Archive for December, 2013

h1

Sleeping with the Saudi enemy

December 16, 2013

From the Dec. 8 edition of the Independent by Patrick Cockburn:

Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis

World View: Everyone knows where al-Qa’ida gets its money, but while the violence is sectarian, the West does nothing

Donors in Saudi Arabia have notoriously played a pivotal role in creating and maintaining Sunni jihadist groups over the past 30 years. But, for all the supposed determination of the United States and its allies since 9/11 to fight “the war on terror”, they have showed astonishing restraint when it comes to pressuring Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies to turn off the financial tap that keeps the jihadists in business…

Do read the rest, won’t you?  We owe it to ourselves to confront the harsh reality that our government has not only bet on the wrong horse, but continues to bet on the horse that does us the most direct harm.  Americans at home and troops abroad are at far greater risk from Saudi-sponsored terrorists and insurgents than terrorists backed by other nations…

h1

Dutch parliament urges Palestinian Authority to stop rewarding terrorists

December 15, 2013

About 40 percent of European Union aid to the Palestinian Authority is diverted as stipends to convicted Palestinian terrorists and their families.  Countries including Norway and the Netherlands are getting a bit tired of this state of affairs.  The Dutch have been irritated enough to pass a motion urging Holland’s government to compel the Palestinian Authority to cease payments to terrorist convicts.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) endorses the parliamentary measure, and offers this report:

AJC Welcomes Dutch Parliament Call to End Financial Rewarding of Palestinian Terrorists

4 December 2013 – Brussels – The AJC Transatlantic Institute welcomed the passing of a motion in the Dutch Parliament calling on the government to pressure the Palestinian Authority (PA) to end its use of aid to reward terrorism.

“The Dutch Parliament’s motion is an important recognition of an utterly shameful practice,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. “Aid from EU member states must be used for constructive, peace-building purposes, not to help fuel the conflict.”

The motion, passed by an overwhelming majority, notes that PA payments to convicted terrorists increase based on the length of sentence, thus encouraging future crimes. It references how monthly payments to Palestinians in prison can range from €282 for someone jailed for less than three years to €2,419 for a sentence of 30 years or more.

The EU is the single largest donor to the Palestinians. The Sunday Times (UK) cited in October an unpublished report by the European Court of Auditors detailing how EU aid to the Palestinians has been “misspent, squandered or lost to corruption,” to the tune of £1.95bn between 2008 and 2012.

“The time has come for a full inquiry into the how and when the PA has been using EU aid to encourage terrorism,” said Schwammenthal…

h1

Kuwaitis outspend each other on Syrian rebels

December 13, 2013

Private donations from Kuwaitis have been playing a significant role in funding Al Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria (see here, here, and here), including operations such as the August massacre of 190 Alawites in Latakia province.

The latest wrinkle is that fundraisers in Kuwait have practically become competitions, with different tribes and prominent Kuwaitis vying with each other to see who can raise the most zakat for jihad.  Foreign Policy has the details:

Shaping the Syrian Conflict from Kuwait

  • BY Elizabeth Dickinson
  • DECEMBER 8, 2013

One night during Ramadan this summer, Hamad al-Matar, a former Kuwaiti member of parliament (MP), invited guests over to donate “to prepare 12,000 Jihadists for the sake of Allah,” a poster invitation advised. Anyone could come to his diwaniya, a space used for weekly gatherings to talk politics and sip sweet hot tea. And many did come, their pockets open and their contributions generous.

“I think we raised 100,000 KD [$350,000],” he later recalled in the same diwaniya, a long room lined on the perimeter with ornate couches. “That amazed me. I was thinking I would collect a couple thousand KD. Never in my entire life did I get such an amount of money in my pocket in one day.”

But what happened to that sum of money next, Matar said, he isn’t certain. “I’m not involved actually honestly speaking in where this money goes, because there are so many people much better than myself. Even I didn’t know the map [of Syria],” he explained. “Honestly I don’t know actually” where the money went.

For the last two years, MPs like Matar, as well as Kuwaiti charities, tribes, and citizens have raised money — possibly hundreds of millions of dollars — for armed groups fighting the Syrian regime. In many ways, the financing is highly organized. Smartly aligned to a given theme, battle, or season, campaigns are broadcast on social media and advertised with signage and elegant prose.

But Matar’s account offers a glimpse of just how uncontrollable — even random — this support has become. In Kuwait, private financing came into political vogue in Sunni circles, bringing aboard legions of public figures seeking to associate themselves with support for the Syrian rebels.

That broad base of popular support among Sunnis has rendered the phenomenon nearly unstoppable for the Kuwaiti government. There is another complication too: some in the Shiite community have held events and possibly raised funds in support of the embattled Assad regime.

