Archive for January, 2014

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Jihad: now powered by amphetamines

January 31, 2014

Unlike poppies in Afghanistan, which the Taliban simply taxes on the basis of traditional Islamic law, terrorist organizations in Syria and Lebanon are taking things a step further by taking control the amphetamine trade lock, stock, and barrel.  All’s fair in love and war, especially when the war is against heretics, which is how the Sunnis regard the Alawites in Syria.  And smuggling “Captagon” is netting them $300 million, which is no chump change—it’s 10 times Al Qaeda’s budget at the time of 9/11.  That means plenty of firepower for the revolutionists.  The only upside for Assad is that his Shia sponsors from Hezbollah are in on the trade too.  What a mess.

The information comes from a Time article that was recently republished by AINA (h/t El Grillo):

Are Drugs Funding the Syrian Rebels?

Fifteen days into his job as Lebanon’s top drug-enforcement official, Colonel Ghassan Chams Eddine got a tip-off that something big was going down at the Beirut shipping port this summer. How big? Nearly 5.5 million tablets of a locally produced amphetamine expertly hidden inside an industrial water heater destined for Dubai. His men had to use acetylene torches to remove the white tablets, each embossed with an off-kilter yin-yang symbol and packed into 1,000-piece units in heat-sealed plastic bags. “The boiler was made in Syria, and the way the tablets were hidden, it was clear that they hadn’t been just stuffed inside,” says Chams Eddine. “That unit was formed around the drugs, at the factory.”

A week later, on Aug. 21, Chams Eddine got another tip-off. Six Syrian-made cargo trucks destined for Saudi Arabia from Lebanon were stopped just as they were about to cross the border. Each of the containers’ steel reinforcing ribs concealed a cleverly designed drawer packed with loose pills — 6 million of them in total. A few days later, a Syrian was caught at Beirut’s international airport with 11,000 tablets hidden in pastries. Then two more Syrians destined for Saudi Arabia were stopped at the airport with 8 kg of the stuff in their luggage.

In one month, Lebanese authorities confiscated more than $200 million worth of a potent amphetamine that is almost entirely unheard of in the West. But in the Persian Gulf, Captagon, as the amphetamine is known, is the most sought-after drug on the street, and the conflict in Syria, with its attendant lawlessness, is making it even easier to obtain.

As the war drags on, it is all the more likely that Captagon will take on a significant role funding warring parties in the conflict. The captured cargo trucks were owned by a Sunni Syrian clan long linked to the drug trade that fled the besieged city of Homs last year to set up shop in Lebanon, says Chams Eddine, who suspects that the proceeds may have been used in part to fund anti–Bashar Assad rebels. “They run two or three operations like that, and they can easily get $300 million. That would buy a lot of guns.”

But it’s not just Syrian Sunnis who are involved. Hizballah, the Iranian-funded and Lebanon-based militia that is fighting in Syria on behalf of President Assad, also has a hand in the trade, according to former U.S. Treasury official Matthew Levitt, a fellow at the Washington Institute and author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God. “Hizballah has a long history of dabbling in the drug trade to help with funding, and Captagon, with its high profit margins, is to them just another business opportunity,” Levitt says. It’s not yet clear if Captagon finances the war effort directly, he adds, but profits from the trade, like Hizballah’s other criminal activities, help fund the organization, freeing up capacity for efforts elsewhere. A Hizballah security official tells TIME that the organization does not engage in drug trafficking, as the practice is considered sinful in Islam. However, he admits, Hizballah has worked with drug mafias for what he called security operations. “It was never to benefit or fund Hizballah, it was more to collect information. After all, the end justifies the means.”…

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Recommended reading: front charities, ATM bombings, and sanctions violations

January 30, 2014
  • Members of a terror cell that bombed ATM machines across Bahrain have been convicted for detonating explosives and laundering money… more>>
  • Money for training of Islamic militants around the world was routed through Vienna by the Turkish charity IHH, reports a Bosnian newspaper… more>>
  • An Iranian-U.S. dual citizen packed 44 boxes of blueprints and technical specs about the F-35 fighter jet and shipped them off to Iran.  Customs agents weren’t fooled by his shipping label: “House Hold Goods”… more>>
  • Four years after it was revealed that IFCO helped funnel money for George Galloway to Hamas, the IRS might strip IFCO of its tax-exempt status… more>>
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China blocks money flow to Pak-backed jihadists

January 28, 2014

Demonstrating its concern that Pakistani-funded terrorists are brewing a witch’s cauldron of jihad in its Western territory, the government of China has signaled that it will crackdown on illicit financial transfers among Islamists in their western frontier.

