Archive for December, 2010

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Ransom paid for German-owned tanker

December 31, 2010

The Somali Muslim pirates are $5.5 million richer now, thanks to a ransom paid by an undisclosed source.  But it is telling that the German government announced an urgent conference with shipping executives immediately after the ransom was paid.

Remember, Islamic law permits Muslims to demand fida’ (ransom) of infidels (Koran 47:4) “until the war [against infidels] hath laid down its burdens.”  And every time a European government or even an insurance company pays fida’, they’re inflating the ransom market and enriching the Islamists.  From the BBC on Dec. 28:

Somali pirates have freed a German-owned chemical tanker, reportedly after a $5.5m (£3.6m) ransom was paid.

The Marida Marguerite, with a crew of 19 Indians, two Bangladeshis and one Ukrainian, was seized in May by pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

Kenya-based officials said a ransom was paid, but there was no independent confirmation.

Pirates now hold 25 vessels and 587 hostages after they seized another German-owned ship on Monday…

One Tuesday afternoon, the Marida Marguerite was sailing to safe waters, according to Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme.

He said $5.5m was paid to release the ship. The vessel’s owners have not yet commented.

Officials and companies rarely comment on the payment of ransoms, though analysts say such deals are widespread.

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Lawyers poised to profit from the money jihad

December 30, 2010

Suppose Osama bin Laden were captured alive.  And suppose like Khalid Sheikh Muhammad that the Obama administration tried to bring bin Laden to a civilian court in Manhattan.  But don’t give him a garden variety public defender or even a high-profile attorney working pro bono.  Give him the best attorney that money can buy—even more than most of the 9/11 victims’ families could expend on their own legal proceedings.

Now bin Laden can have the best attorney his money can buy, because all his assets could be unfrozen to use for a legal defense under a new OFAC licensing program.  The new rules would even allow terrorists to establish their own legal defense funds.  The more the jihadists tax, steal, and launder, the bigger cut their lawyers will eventually get. 

If I were OFAC director Adam Szubin, a Bush appointee who has been kept on by Pres. Obama, I would resign immediately in protest of this disgusting insult to the victims of jihad.  Here’s the story from Creeping Sharia:

Obama gives terror suspects access to frozen assets

Posted on December 28, 2010 by creeping

The likes of the ACLU and CAIR can now get funds directly from the terrorists they defend. From Judicial Watch:

Caving in to the demands of liberal civil rights groups, the Obama Administration has quietly amended a counterterrorism sanction so that accused terrorists can pay for their defense with assets frozen by the U.S. government.

The exemption to the government’s Global Terrorism Sanctions was made official this week by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is responsible for enforcing economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security threats. The office operates under presidential national emergency powers and acts largely on international mandates.

Among its duties is to freeze the assets of individuals or groups engaged in terrorist activities. Under executive orders signed by both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the OFAC can confiscate the assets of suspected terrorists identified by the Treasury Secretary if the funds are in control of institutions regulated by the U.S.

That means that individuals charged with terrorism can’t access money to pay for attorneys, something that has long bothered the left. This week the Treasury Department gave in, making it possible for terrorism suspects whose assets have been frozen by Uncle Sam to use the money to pay for legal representation. Suspects must apply for a special license from the OFAC, which will make the cash disbursements.

The official amendment in the Federal Register says that the OFAC is adding “new general licenses to authorize U.S. persons to receive specified types of payment for certain authorized legal services.” This also includes a license authorizing the establishment of legal defense funds that collect donations from persons who are not suspected of terrorism.

It’s unlikely that the mainstream media will give this much coverage or that White House press releases will tout it. After all, the official notice in the Federal Registry says that “public participation” or “delay in effective date” are not applicable because the amendments involve a foreign affairs function and executive order.

There’s more here plus reader comments.

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Arab nations sign accord with vanishing ink

December 29, 2010
Amr Mohammed Moussa & Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz

Amr Mohamed Moussa (left) and Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz (right)

All the members of the Arab League have recently signed some meaningless agreement to curtail terrorist financing.  If the press account is accurate, the news is meaningless because the “agreement” is for each nation to develop its own CFT policies and no standards are laid out for increased monitoring of suspicious transactions.  The Arab League might as well entitle the accord, “An Agreement to Disagree & Do Little.”

