Archive for March, 2013

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Syrian rebels awash in Saudi-supplied arms

March 22, 2013

We have known for months that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been financing and supplying Syrian rebels, but a recent interview with Zayd Alisa on Iranian television details increased arms shipments by the Saudis purchased from Croatia and routed through Jordan.  The beneficiaries include the al-Nusra Front—the Al Qaeda front group in Syria.

Iran is extremely hostile to Saudi Arabia, and Iranian news is grossly biased—which should be kept in mind while watching this—but the details discussed are largely based on solid reporting in New York Times article from late February.

The New York Times notes that Iran’s “shipments to Syria’s government, still outstrips what Arab states have sent to the rebels,” so Saudi Arabia and Qatar certainly aren’t the only ones to blame for funding the bloodshed in Syria.

More recently, the London Telegraph has reported that the U.S. and Europe have airlifted 3,000 tons of weapons to Syrian rebels.

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Money trail news: recommended reading

March 21, 2013
  • Of course, old chap, Bank Saderat has financed Iran’s nuclear program. But that doesn’t give you the right to impose economic sanctions, says an EU court… more>>
  • The web, smartcards, and cell phones were sold as glittering innovations that would empower the world’s poor. Now Bangladesh is desperately wading through massive rivers of fast-moving data in time to catch the next terrorist transaction… more>>
  • Nine men have been convicted of fundraising for the jihadist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. An overdue update to this story from Paris… more>>
  • Iranian state-run newspaper claims it has proof that Saudi Arabia is funding Al Qaeda fighters of Syria’s al-Nusra Front.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day… more>>
  • A Muslim Brotherhood group is helping coordinate events in Tunisia thanks to some money from an unexpected source.  The British taxpayer… more>>
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Oil discovered in Arabia 75 years ago this month

March 20, 2013

Standard Oil of California, which would later become Chevron, obtained a concession in the early 1930s to explore for oil in Saudi Arabia by paying $175,000 in gold up front.  After five difficult years of dry holes, Socal struck oil at Well Number 7 in the Arab Zone in March 1938.

Several years ago, Time magazine explained the significance of this discovery in a short article called “Finding the King’s Fortune“:

March 3, 1938

The king of Saudi Arabia, Abd-al-Aziz ibn Saud, had authorized a team of American engineers to explore the trackless desert bordering the Persian Gulf, an arid landscape marked only by the occasional palm-fringed oasis. He hoped they would find water. A tribal leader with precarious finances, Ibn Saud believed the Americans might discover places where he could refresh his warriors’ horses and camels. But the team, from Standard Oil of California, had something else on its mind.

Oil had been discovered in other countries in the region, and the engineers thought they would find more in Saudi Arabia. Over several years, they drilled more than half a dozen holes without result. In desperation, they decided to dig deeper at well No. 7. They plumbed to a depth of 4,727 ft. and finally hit what would turn out to be the largest supply of crude oil in the world.

The King did not appear to appreciate the news fully at first. It was an entire year after the discovery when he and his retinue arrived in a caravan of 400 automobiles at the pumping station of Ras Tanura to witness the first tanker hauling away its cargo of Saudi crude. Henceforth the King would no longer rely for income on the pilgrims arriving in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. And his kingdom’s petroleum wealth would emerge as a crucial factor in Middle East politics and the bargaining over global energy supplies.

Princeton University professor Bernard Lewis has memorably described what this discovery of oil in Wahhabi-backed Saudi Arabia meant for Islam and the world today:

…Imagine that some such group as the the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation were suddenly to come into the possession of unlimited wealth and use that money to set up schools and colleges all over the world promoting their particular version of Christianity and you get an idea of what has happened to Islam as a result of the enormous wealth that oil has brought to some people in Saudi Arabia.

It has enabled them to set up schools and colleges all over the Muslim world teaching their brand of Islam—this kind of fanatical, extremist version of Islam—which has thus acquired a scope and expansion which it could never otherwise would have had.  Without oil money, this kind of Islam would have remained a fringe group in a marginal country…

In addition to funding schools and Wahhabi causes around the world, Saudi Arabia has funded terrorism through two main methods:  1) governmental “charitable” foundations such as the Muslim World League, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, and the International Islamic Relief Organization, and 2) private zakat and sadaqa donations from rich Arabs—who themselves had become wealthy from oil and oil-related Saudi boom sectors in banking and construction—such as those listed in the Golden Chain document.

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Saudi-backed tycoon finances Jamaat-e-Islami

March 19, 2013
http://freemirquasemali.org/mir-quasem-ali-applies-for-legally-entitled-facilities-in-jail/

Mir Quasem Ali

Mir Quasem Ali serves as the de facto treasurer of Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI or simply “Jamaat”), the Islamist political party in Bangladesh with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and militant causes.  He has served for nearly 40 years as Saudi Arabia’s money man in Bangladesh, being involved major Wahhabi-backed institutions since the 1970s.

Mir Quasem Ali (also often spelled Mir Kashem Ali) is in jail at the moment for war crimes he and his Al-Badr group committed during Bangladesh’s struggle for independence in 1971, but he is still sometimes touted as the party’s next leader.

