Archive for April, 2013

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Cash for Karzai in suitcases, backpacks, and grocery bags

April 30, 2013

Good old Uncle Moneybags is back, but this time his sacks are filled with American money for distribution to cronies and warlords.  From the Wall Street Journal yesterday:

Men in dark coats with facial hair and millions of dollars

Karzai Confirms Accepting CIA Cash Monthly for 10 Years

By JUHANA ROSSI in Helsinki and YAROSLAV TROFIMOV in Kabul

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday acknowledged that his office has been receiving money from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency over the past 10 years, dismissing the monthly cash payments as a “small amount.”

Mr. Karzai addressed the issue after the New York Times reported on Sunday that the CIA has made tens of millions of dollars in secret payments, often cash packed in shopping bags, as it sought to maintain influence over Afghanistan’s mercurial leader.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, here in Brussels last week, Monday confirmed that his government has been receiving CIA money for a decade, but dismissed it as a ‘small amount.’

“Yes, the office of the national security has been receiving support from the United States for the past 10 years,” Mr. Karzai told reporters at a news briefing in Helsinki, Finland, responding to a question about whether he has received CIA cash. “Monthly. Not a big amount. A small amount which has been used for various purposes.”

The CIA declined to comment on the matter.

Mr. Karzai, who is touring Northern Europe, made the remarks following his meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

The U.S. isn’t the only country to supply the Afghan presidential palace with secret money. In 2010, Mr. Karzai acknowledged receiving bags full of euros from the government of Iran.

Afghan officials have said that these secret funds have been used by the president to reward supporters and buy loyalty from tribal leaders…

Time to take a second look at the proposal to cease foreign aid in Afghanistan?  Or is that still considered “a bit dramatic“?

By the way, if a U.S. company did what a federal agency has done by transferring money to Karzai, that company would be prosecuted under the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Money Jihad has previously covered the money that Hamid Karzai received from Iran here.

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Terror budgets illustrated

April 29, 2013

The Taliban, Hezbollah, FARC, al-Shabaab, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Hamas are the best funded terrorist groups worldwide.  Published estimates of their budgets vary by source.  The dots in the graph below reflect the highest and lowest estimates reflected in millions of U.S. dollars for each group:

Low-high chart displaying estimated annual revenues of jihadist groups and the FARC

This chart is an update to Money Jihad’s earlier post here.  The only significant change is the inclusion of Lashkar-e-Taiba, for which revenue estimates now range from $5 million to $100 million annually.  Al-Shabaab has faced revenue setbacks in the past year, but revised figures are not yet available.

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Kickbacks for Tsarnaev on luxury car repairs?

April 28, 2013

During an interview with CNN last week, auto mechanic Gilberto Junior discussed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s behavior between the time of the Boston Marathon bombing and before his capture.  The interview offered some clues on Dhokhar Tsarnaev’s financial situation.  H/t Lea Savoy:

The reference to the $900 Louis Vuitton shoes, which Junior repeated in interviews with other news outlets, raised a lot of eyebrows, but the bigger question—about why Dzhokhar was shuttling friends back and forth for repair work at Junior’s shop in the first place—has received scant attention.

One of the websites that did pick up on it, The Slate, ran the headline, “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev May Have Had Two Shady Side Businesses. Only One Involves Pot,” elaborating:

… But perhaps the more puzzling nugget in the [Boston] Globe piece is what the paper calls his “mysterious side enterprise involving repairing damaged cars”:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev regularly brought cars to Junior’s Auto Body, a well-worn shop on the Cambridge-Somerville line, on a road lined with scrap metal and auto repair garages.

Why a 19-year-old college student was bringing cars in for work for people he said were friends remains unclear, though his father had worked as a garage mechanic before he returned to the family’s native Russia. The shop owner, Gilberto Junior, said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sometimes accompanied friends to the shop, riding in the passenger’s seat. Often, the friends told Junior they were students at MIT, he said…

It is legal for Junior to have paid possible commission fees to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for legitimate referrals.  But Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have been skirting the law if he received cash for the referrals and failed to report it on income tax returns or student financial aid applications.  (It may be worth noting that encouraging unnecessary repairs is common scam reported by consumer advocates.)

