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Of money and fundamentalism: news links

July 16, 2015
  • Man sentenced to 7 years for paying $2,450 toward a suicide bomb that wounded 300… more from Jihad Watch>>
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Afghan jihadists seek funds to help ISIS

July 14, 2015

Militants are using Afghanistan to raise money for the Islamic State terror group.  This assertion is coming from Afghan officials.  The officials could benefit from international security aid, so they may be a little biased.  But it’s hard to ignore them as ISIS has expanded its appeal around the globe.  It stands to reason that Central Asia jihadists might be looking for a champion with a more recent string of successes than the Taliban.  From Khaama Press on June 13 (h/t @skinroller):

ISIS affiliates in Afghanistan seeking financial help to rise: Ulomi

The Minister of Interior Noor-ul-Haq Ulomi said Saturday that the militants who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, are seeking financial support to maintain their operations in the country.

Presenting the ministry’s 100-Day plans and strategies, Ulomi said the ISIS affiliates include Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz nationals, Chechens, Turks and Uyghurs.

He said the ISIS affiliates are looking to create sanctuaries in Afghanistan considering the geographic interests of the country and by taking advantage of the ongoing violence.

Insisting on regional cooperation to curb the activities of the terror group, Ulomi warned it would be difficult to stop the terror group from spreading its activities if it gained a foothold in Afghanistan.

The remarks by Ulomi comes as the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Afghanistan would threaten neighboring Russia and China if the group gained a strong foothold in the country.

Karzai insisted that the rise of the terror group in Afghanistan would not be possible without the foreign backing. “So, if you hear ever in the coming days, or months, or years that Daesh is on the rise in Afghanistan, and is strong and expanding militarily, it will mean that it is a foreign-backed force intending to destabilize the region, particularly Central Asia, China and Russia,” he added.

On the other hand, the Afghan national security advisor Hanif Atmar said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group is looking to have access to drugs market by starting operations in Afghanistan…

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Loans by text pay jihadists’ way to Syria

July 13, 2015

Swedish Islamists are taking out loans through text message services to join the battle in Syria.  They use the borrowed funds to buy plane tickets, cars and, presumably, other equipment when they arrive.  Sweden’s security agency says that a majority of fighters’ travels are debt-financed.  Thus the lenders are violating the first rule of lending:  character.  What kind of screening are these small lenders performing on their borrowers?  So much for knowing your customer.

From The Local on June 22 (h/t Moscow Ghost):

SMS loans fund Syria terror trips from Sweden

Sweden’s Security Service (Säpo) has warned that growing numbers of muslims are funding trips to Syria with money secured via text message loans secured in Sweden.

Investigators working for the security service told Sveriges Radio that there had been a rise in people taking trips to the Middle East to fight alongside terror organisations such as Isis (also known as IS) over the last year, with growing numbers of visits funded by loans taken out in Sweden.

Martin Frimansson, an expert on terrorist funding at Säpo, explained that while some Swedes had borrowed money from banks or using Swedish credit cards, others had paid for their travel using SMS loans (money borrowed via text message from private companies) or made their way to Syria and Iraq using cars rented in Sweden.

According to Frimansson, a “clear majority” of trips were made possible due to loans, although he did not give any specific figures.

He suggested that some Swedes were also taking out loans in order to raise their status within Isis or other terror groups.

“It could be that if you have a car and money…you automatically become a team leader. If you have no money when you arrive, no car or anything – then maybe you’ll be the ambulance driver,” he said.

By law, credit companies and banks are required to adhere to a range of measures designed to prevent the financing of terror activities, but according to Säpo the trend for Swedes borrowing money for suspect trips to the Middle East suggests that much more needs to be done.

The security service is calling on lenders to file reports on people who are failing to repay their loans more quickly and to be stricter about who they lend money to in the first place.

“They are the first hurdle to stopping terrorist financing. It is a big responsibility,” said Frimansson.

In April, Säpo told The Local there was “very little” it could do to stop people travelling to Syria to join al-Qaeda inspired groups, as EU officials estimated up to 6,000 people from across Europe have now fought in the war-torn nation.

