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30 sugar smugglers ID’d as al-Shabaab financiers

May 8, 2015

Money Jihad readers may recall that Kenya recently sanctioned 86 people and 13 money transfer companies for their financial ties to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. It has since been revealed that 30 of the sanctioned individuals are sugar smugglers. (Hat tips to Chris Pariso and El Grillo.)

The Star reports:

…A confidential government report seen by the Star says: “Most of the smuggled sugar enters the country [Kenya] from areas controlled by al Shabaab in Somalia. The sugar barons pay illegal levies (or protection fees) to al Shabaab, who in turn uses the proceeds to fund terrorist activities/operations…

Imposing taxes on businesses is a common al-Shabaab tactic. They do it on the charcoal supply chain, the telecommunications sector, the remittance industry, etc.  Sugar and charcoal tax rates are often based on the rate set for zakat in the Koran:  2½ percent.  Money Jihad has previously covered how lucrative the sugar trade has been for al-Shabaab here.

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Sordid money: recommended news reading

May 7, 2015
  • National security adviser:  millions of dollars are coming from the Arab Gulf to Canada to promote a “jihadist interpretation of the Qur’an”… more>>
  • Where is Iran getting U.S. currency that it sends to Hamas?  From Baghdad and the Kurdish region of Iraq… more>>
  • T. Boone Pickens:  There’s no need to negotiate with Iranian liars because “we do not need Mid-East oil” any longer.  The U.S. has plenty energy resources of its own… more>>
  • Former Guantanamo Bay detainees are seeking a housing allowance from the United States.  You see, their four-bedroom house in Montevideo isn’t spacious enough… more>>
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Iran pays $2m more to Gaza martyrs’ families

May 5, 2015

Al-Ansar Charity Association, a financial intermediary between Iran and the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, has announced through social media that it will distribute $2 million to the families of shahids (martyrs for Islam) who died while fighting Israel from 2000 to 2014. This money is over and above the $900,000 Al-Ansar promised in January to the families of terrorists who died fighting Israel during the latter half of 2014.

Al-Ansar’s background and their announcement were uncovered by this report from The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center last week (with thanks to @skinroller and @El_Grillo1):

  1. The Al-Ansar charity association operates in the Gaza Strip and is affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). It was founded during the second intifada (2001) and serves the Iranians as a pipeline for funds to finance terrorism in the Gaza Strip and as a way to increase Iran’s influence over the Gazan population. Al-Ansar supports the families of terrorists who were killed (“shaheeds”), families whose houses were destroyed, and families of terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israel. In the past, it also supported the families of shaheeds in Judea and Samaria, with the authorization and sponsorship of Mahmoud Abbas. It is uncertain if it continues to do so today, and if it does, how the funds are delivered (See Appendices A and B).
  2. The PIJ, the second most important Palestinian terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, is Iran’s preferred Palestinian terrorist organization. Iran supports the PIJ both financially and militarily (providing weapons, training, technological knowledge, etc.). Iran transfers large sums of money, up to several mission dollars a year, to the Al-Ansar charity association through the Palestinian branch of the Iranian Martyrs Foundation (established in Iran by the Ayatollah Khomeini to aid and support the families of Iranians killed in the Iran-Iraq War). The Iranian Martyrs Foundation has two branches in Lebanon, a Lebanese branch that supports Hezbollah and a Palestinian branch that supports Hamas and the PIJ (See Appendix B for information about the Iranian Martyr’s Foundation and its Palestinian branch). The funds for the Palestinians are probably transferred from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip by bank transfer but it is not clear which banks are involved.
  3. Since the days of the second intifada, the radical Islamist “charitable societies” operating in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria have served as pipelines for Iran to transfer funds to the Palestinian terrorist organizations. The money finances the terrorist organizations’ social network (mosques, educational institutions, support for the families of shaheeds), especially those of Hamas and the PIJ. Past experience has shown that the funds earmarked for the social network can easily be diverted to the military-terrorist wings of the various terrorist organizations. Thus the Iranian Islamic regime provided religious legitimacy for the money transferred to support Palestinian terrorism (according to the Ayatollah Khomeini, Muslim charity funds could be given to support the Palestinians).
  4. Al-Ansar, which receives funds from the Iranian Martyrs Foundation, was outlawed in Israel in 2003. It is headed by a PIJ activist named Nafez Othman Abd al-Rahman al-A’raj (Abu Suheib). His brother Omar al-A’raj was a senior PIJ military-terrorist operative, killed in 1996 during a Palestinian Authority (PA) attempt to detain him in the Gaza Strip. (Omar al-A’raj founded the PIJ’s military-terrorist network and was in charge of manufacturing IEDs for a series of deadly attacks carried out in Israel). In 2007 the Iranian Martyrs Foundation and its branches in Lebanon were designated as sponsors of terrorism by the United States Department of the Treasury because they provided Hezbollah, Hamas and the PIJ with financial support (See below).
  5. On April 12, 2015, the Al-Ansar charity association in the Gaza Strip announced that $2 million would be distributed among 5,000 families of Gazan shaheeds who had died between the beginning of the second intifada (2000) and June 31, 2014, that is, before the outbreak of Operation Protective Edge (Alansar.ps, April 12, 2015). On April 5, 2015, Al-Ansar said in a statement that the financial support was funded by the Palestinian branch of the Iranian Martyrs Foundation (Facebook page of Al-Ansar, April 5, 2015).
  6. On January 18, 2015, Al-Ansar in the Gaza Strip posted a notice on its Facebook page to Gazans whose family members had been killed in Operation Protective Edge and who had not yet registered with the society. They were requested to go to the Al-Ansar offices with a death certificate, a picture of the deceased, medical reports, and similar relevant documents, so that the transfer of funds could be arranged (Facebook page of Al-Ansar, February 11, 2005). In ITIC assessment, based on an average payment of $400 per family, the Iranian Martyrs Foundation can be expected to transfer an additional $900,000 for the families of Gazans killed in Operation Protective Edge (for approximately 2,200 families) once registration and bureaucratic procedures have been completed. Payment will mainly be made through branches of the post office in the Gaza Strip.
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ISIS money man describes 6-figure cash smuggling