But no large amounts of money appear to have changed hands.  Junior told the Boston Globe that “I don’t think he ever brought any friends in here that spent more than $500.”  These were minor repairs like removing dents after fender benders.  Tsarnaev’s final visit to Junior’s auto body shop provides an example of the type of work involved:

Two weeks ago, said 44-year-old Gilberto Junior, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had brought in a white Mercedes 1967 station wagon to have the damaged rear bumper repaired. He said it belonged to his girlfriend.

That was not unusual: Tsarnaev often brought in cars for wealthy friends from Boston University and MIT, Junior said, and always paid in cash.

The bigger question involves the identity of Tsaranaev’s cash-paying “friends.”  Read the rest of this entry ?

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Muslim crime syndicate sues accuser for $30m

April 27, 2013

Christian organization targeted in frivolous libel lawsuit by jihadist front group

Jamaat al-Fuqra, an Islamist network operating in North America and Pakistan, has maintained a presence in the U.S. for decades through a commune-style sect known as The Muslims of America, Inc. and a shell company called Professional Security International.  These entities have perpetrated a series of white collar crimes, especially workers compensation fraud, to finance terrorist activities overseas.

The Virginia-based Christian Action Network’s recent publication of a book documenting the history of investigations and successful prosecutions against employees of the syndicate prompted the lawsuit.  CAN reports that Susan Fenger, a fraud examiner who  spearheaded the investigations into MOA in the 1990s, has agreed to testify in CAN’s behalf if the defamation and libel suit goes to trial.

From CAN’s Press Room on Apr. 15:

Muslim Terrorist Group Files $30 Million Lawsuit Against Christian Action Network

By Patti Pierucci

A Muslim terrorist group has filed a lawsuit against Christian Action Network seeking $30 million, following the publication of a book by CAN President Martin Mawyer entitled “Twilight in America.” The suit alleges that Mawyer, co-author Patti A. Pierucci and CAN defamed and libeled the group by publishing information about their crimes and ongoing illegal behavior.

The group, known as The Muslims of America, Inc. (MOA), has operated as a front group for Al Fuqra, which was at one time listed as a terrorist group by the State Department. Al Fuqra members have been convicted of and suspected in dozens of terrorist-related and white-collar crimes in the United States going back decades.

Forensics investigator Susan Fenger—who successfully prosecuted an American Muslim group in the 1990s on charges of terrorism and white-collar crime—has agreed to testify on behalf of Christian Action Network in a lawsuit filed by the same Muslim organization.

In an exclusive interview with Mawyer in 2006, Fenger said she had a $50,000 bounty on her head, placed there by the leader of MOA in Pakistan, Sheikh Mubarik Ali Gilani. The bounty was a form of payback from Gilani because he had to finance the defense of numerous MOA/Fuqra members who were prosecuted as a result of Fenger’s investigation.

Despite the threat to her and the price on her life, she has agreed to testify at the upcoming trial on behalf of CAN to help clear them of any charges.

“Susan Fenger spent years investigating The Muslims of America and its money trail, eventually proving that money scammed from taxpayers was going overseas to fund a known terrorist, Sheikh Gilani,” Mawyer said. “She is a hero because of her relentless pursuit of justice when no one else, not even the FBI, were willing to take on a powerful Muslim group with terrorist ties.”

Mawyer added: “There is such an abundance of official documentation of MOA’s involvement in terrorist activities that I am confident we will prevail in this lawsuit.”

Fenger’s investigation proved without doubt that MOA was a front group for Al Fuqra, and that its members were involved in a myriad of illegal activities. Over the years, members have been convicted of or linked to worker’s compensation fraud, murders, fire-bombing, drug crimes, weapons crimes, and more.

In a January 2013 article posted on MOA’s web site, they admitted that a former member of their group “was secretly the head of the hit team of Ikhwanul Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood)” and that former members “were involved in street crimes, drugs, brothels, unemployment fraud, and other offenses.” They claim, however, that they did not know any illegal activity was going on.