It confirmed that at least 150 Swedish residents were known to have been to Syria or Iraq to fight for Isis or other extremist groups, with intelligence suggesting that at least 35 had died in the process.

Earlier this year, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad also told Sweden’s tabloid newspaper Expressen that he believed some of “the most dangerous leaders of Daesh and Isis in our region are Scandinavian”…

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Kenya puts al-Shabaab on sugar-free diet

July 12, 2015

Kenya is tightening the screws against the multi-million sugar smuggling business that profits al-Shabaab across the border in Somalia.  (See here and here for prior coverage of al-Shabaab’s sugar business.)  The surprising thing about this report is the quotation from a security source who described the crackdown by saying, “It’s like the government is awakening.”  Money Jihad believed that the Kenyan government was one of the few entities that have taken the threat of al-Shabaab seriously, and that they have taken steps before to reduce the flow of money to the terror group over the past several years.  Whatever the case, it would be more significant if the Gulf states, which are some of the biggest buyers of Somali contraband, joined Kenya on operations like this.  But don’t hold your breath for that.

From Midnimo last month (h/t El Grillo):

Somalia: Kenya wages war on smugglers who fund Somali Islamist militants

When Kenyan police arrested six men in the vast Dadaab refugee camp near the Somali border last April, their ultimate aim was to dismantle a decades-old sugar smuggling trade that is funding Somali militants waging war on Kenya.

The arrests, coming weeks after four al Shabaab gunmen massacred 148 people at nearby Garissa university, were part of Nairobi’s new strategy to choke off the flow of money to Islamists whose cross-border raids have hammered Kenya and its tourism industry.

While cash from sugar smuggling may amount to only a few million dollars, experts say such sums are enough for attacks that need just a few assault rifles, transport and loyalists ready to die – such as the Garissa raid or the 2013 assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall that killed 67 people.

“It’s like the government is awakening,” said a senior Kenyan security source from Garissa region, adding the authorities had previously often “turned a blind eye to all these things because a lot of people were benefiting – but at a cost of security.”

However if a lasting impact is to be secured more must be done, say security and diplomatic sources. That includes rooting out corruption in the police force and going after smuggling cartel bosses as well as the middle men detained so far.

The move to tackle the cross-border trade may prove as vital as the military offensive against al Shabaab inside Somalia by African Union peacekeepers and Somali soldiers that has pushed the group into smaller pockets of territory…

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Turkey’s 2014 surge of exports to Syria coincided with surge of of ISIS

July 10, 2015

A recent research paper on the Syrian economy included an instructive revelation.  Chatham House fellow Hayder al-Khoei drew special attention in a tweet to the off-hand but crucial finding in the report: that Syria’s economy grew 80 percent in 2014 due to a spike in Turkish imports that coincided with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  Specifically, the report found:

… It is not clear what caused this surge in Turkish exports, but it coincided with the height of the advances by ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, and some of the additional sales could have been accounted for by additional procurement from Turkey by ISIS – for example steel pipes and sections for oil refining projects…  (p. 26)

It won’t be proven in a court of law, but it is clear what Chatham House is suggesting.  It is clear what readers will take from this.  And it has been clear for some time that ISIS would not have been able to surge to such a dominant position in Iraq without extensive cross-border Turkish support.  Money Jihad reported on the very phenomenon of Turkey’s contributions to ISIS almost to the day one year ago.

Hat tip to Moscow Ghost.

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China fails to fool FATF body on Pakistan’s terror financing

July 9, 2015

India has blocked a Chinese maneuver within the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering to white-list Pakistan.

That would be the same Pakistan that created the Taliban, harbored Osama bin Laden, and is probably protecting terrorist fat cat Dawood Ibrahim.  Pakistan funnels millions of dollars through its ISI spy service to terrorist and militant groups in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and beyond.  Pakistan is well-known for corruption, graft, and slipshod tax administration.  China sought to shield Pakistan from any scrutiny of its abysmal counter-terror finance and anti-money laundering programs purely for geopolitical purposes.  Kudos to India for keeping the pressure on.