The agreement may be more of a publicity stunt to impress Western investors more than anything else.  Many of these 22 Arab countries won’t even sign on to the United Nation’s fairly weak International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.  Therefore, the new Arab League agreement must be extremely bland in order for all of their members to commit to it. 

From the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 22:

CAIRO: Arab governments are getting together to fight terrorism by trying to dry up its supply of money, joining forces to battle money laundering.

The agreement to control money laundering is one of five signed by Arab interior and justice ministers. It calls on nations to set up their own programs to generate information and monitor money transfers.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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NYT surprised by bypassed sanctions

December 28, 2010

The New York Times printed an article on Dec. 24 expressing surprise about the number of licenses granted to American companies to do business in countries under U.S. economic sanctions.  The licenses, which are more like waivers, are granted by a “little known” agency.  “Little known,” perhaps, to the New York Times, but Money Jihad follows OFAC closely (see here, here, and here for example).

The New York Times managed to get some rare public comments from OFAC director Adam Szubin, who is quoted as saying his organization is too under-resourced to adequately evaluate all license requests.  It’s a curious statement given Treasury official Daniel Glaser’s testimony before Congress earlier this year that Treasury has all the resources–legally and financially–that it needs in order to maintain its CFT and sanctions programs.  Which assistant secretary is off message here?

Anyway, the New York Times piece is worth a look.  For now I would just like draw readers’ attention to part of the interesting data that NYT compiled from Treasury’s database about the number of licenses granted to companies.  Here are ten businesses with the highest number of waivers to engage in commercial activities with sanctioned countries:

Which corporations have the most OFAC waivers

Top 10 licensees operating in sanctioned countries

Note in particular the licenses for Iran.  General Electric, Coico Medical LLC, and American Pulp & Paper are busy beavers there.

Many of the licenses are for valid humanitarian purposes.  Some aren’t.  Popcorn seller Henry Lapidos told the New York Times that Iranian soldiers wouldn’t  “be taking microwavable popcorn” to war …  Pretty glib, buddy.  Sell the popcorn if you like, but don’t fool us into believing that your local distributor and retailers aren’t run by an Iranian bonyad under the control of a mullah or IRGC commander who’s using the profits to fund a crackdown on pro-reform dissidents.

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Saudi news says more for what it omits

December 27, 2010

Read the article first, then my commentary.  From Emirates 24/7 on Dec. 23 (thanks to Rantburg):

Saudi bans posters on mosques

Saudi Arabia has banned sticking posters and other papers on mosques in an apparent bid to curb terror funding, a local daily said on Thursday.

Preachers told congregates at mosques that they have received instructions from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Endowments to stop sticking any posters on mosque walls or inside the “house of God”, Alyoum said.

“The preachers at the mosques said the ban covers all those posters which call for donations for Islamic activities and charity groups,” the paper said.

“These calls have nothing to do with Islamic activities…posters authorized by the competent authorities, especially invitations for Islamic lectures at mosques and other places, are allowed provided they are removed after the event.”

The paper quoted a Ministry official as saying the ban was prompted by “serious violations and an increase in posters that have nothing to do with Islam.”

“Some people are using these posters for other purposes and this has prompted the Ministry to take that decision,” the unnamed official said.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Just another Gaullist day in the Arab world

December 26, 2010

The Syria Accountability Act prohibits Americans from doing business in Syria, but the French are under no such compulsion.  France has just plopped another 30 million euros into Syria, but that’s just a teensy example of the ongoing French approach to the region.  From ANSAmed via Gates of Vienna:

ROME, DECEMBER 21 — A financial package worth thirty million euros has been announced by the French Cooperation Agency as aid to Syria for a project to improve water infrastructure in the Damascus area. According to the Italian Foreign Trade Commission in Damascus, the loan will be used for improving the water distribution network in the outskirts of the city — an area inhabited by 34,000 people.

In a BBC piece a few years ago, Allan Little described the differences between U.S. and French policies in Syria this way:

…The difference is the difference between idealism and pragmatism.

