Archive for December, 2014

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10 biggest terror finance news stories of 2014

December 30, 2014
  1. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria rebounded from a weaker financial position to amass $3 billion in annual income after taking over Fallujah in January and Mosul in June. Its diversified portfolio makes ISIS the world’s best funded terror group. Western allies are trying to cut off ISIS’s money, but admit that the best case scenario is that ISIS will run out of cash on its own.
  2. Treasury undersecretary David Cohen announced in March that “Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas,” and that it is financing terrorists in Syria. These comments were followed up by former MI6 spy chief Richard Dearlove’s statement in July that “substantial and sustained funding” for ISIS comes from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. At least 5 but probably dozens more prominent Qataris are involved in the financial pipeline to Al Qaeda affiliates.
  3. The 4,500 rockets fired by Hamas toward Israel from July to August were financed and supplied by Iran and Qatar, further calling into question the wisdom of Iranian nuclear negotiations and periodic U.S. communications through Qatari diplomats for outreach to the Taliban.
  4. A ban from Israel and a designation as a terrorist entity by the U.A.E. made 2014 an annus horribilus for Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). The world’s largest Islamic charity was also tarnished by revelations that its German subsidiary has worked with a Hamas-connected charity in Syria and that IRW’s U.S. subsidiary, IR-USA, was documented to have given $118,000 to terror-linked groups.
  5. Turkey’s role in financing terrorism spilled out into public view after paying $800 million to ISIS for oil. Turkey’s 2014 corruption scandal also revealed the extent of their involvement in Iranian sanctions evasion. Turkish president Erdogan’s support for Al Qaeda financier Yasin al-Qadi led his removal from U.S. terror blacklists.
  6. Arab Bank was found liable in Linde v. Arab Bank, PLC in September for funding 24 terrorist attacks by Hamas. The case sets a powerful legal precedent for victims’ families to seek justice against Middle Eastern banks involved in financing terror.
  7. A bill to declassify 28 pages of a Congressional report into 9/11 gained 20 new co-sponsors in 2014. The redactions deal with money given by Saudi officials and agents to the hijackers.
  8. Sharia banker and Islamist militant financier Mir Quasem Ali was sentenced to death by a war crimes tribunal in November for 8 torture sessions he oversaw against Bangladeshis in 1971. Ali’s involvement highlighted the intersection between Saudi money, violent Islamist groups, and sharia-compliant banking.
  9. Boko Haram kidnapped 200 girls in April, possibly for financial reasons, as suggested by Boko Haram’s demands for a ransom from the Nigerian government and from the girls’ families. Other motives include sex and household work and the prospect of money and prisoner swaps.
  10. An outspoken singer and fierce critic of terror finance, Saado Ali Warsame, was slain in Somalia in July. Warsame previously called upon fellow Somalis to refrain from using the remittance company Dahabshiil because of the firm’s role in funding terrorism. Warsame alleged before her death that the company offered a contract for her assassination.

Newer Money Jihad readers may also want to look back at our biggest stories of 2013, 2012, and 2011 to see how the threats are evolving over time.

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De-funding jihad from England: suggested reading

December 29, 2014

Here’s a round-up of news stories that we didn’t have time to cover in the latter half of 2014 about British authorities’ efforts to crackdown on fundraising for jihadists overseas…

  • The UK Charity Commission has frozen the bank account of Viva Palestina, an aid group that has delivered cash to Hamas (h/t El Grillo)… more>>
  • Police are trying to trace the network that raised the €20,000 for Amal El-Wahabi to send to her husband to fight infidels and apostates in Syriamore>>
  • British bureaucracy led to a two month delay in applying sanctions against Kuwaiti men who sent piles of money to the Islamic State (h/t BPA)… more>>
  • The Charity Commission is investigating 86 groups for terrorist financing risks, with 37 of them active in Syria… more>>
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Devil’s duo: FARC and Al Qaeda

December 28, 2014

New details have emerged on the long known transactions between South American drug cartels and Al Qaeda’s North African affiliate. Marxist FARC guerrillas have been named specifically again. From Magharebia earlier this month (h/t El Grillo):

AQIM partners with Colombian drug cartel

By Walid Ramzi in Algiers for Magharebia – 05/12/2014

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other Sahel terrorist groups are working with Colombian drug cartels, according to figures released by the United Nations.

Leaders of AQIM have met several times in the Sahel region with representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), International Business Times reported on Sunday (November 30th).

“Narco-jihadists” transport cargo by road through a triangle that includes the west of Libya, Niger, southern Algeria, Mali, and eastern Mauritania, the report said.

The newspaper cited statistics from the United Nations indicating that the Maghreb branch of al-Qaeda had received huge sums of money from such gangs, amounting to 15% of each gramme of cocaine sold by smugglers.

Drug dealing and smuggling, together with ransoms from kidnapping, are key sources of terror financing in the Sahel, an Algerian security source told Tout sur l’Algerie on Sunday.