The key thing for Western readers to understand here is not so much that China is doing anything particularly noteworthy beyond common sense, but to appreciate that most of that part of the world—Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, and China—recognizes Pakistan as a base for terrorist activity.  The American public, except for U.S. forces who have served in Afghanistan and have witnessed this first hand, isn’t being told this basic fact.  The recent budget bill adopted by Congress included some glancing pre-conditions for the resumption of U.S. foreign aid to Pakistan, but John Kerry is likely to endorse the continuation of such aid regardless of the conditions in the bill.

Thanks to our Twitter friend Moinak for sending this over:

China moves to choke funding of terror outfits in Xinjiang

Move underlines Beijing concern over Pakistan-based outfits

China’s central bank on Friday announced new measures aimed at enabling authorities to freeze assets of domestic terrorist groups and their “overseas affiliates,” in a move seen as underlining China’s continued concern over outfits believed to be operating out of Pakistan.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said the rules, issued along with the Ministry of State Security, “will prevent terrorism and is in accordance with a United Nations requirement that all nations freeze, without delay, funds or other assets of terrorists,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.

This followed a directive from the National People’s Congress (NPC) in 2011 requiring “financial and certain non-financial organisations” to take steps to freeze funds seen as being directed toward terrorist activities.

The PBOC said the regulation “mainly applies at home, but also has effects on overseas branches and affiliates of relevant organisations.”

That the move is aimed at curbing funding towards activities in the far-western Muslim-majority Xinjiang region, which has seen a spate of violent attacks, appears likely in the wake of measures taken by the Ministry of Public Security, or police authority, to restrict funds moving into Xinjiang following attacks in 2012.

In April of that year, the Ministry asked Pakistan to hand over six members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and said it had taken steps to freeze their assets.

Identified as “core members” of the outfit, they were named as Nurmemet Memetmin, Abdulkyum Kurban, Paruh Tursun, Tursunjan Ebibla, Nurmemet Raxit and Mamat Imin Nurmamat.

According to Chinese officials, Mr. Memetmin trained terrorists who carried out knife and bomb attacks in Kashgar in 2011 that left at least 20 people killed.

Officials also believe Mr. Nurmamat is hiding in Pakistan, or near the Afghanistan border, after he fled China in October 2009 when an explosion accidentally struck his bomb-making unit in Shache.

The Ministry of Public Security said in 2012 it hoped “foreign governments and their law enforcing departments would help to arrest the six and hand them over to Chinese authorities.”

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Police: Jamaat funded by border drug smuggling

January 27, 2014

Jamaat-e-Islami operatives posing as mango and tomato exporters in eastern Bangladesh are actually smuggling drugs, hemp, prescription cough syrup (which is also drunk for intoxication), and people across the border with India, according to local police.

The Islamist Jamaat party and its student Shibir wing have been attacking the government and moderate elements in Bangladesh for years, and Jamaat is trying to put a stop to Bangladesh’s ongoing efforts to bring Islamist war criminals to justice for atrocities they committed in the 1970s.

Jamaat receives significant sponsorship from Pakistani and Saudi sources, Western and Gulf-based Muslim charities, and sharia finance institutions, but regional smuggling profits are needed as well to maintain Jamaat’s wide-scale operations.

An excerpt from a report by the Dhaka Tribune follows, with thanks to Shah Ali Farhad for sending this over:

…What was most surprising to this correspondent was that Jamaat Leader Modasser Ali and Secetary General of the upazila and Kibria Jamaat Unit Golam Azam operate a smuggling racket in the area, according to police and locals under anonymity. They smuggle Phensedyle, hemp and others Indian items into the country, they said.

Regarding the funding of Jamaat-Shibir, Abdur Razzak said members of the Islamist outfit mainly collect money from drug smuggling to run their political activities in the area.

However, upon inquiry Modasser said he used to operate a mobile cell phone shop at Shibganj Bazar and that he brought best quality items from India during that time.

“I have a trade license. The ruling party men vandalised my shop and since then it has remained closed,” he said.

Over the course of the conversation, Modasser repeatedly denied being involved in smuggling.

However, people in the area said Modasser providede funding for Jamaat-Shibir to operate their political activities.

In contrast, Modasser said he did not need to finance anybody.

“People love me and they follow my instruction,” he added.

Similar replies came from Jamaat Leader Azam,  who said they mainly cultivated mango and tomatoes, leaving no time to smuggle things into the country.