America wants to topple anti-western dictators; France wants to work with them in the hope that they will become less anti-western.

America believes it can introduce democracy to the Arab world; France is pleased when it manages to introduce ATMs to its banking system.

Each – in separate ways – is trying to re-shape the Arab world in its own image – and bend the Arab world to its own needs.

The Arab world – you sense – has different plans altogether.

One problem with aid and investments to rogue states with piss poor accounting systems is that all the money is fungible.  The authoritarian bureaucrats can move money behind the scenes to other projects they deem more worthwhile (like destroying Israel).  C’est la vie.

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IFC courts Scotland

December 24, 2010

Scottish Enterprise, an agency of the government of Scotland, is pursuing investors for major renewable energy projects.  One of Scottish Enterprise’s leading suitors is the Islamic Finance Council, a Glasgow-based pro-sharia finance organization.  The IFC would love to hook Scotland up with money from the oil rich nations of the Gulf—especially if they can attach strings to make the investment sharia compliant.

God has permitted for you trade and prohibited interest

IFC rejects riba

This is the strategy, folks.  First, introduce sharia financial products into a country.  Make special rules and laws to allow them to expand parallel to conventional banking.  Then eventually, start limiting the conventional banking sector while leaving Islamic financing in place.  Eventually, if anybody needs a loan they’ll have to talk to the money men of Islam first.

From The Herald on Dec. 23 (h/t Religion of Peace):

Islamic finance may fund major projects

The Scottish Government is looking again at using Islamic finance to bankroll major infrastructure projects.

The Islamic Finance Council, a UK-wide body based in Glasgow, says it held talks with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International on December 10, describing it as “a joint round table with the IFC exploring opportunities for renewable energy sector investments using Islamic finance”.

Meanwhile, leading financial lawyer Graham Burnside, a member of the IFC, has said Islamic bonds could be used fund major projects including the £2.3 billion Forth road crossing.

Mr Burnside, chairman of Edinburgh law firm Tods Murray, said: “We are going to be pretty short of sources of funding for development, we have got to raise our eyes as to where solutions can come from – whether you look at the private or public sector it’s going to be pretty tight around here.”

He added: “The biggest source of liquidity to be tapped is the petro-dollar world and the Gulf. It may well be that the bigger projects in the UK can be funded in part by a sovereign (wealth) fund from one of the Gulf states, and if so, they may well want an Islamic structure.”

Two years ago First Minister Alex Salmond targeted Qatar as a funding source for some of his government’s biggest infrastructure ambitions.

Scottish Enterprise said last night it was “actively looking at potential investors” in renewable energy, but it was “too early” to comment on Islamic finance.

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Jizya is lifeblood of imperial Islam

December 23, 2010

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch recently took part in a debate about Islam at Thomas More College.  Spencer suggested that Islam is at its wealthiest and most expansive when it has the largest number of Christians and Jews living under it from whom to extract funds through jizya.  Islam is at its feeblest once the religious minority communities have been sucked dry.

This shouldn’t be too controversial an argument given that classical Islamic tax law requires that Islamic armies be funded entirely by taxes paid by infidels through the jizya and kharaj.  Spencer makes a compelling case and sums up the historical and modern reality of jizya in Islamic law nicely.  From Jihad Watch on Dec. 21:

In chapter nine of the Qur’an are numerous teachings–which of course are portrayed as divine revelation which cannot be questioned and have to be obeyed by any pious and observant Muslim. These are instructions to wage offensive warfare against Jews and Christians–particularly in chapter nine verse twenty-nine which tells Muslims to fight against those who do not obey Allah and his messenger and do not forbid that which he has forbidden (in other words, don’t follow the strictures of Islamic law) even if they are the People of the Book, which is the Qur’anic designation for primarily Jews and Christians, until they pay the jizya (which is a tax) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.

