Posts Tagged ‘terrorist financing’

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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>>
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Thousands of NGOs get foreign money but don’t report it

April 14, 2014

MHA warns of terror fundings in NGOs

India’s home ministry has found that the number of non-governmental organizations receiving funds from outside India is on the rise, and that most of the groups receiving the foreign funds aren’t reporting it as they are required to do under the law, highlighting the vulnerability that such funding goes toward terrorist purposes.

Some of the external funding involved comes from Western nonprofits that send money to Islamic front charities or alleged Kashmiri relief groups that are actually turning over the cash to jihadi militants.

India isn’t alone in the struggle to get nonprofit organizations to disclose foreign sources of funding. Compliance in the U.S. with the Foreign Agents Registration Act is a joke. Penalties for noncompliance with 501(c)(3) filing requirements are miniscule. The tendency for regulators globally is to be tougher on existing groups that have gone through the registration process rather than on discovery of groups that have failed to register.

These noncompliant groups need a site visit from the police. The policemen can wait while a manager at the NGO completes the required paperwork.

From the Daily Mail‘s India edition:

Government warns of NGOs’ vulnerability to terror funding and money laundering

By Abhishek Bhalla

PUBLISHED: 21 March 2014

Thousands of NGOs which receive foreign aid, many of whom do not file returns on such contributions, are vulnerable to terror funding and money laundering, the home ministry has warned.

Though there are more than 22,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), intelligence inputs indicate that there are many others that work secretly and are not registered.

On the other hand, 19,000 of the registered organisations do not file returns on foreign contributions.

Foreign funding for NGOs has risen by almost 12 per cent in 2011-12, with Rs 11,549 crore being pumped into these organisations from abroad every year, according to the home ministry’s latest report on the FCRA.

According to the report, foreign contributions worth Rs 2,253 crore come for activities other than the most common causes listed by the Ministry of Home Affairs for foreign contributions.

The common sectors for foreign funding are rural development, welfare of children, health, awareness camps and religious purposes.

“We need to know where this money is being used. We need to coordinate with the authorities of the donor countries and crack down on some of these NGOs,” said an official in the home ministry.

The five major donor countries are the US, Britain, Germany, Italy and Netherlands. Countries like the UAE, Mauritius, Austria, Sweden and Spain are also among the top 15 donor nations…

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Kerry sides with Jordanian bank against terror victims

April 11, 2014

So committed is he to the illusory peace process between Israel and its neighbors that John Kerry’s State Department is siding with Jordan’s Arab Bank in pushing for legal relief from a terrorist financing lawsuit in New York.

At the heart of the case is Arab Bank’s refusal to turn over documents that would provide further detail about the transactions it helped facilitate for Hamas. Arab Bank has cited bank secrecy laws as the reason for its recalcitrance. Jordan has argued on behalf of the bank, making thinly veiled threats that it may not support the peace process with Israel if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t intervene to provide relief to Arab Bank from the rulings against it.

According to recent reporting by New York Times, “The State Department’s arguments appear to closely track those made by the government of Jordan.”

The intervention of the State Department represents a setback to progress that victims of Hamas terrorism appeared to be making last year in the case against Arab Bank.

Suing terrorist organizations and the banks that assist them has become an increasingly utilized tactic in the West to help gradually de-fund terror groups. Kerry doesn’t appear to be on board with that strategy.

Acknowledgment:  Thanks to Twitter user Mean Kitteh for notifying us of the NYT report.

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Farid Foundation defends ICNA donation

April 10, 2014

This also appears at Terror Finance Blog:

The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is the progeny the Muslim Students Association and the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami movement. ICNA was previously directed by Ashrafuzzaman Khan, who was convicted in absentia by Bangladesh last year for war crimes committed during that country’s war of independence in the 1970s.

Tariq Farid, founder and CEO of the fruit basket company Edible Arrangements, and trustee of the Farid Foundation, has donated money to ICNA. This revelation comes from the Farid Foundation’s own website and from Farid’s attorney, who wrote last week that, “…the Farid Foundation’s only contribution was to a special fund of the ICNA called ‘ICNA Relief USA’, an organization in New York City, which, among other things, helps women with temporary housing.” The lawyer’s statement was made in response to an article published at Blue MauMau, a website for franchisees.