AKM Mizanur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Shibganj police station, said that smuggling was not a new trend in the area.

“We are working on it and a number of illegal shipments have already been recovered in the past couple of months.”

Rab-5 Lieutenant Colonel Anwar Latif Khan of Shibganj said members of the elite force are active in the area and that a large quantity of drugs had been seized in recent drives.

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Hawala used to launder £20 million in England

January 26, 2014

A British trial has revealed that criminal gangs have been laundering drug money by sending it through hawala and conventional banking channels from England to a hawala dealer overseas to send back to the gangsters in the U.K.

Despite the seriousness of the underlying crime, four of the men involved in the scheme have received light sentences ranging from three years in prison to supervised release with no prison time.  The sentencing is reminiscent of that of New York hawala dealer Faisal Shahzad, who funded the failed Times Square bomber and got off with probation.

Meanwhile, law enforcement and financial regulators continue to make marginal or piecemeal recommendations for how to protect financial markets and the public from the inherent risk of hawala transactions.  One simple idea would be to impose tougher penalties and longer sentences for hawala crimes.

From the Liverpool Echo on Jan. 17 (h/t Arun):

Gang who laundered more than £20m using ancient Islamic system jailed

Two Liverpool men part of four man gang

Two Liverpool men who helped launder more than £20m of drugs money through banks were spared prison.

The money is believed to have been laundered using legitimate bank accounts and an ancient  Islamic money lending system.

Kamran Butt and Instar Ahmed, from Greater Manchester and Liverpool men Steven McKenna and Sean Moore were put under surveillance by police in two undercover operations.

But officers found they were linked when Butt and Ahmed were seen depositing money into  the same bank accounts.

The money was transferred to the defendants, who were recruited by operatives in the Middle East, using the ‘Hawala’ system – an informal Islamic way of lending money based on honour agreements and third-party lenders.

A fifth man, named in court as ‘Akhtar’, was also heavily involved – but was deported to  Pakistan in 2012 and has not been traced since.

Watched by undercover police, Akhtar and Ahmed were seen depositing huge sums of money  at banks in Chorlton, Longsight and Manchester city centre.

The two men would travel to branches of Lloyds, HSBC and Halifax together but then pretend  not to know each other once inside.

Ahmed also worked in partnership with others in the gang.

Manchester Crown Court heard how on Monday, August 22, 2011, police intercepted Ahmed and McKenna and seized three rucksacks stuffed with more than £200,000 in cash.

On another occasion, Moore was seen with Butt in his Mercedes car.

Butt was stopped and a bag was seized, which was found to contain about £120,000 in cash.

His Stretford home was then searched and a further £10,000 was seized.Cash receipts in vehicles traced to the four men showed they were paying in anywhere from £500 to £10,000 a time.All the money is believed to have come from criminal gangs, mainly through drug sales.

The criminal cash was given to a Hawala money lender abroad who then transferred the  money to a Hawala lender in the UK and gave them a password.

This password was then passed onto one of the defendants allowing them to collect the cash.

They then paid the money into bank accounts in Manchester which the criminals had access to.

The court heard the four defendants were the bottom of the chain – below controllers and then  co-ordinators, working as collectors to receive the money, deliver it and pay it into various bank accounts in the UK.

After being caught, all four defendants pleaded guilty – Moore to two charges of money  laundering and Butt, McKenna and Ahmed to one charge of money laundering each.

Butt, of Great Stone Road, Stretford, was believed to be behind £12m in laundered cash, and  was sentenced to three years and six months.

Ahmed, of Kelstern Square, Rusholme, who is believed to have laundered £10m also received  a sentence of three years, six months.

Moore, of Kingfisher Grove, Liverpool, and McKenna, of Maley Street, Liverpool, both received  14 month sentences suspended for 12 months and 12 month supervision orders.

Moore was ordered to carry out 108 hours unpaid work and McKenna 150 hours…

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Fastidious terrorists are no laughing matter

January 24, 2014

Recordkeeping for purchases as little as 60¢ by Al Qaeda in Mali engendered a lot of mirth and clever commentary in the blogosphere around Christmastime, but there’s a serious implication to the jihadist organization’s techniques.  Al Qaeda’s financial policies indicate that they may well still remain a disciplined and hierarchical group, despite perceived fragmentation and a proliferation of Al Qaeda offshoots over the last five to 10 years.

From the Associated Press on Dec. 29:

TIMBUKTU, Mali –  The convoy of cars bearing the black Al Qaeda flag came at high speed, and the manager of the modest grocery store thought he was about to get robbed.