Donors on both sides of the political spectrum could prove perilous for Kuwait, home to a tiny population of just 3 million. Sectarian tensions have risen in recent months as events in the region have escalated. The war in Syria now threatens to invigorate a generation of extremists on both poles who may not take as kindly to the country’s mixed-sectarian make-up.

In the early days of the uprising, just a few individuals and charities were involved in shaping and funding rebel opposition groups. But as the level of violence rose, donations grew, and the funders were keen to see that their money had been well spent; YouTube and Twitter exploded with videos announcing the creation of new brigades, some even named after their donors in the Gulf.

Suddenly, everyone in Kuwait knew which diwaniyas and charities had funded a brigade. And that visibility attracted a new cohort of donors. Kuwait’s large Sunni tribes held massive fundraisers, in one case reportedly raising $14 million in just five days. They became competitions: Could the Ajman tribe outbid the Shammar? Social pressure increased the take — and made participation a necessity for many of Kuwait’s most prominent politicians.

MPs like Matar joined the fold, sometimes wrapping Syria’s story into Kuwait’s own political predicament. Since 2009, a coalition of Islamist, tribal, and youth groups have banded together to demand government and social reforms, among them an end to perceived government favoritism toward the mostly-Shiite merchant class. Now, Syria’s struggle seemed to fit into a narrative of Shiite repression of the Sunni common man. President Bashar al-Assad, an Allawite, was backed by Shiite Iran, while the Gulf states professed support to the mostly-Sunni rebels.

On Twitter, there was a rush to boast donations and solicit more. Fundraisers posted photos of cars and jewelry that had been sold to support the “mujahideen.” They also earmarked specific costs for weapons: For example by saying that an $800 donation will buy a directed missile or a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). For Matar’s diwaniya fundraiser, a contribution of 700 KD ($2,500) was said to be sufficient to prepare one fighter for battle…

There’s a lot more.  Read it all here.

h1

Charities paid off al-Shabaab to work in Somalia

December 12, 2013

Relief agencies operating in Somalia in 2011 made payments the terrorist organization al-Shabaab as a precondition for distributing aid to the famine-struck country.  This revelation comes to us from a new report by the Overseas Development Institute and the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies.

This travesty demonstrates the need for stronger supply chain management by international relief charities.  Paying kickbacks to a terror group for the “privilege” of operating on their turf simply helps the terrorist group continue buying weapons and victimizing the population within their territory.

When it’s a diamond mining operation or an international fruit company, leftists are justifiably quick to point out the evils of corporate protection money paid to militants because of slipshod management.  But when a charity does the same thing, universities and think tanks still tirelessly defend their right of charities to operate in conflict zones despite the risks of aid and supplies ending up in terrorists’ hands.

The BBC (h/t to Rushette and Jihad Watch) offers some details from the report:

…It gives one example of al-Shabab diverting food aid in the town of Baidoa, where it is reported to have kept between half and two-thirds of food aid for its fighters.

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, developed a highly sophisticated system of monitoring and co-opting the aid agencies, even setting up a “Humanitarian Co-ordination Office”.

Aid groups had to deal with this office, even though they risked legal problems by doing so because of counter-terrorism laws in other states which forbid engagement with groups like al-Shabab.

The report says agencies who worked in al-Shabab-held areas had to complete special forms and sign a pledge saying they would refrain from certain social and religious activities.

It also describes how al-Shabab gave people extra food if they spied on the aid groups…

h1

Jihadi grudge match waged over money

December 11, 2013

Two militant Sunni Muslim groups have attacked each other 21 times over the past five months in Kirkuk in northern Iraq.  One group (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is an Al Qaeda offshoot while the other (Ansar al-Sunna) is a group of Baathist terrorists.  They’re squabbling over which will be the most powerful jihadist group in that part of Iraq, and also over access to financial resources, reports Niqash:

Another reason for the fighting has to do with money. Some sources say that part of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s millions were hidden away somewhere between Hawija and his hometown, Awja, and it’s been being used to fund violence and bombing. Other sources say it’s all a spat about ransom money.

Meanwhile, the civilian population is enjoying a slight respite from terror as these two groups target each other.

Perhaps stirring up divisions between jihadist groups could be a useful tactic to attempt replicating elsewhere…

h1

Audit finds charity watchdog unfit for duties

December 10, 2013

The National Audit Office (NAO) has found that the U.K. Charity Commission, the entity responsible for monitoring British nonprofits, is grossly understaffed and is too passive in exposing malfeasance.

The Charity Commission has never done anything to crack down on Interpal and Muslim Aid—two British-based charities that have funded Hamas.  The Charity Commission even went out of its way to discredit the allegations against Muslim Aid.  The NAO’s findings cast the Charity Commission’s defense of such charities in a new and disturbing light.

