Archive for May, 2014

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5 big terror finance stories so far in 2014

May 30, 2014

Money Jihad has blogged or tweeted about all these news stories, but they’re all significant enough that they merit a second look by anybody interested in the topic of terror finance. Here are some of the most significant news articles and commentaries written about terrorist financing news developments of the year so far:

Australian money laundering bust: “Project Eligo” resulted in at least 105 arrests, 190 criminal charges, and over $500 million in assets seized in Australia since the beginning of the year. Exchange houses involved in the laundering operation were delivering a cut of profits to Hezbollah, illustrating the control that Hezbollah exerts over global financial transactions…more from the Sydney Morning Herald>>

Canada seizes $7 million in Iranian assets: The seizure is significant not only because it delivers justice to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, but because it demonstrates the validity of the legal theory that terrorism can be partially bankrupted through litigation. Previous judgments have been just that—judgments without seizing or disbursing assets. Now legal methods prove that the lawyers of terrorists’ victims deserve a seat at the table along with military operations, intelligence, law enforcement, sanctions, and other counter-terror techniques…more from the CBC>>

Turkish corruption scandal: The ongoing Turkish corruption scandals boil down to a rivalry between two Islamists, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and the cryptic Pennsylvania imam Fetullah Gulen. But the scandal has also revealed the degree to which Turkey has enabled Iranian sanctions evasion, and at the same time we’re learning more about Turkey’s support for Al Qaeda and Hamas…more from Jonathan Schanzer>>

Sanctions relief offered to Iran could fund terrorism. Easing Iranian sanctions as part of a larger diplomatic push offers no controls over how Iran uses the money. Not only will the money not be used to satisfy judgments won by the victims of Iranian terror, but the money could be given to the perpetrators of Iranian terror, including Hezbollah, the IRGC, Hamas, and the Quds Force…more from Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon>>

Kuwait’s terror financing cabinet minister proves too hot to handle. Kuwait, whose hide the U.S. saved during the Gulf war, brazenly stabbed us in the back after 9/11 by failing to outlaw terrorist financing for 10 years. Then Kuwait added insult to injury in January by promoting a top private fundraiser for jihad in Syria to not one but two major government posts simultaneously. This prompted US Treasury officials to grow a spine and actually condemn Kuwait for rewarding this kind of person. Nayef al-Ajmi finally quit earlier this month… more from Reuters>>

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News roundup: following the terrorists’ money

May 29, 2014
  • Britain’s Charity Commission has historically been passive about investigating Islamic charities. Now the Commission is participating in an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood, which critics say constitutes “disproportionate” scrutiny… more>>
  • After stuffing 20,000 euros in her panties and attempting to fly to Syria, a British Muslim student denies that she intended to fund terrorists… more>>
  • Iran will restore funding to Hamas with $200 million per year in exchange for Hamas’s support of Iran’s involvement in Syria… more>>
  • The United Nations is levying sanctions and an arms embargo against Boko Haram, citing its relationship with Al Qaedamore>>
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Seven habits of highly effective kingpins

May 27, 2014

Criminal and terrorist groups are highly interconnected according to new analysis of data by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. The conventional wisdom was that criminals worry that working with terrorists may draw unwanted scrutiny from their governments, and they are only inclined to cooperate only in resource-poor environments where it is necessary to survive. But the CTC finds that transnational traffickers and criminals appear to be more than willing to partner with terrorists, and that they benefit from these relationships in a wide variety of environments.

The full report can be read here. It is very thorough (89 pages) and includes academic language and models. Here are a just a few of the salient points from the study about members of the global underworld that may be of interest to practitioners and analysts outside of academia:

  1. Interconnected: 98 percent of the individuals in the global illicit marketplace are within two degrees of separation of each other.
  2. International: One in three individuals in the network have international relationships.
  3. Distributed power: Unlike typical hub-and-spoke networks where 80 percent of the connections rely on 20 percent of the actors involved, the global illicit network is somewhat less dependent on a small number of powerful actors/kingpins. Twenty percent of participants are responsible for only 65 percent of underworld connections. This diffuse hub-and-spoke model makes the network tougher for law enforcement to disrupt.
  4. Willingness to work with terrorists: “Individuals involved in other illicit activities link to terrorists 35 percent of the time” (p. 43). Terrorists often serve as “boundary spanners,” that link and form introductions between disparate groups such as drug traffickers, arms dealers, and organized crime.
  5. Frequent bilateral links with the United Arab Emirates: The top two bilateral connections in the criminal underworld–the U.S. and Colombia and the U.S. and Mexico–are probably unsurprising to Americans. The third most prevalent bilateral connections are between India and the U.A.E., and the sixth most common are between Pakistan and the U.A.E.
  6. Organized crime, not just terrorism, benefits from state sponsorship. We know that state sponsorship of terrorism exists, but for some reason we erroneously assume that state sponsorship of crime does not. The evidence from North Korea, Russia, the Balkans, and Pakistan indicates that criminals can carry out national interests—a phenomenon deserving further study.
  7. Convergence is not driven by poverty. Terrorists and criminals are drawn together in a variety of environments, not just in countries where there are little money or resources. The evidence indicates that the opposite is often true—that criminal masterminds prefer climates where there is some level of predictability and economic development, such as Monzer al-Kassar operating in Spain and Dawood Ibrahim in Dubai. Focusing only on failed states could be a red herring.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Twitter user @El_Grillo1 for sending in a link to the CTC study.