Mohamed Djitteye rushed to lock his till and cowered behind the counter. He was dumbfounded when instead, the Al Qaeda commander gently opened the grocery’s glass door and asked for a pot of mustard. Then he asked for a receipt.

Confused and scared, Djitteye didn’t understand. So the jihadist repeated his request. Could he please have a receipt for the $1.60 purchase?

This transaction in northern Mali shows what might seem an unusual preoccupation for a terror group: Al Qaeda is obsessed with documenting the most minute expenses.

In more than 100 receipts left in a building occupied by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu earlier this year, the extremists assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb. The often tiny amounts are carefully written out in pencil and colored pen on scraps of paper and Post-it notes: The equivalent of $1.80 for a bar of soap; $8 for a packet of macaroni; $14 for a tube of super glue.

The accounting system on display in the documents found by The Associated Press is a mirror image of what researchers have discovered in other parts of the world where Al Qaeda operates, including Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. The terror group’s documents around the world also include corporate workshop schedules, salary spreadsheets, philanthropy budgets, job applications, public relations advice and letters from the equivalent of a human resources division.

Taken together, the evidence suggests that far from being a fly-by-night, fragmented terror organization, Al Qaeda is attempting to behave like a multinational corporation, with what amounts to a company-wide financial policy across its different chapters.

“They have to have bookkeeping techniques because of the nature of the business they are in,” said Brookings Institution fellow William McCants, a former adviser to the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. “They have so few ways to keep control of their operatives, to rein them in and make them do what they are supposed to do. They have to run it like a business.”

The picture that emerges from what is one of the largest stashes of Al Qaeda documents to be made public shows a rigid bureaucracy, replete with a chief executive, a board of directors and departments such as human resources and public relations. Experts say that each branch of the terror group replicates the same corporate structure, and that this strict blueprint has helped Al Qaeda not just to endure but also to spread…

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Jamaat intertwined with sharia banks and Islamic charities

January 23, 2014

Analyst Chris Blackburn has written an undated piece documenting the abuses of Jamaat-e-Islami, the radical Islamic political party in Bangladesh, and its support networks.  The article caught our attention when it was reposted in December on a Google group forum by Bangladeshi progressive Suhas Barua.  The write-up is especially timely and relevant considering how Jamaat has attempted to use money from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to attack moderate and secular elements in Bangladesh and short-circuit the ongoing war crimes trials against arch-Islamist operatives.

Blackburn provides valuable insights into the role of the sharia finance house Islami Bank Bangladesh, Arab businessmen, and Gulf- and Western-based Islamic charities in the financing of South Asian terrorist organizations:

Jamaat-i-Islami has been involved in murder, terrorism, intimidation and bigotry from it’s direct participation in war crimes during the 1971 War of Liberation to it’s involvement in pursuing sectarian violence against the Ahmadi sect in Pakistan and Bangladesh . Recently the Jamaat has been threatening the lives of journalists in Bangladesh if they continue to report and uncover the Jamaat and Shibir’s ties to militancy . A democracy must be allowed to have a free press- all actions must be taken to ensure this type of intimidation does not persist during the forthcoming elections.

The Jamaat-Bangladesh has been repeatedly linked to terrorist organisations mainly due to the fact that the majority of leaders and terrorists belonging to Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Jagrata Muslim Janata (JMJB) have past histories of involvement with Jamaat and the Islami Chhatra Shibir .

The Islami Bank Bangladesh (IBBL) is also linked to militancy and is controlled by the Jamaat – banks which act as foreign sponsors of IBBL have previously been used or have been accused of funnelling money to al-Qaeda linked militants and supporting radical Islamism in other countries. Yassin Qadi, a US and UN designated financier of terrorism’s family are also close to the bank . Qadi is a Saudi businessman and is the son-in-law of Sheikh Ahmed Salah Jamjoom, a foreign sponsor of IBBL . Jamjoom was a former finance minister in the Saudi government. It is not known if Qadi has direct ties to the bank. The Kuwaiti based Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS) also had accounts at the bank they are suspected of financing terrorism in Bangladesh and elsewhere- it is believed that the organisation helped finance the 17th August serial bombings in 2005 .