This is probably one of the biggest stories pertaining to terrorist financing in Britain that has come out in several years.  Scores of Islamic charities have established headquarters in the U.K., and have used favorable reviews by the Charity Commission as part of their fundraising appeals to send money overseas.

This isn’t just a story about regulatory ineptitude:  it reveals a major global avenue for charitable fraud.

From the Daily Mail (h/t to Ultrascan HUMINT) on Dec. 3:

Charity cash could end up in the hands of terrorists: Watchdog ‘failing to tackle abuses’

  • Critical report was compiled by the National Audit Office
  • Reveals the Charity Commission has just two members of staff to monitor voluntary organisations with just 42 probes launched this year
  • Labour MP Margaret Hodge warns commission is not ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘risks undermining public trust’ in charities

By Daniel Martin

3 December 2013

Money given to charity could be diverted to terrorists because a watchdog is not investigating abuses properly, a damning report has warned.

The Charity Commission monitors voluntary organisations over three areas of high risk: fraud, whether they safeguard beneficiaries, and counter-terrorism.

But it now has only two members of staff doing this work and just 42 probes were started last year, compared to 306 a year before the last election, increasing a ‘risk that serious concerns will go undetected’.

In a critical report, the National Audit Office spending watchdog said failings could damage public faith in good causes. The commission needs a ‘radical change of pace and rigour’, it said…

The NAO report also stated:

‘It [the Charity Commission] uses its information poorly to assess risk and often relies solely on trustees’ assurances.

‘Where it does identify concerns in charities, it makes little use of its powers and fails to take tough action in some of the most serious cases.

‘The commission is too passive in pursuing its objectives, letting practical and legal barriers prevent action, rather than considering alternative ways to prevent abuse of charitable status.’

h1

Financial analyst weighs in on 9/11 money

December 9, 2013

Our readers know that Saudi Arabia funded 9/11.  But more Americans would be aware of this fact if Congress had fully disclosed the results of their investigation into the matter.

Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) was recently interviewed on the subject of Saudi Arabia, with comments (starting around minute 13 of this video) about the redaction from a 2002 congressional report of 28 pages about the financial links between Saudi royals and the 9/11 hijackers.

Financial analyst Bill Bergman gives his take on the subject at Boiling Frogs, including some eyebrow-raising revelations about his own anti-money laundering experience in the early 2000s while working for the Federal Reserve (with thanks to Bernard King for sending this in):

[Bob Graham] continues to express concern that a full chapter of the Joint Congressional Inquiry report into 9/11 – a chapter reportedly discussing financial matters and the role of the Government of Saudi Arabia and related parties – remains completely redacted.

Several months ago, Sen. Graham entered a declaration in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit still unfolding in Florida.  This lawsuit is seeking information about the role of the FBI and its investigation into circumstances surrounding the hasty departure of a Saudi Arabian family from the US in late August 2001.  This wasn’t just any Saudi Arabian family – it included the daughter of Esam Ghazzawi, who owned the house.  Ghazzawi apparently has had ties to the Saudi royal family.  Court records suggest Ghazzawi may have held funds in the notorious Bank of Credit and Commerce International, on behalf of a Saudi Prince who died suddenly in July 2001 — a Prince whose brother was killed in late 2002.  Among other things, the Sarasota family reportedly left “an empty safe” behind when they left the country.

Graham has expressed concern that the FBI withheld critical evidence from the Congress and the 9/11 Commission from this investigation, including evidence that alleged 9/11 hijackers had been visiting their house in the months before 9/11.  One of those alleged hijackers reportedly had been aboard a casino boat in the months before 9/11.  Casino boats carry a lot of currency, among other things.

In late 2003, I was asked to begin working in an assignment in the money laundering area at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.  I underwent an FBI background investigation, received clearance to review internal Federal Reserve information, and was told I was “part of the fight against terrorism.”

While working in this role, I noticed a few things that looked pretty suspicious, including a surge in currency circulating outside of banks – billions of dollars in one hundred dollar bills — in July and August 2001.  Anyone concerned that their bank accounts might be at risk of being frozen and seized after 9/11 would have an incentive to get out of dollar-denominated accounts, and may have been withdrawing large amounts of currency.  After asking related questions, I was told I had committed an “egregious breach of protocol” asking the questions.  My job was eliminated a month later.

Well, I still have questions.  Among them – Were any of those bills in that empty safe?  How many of those bills are in those 28 pages?

Granted, a billion dollars is hard to stuff into a suitcase.  But the empty safe is a symbol of a critical element of a ‘dog that didn’t bark’ on 9/11.  We still have no evidence of any investigation into the surge in currency in circulation in mid-2001 – who withdrew it and why, and whether any of those parties were related to, or even responsible for, the events of 9/11.