutting trees is also a big part of the widespread drought and famine in Somalia because deforestation leads to a lack of rainfall, which ultimately results in droughts,” he said.

“When the government took control of Barawe, it was a crippling loss for al-Shabaab’s finances because the millions of dollars al-Shabaab earned from charcoal exports came from charcoal that was exported from the Barawe port,” Daud said.

However in its October report, the UN Monitoring Group said more than one million bags of charcoal are still being shipped out of Kismayo Port each month, even though the Somali government resumed control of Kismayo in 2012…

And Kismayo is just one of several ports being used for illegal charcoal shipping.

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5-year anniversary of Money Jihad

October 12, 2014

Five years ago today, the first post of this blog was published.

Since then, Money Jihad has blown the lid off connections among Islamic charities including the Zakat Foundation and Muslim Hands, the close financial relationship between Islamic Relief USA and Islamic Relief Worldwide in Britain, and partnerships between Islamic Relief and the Turkish front charity IHH.

Money Jihad has also documented the relationships between sharia banks and terrorist financing—relationships which were previously only discernible through scattered evidence and rumors.

On top of that, this blog has exposed information that was known in Somalia and Bangladesh about terrorist financing in those countries that had never been reported before to Western readers. On several occasions, this blog has helped give voice to dissidents and expatriates from those and other nations who have shared their knowledge about financial mischief in their home countries with Money Jihad to reach a wider audience.

None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for some wonderful people and organizations. Special thanks to Shariah Finance Watch and Creeping Sharia blogs for putting Money Jihad on the map in the first place. Individual thanks go to the vice president at the Center for Security Policy Christopher Holton, human rights activist Puneet Madaan, and American Center for Democracy fellow Ilan Weinglass who have each done a great deal to expand the reach of this blog.

Without additional support and engagement by 1389 Blog, The Counter Jihad Report, EuropeNews, BlazingCatFur, and other counter-jihad blogs—all wonderful blogs in their own right—in addition to news sites Free Republic, American Thinker, FrontPage Mag, The Washington Free Beacon, The Washington Post, and International Business Times, this blog would never have reached the level of influence or readership that it currently enjoys.

Then there’s the vibrant community of readers, sources, jokers and curmudgeons on Twitter! This whole endeavor would be much quieter and boring without them. A special thanks goes out to all-star Twitter users Rushette, El Grillo, MeanKitteh, Sal, Michael, Jackie, Zac, Jack, and FRamabama for all the support and the wealth of information and insights they provide.

Twitter also allows Money Jihad to mutually follow and connect with noted leaders of the counter-jihad movement including author Tarek Fatah, Act for America organizer Brigitte Gabriel, former Navy officer Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, author Diana West, author Dr. Mark Walia, Gatestone Institute president Nina Rosenwald and terror analysts Patrick Poole and Ryan Mauro. TV stars Roseanne Barr and David Boreanaz have helped too (seriously); and prominent financial crimes experts including anti-money laundering reporter Colby Adams; finance and security analyst Tom Keatinge; anti-money laundering attorney Christine Duhaime; Wall Street Journal risk & compliance reporter Rachel Louise Ensign; terrorism and terror finance expert J.C. Brisard; author Jeffery Robinson; fellow financial crime bloggers Helen Gorman and Eric “Mr. Watchlist” Sohn; and a host of certified public accounts, trade and sanctions lawyers, certified fraud examiners, and certified anti-money laundering specialists.

Thanks also to Rachel Ehrenfeld, Robert Spencer, and Kenneth Rijock. The insights and expertise in their writings have helped shape the perspective of this blog.

Now, friends and readers, it’s time for a two-week break. Hasta luego!

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Finland busts 4 Somalis for wires to al-Shabaab

September 23, 2014

As Money Jihad and Tundra Tabloids pointed out earlier this year, Finland criminalized the financing of terrorism 12 years ago, but nobody had been convicted yet. That’s about to change. Four Somali men living in Finland have been interrogated and indicted for transferring hundreds of euros to the terrorist group al-Shabaab. Prosecutors suggest the money could be intended to buy weapons, and some of it may have been used for an abortive plot to abduct, drug, smuggle, and conscript teenagers to fight for al-Shabaab.

The transfer of money in fairly small-dollar increments to avoid detection from some radical Somalis living in the West to Somalia, while claiming humanitarian motives, is consistent with al-Shabaab tactics, techniques, and procedures for obtaining overseas financing.

From the Helsinki Times (hat tip Aisha) on Sept. 17:

Four charged with financing terrorism

The first ever investigation into suspected terrorist offences in Finland has spawned criminal charges, with the Office of the Prosecutor General announcing on Wednesday that it has brought charges of financing terrorism against four people.

The suspects are believed to have raised and provided thousands of euros to al-Shabab, a jihadist militant group based in Somalia, fully aware of the destination and intended use of the money.

Although the wire transfers were no larger than 100–200 euros, they would have sufficed for the acquisition of various firearms, reminds state prosecutor Juha-Mikko Hämäläinen. “At the time, an assault rifle could be bought for 140 American dollars in Somalia. A hand grenade cost 25 dollars and a bazooka 150 dollars,” he highlights.