The links between the IBBL and the International Islamic University (Chittagong) – show how the Jamaat-Ikwhan is growing in influence in education- mainly in Dawa and Islamic financial sectors. The Jamaat- Shibir Bangladesh has also acted as a funding conduit for the ISI and the Jamaat-Pakistan . In 2000 Indian intelligence agencies intercepted a letter from Jamaat leaders which acknowledges that monies had been transferred through Jamaat-Bangladesh to the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) from Jamaat-Pakistan . It must be noted that the US State Department and the US Department of Justice are concerned that the Bangladeshi Government is not investigating 45 major money laundering cases related to International terrorism; they believe it is due to political reasons- the US sent a team of officials from the Department of Justice to Dhaka to directly talk to their opposite numbers, this meeting was meant to be secret but was leaked to the press because of the frustration at the lack of progress .

MULTA is a terrorist organisation which is working towards turning Assam, a region in North India, into an Islamic enclave which will be run by Shariah law. The group has been involved in bombings and assassinations of civic leaders in Assam. MULTA works closely with Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami (HUJI-B) and is funded by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) . HUJI-B has been added to the US and UN list of terrorist organisations. MULTA also works closely with other terrorist organisations such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) which are all allied to Osama Bin Laden’s International Islamic Front (IIF).

The network wants to create a Brihot Bangladesh or ‘greater Bangladesh’ by merging Muslim communities from North India into Bangladesh. Islami Chhatra Shibir (ISC), Jamaat’s student wing are also believed to have been involved with this militant network and are working in tandem with the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) to support the network. In 2002 Salim Sajid, SIMI’s financial secretary was interrogated and confessed how ISC were closely working with the SIMI to plan and attack Indian interests . The groups have been meeting in West Bengal under the banner of the ‘Islamic Action Force’.

SIMI was the student front of the Indian branch of the Jamaat-i-Islami and follows the thoughts and teachings of Mawdudi . It has a history of supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda . Its cadre are believed to have been directly and indirectly involved in recent bomb attacks in India- they are believed to have helped terrorist cells in Varanasi, New Delhi, Mumbai and Adohya; these attacks have been major escalations for the SIMI as they have caused extremely high fatalities and casualty rates. SIMI is also working with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) which are based in Pakistan . These are also members of the International Islamic Front.

In 2003 Indian Muslims working in Middle Eastern countries were contacted and recruited by known SIMI operatives to go and fight Coalition forces in Iraq – which is another escalation of the group’s international activities. The worrying point is that the ICS and Jamaat are working closely with SIMI and are well aware of its current strategy to attack India.

Jamaat’s support network in the UK and US

Jamaat-Pakistan and Jamaat-Bangladesh also receives backing from the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and Muslim Aid branches who act as fundraisers, missionaries and PR managers for the Jamaat-i-Islami movement in the West . The charities have been linked to terrorism and have also been linked to Mueen Uddin Chowdhury and Asrafuzzaman Khan , two expatriate Bangladeshi’s with Jamaat backgrounds who are suspected of being directly involved in war crimes. The two charities send money collected in the UK, US, Germany and Austrialia to the Al-Khidmat Foundation/Society and Muslim Aid’s Bangladeshi branch . They are both de facto arms of the Jamaat. Al-Khidmat aids militancy and helps to support the Hizbul Mujahideen, Jamaat’s armed wing and other groups . Hizbul Mujahideen is designated by the US and UK as a terrorist organisation .

In 2004 Russian security agents from the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) assassinated Zelimkhan Yanderbiyev, the former vice president of Chechnya in a car bomb attack in Doha, Qatar . They believe he was meeting with wealthy Middle Eastern figures to collect funds for Jihad. Yanderbiyev was a recipient of Jamaati funds to wage war on Russia . Jamaat-i-Islami is listed by Russia’s Supreme Court as a leading financier and supporter of terrorism. After the 9/11 attacks the Russian FSB passed information to the US stating they believed that Jamaat would be involved in the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, these assertions proved correct when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks was arrested in the home of Jamaat leaders .

Al-Khidmat has recently helped to repatriate 2500 Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists that have been released as part of an amnesty by the Pakistani authorities . There have been reports that Taliban fighter are being treated at Al-Khimat’s medical centres in Pakistan. Al-Khidmat has also recently donated huge sums to Hamas to carry on with its Jihad against Israel . Al-Khidmat, ICNA and Muslim Aid’s branches should be added to UN and US sanctions for their direct financial support for terrorism.

Al-Khidmat has also recently given money to Sheikh Faisal Malawi of the Jemaah Islamiya (Lebanon) to aid his Al-Fajr militants to help Hezbollah attack Israel in Lebanon . Malawi is the former deputy chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research alongside Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi…

Also notice that Yasin al-Qadi is mentioned in the piece.  Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey is currently under fire for his close relationship with al-Qadi, and his possible relevance to the unfolding corruption scandal in that country.