Archive for January, 2015

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Outfoxing jihadi financiers: news reading tips

January 29, 2015
  • American banks have begun breaking off their old love affair with Arab banks… more>>
  • A Democrat congressman recently planned to speak at an event with a Taliban fundraiser… more>>
  • Too often, organized smuggling networks simply aren’t prosecuted… more>>
  • A Pakistani boatload of terrorists self-detonated off India’s waters. Most Indian media and officials agree that a terrorist plot was foiled in the process, except for the Indian Express which claimed the offenders were just petty smugglers. A blogger carefully dismantles the Indian Express’s version of events… more>>
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Publicity stunt: ISIS’s $200m ransom demand

January 27, 2015

Ransom demands by jihadist groups for the release of Western hostages have been averaging about $8 million per hostage over the last couple years. The $200 million recently demanded by ISIS to spare the lives of two Japanese captives was 12 times higher than the going rate. The $200 million amount also coincides with the amount of money that Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe had just offered in aid to Middle Eastern countries fighting ISIS, and ISIS has as much as said that their demand is tit-for-tat. Thirdly, this is the first public demand for ransom by ISIS representing a departure from their standard practice of demanding dollar figures through back channels.  Lastly, one of the hostages has probably already been killed, suggesting that ISIS never intended to offer enough time for Japan to negotiate further much less actually deliver the money.

For these reasons, it is far likelier that the $200 million ransom demand was more symbolic than serious, and that ISIS probably never expected to cash in on this demand. Why not?  Eugenio Lilli offers an explanation to The Telegraph:

…In the context of this struggle for influence, Isil’s new strategy of demanding a costly ransom could be partly explained as an escalation of the propaganda war after gunmen reportedly affiliated to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) killed 12 people in an attack against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The Charlie Hebdo attack gave al-Qaeda huge international exposure. An explicit request for a ransom could be Isil’s attempt to make the news and regain some lost terrain…

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Israel shutters 3 Islamic Movement front charities

January 26, 2015

Ruad Al-Aqsa, the Al-Jaffar Fund, and Muslims for Al-Aqsa Association have been raided and closed by Israeli authorities for financing Hamas affiliates. News reports like this demonstrate the importance of Western donors conducting due diligence prior to partnering with pro-Palestinian “charities.” We are presented with a series of shell charities that, on the surface are distant from Hamas, but in reality are staffed by the same employees who work directly for Hamas and their “charitable” institutions.

Hat tip to Rushette. From Israel Hayom on Jan. 13:

Shin Bet closes 3 Muslim charities over alleged terror ties

Police, Shin Bet security agency shut down three Muslim associations deemed unlawful for inciting violence in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount • Organizations suspected of financing terrorist activity, including groups affiliated with Hamas.

The Shin Bet security agency on Monday shut down three Muslim charities that authorities believe incited violence against Jews and Israeli security forces, especially in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount. The move followed a decision by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who outlawed all three groups in late December based on the Shin Bet’s recommendations.

A joint statement by the Shin Bet and police Lahav 433 Major Crimes Unit identified the organizations as Ruad Al-Aqsa, the Al-Jaffar Fund for Art and Literature, and the Nazareth-based Muslims for Al-Aqsa Association.

The organizations, which were formed in October 2014 by the radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, are also suspected of financing terrorist activity, including groups affiliated with Hamas, Agence France-Presse said.

“These groups were formed with aim of funding activities meant to undercut the security of visitors to the Temple Mount, and to inflame tensions and prompt [public] disturbances, while undermining Israel’s sovereignty on the compound,” the Shin Bet said.

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$1 million in Afghan smuggling a day

January 25, 2015

A hundred million Pakistani rupees (roughly 1 million USD) worth of merchandise is smuggled out of Afghanistan through the Afghan Trade Transit (ATT) corridor with Pakistan every day according to check-post and customs officials. In their 2010 book On the Trail of Terror Finance, John Cassara and Avi Jorisch wrote that the ATT “has resulted in massive smuggling and trade fraud, and it continues to facilitate the laundering of narcotics proceeds that help finance the Taliban.” ATT smuggling serves as another arrow in the Taliban’s quiver as U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan draws down.

From Customs Today:

Smuggling of Rs 100m carried out daily thru Afghan Transit route: sources

Reported by: Sohail Rab December 25, 2014

KARACHI: The smuggling of around Rs 100 million is being carried out daily through Afghan Transit Trade (ATT), it was learnt here.