This piece has also been published at Terror Finance Blog.

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Terrorist tycoon ‘mortally afraid’ of Modi

May 26, 2014

Terrorist billionaire and organized crime kingpin Dawood Ibrahim is said to be “mortally afraid” of India’s newly elected prime minister, Narendra Modi.  So much so that he has fled his longtime safe haven in Karachi for a city within the Taliban’s control on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.  Such a move suggests that Dawood Ibrahim is paying off the Taliban as an extra layer of security protection–a potentially highly lucrative arrangement for the Taliban.

As Money Jihad predicted at the end of last year, Modi’s election would, “represent a significant threat to the established criminal and terrorist underworld in India and Kashmir that are being backed by Pakistan.”  More recently, Modi has promised to crack down on illicit money, hawala, and tax evasion.  At long last, Dawood can see the writing on the wall.

From DNA on May 20 (hat tip to @RushetteNY):

Scared of Narendra Modi, Dawood Ibrahim, gang members go in hiding

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 | S Balakrishnan

With Narendra Modi all set to become the prime minister, India’s most-wanted don, Dawood Ibrahim, has relocated himself to an unknown location close to the Af-Pak border, which is under the Taliban. His base has been in Karachi.

During the poll campaign, Modi had told a Gujarati news channel that he would bring Dawood to India from Pakistan if he comes to power. Now that Modi is in power, the general expectation of the intelligence community is that he will tighten the screws on Dawood. Fearing a commando-type operation, Dawood is believed to have shifted his base to a remote corner and got the ISI to beef up his security.

“With Modi coming to power, he is mortally afraid,” an intelligence official said. It is expected that Modi may seek the services of Ajit Doval, retired chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) who is known for his brilliant operational capabilities, to zero in on the don. Doval is currently associated with the Vivekananda centre in New Delhi.

BJP has already started adopting a strong position vis-a-vis Pakistan. In a recent TV debate, senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari made it clear that the new government will have “zero tolerance” to terrorism. He said the response of the new dispensation will be vastly different from that of the erstwhile Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, which was afraid to strike.

Sushilkumar Shinde, home minister in the UPA government, had only talked about bringing Dawood back to India and had claimed that the government was in touch with the FBI for it. But RK Singh, who was the then Union home secretary and is currently with BJP, had pooh-poohed Shinde’s claim. Singh too is known to be keen on targeting Dawood and is expected to help the new government in it.

It’s not only Dawood who has done the vanishing act, even many members of his gang in Mumbai have pulled out of the metropolis. Though the police is under the Congress-NCP-led Maharashtra government, central agencies can pick up people suspected of links with terror networks and organised crime.

Former IPS officer YC Pawar, the man who effected the first breakthrough in the investigation into the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts masterminded by Dawood in tandem with Pakistan’s ISI, is of the opinion that the don can indeed be brought to India. He had told dna recently: “Modi is a man of tremendous will power and a go-getter. These qualities are needed at the topmost level to operationalise a plan to eject Dawood out of Pakistan. I am not saying this as a member of BJP but as a professional cop who has dealt with organised crime for several years”…

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Terrorist mafia don lives like a king in Karachi

May 25, 2014

After bombing his hometown of Mumbai in the 1990s, Dawood Ibrahim became unwelcome in India and fled to Karachi, Pakistani, where he has maintained a lifestyle of the rich and famous. HindiNest.com is featuring an informative article (h/t @1389) about Dawood, who is protected by active and retired members of Pakistan’s intelligence community. He has extensive operations in Dubai but can’t stay there because the UAE has an extradition treaty with India. An excerpt follows:

…Ibrahim lives like a king. Home is a palatial house spread over 6,000 square yds, boasting a pool, tennis courts, snooker room and a private, hi-tech gym. He wears designer clothes, drives top of the line Mercedes’ and luxurious four-wheel drives, sports a half-a-million rupee Patek Phillipe wristwatch, and showers money on starlets and prostitutes. He bought Lahore model, Saba, with whom he reportedly had a passionate involvement, a house and a car. Nor does he shirk his obligations: Mandakini, of Ram Teri Ganga Maili fame, former Bollywood actress with whom he had a child is reportedly still being supported by him.