The Blue MauMau article highlighted a lawsuit filed by former Edible Arrangements controller Tara Perino, who says that Farid maintained a hostile workplace and discriminated against non-South Asians and non-Muslims. The lawsuit also describes the Farid Foundation’s support to ICNA: “Farid and his brother, Kamran Farid (Edible Arrangements’ Chief Operating Officer), at all relevant times hereto have been the two trustees of a foundation called the Farid Foundation, operated out of the same location as Edible Arrangements. Farid Foundation makes significant contributions to Islamic causes and organizations, including the Farid Foundation Pakistan; the Salma K. Farid Academy; Islamic Circle of North America Relief; the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut; the Inner-City Muslim Action Network; the Wallingford Islamic Center; Masjid AI-Islam; and the Islamic Association of Southern Connecticut.”

The author of the Blue MauMau article, Corbin Williston, noted that, “The head of ICNA at the time the suit was filed was Ashrafuz Zaman Khan”—the same man convicted of war crimes—and that the argument that the ICNA donation was “only” to a special fund wouldn’t comfort the people whose loved ones were tortured and murdered by Khan.

Indeed, and ICNA Relief USA isn’t exactly a ‘special fund’ anyway. It is a tax-exempt entity operated by ICNA. The statement that ICNA Relief USA provides transitional housing to women may be true, but it is quite misleading in terms of the charity’s primary activities: according to their own last tax return, ICNA Relief USA spent just $580,000 on housing for women out of its total $5 million in annual expenses.

On the revenue side, ICNA Relief USA received a $30,000 grant in 2012 from Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a Michigan-based Islamic charity with links to a Pakistani front charity that funds Hamas.

Tariq Farid’s attorney is doing his best to defend his client against some very damaging claims. But an admission that the Farid Foundation donated money to ICNA Relief USA doesn’t do much to clear the air.

Blue MauMau should be commended for reporting on the lawsuit against Edible Arrangements, and for keeping the article on their website despite the demand from Farid’s attorney to retract the article.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Paul for alerting me to these developments

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Indian Mujahideen cell paid dues for ops

April 6, 2014

A five-man Indian Mujahideen (IM) cell in Rajasthan funded its activities from monthly dues paid by the members themselves, according to India’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). The men received bomb training and planned to travel to Afghanistan for further training.

Self-financing of jihadist lone wolves is a well-known phenomenon. Self-financing of terrorist groups by paying membership dues much less common, and is more characteristic of civic groups, labor unions, and extreme political groups without major institutional backing, such as the National Socialists in Germany during the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Communist Party USA.

The dues involved are small, ranging from 100 to 1000 rupees a month ($2 to $17). Big things have small beginnings…

From TNN via the Times of India on Mar. 29:

IM terrorists contribute to self-finance their activities: ATS

JAIPUR: The five youths who were arrested from Sikar used to self finance their terror activities and arrange accommodation and logistics for Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) trainers by collecting money from among themselves every month, ATS officials said. The five youths were produced in a court and taken on a 7-day police remand for further investigation. Some laptops and pen drives were also seized during raids at their houses in Sikar on Friday.

“The five youths, three of whom are students, used to arrange money from among themselves to self finance their terror activities. Each of them used to contribute Rs 100 to Rs 1000 every month,” a senior ATS officer said.

The officer said Waqar, an engineering student who was arrested from Pratap Nagar-Sector 35 in the city, had provided some training to these five youths including on how to make electronic circuits for bombs.

“The five youths were planning to leave for Afghanistan for further training. Maroof had asked them to be prepared for leaving the country. They always followed Maroof’s instructions,” the officer said…

 

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A look at Boko Haram’s financing

April 4, 2014

Boko Haram has enough money to buy its own artillery now according to Voice of America. Analysts interviewed by VOA said there probably isn’t enough funding within Nigeria for buying heavy weapons, indicating that much of Boko Haram’s funding comes from abroad. Several revenue sources were named:

Foreign sources

  • West African piracy
  • Drug smuggling
  • Unrest from the Arab Spring has created and weapons trafficking “highway” to Nigeria

Domestic sources

  • Bank robberies
  • Stealing from the Nigerian military

In addition to the Boko Haram bank robberies, previous Money Jihad coverage has shown that zakat has been funneled by Boko Haram supporters through Nigerian banks to fund terrorist operations.