1990s Prosecutions

In early 1990, the FBI approached Susan Fenger with a request. Fenger was the chief criminal examiner for the Colorado State Department of Labor and Employment at the time. She was a forensics expert in handwriting, and she knew how to track financial fraud. The FBI agent walked into her office in Denver and handed her a paper with some names on it. They suspected worker’s compensation fraud.

All of the names presented by the FBI were names of Al Fuqra members, said Fenger. “The agent … told my director at the agency that these people were allegedly terrorists.”

The then-governor of Colorado, Roy Romer, was furious.  He appointed Fenger as chief investigator and insisted that she pursue the case above all others.

It was Fenger who put the case together. She was able to prove that Al Fuqra members had been committing white-collar crimes for a decade, most of them involving worker’s compensation fraud in Colorado, in order to fund their terrorist-related activities. The final charges brought, and subsequent convictions, would fall under the heading of racketeering and white-collar crime.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Money jihad news: recommended reading

April 26, 2013
  • “We know that the financial markets are one of the battlefields on which future wars will be fought.”  So what are we doing about it?  More>>
  • It’s not just the big boys. Increasing cyber-attacks even have your community bank looking over its shouldermore>>
  • As a thief, it doesn’t get any better than pulling off a $97 million heist. Until you realize you’re stuck with a million pieces of paper weighing half a ton stacked 40 stories high… more>>
  • “Lawfare” is used to stifle, intimidate, and discredit those speaking and writing about Islamism, terrorism, and its financing—a fancy way of trying to cut out our tongues… more>>
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Welfare and drug money aided Tsarnaevs

April 25, 2013

The Tsarnaev brothers’ portfolio included proceeds from drug sales, and at least in the case of Tamerlan and Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, state welfare benefits.

CBS News reported yesterday that “Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers and suspects in last week’s Boston Marathon bombing attack, may have financed their plot through drug sales, investigators believe.”

Yesterday’s Boston Herald detailed the public assistance that Tamerlan received up until 2012:

Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned.

State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits. Russell Tsarnaev’s attorney has claimed Katherine — who had converted to Islam — was working up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tsarnaev stayed at home.

In addition, both of Tsarnaev’s parents received benefits, and accused brother bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were recipients through their parents when they were younger, according to the state.

The news raises questions over whether Tsarnaev financed his radicalization on taxpayer money…

Some news accounts portrayed the welfare benefits as a simple failure to make ends meet—an unfortunate result of a difficult economy.  But the possibility of intentional exploitation of public benefits by Tamerlan Tsarnaev should not be cast aside as a fringe theory.

The Associated Press recently reported that “Tsarnaev became an ardent reader of jihadist websites and extremist propaganda, two U.S. officials said. He read Inspire magazine, an English-language online publication produced by al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate.”

Observers have naturally focused on the infamous Inspire article, “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” for giving instructions on constructing a pressure cooker bomb.

They should also look back at an article in the January 2011 edition of Inspire entitled “The Ruling on Dispossessing the Disbelievers’ Wealth in Dar Al-Harb,” in which al-Awlaki declared that Muslims living in the non-Muslim world should poach, steal, and embezzle just as if they were living off the land by hunting and gathering wood—an activity permitted under Hanafi rulings.  That behavior is even more blessed if it is done with the intent to fund jihad.

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Terror bankrollers bombed for stiffing al-Shabaab

April 24, 2013

UPDATE—FEB. 28, 2015:

In October 2012, Dahabshiil commenced defamation proceedings in The Netherlands against Dahir Alasow (a Somali asylum seeker living in The Netherlands) in respect of various articles written by Mr Alasow and published on his websites including Sunatimes, Waagacusub and ASOJ. These articles alleged that Dahabshiil was, inter alia, involved in the financing of terrorism and other serious crimes, allegations which were categorically denied by Dahabshiil.

On 16 December 2014, the ’s-Hertogenbosch Court of Appeal of The Netherlands, following an extensive examination of the evidence, ruled that the articles were untrue and defamatory of Dahabshiil. Mr Alasow was ordered to remove various articles containing the defamatory allegations from his websites, publish a notice of rectification and pay Dahabshiil’s legal costs. The court’s decision can be found here:
http://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:GHSHE:2014:5351


The Somali-based Dahabshiil money transfer company normally pays the terrorist group al-Shabaab half a million dollars annually, according to a new report from the Dutch-Somali Suna Times.  This year, however, due to sagging business, Dahabshiil could only afford to offer al-Shabaab $100,000.  Al-Shabaab threatened to attack the financial institution if payment wasn’t made in full, and followed through on the threat by bombing Dahabshiil’s offices in Mogadishu on April 2.