His daily regimen is also rather kingly. He wakes in the afternoon. After a swim and shower, he has breakfast. In the late afternoon, he gives his employees an audience where he briefs them on their assignments and they give him daily reports of his myriad businesses.

If in the mood, he engages in a game of cricket or snooker with friends. And as the sun sets, Dawood and his party set off for any one of his ‘safe houses’ in Karachi for an evening of revelry – usually comprising drinks (Black Label is his preference), mujras and gambling. The long-married Dawood’s passion for women has made him a favoured client for local pimps. His current liaison notwithstanding, he whets his allegedly large sexual appetite with a variety of women.

“He prefers virgins, preferably young girls. And he is a good paymaster. If the market rate for a woman is 10,000 rupees, Dawood pays 100,000 rupees. He is thus always surrounded by Pakistan’s top call girls,” discloses one of his family friends.

Carousing through the night, Dawood and his companions quit only at dawn and collectively offer fajr prayers. This has been Dawood Ibrahim’s routine for several years.

From petty street urchin to don of the Mumbai underworld, Dawood’s life makes for a fascinating story.
Dawood seems to have realised early in life that crime paid. His petty exploits sometimes landed him in trouble, but his father’s position as a policeman saved him from being apprehended on several occasions. Soon the Mumbai underworld started taking note of him.

Initially operating independently, Dawood formed his own gang, which grew into a mega crime network over the years. Both Hindus and Muslims worked for him, pursuing his by now multiple business interests, which included drugs, mediating in business disputes, evicting tenants from old buildings and clearing land for purposes of construction.

Ibrahim’s interests soon led him to Bollywood where he became a major film financier. At his lavish parties, there was never a shortage of the mega stars of the day. “They wouldn’t dare refuse an invitation,” says a friend, who maintains that those who opted out on account of shooting schedules would suddenly find their dates had been cancelled or postponed.

Growing Hindu-Muslim tension, fuelled by other underworld dons, which climaxed after the Babri mosque demolition, changed everything. The ensuing blasts in Mumbai, and the communal riots triggered by the underworld itself, caused the Dawood Ibrahim gang to splinter. One of his top lieutenants, Chota Rajan, often described by Ibrahim as one of his ‘nauratans,’ (nine jewels) defected and formed his own group consisting mainly of Hindu boys. Thereafter, Ibrahim was accused of masterminding the blasts, even though he was out of town at the time. He could never return to India. Dubai, which might have been a natural alternative residence, was ruled out because of an Interpol alert for Dawood’s arrest – the UAE and India have an extradition treaty.

Thus Dawood fled to Pakistan, managing also to subsequently smuggle his family, comprising his wife, four daughters and a son, and certain close associates and their families out of Mumbai. (One daughter, 12, subsequently died of malaria and is buried in Pakistan). Today they are all Pakistani passport holders.

For the Muslims of Mumbai, Dawood’s role in the blasts makes him a hero. “You cannot imagine the behaviour of the Hindus towards us before the blasts. They would hurl insults at our veiled women, ridicule us and mock our beards. The blasts changed everything. Now they cannot underestimate our strength; they are afraid of us,” said a shopkeeper from Dawood Ibrahim’s old mohalla on Mohammad Ali Road, a largely Muslim neighbourhood, whose residents shun the press and fiercely guard their privacy.
In Pakistan meanwhile, Dawood managed to establish another huge empire, comprising both legitimate and illegitimate businesses. In fact, the last few years have witnessed Dawood emerge as the don of Karachi.

Dawood and his men have made heavy investments in prime properties in Karachi and Islamabad, and are major players in the Karachi bourse and in the parallel credit system business – hundi. Dawood is also said to have rescued Pakistan’s Central Bank which was in crisis at one point, by providing a huge dollar loan. His businesses include gold and drug smuggling. The gang is also allegedly heavily involved in match-fixing. Dawood’s influence among the Pakistani cricket players is so well known that a senior Pakistan cricket official met Dawood to get the names of those Pakistani cricketers involved in betting.
Some of the Pakistani cricket players admit that at one time or another, they have sought Dawood’s help, financial or otherwise. Javed Miandad is allegedly very close to Dawood Ibrahim, and his recent stint in cricket, despite the opposition from other players, was reportedly at Dawood’s behest.
Dawood’s sphere of influence has also encompassed the business community, with businessmen increasingly approaching Dawood to settle their financial disputes with other businessmen or for financial bailouts. Some former MQM militants are apparently also working for Dawood as trouble-shooters. However, Dawood’s growing influence has irked Karachi’s powerful ethnic group, the mohajirs, who feel Dawood is trespassing on their domain as more and more people are now looking to Dawood to sort out their problems. “Earlier, whether it was a case of financial dispute or the construction or regularisation of an illegal building, people came to us for help. Now all of them are going to Dawood,” remarked a former leader of Altaf Hussain’s MQM.