In addition, one of the suspects is accused of recruiting their brother to al-Shabab and planning to abduct his 15–17-year-old children in Finland and to take them to a terrorist training camp in Somalia against their will. The children were to be lured to Kenya under the guise of a holiday, drugged and transported across the border to a training camp in Somalia, where they would have been subjected to forced labour or similar conditions.

The plan was scrapped due to lack of money, according to the prosecution.

As a result, the suspect will also face charges of recruitment for commissioning a terrorist offence and preparation of an offence to be committed with terrorist intent. The offences are believed to have taken place between January 2008 and March 2011.

The suspects have rejected all criminal accusations in interrogations, insisting that the funds were transferred for humanitarian purposes.

Altogether, six people were suspected in the pre-trial investigation, but the Office of the Prosecutor General decided against bringing charges against two of them, a 28-year-old and 31-year-old man…

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Why can’t you send money home to Somalia? Because your politicians want sharia banking first

September 8, 2014

The fairy tale is that existing financial channels from conventional Western banks in England and Minnesota can create a new, “safe corridor” for high-tech, well-screened remittances from the Somali diaspora back to their families with an eliminated risk of financing terrorism or corruption in the process. The sharia banking plan is to leapfrog over the creation of a conventional, interest-based banking sector in Somalia by establishing sharia financial sector based exclusively on Islamic law. The word on the street is that the notorious money transfer company Dahabshiil is peddling influence with Somali politicians to ensure that no new financial institution cuts into their racket—a charge which (like every other mounting charge against it) Dahabshiil denies.

The result of all this is that there has yet to be a conventional bank in Somalia that can provide banking and money transfer services.  Thus it is becoming increasingly clear that Western banks should not be blamed for the inability of Somali leaders to authorize their own private banks and remittance channels.  The next time you hear somebody demand Western banks to keep the “lifeline” of Somali remittances open, ask yourself why Somali politicians won’t create a lifeline of their own.

The following excerpt from an Aug. 25 Foreign Policy article entitled, “Franchise Opportunity: Western Union in Somaliland” (hat tip Sal) goes a long way to explain why:

…For the past year, Somaliland’s parliament has failed to enact legislation allowing the creation of a commercial banking sector. The reluctance, government insiders say, is rooted in the belief that sends the muezzin’s call to prayer echoing from every corner of Hargeisa five times a day: the Islamic faith. Mindful of a constitution explicitly drafted according to Islamic principles, Somaliland’s parliamentarians have approved an Islamic Banking Law, but have yet to pass its commercial equivalent. They fear it could introduce the charging of interest on economic activity, which is unacceptable under sharia law.

“We’ve visited parliament; we have sat down with the chairman to explain how important this is, how much we need these foreign banks. We push and push and push,” says Abdilahi Hassan Aden, director general of Somaliland’s (unrecognized) central bank. “But we are still waiting.”

A Western advisor to the government sees parliament as ultimately persuadable, but not without work. “A lot of this is about changing the narrative when it comes to religion, changing mentalities,” the advisor says. “Islamic countries like Malaysia or Indonesia, for example, still manage to have commercial banking sectors.”

In private, some officials voice the suspicion that a commercial banking law has been so long in coming because the MTOs, influential local economic players that they are, until recently preferred the remittance system to remain just as it was. It’s a charge Dahabshiil, for its part, rejects. Abdirashid Duale, chief executive officer, insists the company is keen to see legislation allowing commercial banking passed. “Dahabshiil is very supportive of any law or other initiative that supports the commercial banking sector,” he says.*

Dahabshiil, which says it does background checks on all the customers it can, sees itself instead as a victim of world events. “All of this started because of 9/11,” Duale says. “Before then, there was no difference between us and a grocery store opening a bank account to deposit its earnings. With 9/11, the world changed, especially for Muslims.”

MTO operators say Barclays’s move would do the opposite of improving competition on a continent whose inhabitants already pay well over the odds for their money transfers. U.S.-based Western Union and MoneyGram, which the Barclays decision would not affect, charge far higher fees than Dahabshiil, which prides itself on being the cheapest MTO in the world.

Dahabshiil has now applied for and been granted a banking license under Somaliland’s existing Islamic banking legislation. But if that materializes, there would still be an open question of how thousands of rural families who will never see the inside of a bank — too far away, too expensive — would survive financially.

After a spirited lobbying campaign by the Somali diaspora, fronted by Olympic sprinter Mo Farah, whose family lives in Somaliland, the British government set up an action group in the fall of 2013 to try to hammer out a solution. The Department for International Development (DFID), alongside the British Treasury, is working on establishing a “safer corridor” for remittances. Its feasibility study explores ways of improving customer due diligence, from biometric fingerprinting to PINs to bar codes, and the establishment of an independent “trusted third party” to audit transactions. But more than a year after the remittance issue first blew up, the “safer corridor” remains a distant aspiration.

British consultants who were in Hargeisa to address a conference on money laundering, attended by Somaliland government ministers, remittance companies, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the World Bank, dismiss the “safer corridor” idea as a non-starter. (They have been commissioned by Dahabshiil to carry out a regional banking survey.) “It’s a Hans Christian Andersen story concocted by DFID, a case of the emperor’s new clothes,” says Peter Norris of Obiter Consult. “It’s been very unhelpful in luring everyone into a false sense of security.”

“The idea that you can have some massive computer system and somehow feed all this information in … and the computer will somehow work out which clients are dodgy and which are clean is a nonsense,” he adds…

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