That verse became the foundation of an elaborate superstructure of laws that are still part of Islamic jurisprudence and of Islamic political law that Islamists, that jihad terrorists, that any Islamic supremacist wants to impose over the world today. These laws mandate that non-Muslims, the People of the Book, must pay a special tax from which Muslims are exempt. As a matter of fact, you can pretty much correlate in Islamic history the strength and aggression and rise of the great Islamic empires of the past with the size of the Jewish and Christian communities that were subjugated within those empires and were paying for that imperial expansion. When those communities were exhausted economically, then the Islamic empires went into decline. This is an absolute correlation that recurs again and again and again. The Christians and Jews in Muslim lands were subjugated in accord with that section of the verse, that last part where they must ‘pay the jizya with willing submission and they feel themselves subdued.’ They never enjoyed equality of rights with Muslims: they were denied the right to build new houses of worship or to repair old ones; they were denied the right to hold authority over Muslims so that Jews and Christians were relegated to the most menial and degrading jobs in the society. They were subject to various other humiliating and discriminatory regulations.

Now this is, as I cannot emphasize enough, still part of Islamic law. This is not one sect or one school or one group that’s heretical that has made this part of their teaching. This is universal among all sects and schools of jurisprudence that are recognized as mainstream and orthodox by fellow Muslims. They all teach–you cannot find one that does not teach–the necessity to wage wars against unbelievers and to subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law. In fact, Hamas, in Gaza, has announced its intention, once it’s fully consolidated its power, to impose this system of dhimmitude and subjugate the Christians that remain there under institutionalized forms of discrimination. Gangs in Baghdad, without government authority to be sure, terrorized the Christian community–which I’m sure you know is terrorized on a more or less daily basis: there was just another massacre in a church in Baghdad the other day–they were knocking on doors in Baghdad last year and demanding payment of the jizya, this tax which amounts to protection money. You pay it and you don’t get killed. But you don’t pay it, or you transgress some of the other laws that are set out for these subjugated peoples, and then your life is forfeit.

Read the full transcript of the debate here.

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Weekly word: sukuk

December 22, 2010

Sukuk are commonly understood as Islamic bonds.  They have the same effect in theory—a steady stream of income for after an upfront investment—but they are craftily structured to give the appearance of compliance with Islamic law.  Here’s a definition from A Muslim’s Guide to Investing & Personal Finance:

Sukuk are asset-backed securities designed to provide a relatively fixed stream of investment income without violating the Islamic prohibition on interest. Instead of interest payments, sukuk investors receive a pass-through of income generated by the underlying assets. Sukuk are a Shariah-compliant tool for raising capital and may be structured around a variety of Islamic contracts.*

OK.  Sounds ethical right?  No—it sounds absurd.  There is nothing wrong with lending your money to another person or entity and receiving a dividend or interest payment for having lent it to them.  The basic reality is that money has value and time has value.  You should be allowed to get some compensation beyond the principal if you part with your money for a period of time for somebody else to use.  If I lend Sears $1,000 by buying a corporate bond from them, what on earth is wrong with Sears paying me a dividend until the bond matures?

But Islamic law doesn’t allow Muslims to accept basic realities about the value of money.  It pretends money and time have no value and that interest is as unwelcome as pond scum or asthma, which are riba’s Arabic synonyms.

Alyssa Lappen has addressed several other dangers endemic to sukuk in this article (h/t SFW).  Lappen notes that because of the high yields promised by sukuk salesmen, sukuk  would normally be classified in the U.S. financial system as junk bonds.  Moreover, asset-backed securities, not just paper securities, are highly prone to risk.  The underlying assets can be easily devalued.  Look at the housing meltdown which was also backed by assets—peoples’ homes. 

Islamic taxes like zakat and Islamic financial products like sukuk are part of an economic model that has resulted in glittering opulence for some Muslims and abject misery for most.  We import their economic philosophies at our own peril.

Outstanding coverage of sukuk is regularly available at Shariah Finance Watch.

Morris, Virginia, A Muslim’s Guide to Investing & Personal Finance (New York: Lightbulb Press, 2001).

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Charity Commission blows it

December 21, 2010

For years, the “experts” told us that all Saudi Arabia needs is a charity regulation commission which would put a stop the Saudis from funding of terrorism through proxy “charities” around the world.  But recent developments in Britain show that charity commissions may be better at giving charities a stamp of approval than they are at real, penetrating regulation.