Dawood’s business activities are not confined to the subcontinent. His network extends to several countries of the African continent, and to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Dubai, Germany, France and UK. His net worth has been estimated at close to 30 billion rupees.
Meanwhile, not only have the Pakistani authorities turned a blind eye to the gang’s activities within Pakistan, but many in the corridors of power have partaken of Dawood’s hospitality. Dawood often throws lavish mujras for Pakistani politicians and bureaucrats. A recent guest was a former caretaker Prime Minister.

These are not the only members of the establishment who have close ties with Dawood. He is said to have the protection of assorted intelligence agencies. In fact, Dawood and his men move around the city guarded by heavy escorts of armed men in civvies believed to be personnel of a top Pakistani security agency.

A number of government undercover agents, who came into contact with Dawood because of their official duties, are now, in fact, working for him. “A major serves him a glass of water. Nearly all the men who surround him for security reasons are either retired or serving officers,”claims an MQM activist…

Although this article describes Dawood’s net worth as 30 billion rupees (500 million USD), others sources have put it as high as $20 billion.  And although this piece describes his presence in Karachi, Dawood Ibrahim may have recently relocated to a different city in Pakistan–Money Jihad will post more on that tomorrow.

The whole article is well worth reading at http://www.hindinest.com/srajan/02948.htm. It gives a lot of insights into Dawood’s operations and the factionalism among his loyalists.

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Hezbollah tells its cells to find new sources of money

May 23, 2014

Cash-strapped Iran can no longer lavish its overseas Hezbollah cells with money to finance their operations while simultaneously trying to revitalize its own economy and supply Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria. Consequently, Hezbollah’s military command has instructed subordinate entities “to find new sources of funding,” according to the Lebanese newspaper, The Daily Star.

The good news is that Iran is still having a hard time funding all of its terrorist group proxies. The bad news is that those same groups are becoming more desperate and inventive as they’re weaned off the Iranian teat.

Hat tip to El Grillo:

Hezbollah cutting costs as Iranian aid dries up

Sources close to the central command at Hezbollah told The Daily Star that the party has begun to take budget-cutting measures due to the shortage of Iranian aid caused by the Islamic Republic’s tough economic situation.

Although Iran’s economy is expected to improve in the coming months if it reaches an agreement with the West over its nuclear program by a July 20 deadline, the Islamic Republic is also helping the Syrian government cover its fiscal deficit, a strain that is less likely to end soon.

The U.S. and European countries have been keen on monitoring Hezbollah’s funding sources in Latin America, Africa and other Asian countries, with a special focus on religious organizations connected to the party. These organizations and the businessmen involved with them are said to be the main source of donations in these countries. Recently, for example, Germany banned a charitable foundation after it discovered its connections to one of Hezbollah’s organizations.

Most of the money sent to Hezbollah comes from the African continent and is under the supervision of one of the party’s top officials, the sources said.

The sources also pointed to the huge financial impact of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria.

Tehran, which uses Hezbollah as a tool to implement its regional agenda, wants to deepen its power and control in Syria, and the sources believe that it also plans to increase its strategic influence in south Lebanon. The claim is backed up by a recent statement by an aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Yahya Rahim Safavi, who controversially described south Lebanon as Iran’s first line of defense.

These difficult times have forced Hezbollah’s military wing – also known as the “Jihad Council” – to ask non-functional cells and the party’s external security apparatus to find new sources of funding. The instruction to these cells – which are spread around Russia, Romania, Germany, France and some parts of America – to find new sources of money seems especially urgent now that European security services are closely monitoring individuals suspected of being connected to Hezbollah.

According to sources in the party, Hezbollah has also fired many employees working within the party’s social, health, media and service institutions to cut costs.

In addition to this, the party has reduced its aid for Sunni civil and scholarly organizations that are close to Hezbollah…

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Money and jihad: recommended reading

May 22, 2014
  • Boko Haram‘s rise to prominence might be explained by foreign funding to the tune of $70 million… more>>
  • Witness:  A mosque in Long Island funded a militant jihadist group called Supporters of Shariamore>>
  • Saynab Abdirashid Hussein perjured herself before a Minnesota grand jury about money she raised for jihad in Somalia. Her sentence? Just probation… more>>
  • CAIR is furious that banks have closed risky accounts with Iranian students in the U.S….more>>