According to one account, Mir Quasem Ali fled to Saudi Arabia after Bangladesh secured its independence, and returned after amnesty was offered in 1974.  He landed a job at the newly founded Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited, Bangladesh’s biggest sharia bank (which itself has close ties to Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank), and he became IBBL’s director for many years according to an article by Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury:

…IBBL provides JEI an opportunity to launder money from abroad and also channel un-audited funds to various militant groups in the country and abroad. Islamic Bank Foundation (IBF), a JEI floated organization oversees all the projects of IBBL and profits generated by it and the interest / commission accrued on foreign donations goes to the IBBL account of IBF.

The IBF is headed by Mir Qasem Ali, JEI Executive Committee member and Country Director of the Saudi based Islamic NGO Rabeta-al-alam-al-Islami that funds a number of projects in Bangladesh. Mir Quasem Ali, the main brain behind JEI’s finances, is now in jail facing trial on war crimes charges. He remained Director of IBBL for a number of years since its inception in 1975…

Money Jihad readers will recall that Bangladeshi authorities say that IBBL has diverted 8 percent of its corporate zakat to terrorists.  The U.S. Senate also blasted HSBC last year for its banking relationships with IBBL.

In his role as country director for the Saudi-backed Muslim World League’s branch in Bangladesh—Rabeta-al-Alam-al-Islami Bangladesh—Mir Quasem Ali collected funds for local militants, Rohingya fighters from Burma, and Afghan mujahideen, which Money Jihad blogged about in 2011.

Mir Quasem Ali also sits on the board of the Saudi-funded Ibn Sina Trust, whose website describes his position with the trust and his previous positions with Rabeta-al-Alam-al-Islami and IBBL without referring to his current status in jail.

An article from the Policy Research Group in 2009 laid out additional details about Jamaat’s money laundering, terrorist financing, and business operations, and Mir Quasem Ali’s role in overseeing them: Read the rest of this entry ?

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Harvard wins legal battle against terror victims

March 18, 2013

In 2003, victims of an Iranian-sponsored terrorist attack were awarded a multi-million dollar judgment, but have yet to be compensated by Iran.  When the victims sought proceeds from Iranian artefacts kept by museums in Massachussetts,  Harvard and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts balked. In a recent decision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the museums.

The shrewd Rick St. Hilaire unpacks this complex and fascinating case at his cultural heritage blogRead it all here

Both sides made good arguments in this case, and the museums have legitimately argued that the pieces are not “owned” by Iran, and Iran never claimed to own them.

But one wonders whether the museums could have worked out an arrangement with the plaintiffs to compensate them with a portion of ticket sales based on the commercial benefits of the Iranian antiquities, rather than battling the victims in federal court.

Critics of Iran have previously called for the seizure or liquidation of Iranian property in the U.S. to compensate the victims of Iranian-backed terrorist attacks.

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Khan gave money, advice on lethal attack

March 17, 2013

Following in the ignoble tradition of Al Haramain, another jihadist has transferred funds from Oregon overseas to fund terrorism.  Portland’s Reaz Qadir Khan allegedly contributed $2,500 toward a suicide bombing in Pakistan that killed 40, injured 300.  Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Kristian Foden-Vencil has this one-minute Mar. 6 report:

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BCCI bankrolled the father of the “Islamic bomb”

March 15, 2013

Founded by a Pakistani banker with prominent Gulf investors, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) became a depository of wealth acquired by Arab officials during the oil embargo against the U.S. in the 1970s.

BCCI took their profits and invested in fraudulent enterprises.  According to History Commons, BCCI also set up a charitable foundation in the 1980s which gave most of its money to A.Q. Khan, the scientist created the first nuclear bomb ever possessed by an Islamic country—Pakistan:

1981 and After: BCCI Charity Front Funnels Money to A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Program

In 1981, the criminal BCCI bank sets up a charity called the BCCI Foundation. Pakistani Finance Minister Ghulam Ishaq Khan grants it tax-free status, and it supposedly spends millions on charitable purposes. Khan serves as the chairman of the foundation while also running the books for A. Q. Khan’s Kahuta Research Laboratories. Ghulam Ishaq Khan will be president of Pakistan from 1988 to 1993. (Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 126-127) BCCI founder Agha Hasan Abedi announces that he will donate up to 90% of BCCI’s profits to charity through the foundation, and he develops a positive reputation from a few well-publicized charitable donations. But the charity is actually used to shelter BCCI profits. Most of the money it raises goes to A. Q. Khan’s nuclear program and not to charitable causes. For instance, in 1987 it gives a single $10 million donation to an institute headed by A. Q. Khan. Millions more go to investments in a front company owned by BCCI figure Ghaith Pharaon. (Beaty and Gwynne, 1993, pp. 290-291) An investigation by the Los Angeles Times will reveal that less than 10% of the money went to charity. (Los Angeles Times, 8/9/1991) BCCI uses other means to funnel even more money into A. Q. Khan’s nuclear program.

Later on, Khan sold nuclear secrets to rogue regimes to develop their own nuclear programs.  BCCI has also been implicated in financial deals with Osama Bin Laden, and Khan’s men may have shared nuclear information with Al Qaeda.

Just a few weeks ago, Khan, who formed a political party of his own, announced a coalition with Jamaat-e-Islami, a political party closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.  What could go wrong?

Thanks to Twitter user @RushetteNY for suggesting coverage related to this topic.