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Nefarious finance: recommended reading

April 3, 2014
  • Back in each other’s arms:  Iran’s financial relationship with Hamas “has returned to what it was,” says Iran’s shura council… more>>
  • The pro-Hamas Islamic charity IHH  is hinting that it will launch another Turkish-based, Mavi Marmara-style “peace flotilla”… more>>
  • Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria has its own revenue sources and doesn’t feel the need to answer to Ayman al-Zawahiri… more>>
  • Smuggling gold to keep Iran in the black?  Prosecutors uncover a sanctions evasion crime ring in Turkey that may go all the way to Prime Minister Erdogan’s office… more>>
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Interpol targets al-Shabaab’s charcoal smuggling

March 30, 2014

Finally. Action against al-Shabaab’s exploitation of the lucrative Somali charcoal trade is long overdue. Al-Shabaab exacts a 2½ percent tax at several stages of production from the point the charcoal leaves the kilns until it is loaded and shipped illegally to Persian Gulf buyers in contravention of a UN ban on the trade.

From Thomson Reuters on Mar. 27 (h/t El Grillo):

…“The al Shabaab-controlled charcoal trade is emerging as the new security threat facing the country’s biodiversity,” Henry Wafula, a district commissioner in eastern Kenya, said in an interview with Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Charcoal worth more than 140 million Kenya shillings (about $1.7 million) is being shipped out of eastern Kenya illegally every month, Wafula said. The lucrative trade involves cutting down and burning mature trees, particularly in protected wildlife areas. The loss of trees reduces cover for wildlife and worsens soil erosion.

In 2013, the annual report of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia estimated that al Shabaab’s charcoal exports from eastern Africa could be as high as 24 million sacks per year, for an overall international market value of $360 to $384 million.

Laws passed by Kenya in 2013 impose tough punishments on illegal logging and related activities, but concern about al Shabaab’s possible use of charcoal trade revenue has drawn INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organisation, into an alliance trying to stop the trade, though there is scant evidence it is used for terror-related operations.

“We have reports linking illegal charcoal trade in Eastern Africa to terrorist activities in the region. But this is not something governments are responding to,” David Higgins, of INTERPOL’s environmental crime programme, told a recent media briefing in Nairobi.

He did not give details of the activities, but said he has information, mainly from non-governmental organisations, that there are links between the charcoal trade and terror cells operating in the region.

INTERPOL began taking an interest in the charcoal trade soon after Kenya passed the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, which spells out penalties up to life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of logging, clearing land or setting fire to vegetation in protected wildlife areas…

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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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How jizya funds terror groups

March 21, 2014

The traditional Islamic tax on non-Muslims, jizya, which is imposed by various terrorist and militant groups across the Islamic world today, is frequently viewed singularly as a problem of religious persecution.

While the maltreatment of non-Muslim minorities is indeed a serious problem, what’s often overlooked is how jizya serves as a revenue generator for terrorist groups.  It’s time to look at some of the basics of this problem:

Who benefits from jizya?

What do they spend jizya on?

  • Paying wages to fighters and operatives
  • Buying weapons, equipment, and supplies.  (For example, the Assyrian International News Agency reported that one jizya collector “demanded 10,000 Egyptian pounds so that he could buy weapons.”  Another observer recently wrote that the imposition of jizya in Iraq is because “ISIL needs money to buy arms off the black market.”)
  • Planning and carrying out terrorist attacks

Where does this happen?

  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Egypt
  • Iraq
  • Syria

When

Officially, jizya was collected by the Caliphate for twelve centuries from the time of Muhammad at least until the Tanzimat decree of the Ottoman Empire in 1856, and existed in a more limited form under alternate names into the 1900s.  Jizya has experienced a revival over the last two decades, during which time it has been collected mostly by non-state actors, but sometimes with government approval right up to the present day.