This version of events differs from the explanation by the bank and Reuters that the Dahabshiil was being threatened by al-Shabaab for working with international aid agencies.

On its website, the Suna Times displays documents showing money transfers to the current emir of al-Shabaab.  The documents came from whistle-blowers at a separate website called WaagaCusub.  These reports may reinforce the claims of two East African musicians who say they have received death threats for singing about Dahabshiil’s role in financing terrorism (accusations which legal counsel for Dahabshiil has previously contacted Money Jihad to deny).

Meanwhile, Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp is finalizing a partnership with Dahabshiil to expand remittance options for Somali immigrants in the U.S. to wire money to Somalia.  Continuing to pursue such an agreement in light of the Shabaab-funding revelation would be a ghastly decision that U.S. Bancorp would have to explain to its customers and federal financial regulators.  It would also put U.S. Bancorp at odds with all other Minnesota financial institutions which have ceased Somali remittance programs due to the risk of financing terrorism.

Somalia:  Secret Dahabshiil documents of Al-Shabaab Finance

Monday, April, 15 2013

The documents include the bank accounts of al-Shabab leader Ibrahim Jama Mead (Ibrahim al-Afghani) and former Emir Ahmed Godane as well as Muktar Robow and Hassan Dahir Aweys.

MOGADISHU (Sunatimes)- Whistleblowing website WaagaCusub (New Dawn in Somali) has published hundreds of Dahabshiil financial and secret documents dating as far back as 2004.

The website, founded by Somali investigative journalist, Dahir Alasow, has promised to release more damning documents in the near future.

The new records were released just few hours after Paris-based Africa Intelligence said the largest money transfer company in Somalia was struggling to stay in business. As well as trying to cover its links to al Qaeda affiliated al-Shabab, the bank was recently forced to close most of its branches in central and southern Somalia due to lack of funds and security threats.

The paper said following the 2nd April explosion outside its Mogadishu headquarters in the Bakara market, the funds transfer company closed more than 10 branches in Hiraan, Bay and Bakool regions.

Furthermore, the Indigo Publications owned paper said Western intelligence were carefully monitoring the financial activities of the bank.

Al Shabab has threatened to bomb Dahabshiil after the bank refused to pay its annual $500,000 support to the terror group due to Western pressure. The Hargeisa-based bank instead offered to secretly channel them $100,000, which al Shabab rejected.

Now WaagaCusub says it has sufficient proof and documents supporting Dahabshiil’s financial links to the outlawed group.

The documents include the bank accounts of al-Shabab leader Ibrahim Jama Mead (Ibrahim al-Afghani) and former Emir Ahmed Godane as well as Muktar Robow and Hassan Dahir Aweys.

The files show that between 23 September 2010 and 11 of January 2013, the current Emir al-Afghani received USD$4,326,727.50 through his account in Dahabshiil.

Similarly, Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamud (Ahmed Godane aka Abu Zubeir) received over USD$4, 415, 411 from 31 September 2004 to 3 January 2013 of this year.

The website has said it will release more cables on the financial history and activities of the payment firm.

Meanwhile, investors and remittance receivers have been rushing to Dahabshiil branches to withdraw their funds since the April explosion. Many said they fear for their own safety security scare while others are worried that Western governments might close down the bank.

Dahabshiil has been trying to silence the Somali media for many years in an effort to conceal its financial activities and materials. It has on several occasions taken Dahir Alasow to criminal courts while threatening many with lawsuits.

In July 2012 it made international headlines when Anonymous hacked into their databases publishing thousands of account numbers, names and details online thousands of account numbers, names and details online.

The hack activist group accused Dahabshiil of aiding Somalia’s al Shabab.

