Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

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Money and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

August 11, 2014

In 2007, the Islamic State of Iraq was seen as “the richest of the insurgency groups” in Iraq with $1 billion to 1.5 billion “collected in revenue by the group through foreign donations, enforced taxation and confiscation of the property and funds of Iraqis.” But the U.S. surge and ISI missteps significantly damaged the jihadist group’s ability to raise funds.

Seven years and three names later, ISIS amassed a $2 billion comeback and took control of large swathes of territory in northern Iraq including Mosul and 35 percent of Syria.

ISIS’s financial recovery has been marked by a slight shift away from reliance on local extortion networks (although those are still in effect), improved organizational and financial management by ISIS leader and self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the departure of U.S. troops in 2011.

The most important elements of ISIS’s funding are sadaqa (voluntary donations) from Arab donors in the Gulf; sales and tolls collected on sales of oil from fields under its control; and increasingly through money made by controlling key infrastructure.

Here’s a rundown of ISIS’s main funding channels:

Sadaqa from private donors

Fundraising is aided by contemporary marketing methods

Oil

  • ISIS controls 60 percent of Syrian oil including the lucrative Omar field
  • In Iraq, ISIS controls Butmah and Ain Zalah oil fields, the refinery in Baiji, and oil and gas resources in Ajeel in northern Iraq
  • ISIS sells or collects a portion on black market sales to Turkey, Iran, and in Syria itself
  • Revenue estimates for ISIS range from $1 million to $3 million daily

Dams

  • In addition to oil, control of key infrastructure such as the dams in Mosul, Fallujah, and Tabqa present increasingly significant revenue potential for ISIS.
  • Professor Ariel Ahram notes this is already occurring at Tabqa, where ISIS is involved in selling electricity.
  • New York Times reporter Tim Arango says that possession of the Mosul dam can enable ISIS to “use it as a method of finance” through extortion schemes to continue their operations.

Other sources

  • Isis has seized arms from Iraqi depots, including U.S. weapons given to Iraqi forces, plus weapons smuggled from Turkey and Croatia
  • The collection of ransom money has sustained ISIS throughout its existence
  • Antiquities smuggling

Incidently, little is being done by the Gulf states to curtail the flow of donations to ISIS because they either want an independent Sunni state carved out of Iraq or to replace Iraq’s Shia-led government with Sunnis. Washington should designate Saudi Arabia and Qatar as state sponsors of terrorism, but it won’t because of diplomatic considerations.

Without interdicting the donations and the contraband oil, U.S. airstrikes will have limited effect on ISIS’s coffers.

This piece is also published at Terror Finance Blog.

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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…

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ISIS gets men and $800 million from Turkey

July 8, 2014

Jihadist recruits and millions of dollars have slipped through the sieve-like border between Turkey and Iraq, says Middle East expert Daniel Pipes. This is purposeful not negligent. Pipes argues that this is because Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s twin interests in toppling Assad in Syria and fighting the Kurds in Iraq are both served by an ascendant Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Again, ISIS didn’t wake up one day and seize Mosul by chance. The combination of funding, number of foot soldiers, and strategy leaves almost no doubt that state sponsorship is involved.

Via Algemeiner on Jun. 22:

…Ankara may deny helping ISIS, but the evidence for this is overwhelming. “As we have the longest border with Syria,” writes Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish newspaper columnist, “Turkey’s support was vital for the jihadists in getting in and out of the country.” Indeed, the ISIS strongholds not coincidentally cluster close to Turkey’s frontiers.

Kurds, academic experts and the Syrian opposition agree that Syrians, Turks (estimated to number 3,000), and foreign fighters (especially Saudis but also a fair number of Westerners) have crossed the Turkish-Syrian border at will, often to join ISIS. What Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel calls a “two-way jihadist highway,” has no bothersome border checks and sometimes involves the active assistance of Turkish intelligence services. CNN even broadcast a video on “The secret jihadi smuggling route through Turkey.”

Actually, the Turks offered far more than an easy border crossing: they provided the bulk of ISIS’ funds, logistics, training and arms. Turkish residents near the Syrian border tell of Turkish ambulances going to Kurdish-ISIS battle zones and then evacuating ISIS casualties to Turkish hospitals. Indeed, a sensational photograph has surfaced showing ISIS commander Abu Muhammad in a hospital bed receiving treatment for battle wounds in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014.