Why

In addition to being a terrorist income source, jizya is mandated by the Qur’an and serves as an inducement to non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

Jizya can no longer be written off or ignored by count-terror analysts solely as an indicator of religious persecution.  It must be viewed as a threat and risk to security because its collection in modern times primarily benefits terrorists.

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Time for due diligence on welfare recipients?

March 19, 2014

This piece also appears at Terror Finance Blog:

The family of Boston marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received over $100,000 in public benefits from 2002 to 2012 according to documents compiled a year ago from state agencies by the Massachusetts House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight.

The aid included food stamps and welfare benefits to the Tsarnaevs’ parents and to Katherine Russell, Tamerlan’s wife.  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also received student financial aid and forbearance (although he probably omitted income from drug sales and auto repair referral kickbacks on his student aid application).

Public benefits, being somewhat fungible, free up money for the recipient to put toward purposes separate from what was intended.  During the period of time that Katherine Russell received food stamps and welfare payments (2011 through 2012), Tamerlan was able to fly to Russia in early 2012 to seek out radical connections.  In effect, the benefits that Tamerlan and Katherine received through her name may have enabled the purchase of Tamerlan’s plane ticket to the jihadi rat’s nest of the North Caucasus.

The question of public benefits funding terrorists in Boston comes after years of ongoing scandals documented in Great Britain, where dangerous Islamists like Abu Yahya, Anjem Choudary, Emdadur Choudhury, and Abu Qatada have had their homes, welfare benefits, and legal expenses paid from taxpayer money.  “Twentieth” 9/11 hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui also received welfare benefits in England, along with the family of Abu Hamza.  Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia have also dealt with the same exploitation of their generous public benefit programs by Islamists.

Several of these abuses probably occurred because of guidance that individual benefit recipients received from radical imams in their communities. Deceased terrorist imam Anwar al-Awlaki once wrote in Inspire magazine that, “All of our [Islamic] scholars agree on the permissibility of taking away the wealth of the disbelievers in dār al-ĥarb [the non-Muslim world] whether by means of force or by means of theft or deception,” for the purposes of carrying out jihad.  And the same Anjem Choudary mentioned above once encouraged Muslims living in the U.K. to collect public benefits as “jihad seeker’s allowance” instead of getting a job.

In light of this problem, it may be time to contemplate whether government agencies that issue public benefits should be required to adhere to the same know-your-customer provisions and due diligence requirements under which private sector financial institutions already operate.

Banks are required to conduct due diligence on account holders by carrying out activities like cross-checking their names against databases of sanctioned individuals or politically-exposed persons to help ensure that the bank is not assisting the customer in carrying out financial crimes such as money laundering, sanctions evasion, terrorist financing, graft, or other offenses.  Bank employees also have mechanisms and the responsibility to file reports when suspicious activity is observed.

However, there appears to be no equivalent legal requirement for government agencies that provide public benefits such as welfare payments, food stamps, or tuition assistance to undertake these due diligence and reporting functions.  Agencies screen applicant eligibility for a variety of public benefits (such as proof of financial need for student aid, and proof that you are actively seeking employment to obtain jobless benefits, etc.), but this screening tends to focus on the applicant’s legal eligibility for the benefit rather than on the risk that the benefit may be diverted by the recipient toward criminal or terrorist enterprises.

Neither is there a uniform standard for government agencies to report criminal misuse of public benefits to a central authority.  Rather, suspicions of fraudulent claims are handled differently by every agency awarding benefits, with different mechanisms for investigating and denying claims.  And again, the benefit fraud cases are focused on false claims by recipients who never should have received the benefit, and rarely target individuals who receive a benefit lawfully but misappropriate that benefit toward unauthorized purposes.

Should an assessment of high risk or an OFAC database name match be grounds for the denial of the benefit?  Perhaps not, but at least the filing of a suspicious activity report by a government compliance officer would provide additional data points for regulators to review and share with law enforcement as needed.

If due diligence requirements are worthwhile enough for the federal government to impose on the private sector, the private sector financial institutions have a right to ask the government to eat its own cooking.  This expansion of know-your-customer provisions to the government sector would seem especially important considering statements by radical imams and actions by terrorists like the Tsarnaev brothers to use public benefits to finance their planning and terrorist operations.

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