The highly informed sources while sharing their views with Customs Today have disclosed that 95 percent of smuggling of goods including tiles, diesel, cloths, tea, tyres and others is being carried out through Afghan Transit Trade.

The sources revealed that ‘Sheela Bagh’ check-post near Chaman border is among one of the burning spots where the smuggled goods are being transported to Quetta and then Karachi while the smuggled goods are also being loaded on the retrograde containers on returning from Afghanistan near ‘Waish’ Border.

They further disclosed that the smugglers have strong nexus with the security personnel of Frontier Constabulary (FC) and Customs officials at different check-posts and the biltee of smuggled consignments under the smugglers’ name is being cleared from different check-posts easily without any checking.

The sources claimed that 60per cent of smuggling would be curtailed, if strict surveillance and vigilance would be conducted at ‘Sheela Bagh check-post near Chaman Border. They further recommended the authorities concerned of FBR to form joint examination teams comprising of the personnel of Pakistan Customs, Coast Guards and Rangers at National Highway, RCD and Superhighway in order to eliminate smuggling of goods. They further said that the Quetta to Karachi Bus Terminal and Northern Bypass are two more “deliberately” vulnerable spots where the smuggled goods are easily coming into Karachi…

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How extortion dropped 50% in Mexican town

January 23, 2015

Authorities report that complaints of extortion in Nezahualcóyotl, a city on the outskirts of Mexico City, fell from 172 in 2013 to 86 in 2014. Police chief Jorge Amador attributes the decline to prevention and guidance for the public about how to defend themselves from extortion attempts. Education is especially useful in combating telephone extortion (also known as virtual kidnapping schemes) in which the callers pretend to have carried out a kidnapping of a loved one and demand payment of a real ransom.

U.S. officials have begun catching onto the spreading threat as well. The FBI, New York City, and law enforcement in Texas have been trying to tell people how to deal with extortion threats by phone. That’s a step in the right direction because, if the numbers and explanation for the decline in the Nezahualcóyotl case are true, a public awareness campaign will help stop this outrageous scheme.

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Crime, sport, and jihad: suggested news reading

January 22, 2015
  • The feds have fined MoneyGram’s former chief compliance officer personally for $1 million for “willful” anti-money laundering failuresmore>>
  • U.S. blacklists soccer team due to drug trafficking by its owner… more>>
  • Citing “extremist” links, Britain ends taxpayer grants to the Muslim Charities Forummore>>
  • Human trafficking has become a standard business practice for terrorist groups… more>>
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Police probe Kouachi’s counterfeit connections

January 20, 2015

Sales of counterfeit goods by Charlie Hebdo attacker Cherif Kouachi helped fund the purchase of weapons,” according to a CNN source. The LA Times reports that Cherif Kouachi began “trafficking in counterfeit clothing and shoes” after his release from jail.

The revelations point to an additional, possible source of revenue behind the terrorist attacks in Paris against Charlie Hebdo’s offices and the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery beyond what has previously been reported. Cherif Kouachi is also said to have received $20,000 from AQAP before leaving Yemen, and fellow terror cell member Amedy Coulibaly purchased several of the weapons used during the attacks drawing from a $7,000 personal loan and possibly by trading in a car. Weapons possessed by the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly had a reported street value of 27,000 euros.

An associate of Cherif Kouachi, Fritz-Joly Joachim, was arrested in Bulgaria earlier this year, and has since been charged with conspiring with Kouachi in terrorism. A Muslim convert from Haiti with French citizenship, Joachim was arrested while trying to cross the border into Turkey for possible follow-on travel into Syria. Joachim told French television that his dealings with Kouachi were strictly business: “We sold clothes together, shoes, it was just a business connection.” The reporter who interviewed him amplified on those comments, telling Radio Bulgaria that the Kouachi-Joachim business was “re-sale of clothes and shoes across Paris suburbs.”

Connecting the dots between all the reports, it is probable that investigators believe that Kouachi and Joachim were selling knockoffs, and that the money Kouachi made from the sales ultimately helped supplement the funding of the Paris attacks. This wouldn’t be the first time that counterfeit clothes in Europe have been exploited by Islamists: two imams were arrested in for their involvement in a multi-million dollar counterfeit clothing operation in Spain in December 2013.

That being said, while investigators pour over the details of Cherif Kouachi’s finances, we shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture of money and training by AQAP in Yemen.