One Turkish opposition politician estimates that Turkey has paid $800 million to ISIS for oil shipments. Another politician released information about active duty Turkish soldiers training ISIS members. Critics note that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has met three times with someone, Yasin al-Qadi, who has close ties to ISIS and has funded it.

Why the Turkish support for wild-eyed extremists? Because Ankara wants to eliminate two Syrian polities, the Assad regime in Damascus and Rojava (the emerging Kurdish state) in the northeast.

Regarding the Assad regime: “Thinking that jihadists would ensure a quick fall for the Assad regime in Syria, Turkey, no matter how vehemently officials deny it, supported the jihadists,” writes Cengiz, “at first along with Western and some Arab countries and later in spite of their warnings.”

Regarding Rojava: Rojava’s leadership being aligned with the PKK, the (formerly) terrorist Kurdish group based in Turkey, the authoritative Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman has little doubt “that until recently, Turkey was allowing jihadist fighters to move unhindered across its borders” to fight the Kurds…

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5 big terror finance stories so far in 2014

May 30, 2014

Money Jihad has blogged or tweeted about all these news stories, but they’re all significant enough that they merit a second look by anybody interested in the topic of terror finance. Here are some of the most significant news articles and commentaries written about terrorist financing news developments of the year so far:

Australian money laundering bust: “Project Eligo” resulted in at least 105 arrests, 190 criminal charges, and over $500 million in assets seized in Australia since the beginning of the year. Exchange houses involved in the laundering operation were delivering a cut of profits to Hezbollah, illustrating the control that Hezbollah exerts over global financial transactions…more from the Sydney Morning Herald>>

Canada seizes $7 million in Iranian assets: The seizure is significant not only because it delivers justice to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, but because it demonstrates the validity of the legal theory that terrorism can be partially bankrupted through litigation. Previous judgments have been just that—judgments without seizing or disbursing assets. Now legal methods prove that the lawyers of terrorists’ victims deserve a seat at the table along with military operations, intelligence, law enforcement, sanctions, and other counter-terror techniques…more from the CBC>>

Turkish corruption scandal: The ongoing Turkish corruption scandals boil down to a rivalry between two Islamists, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and the cryptic Pennsylvania imam Fetullah Gulen. But the scandal has also revealed the degree to which Turkey has enabled Iranian sanctions evasion, and at the same time we’re learning more about Turkey’s support for Al Qaeda and Hamas…more from Jonathan Schanzer>>

Sanctions relief offered to Iran could fund terrorism. Easing Iranian sanctions as part of a larger diplomatic push offers no controls over how Iran uses the money. Not only will the money not be used to satisfy judgments won by the victims of Iranian terror, but the money could be given to the perpetrators of Iranian terror, including Hezbollah, the IRGC, Hamas, and the Quds Force…more from Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon>>

Kuwait’s terror financing cabinet minister proves too hot to handle. Kuwait, whose hide the U.S. saved during the Gulf war, brazenly stabbed us in the back after 9/11 by failing to outlaw terrorist financing for 10 years. Then Kuwait added insult to injury in January by promoting a top private fundraiser for jihad in Syria to not one but two major government posts simultaneously. This prompted US Treasury officials to grow a spine and actually condemn Kuwait for rewarding this kind of person. Nayef al-Ajmi finally quit earlier this month… more from Reuters>>

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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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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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Front charity news: recommended reading

March 27, 2014
  • The Shakhsiyah Foundation receives £70,000 a year in taxpayer money even though Prime Minister Cameron called it a front charity for extremism… more>>
  • Two would-be jihadists from North Carolina intended to use charity as a cover story for their mission overseas… more>>
  • The Turkish “charity” IHH funds and supports Hamas, but has yet to be designated as a terrorist organization by the Obama administration… more>>
  • İMKANDER, another Turkish charity, has taken to the streets in a massive rally to eulogize Doku Umarov, the terror chief of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate (h/t Ayre)… more>>
  • A Dutch money launderer has signed his own death warrant by stealing $35,000 from a Hamas front charity… more>>

 

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