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The financial affairs of the Tsarnaev brothers

April 23, 2013

Here’s a rundown of information available so far about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s financial situations:

Revenues

  • U.S. News reports that “The larger Tsarnaev family ended up living on public assistance in Cambridge, Mass,” which in context of the article was probably around 2010.
  • Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received a $2,500 scholarship from the city of Cambridge in May 2011 to pursue higher education.
  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev was unemployed, but his wife, Katherine Russell, was working long hours as a home health care aide.  During their last conversation, Tamerlan told his uncle that he fixes cars, but he did not say whether he was earning wages.
  • Patimat Suleimanova, the Tsarnaev brothers’ aunt, said that “the brothers had stumbled upon money problems” in 2012, and that their father Anzor Tsarnaev “would send money from here when he could.”
  • Dzhokhar Tsarnaev withdrew $800 from Bank of America an ATM card stolen from the Tsarnaev’s carjacking victim on the night of April 18.

Expenses

  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev studied accounting part-time from 2006 to 2008, incurring probable tuition expenses.  U.S. News says he dropped out for financial reasons.
  • Tamerlan and Katherine Tsarnaev’s daughter was born in 2010, incurring probable medical expenses.
  • Dzhokhar was a student at UMass Dartmouth, where annual tuition, room, board, and fees cost approximately $22,255 for Massachusetts residents.
  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev travelled to Russia from January to June 2012 (where airfare normally runs at least several hundred dollars).
  • During his Russia trip, a neighbor described Tamerlan Tsarnaev as a “dandy” and that he “he dressed in a very refined way.”
  • Bombs like the ones used at the Boston marathon may have cost about $100 apiece to make.
  • During an interview with CNN, Cambridge auto mechanic Gilberto Junior said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was wearing $900 shoes while visiting his repair shop just days after the bombings.  Junior also described Dzhokhar’s friends, who describe themselves as being Turkish, as the owners of “high-end cars.”  Junior told the New York Times that the brothers themselves also had a taste for expensive cars.

Indirect information

  • The Tsarnaevs’ mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva quit her job working at a spa within the last few years.
  • Investigators have been reexamining the 2011 murder of a former roommate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  Thousands of dollars in cash were left at the crime scene.
  • Dhzokar Tsarnaev once described his personal priority in life as “career and money.”
  • In June 2012, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva was arrested for shoplifting $1,600 worth of clothes from Lord & Taylor.
  • During his good-bye call to his uncle Alvi Tsarnaev, Tamerlan asked “Did you pay your mortgage?”
  • Katherine Russell Tsarnaev’s parents are selling their home, and have listed it for $467K.
  • In his initial court appearance on Apr. 22, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was asked “Can you afford a lawyer?” He answered, “No.”
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Websites crucial to funding Caucasus jihad

April 22, 2013

Webpages operated by the Caucasus Emirate terrorist organization have played a key and growing role in financing their operations, according to a late-2011 report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies.  The report revealed that while the Caucasus Emirate relied on centralized sites such as Qoqaz.net in the early 2000s, the Caucasus Emirate and Al Qaeda now follow a more decentralized approach of communicating through discussion forums, social media, and smaller websites.

What role, if any, such websites played in engaging Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev is yet to be determined, but the 2011 article below from Reuters via Radio Free Europe about the CSIS findings now merits a second look.

The article also acknowledges the symbiotic relationship and financial ties between Al Qaeda and the North Caucasus guerrillas that Money Jihad profiled last Friday:

Think Tank Says Al-Qaeda Funding Caucasus Rebels

September 30, 2011

A leading Washington think tank says Al-Qaeda is providing growing support, including financial, to Islamic rebels in Russia’s restive North Caucasus.

In its report, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said Al-Qaeda has played a key role in “proselytizing jihadism” to the mujahideen in Chechnya and the Caucasus.

The report’s author, Gordon Hahn, pointed to a growing number of websites linked to the insurgency that are carrying statements of support from leading jihadists such as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who inspired Al-Qaeda in Iraq and is now in jail in Jordan.

Such websites, Hahn said, are also used to raise money.

Hahn pointed to the arrest by Czech police in May of eight individuals in Prague suspected of plotting attacks in the North Caucasus as possible proof of ties to Al-Qaeda.

The rebels goal is a state called the Caucasus Emirate, stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has labeled the insurgency Russia’s top security threat.

