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North Korea’s costly assault on U.S. currency

May 22, 2015

The reason the U.S. has had to incorporate high-tech features into its currency wasn’t because of domestic crooks. It was to retard North Korea from its ongoing, coordinated attempts to flood the world with counterfeit notes and devalue the greenback. This information comes from testimony before Congress by Dr. David Asher. Rep. Al Green (D-TX) asked witnesses about counterfeit bills and merchandise yesterday:

Meanwhile, Pakistan has been doing the same thing to India, a phenomenon that has been ignored by Western media. It’s time for national security analysts to take note that counterfeiting is no longer a strictly criminal activity for profit, but a state-sponsored activity for political, war-making, diplomatic, and larger economic purposes.

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Terror takers: recommended news reading

May 21, 2015
  • Money freed up during Iran talks appears to be rebuilding Hamas’s tunnelsmore>>
  • The black market created by extensive regulation of the tobacco industry is enriching terroristsmore>>
  • ISIS seeks $23 million ransom for captives… more>>
  • Alibaba poses a risk for exporting sensitive military technology to China… more>>
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Term of the week: money mule

May 20, 2015

Money mules are often used to surfeit money or goods on behalf of third parties. The technique is used by a variety of criminals including terrorists, who use the method to transfer money to each other to finance operations. One book defines a money mule as:

A person who transfers money and/or reships valuable, fraudulently-obtained goods. The money mule is often an innocent person who is misled into acting as a go-between in a scam. The instigator is usually a criminal who operates with impunity from another country.

SecurityIntelligence.com reviewed common money mule schemes in an article last fall covering work-from-home, secret shopper, lottery and inheritance schemes:

Money mules are significant in the process of cashing out compromised financial accounts. A money mule is a person who receives and transfers illegally acquired money on behalf of others. Unknowing mules are likely recruited through online job advertisements and spam email. Job titles may include, but are not limited to, “mystery shopper,” “payment processing agent” or “money transfer agent.”

They also may be recruited through romance and lottery scams. Unknowing mules are vulnerable adults who are often older, lonely and potentially financially strapped. Fraudsters will start relationships with these individuals through online dating sites, social networking sites and/or job advertisement sites. The fraudster, acting as a predator, will attempt to cultivate a relationship with the victim based on lies.

Schemes that target unknowing participants are typically focused on employment and relationship scams. At some point, the victims of these schemes (particularly the employment scams) may become knowing, or at least half-suspecting, mules. They realize that they may be part of an illicit scheme but will continue to try to make money because of personal circumstances.

Read the rest of the SecurityIntelligence.com article here.

* Woodward, Jeannette, What Every Librarian Should Know about Electronic Privacy (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2007).

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Turkey guts cash screening at customs

May 18, 2015

Turkey has revised its customs regulations to the point where one Turkish headline described it as “Unlimited cash entry into Turkey now legalized.” Turkey said the regulations are an improvement compared to the old policy, but experts contacted by Al-Monitor said there was nothing wrong with the previous regulations.

What’s so problematic about this development is that Turkey has been used as a key transit point for money and fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. And that was when there were at least some nominal controls at customs points. Now it appears to be open season.

The other rotten element of this story is that Turkey appears to have waited to change these regulations until just after they came off of the international financial watchdog FATF’s grey list. It’s as though they knew they couldn’t get de-listed with regulations like these, so the bided their time.

Read all about it (h/t @moscow_ghost):

No questions asked about Turkey’s suitcases full of cash

Author Pinar Tremblay Posted May 14, 2015

The Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade issued new regulations April 15 for entering and leaving Turkey with any amount of cash. The new Customs Code had passed without much public attention until early May, when the news broke with the headlines “Hot money days are over, now starts the black money days” and “Unlimited cash entry into Turkey now legalized.”

Umut Oran, deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), submitted a parliamentarian query asking why the previous Customs Code was replaced with the new code, which would enable suspicious financial transactions, thus increasing the risk for money laundering, terror financing and tax evasion.

In a rather foggy statement, Minister of Customs and Trade Nurettin Canikli said the previous code was unclear, adding there were contradictory clauses in the code, and customs personnel could not be flexible. He said they had only simplified the code. “We had many complaints from exporters bringing money into the country,” Canikli said. “It could be from various countries, such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Balkans, where there are no banking services. Frankly, why does it matter if the money comes in cash or through a bank as long as it is money earned from exports? If this is dirty money, it will not be allowed to enter the country. There are no changes with regard to unrecorded cash.”

Yet, all pundits whom Al-Monitor contacted — bankers, customs officials, economists, senior economy editors of reputable news networks — agreed that the vagueness was introduced with the new code, and none were able to see what was wrong with the old code.

The previous Customs Code, which was six pages, was seen as compatible with EU regulations. When questioned about the compatibility of the 2015 codes with the EU, Canikli said, “We are not a member of the EU, we are Turkey.”

Indeed, there is sufficient reason to worry about the 2015 Customs Code, which is two pages shorter than the 2013 version. Yet, with those two deleted pages are red flags. Turkey has been on the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) since 2011. The FATF took Turkey off its list of high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions only in October 2014. Turkey came to the brink of suspension of its membership in the FATF in October 2012. In its latest report, the FATF was still concerned with Turkey’s ability to institute a system that would identify and freeze terrorist assets. The report warned about Turkey’s definitions for “terrorism financing” and stated that Turkey’s procedures for freezing the assets of identified groups were too slow.