From TNN on June 30 (hat tip @TerrorismWatch):

India blocks China’s bid to save Pakistan on terror finance scrutiny

NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s enforcement of UN financial sanctions against terrorism will be closely monitored by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) through its associate body, the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), after India successfully blocked China’s attempt at a recent FATF meet in Brisbane to save non-FATF member Pakistan from such scrutiny.

FATF is a policy-making body whose objectives include setting standards to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism and supporting implementation of these standards. APG on money laundering, somewhat of a mini-FATF of which Pakistan is a member, is committed to the effective implementation and enforcement of standards set by FATF.

According to sources in the government, India, with the support of allies like the US, managed to derail China’s bid which was backed by Australia to shield Pakistan on terror financing. The FATF meet agreed with India’s argument that Pakistan, despite not being part of FATF, was part of APG which works in close collaboration with FATF, and its enforcement of targeted financial sanctions against terrorism should be subject to monitoring by FATF through the APG.

At the FATF meeting last week, India and the US spoke up against Pakistan’s lack of conviction in implementing anti-terror financial sanctions by freezing assets or attaching properties of 26/11 masterminds Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and 1993 Mumbai blasts accused Dawood Ibrahim etc. China, however, argued that Pakistan was doing enough and reporting on the action taken to APG.

India was not satisfied with the report submitted by Pakistan to APG as it listed only unnamed accounts, without identifying their origins and their implications for the group’s functioning. This was despite India furnishing enough details on Falah-e-Insaniyat, linked to LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawah, publicly raising funds. Similar fund-raising at Hafiz Saeed’s rallies was also highlighted.

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Shin Bet busts Hamas cell’s gold scheme

July 7, 2015

Forty members of a Hamas cell in Nablus, Israel, have been arrested by Israel’s domestic security service.  Shin Bet found the equivalent of $1 million in cash and gold during their raid on the cell.  Hamas operatives intended to buy night vision goggles and other equipment to terrorize Jews.  From The Times of Israel on Jul. 1 (hat tip to El Grillo):

Large, gold-funded Hamas cell uncovered in West Bank, Shin Bet says
Israel’s security agency breaks a 40-strong cell in the Nablus region, foiling a terror attack in the making

Israel’s domestic security service said Wednesday it had revealed and arrested members of a 40-person Hamas cell in the Nablus region of the West Bank, foiling an attack still in the planning stage and breaking apart a community-wide infrastructure.

The arrests, conducted over the past months, were made public amid a rise in terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and corresponding calls from settlers to increase the Israeli army’s preventative actions in the region.

Over the past 10 days there have been four shootings and two stabbings, claiming the lives of Israelis Danny Gonen and Malachi Rosenfeld and wounding several more.

The Shin Bet said the Nablus cells were run from Qatar, by Hussam Badran, a Hamas spokesperson and a native of Nablus.

Budran, operating under Saleh al-Arouri, the Turkey-based head of Hamas operations in the West Bank, sent messages to the operatives in Nablus via “email channels,” the Shin Bet said, apparently referring to non-direct messages, and laundered the money into gold jewelry transported into the West Bank from Jordan.

Anan Fatuah and Samih Aliwi, West Bank shop-owners, allegedly received cash from a Nablus couple that had traveled to Jordan for medical care but were, in fact, a forward unit of Hamas. The couple, Bassam and Mona Sayih, allegedly transferred the funds to Fatuah, who bought gold in Jordan and sold it along with Aliwi in their shop, funneling the money to Hamas operatives.

The Shin Bet and police said they found NIS four million (roughly one million dollars) in cash and gold during the arrests.

The 40-person infrastructure engaged in a wide range of activity, from education to media to charity, and was in the process of planning a terror attack.

Two of the arrested, Anas Abbas and Taufiq Sualmeh, admitted under questioning to planning a terror attack and buying night vision goggles to further the execution of that plan. They allegedly were in contact with operatives from Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC terror organization in Syria…

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