Smugglers pay terrorist groups to provide secure passage of their drug convoys, from desert to coast, before the contraband is transported to Europe through organised crime networks…

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15 years prison for Saudi who funded al-Shabaab

December 27, 2014

A Saudi man who previously lived in California has been sentenced to 15 years in U.S. federal prison after transferring $11,000 to the Somali jihadist group al-Shabaab and for attempting to transfer another $13,000 to al-Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda offshoot in Syria.  Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed was a naturalized U.S. citizen residing in Saudi Arabia prior to his extradition to Florida for trial.  Note that the convict isn’t a small town Saudi peasant: he’s a computer scientist whose family had money for him to get a college degree and travel internationally.  From the Miami Herald with a hat tip to Jihad Watch:

…Mohammed and [co-conspirator Mohamed Hussein Said] met in Saudi Arabia in May 2011 and agreed to provide financial and other resources to an al-Qaida affiliate, al-Shabaab, which was seeking to overthrow the U.S.-backed transitional government in Somalia.

Through September of that year, Mohammed allegedly wired Said more than $11,000 via Western Union to back al-Shabaab, the indictment said.

In April 2012, the FBI undercover employee established online contact with Mohammed, according to the indictment. Mohammed arranged to send a series of Western Union wire transfers totaling more than $9,000 through November to the FBI employee. The funds were intended for another al-Qaida affiliate, the Nusra Front, which is fighting the government of President Bashar Assad in Syria.

Last December, Mohammed also met in person with a purported associate of the FBI undercover employee and gave him 14,400 Saudi Arabian riyals, worth about $3,800, which also was meant to support the Nusra Front, the indictment said.

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Jihad funding news: recommended reading

December 24, 2014
  • A Pakistani jihadist group’s front charity is now operating in Gazamore>>
  • How Sokolow v. Palestinian Liberation Organization could help bankrupt the PLOmore>>
  • Several countries have funded terrorists by paying ransoms to Al Qaeda; 6 those countries have been named… more>>
  • When it comes to financing terrorism, Qatar runs with the hare and hunts with the houndsmore>>
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SIMI takes page from Al Qaeda financial playbook

December 23, 2014

The Student Islamic Movement of India is copying old Al Qaeda financial tactics including forgery, counterfeiting, and keeping a stash cash on hand, according to South Asian news sources.  In and of itself this might not be so alarming considering that Al Qaeda central never made very much money relative to more “traditional” terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, but Al Qaeda’s ISIS stepchild has shown that major terrorist movements can spring from relatively humble financial origins.

Earlier this year we reported that SIMI may have amassed a $20 million nest egg for future operations.  Taken together, this news may suggest growing financial sophistication on SIMI’s part.  Would have blogged about this sooner but other news kept coming up. From TNN two months ago:

SIMI fugitives operated on al-Qaida pattern

They followed the methods mentioned in the al-Qaida training manual. The manual was first implemented by al-Qaida while bombing US embassy in Kenya in 1998. It was produced as evidence in the case’s trial by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2001. FBI had first seized it from the laptop of an alleged al-Qaida operative in Manchester in UK.

The manual has notes on counterfeiting and forgery, security measures for undercover activities, and strategies in the case of arrest and indictment.

The way Students Islamic Movement of India operatives functioned shows they followed the manual in toto, say investigators following them. It guides on details like location of the hideout, lifestyle to be followed by operatives and keeping sufficient cash ready. Police had recovered Rs 9 lakh [14K USD] the SIMI fugitives had handed over to two persons in Bijnor with the promise that they would collect the cash when required. The manual also cautions operatives against living together and that all of the group members need not be aware of where the others are holed up.

Al-Qaida has already announced its intention to revive Islamist terrorism, which has ebbed in India following a crackdown on Indian Mujahideen cadres. Now, SIMI elements are being warmed up to replace them. While IM supports the Iraq-based ISIS, the SIMI operatives have cozied up to al-Qaida.

In the recent past, there have been reports that Qaidat al-Jihad or al-Qaida in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), a new outfit of al-Qaida, is setting up roots in India by recruiting operatives from IM and SIMI, to use their network…

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Source of shoe bomber’s cash unclear

December 22, 2014

Today is the thirteenth anniversary of failed shoe bomber Richard Reid’s attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight. Reid purchased his plane ticket with $1,800 in cash. He is also said to have purchased the explosive materials in Amsterdam with $1,500 in cash. Reid also bought the high-top basketball shoes he used on the flight with cash.  He flew to Israel before flying to the U.S. as a test run with no public accounting of how that travel was funded.

As one website put it, “Perhaps someone can explain exactly how this part-time dishwasher came to have enough spare cash to travel to Israel on El Al airlines without a passport for ten days in July, then even more spare cash to buy an expensive airline ticket from Paris to Miami aboard American Airlines Flight 63?”

Somehow, Reid also had money during his initial incarceration to pay for a subscription to Time magazine.

Perhaps Reid had received bank wires from Al Qaeda interlocutors overseas to finance his travels, or cash handouts domestically in Britain from like-minded parishioners at the Finsbury Park Mosque in London—a hotbed of Islamist activity where Reid worshiped.