Emin Capa, CNN Turk’s senior economy editor, told Al-Monitor, “Turkey worked real hard to get off the gray list of the FATF. I doubt the government would enact any legislation that would reverse the decision.” Yet Capa had serious concerns about the new code. “There are three troubling topics. First, the sentence ‘passenger cannot be compelled to make a declaration at customs.’ What does this mean?” he asked. This line was added to the updated 2015 Customs Code, while many other items were excised. This line is indeed contradictory with the inspection regime…

 

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Hamas campus on Swedish dole

May 13, 2015

Nearly 60 million Swedish crowns flowed last year from Sweden’s taxpayers through the international charity Islamic Relief to programs in the Palestinian territories that blur the lines between social services and the financing Hamas operatives. From the opinion pages of Arutz Sheva:

Op-Ed: The Connection between Swedish Aid and Hamas Institutions

Sweden’s taxpayers are funding organizations that have names like Islamic Relief, but promote war and terror instead of welfare and peace.

Published: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 4:20 AM

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), which comes under the Swedish foreign ministry, has for several years cooperated with the organization Islamic Relief (IR). According to the SIDA documentation, SIDA renewed its agreement with IR last year giving the international organization more than 59 million SEK(6,8 million USD) for various aid projects.

However IR is not only an organization associated with aid. It is also associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and with funding terror organizations, and therefore terror-listed by the United Arab Emirates since last year. In 2006 the Israeli authorities were notified of  IR’s terror connections, resulting in the arrest of IR’s project manager at that time. Iyaz Ali. Ali confessed that he was in contact with the Hamas and had transferred funds to organizations linked to Hamas.

Since June, 19, 2014 IR has been forbidden to work from within Israel, including Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”). Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said in a statement, that IR is a source of funds for Hamas and that Israel has no intention of allowing it to operate and assist terrorist activity against Israel.  According to the Israeli Foreign ministry, IR’s activities in Judea and Samaria and Gaza were carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives. The intensive activities of these associations have been designed to further Hamas’s ideology among the Palestinian Arab population, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states.

After the Israeli ban, IR last year commissioned an “independent investigation” of its office departments and activities in the Palestinian “territories”. The investigation found no evidence of links to Hamas. However, the investigation took place long after the accusations against the organization were publicized and did not cover the entire international organization.

Criticism against the IR has also been made by the Gatestone Institute, a New York-based think tank, revealing that current Islamic Relief Worldwide board members have links to anti-Semitic and Islamist movements.

In the IR’s aid project Emergency Cash-for-Work, which was funded by SIDA between 2008-2014 with over 32 million SEK (3,69 USD), internships for unemployed academics were arranged in Gaza institutions and organizations. Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), founded by Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, is one of the institutions that has benefited from these unemployed academics. To date, the university is governed by Hamas members and activists.

At IUG, Hamas developed its Qassam rockets and the campus store sells assorted Hamas propaganda and DVD movies that pay tribute to terrorism. Additionally, televised anti-Semitic plays have taken place at the university. Sixteen of the teachers and lecturers at the university are elected Hamas politicians and many of the Hamas elite have either lectured or studied at IUG.

To top it off, the internationally notorious, anti-Semitic Islamic preacher Yusuf al Qaradawi, who advocates for terror attacks against Israeli civilians (including babies), has become IUG’s own Honorary Doctor.

In other words: Sweden has provided a labor force for a university that is a terrorist and anti-Semitic stronghold for Hamas, and has paid for it. Swedish tax money has paid the wages of academics in universities like IUG, is supposed to help hospitals and institutions in local municipalities.  Instead of using that money for job creation and true peace efforts for the people in Gaza, Hamas has used it on weapons and terror tunnels…

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30 sugar smugglers ID’d as al-Shabaab financiers

May 8, 2015

Money Jihad readers may recall that Kenya recently sanctioned 86 people and 13 money transfer companies for their financial ties to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. It has since been revealed that 30 of the sanctioned individuals are sugar smugglers. (Hat tips to Chris Pariso and El Grillo.)

The Star reports:

…A confidential government report seen by the Star says: “Most of the smuggled sugar enters the country [Kenya] from areas controlled by al Shabaab in Somalia. The sugar barons pay illegal levies (or protection fees) to al Shabaab, who in turn uses the proceeds to fund terrorist activities/operations…

Imposing taxes on businesses is a common al-Shabaab tactic. They do it on the charcoal supply chain, the telecommunications sector, the remittance industry, etc.  Sugar and charcoal tax rates are often based on the rate set for zakat in the Koran:  2½ percent.  Money Jihad has previously covered how lucrative the sugar trade has been for al-Shabaab here.

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Sordid money: recommended news reading

May 7, 2015
  • National security adviser:  millions of dollars are coming from the Arab Gulf to Canada to promote a “jihadist interpretation of the Qur’an”… more>>
  • Where is Iran getting U.S. currency that it sends to Hamas?  From Baghdad and the Kurdish region of Iraq… more>>
  • T. Boone Pickens:  There’s no need to negotiate with Iranian liars because “we do not need Mid-East oil” any longer.  The U.S. has plenty energy resources of its own… more>>
  • Former Guantanamo Bay detainees are seeking a housing allowance from the United States.  You see, their four-bedroom house in Montevideo isn’t spacious enough… more>>
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