The U.K. Charity Commission has declared that Muslim Aid—an admitted donor to the al-Ihsan Charitable Society in 2002 and 2003 after al-Ihsan had been shuttered by the Palestinian Authority in 2001 for having formal links with the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad—is innocent of the “unsubstantiated” allegations against it.

From the Telegraph on Dec. 17 (h/t Jihad Watch):

The Charity Commission, Britain’s most ineffective regulator, has once again whitewashed an organisation linked to fundamentalist Islam.

In March this newspaper reported on allegations that the charity Muslim Aid, a close associate of the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe, had channelled funds to eight organisations linked to the terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Muslim Aid has admitted funding two of the organisations and has repeatedly refused to deny funding the other six.

Now, however, the Commission has published what it is pleased to call a “regulatory case review” into the charity saying that allegations of terrorist links are “unsubstantiated.”

It has only been able to reach this verdict by completely ignoring the vast majority of the allegations made against Muslim Aid, and by redefining the single allegation it did choose to “investigate” in a way which allowed it to exonerate the charity. By its own admission, it did not even investigate seven out of the eight allegations which it now claims are “unsubstantiated.”

The allegations made against Muslim Aid were as follows:

  1. that it had since July 2009 channelled money to six organisations linked to Hamas:
    • the Islamic Society of Nuseirat;
    • the Islamic Society of Khan Younis;
    • the Islamic Centre of Gaza;
    • the Islamic al-Salah, Gaza;
    • the National Association of Moderation and Development;
    • the Khan Younis Zakat Committee
    • The allegations were made by security sources, who provided us with documentary evidence of the dates and amounts.
  2. that it in the year 2005 paid money to another Hamas-linked organisation, the Islamic University of Gaza.
  3. that it had paid money to the al-Ihsan Charitable Society, linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  4. that it had extensively funded the Muslim Council of Britain, a UK-based political lobbying group. This is contrary to Muslim Aid’s declared charitable objects, which are “to relieve the poor, the elderly, children and all those who are in need in any part of the world as a result of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, droughts, famines, epidemics, poverty and plagues, to relieve those who are refugees fleeing from war zones and war victims.”

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Lebanese Shia Muslims ♥ Hezbollah

December 20, 2010

Let’s take one more look at the Pew Research Center’s recent findings about public opinion in the Islamic world (see also here and here).  Pew found that 94 percent of Shia Muslims approve of Hezbollah.  That’s not just a majority—that’s a complete and utter lock on that demographic.

Bar graph of Lebanon's love-hate relationship with Hezbollah

94 percent of Shia Lebanese adore Hezbollah

Here are a few of my own random reactions to this poll from a terrorist financing standpoint:

  • Financially, it may be a larger problem when Shias support an organization than when Sunnis support an organization.  The Shia khums tax, which demands 20 percent of all profits that Shiites made during the year, adds up fantastically.  All that dough goes into the hands of imams who are at their own discretion on what to do with it.  Many Iranian imams, for example, chose to give it to Hezbollah as we have covered here.  Combating cash flows of 20 percent of earnings could be a tougher job than combating the 2½ percent zakat tax.
  • That reminds me, there were probably some serious khums payments made during the Shia pilgrimage to Karbala for Ashura.  And some of it will go to Hezbollah—guaranteed.
  • The poll may also help explain Lebanon’s indifference to terrorist financing.  From the U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Terrorism from Aug. 5, 2010:
    • Lebanon’s financial intelligence unit is the Special Investigation Commission (SIC), an independent legal entity empowered to investigate suspicious financial transactions, lift banking secrecy, and freeze assets. In 2009, it investigated 116 cases involving allegations of money laundering, terrorism, and terrorist financing activities. The SIC referred requests for designation or asset freezes regarding Hizballah and affiliated groups to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the Lebanese government does not require banks to freeze these assets because it does not consider Hizballah a terrorist organization.

What a stinking mess.  How would sanctions and the occassional terrorist designation of a Hezbollah leader by the U.S. Treasury Department ever change the fundamental religious root of the problem?

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