In RadicalIslam.org’s interview with Money Jihad, we discussed how poorly the U.S. has handled the scourge of hawala, the traditional Islamic method of transferring money.
The Bush administration talked about hawala, but wasn’t able to accomplish much to stop the opaque money swapping method that is often used to fund terrorism. The Obama administration has been worse, passing up a golden opportunity to seek a maximum penalty against the hawala dealer who funded the failed Times Square bomber.
The latest news that the Treasury Department has sanctioned a hawala business with branches in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran that has transferred millions of dollars for the Taliban is somewhat encouraging. We’ve always known that these cases exist, but normally we don’t even hear about them because of diplomatic sensitivities with Pakistan. The fact that the feds would go public with this information is a step in the right direction.
But in practical terms, the sanctions are largely symbolic. As Treasury’s press release said, “As a result of today’s action, all property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which Rahat Ltd, Mohammed Qasim, and Musa Kalim have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.”
That is, unless Rahat maintains an account a U.S. bank, it is unlikely that any funds will be frozen as a result of this action.
As long as we have troops on the ground in Afghanistan, it would be somewhat more effective to treat the Afghan branch of Rahat Ltd as a military target: raid the branch, detain and interrogate its employees, and confiscate its records. There’s more intelligence to be gathered about the Taliban’s financials.
Here are the basics we know from Treasury:
Treasury Imposes Sanctions on a Hawala and Two Individuals Linked to the Taliban
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of Rahat Ltd, a hawala, and two individuals pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. Rahat Ltd has branches in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran which have been used by the Taliban to facilitate their illicit financial activities. The Treasury Department is also designating the owner of Rahat Ltd, Mohammed Qasim, and the owner and manager of its Quetta, Pakistan branch, Musa Kalim.
Rahat Ltd has been used extensively by senior Taliban leadership to finance their violent activities. This includes facilitating millions of dollars of transactions to support the Taliban shadow governor for Helmand Province, United Nations Security Council 1988-Listed Naim Barich, who was also designated November 15, 2012 pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act for his extensive narcotics production and distribution activities.
“Today’s action demonstrates our continued efforts to target and disrupt financial activity linked to the Taliban’s use of hawalas,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “We will continue exposing these illicit networks and deprive the Taliban of their sources of funding no matter where they turn.”
As a result of today’s action, all property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which Rahat Ltd, Mohammed Qasim, and Musa Kalim have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
Rahat Ltd is a hawala that facilitates financial activities for the Taliban. Taliban shadow governor for Helmand Province Barich provides funds through Rahat Ltd to subordinate Taliban commanders to plan and conduct operations in southern Afghanistan. As of mid-2012, Barich had transferred money using the Quetta branch of Rahat Ltd. As of early 2012, Barich had received millions of dollars through the Quetta branch of Rahat Ltd and had provided a senior Taliban commander with over $250,000 via Rahat Ltd.
Other senior Taliban figures regularly used Rahat Ltd to store and transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars. As of early 2012, approximately $500,000 of Taliban funds had been placed in the Quetta branch of Rahat Ltd and, as of late 2011, a senior Taliban member arranged the transfer of over $100,000 through the same Rahat Ltd hawala.
Mohammed Qasim owns Rahat Ltd and, as of mid-2012, was a hawaladar for Taliban senior leadership. As of mid-2011, Qasim used his hawalas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran to facilitate Taliban financial transfers. As of early 2011, Qasim was a financial assistant to Taliban shadow governor for Helmand Province Barich. Additionally, in early 2012, Qasim helped to transport weapons and ammunition for the Taliban and, as of mid-2011, frequently smuggled weapons into Helmand Province for the Taliban.
Musa Kalim owns and runs the Quetta, Pakistan branch of Rahat Ltd, also known as the New Chagai Trading Company and the Musa Kalim Hawala.
As of late 2012, Taliban shadow governor for Helmand Province Barich had used Kalim to move and hold his finances. As of late 2011, the bulk of Kalim’s hawala business consisted of transferring Taliban and smugglers’ funds. Kalim also managed the transfer of funds from donors in the Gulf to support Taliban fighters in 2011…