Hahn noted Chechen-born rebel leader Doku Umarov has called for the Caucasus Emirate to be incorporated into global jihad…

The full report can be accessed through CSIS’s website here.

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Ibn al-Khattab: the bin Laden of Chechnya

April 21, 2013

Well-to-do Saudi served as Chechen commander and jihadist financier

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1952053.stm

Deceased Chechen commander Ibn al-Khattab

In Money Jihad’s earlier post on the history of terror finance in Chechnya, one name came up again and again:  Ibn al-Khattab.  The terrorist leader was an early disciple of Osama bin Laden, and would benefit from bin Laden’s encouragement and financial support for years until al-Khattab’s death in 2002.

But al-Khattab was also a force unto himself, managing the flow of jihadist recruits and financing their operations in the Chechen guerrilla war against Russia.  One of the better descriptions of al-Khattab’s activities comes from the book Chechen Jihad by Yossef Bodansky.  Here’s an excerpt:

The Chechen jihadists received another injection of strength at this time with the arrival of an organized group of hardened Arab mujahedin from the Gulf states, including Saudis and Kuwaities, and the Maghreb region of north Africa, including Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian, and other troops.  These fighters were commanded by one Ibn al-Khattab, often referred to as Emir Khattab or simply Khattab.  Khattab, whose real name was Samir bin Salakh al-Suwailim, was a Bedouin from the Suwailim tribe of northwest Saudi Arabia and southern Jordan; over the years he has identified himself with both nations, depending on the circumstances.  Born in 1970 to a fairly wealthy and well-educated family, Khattab received both Western and Muslim education, including learning English.  In 1987 he was accepted to a college in the United States, but before continuing with his education, he decided to visit Afghanistan and briefly participate in the jihad.

Arriving in Pakistan in the fall of 1987, Khattab met some of the key leaders of the Arab “Afghans,” including Sheikh Abdallah Azzam, Sheikh Tamim Adnani, and Osama bin Laden.  Captivated by their call for jihad, he committed his life to the jihad.  Khattab ccompleted his training in the international camp in Jalalabad, under Hassan al-Sarehi, the commander of the 1987 Lion’s Den operation in Jaji.  Impressed with the zeal and skills of his young trainee, Sarehi invited Khattab to join his forces in Jaji.  Between 1988 and 1993, Khattab participated in all the major operations in the Afghan jihad, including the capture of Jalalabad, Khowst, and Kabul.  He also spent time expanding his knowledge of Islam and his military skills, while becoming conversant in both Pashto and Russian.

Khattab would later claim that he decided to join the Chechen jihad after seeing televised footage of Islamist mujahedin reciting takbirs (Koranic verses) before going into battle.  But his status as a commander also played a role.  By the early 1990s, Khattab had emerged as one of the most fierce and competent commanders, popular with both the Afghan and the Arab “Afghan” mujahedin.  He also became one of bin Laden’s key protégés.  Khattab spent the years between early 1993 and early 1995 commanding a small Arab elite force in support of the Tajik Islamist mujahedin, particularly in the Fergana Valley.  He returned to Afghanistan to train and lead one of the first elite forces to go to Chechnya.

When bin Laden and the Islamist-Jihadist leadership decided to escalate the jihad in the Caucasus, they summoned Khattab back from Tajikistan and dispatched him to Chechnya.  Ali Hammad, a senior al Qaeda commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the mid-1990s, knew Khattab as a senior commander under bin Laden and considered him “one of the more important personalities in Al Qaeda.”  Ali Hammad confirmed that Khattab went to Chechnya on bin Laden’s orders, and that he and bin Laden personally managed the subsequent flow of jihadist volunteers into the area.

Khattab arrived in Chechnya in the spring of 1995 with eight veteran Arab “Afghan” commanders, followed by a few dozen combat veterans.  He soon became one of the most important commanders in Chechnya, quickly forming a close relationship with Shamil Basayev.  One of Basayev’s closest personal friends, Chechnya’s onetime foreign minister Shamil Beno, reported that Basayev underwent a profound change in 1995 under Khattab’s influence.  Basayev “started moving from freedom for Chechnya to freedom for the whole Arab world,” Beno said.  “He changed from a Chechen patriot into an Islamic globalist.”

But al-Khattab didn’t only receive funds from the Middle East and Al Qaeda.  He was the recipient of zakat donations from U.S. Muslims.  Benevolence International Foundation, a Saudi-created Islamic charity which relocated to Chicago in 1993, was shut down by the Bush administration after 9/11 for its role in financing jihad in Bosnia and Chechnya.  The racketeering trial against BIF’s leader revealed that “[Al-Khattab] did have ties to Saudi Arabia: a fund-raising website listed the Benevolence International Foundation—originally a Saudi-based charity—as a vehicle for contributions.”

The Obama administration and its allies would later criticize George W. Bush for creating a “chilling effect” on Muslim charitable giving by closing down organizations such as BIF, and Pres. Obama personally promised to make it easier for American Muslims to donate zakat.

In addition to receiving money from BIF, al-Khattab secured funding from Osama bin Laden in 1999 to fund Chechen operations.  The website History Commons has noted that Osama bin Laden and Ibn al-Khattab also shared the same wealthy Arab donor network.  By October 2001, Khattab had an enough of a financial war chest to offer to pay salaries and death benefits to jihadists who went to fight in Afghanistan against the impending American and coalition invasion.

It’s a mistake to think that any single terrorist operation only cost the price of materials used to carry out the operation.  It takes a lot of money to create a culture of indoctrination, training, and media messaging.  A single attack is the result of sizable investments over a long period of time by men such as Ibn al-Khattab.

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North Caucasus jihadists’ money traces back to Saudi Arabia and Osama bin Laden

April 19, 2013

The seed money of major North Caucasus or Chechen terrorist groups such as the Caucasus Emirate, the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (IIPB), the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR) and the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) can all be traced back to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Although we don’t yet know to which groups the two Russian-born brothers of Chechen descent who were identified as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings may belong, it’s important to take a look back at the origins of the money behind the North Caucasus jihadist network overall.

Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade

The Council on Foreign Relations says that, “According to the U.S. State Department, the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade is the primary channel for Islamic funding of the Chechen guerillas, in part through links to al-Qaeda-related financiers on the Arabian Peninsula.”

The Middle East Forum has more on IIPB:

In October 1999, emissaries of [IIPB founder Shamil Basayev] and [mujahideen leader] Ibn al-Khattab traveled to Kandahar where bin Laden agreed to provide fighters, equipment, and money to conduct terrorism and aid the fight against Russia. Later that year, bin Laden reportedly sent substantial sums of money to Basayev, Ibn al-Khattab, and Chechen commander Arbi Barayev to train gunmen, recruit mercenaries, and buy ammunition.

The United Nations says that, “With Al‑Qaida’s financial support, Al-Khattab also mobilized fighters from Ingushetia, Ossetia, Georgia and Azerbaijan to fight in Chechnya and Dagestan.”

History Commons offers further details similarities between Ibn Khattab and Osama Bin Laden, and the U.S. and U.K.-based imams who have funded Chechen rebels:

They share fundraising and recruiting networks. For example, a Florida cell of radical Sunnis that is monitored by the FBI starting in 1993 is involved with both organizations (see (October 1993-November 2001). Radical London imam Abu Qatada raises money for jihad in Chechnya (see 1995-February 2001 and February 2001) and is a key figure in al-Qaeda-related terrorism who is in communication with al-Qaeda logistics manager Abu Zubaida. [BBC, 3/23/2004; Nasiri, 2006, pp. 273] The Finsbury Park mosque of fellow London imam Abu Hamza al-Masri is used as a conduit for funds for both jihad in Chechnya and bin Laden’s Darunta camp in Afghanistan (see March 1999 and March 2000-February 2001)…

Khattab repaid Bin Laden in kind:  “In October 2001, Khattab sent additional fighters to Afghanistan and promised to pay the volunteers’ families a substantial monthly stipend or a large lump-sum payment in the event of their death.”

Special Purpose Islamic Regiment

In a 2003 study, the CDI found that, “Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network provided much ideological and financial support to the SPIR after the mid-1990’s. Read the rest of this entry ?