May 4, 2015

Abu Hajjar, a high-ranking leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has explains how he distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to ISIS fighters in a recent interview with BBC Two.  Abu Hajjar also addresses what he calls the Islamic State’s principal source of revenue:  the taxation of businesses and commerce in the areas under ISIS’s control.  He concludes that ISIS will never run out of money as long as businesses are still operating in Iraq.

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Uganda’s police chief to probe remitters

May 3, 2015

The head of Uganda’s national police force said they will investigate money services businesses (MSBs) after Kenya suspended 13 MSBs alleged to finance the terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia. Several of those same companies operating in Somalia and Kenya also do business in Uganda.  Dahabshiil is probably the most prominent of the money transfer companies identified.

From the Kampala Observer via All Africa (h/t Chris Pariso):

Police chief Kale Kayihura has said they are to investigate transactions of money transfer companies here, after evidence in Kenya suggested that some were being used to channel money for financing terrorism.

Speaking in Kampala last week, Kayihura said some of the transfer companies under investigation in Kenya are affiliated to some institutions in Uganda. According to an April 14 gazette notice issued under Kenya’s Prevention of Terrorism Act and signed by police chief Joseph Boinnet, money transfer companies topped the list of 86 accounts alleged to fund terror groups.

The notable money transfer companies mentioned include Dahabshiil, which has agent locations and branches in 126 countries worldwide, including Uganda. Another mentioned company is Kendy Money Transfer Limited, which launched its money transfer services in Kenya last September…

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Spain looks to close gaps on hawala

May 1, 2015

Almost alone among EU countries, the U.S. State Department singled out Spain as facing “significant gaps” in identifying unlicensed hawala dealers in its annual narco-trafficking report. Hawala has been used to finance numerous Islamic terrorist attacks globally. The State Department said the following about Spain’s money laundering and financial crimes enforcement capabilities:

Spain has long combated both domestic and foreign terrorist organizations, and Spanish law enforcement entities have identified various threat finance vulnerabilities, including donations to finance nonprofit organizations; establishment of publishing companies that print and distribute books or periodicals for propaganda purposes; fraudulent tax and financial assistance collections; the establishment of “cultural associations;” and alternative remittance system transfers. Other outlets such as small convenience stores and communication centers that often offer wire transfer services, are used to move money in and out of Spain by making small international transfers for members of the immigrant community. Spanish regulators also note the presence of hawala networks in the Muslim community. While AML/CFT supervision of banks appears to be robust, significant gaps regarding the identification of unlicensed operators, and the supervision of money or value transfer services operating under EU passporting rules remain. In May 2014, Spain approved regulations to implement its 2010 AML/CFT law.

The report seems a little vague on the culprits behind the publishing companies and “fraudulent tax and financial assistance collections.” One might think the report refers to the last gasp of the Basques, but the references to international transfers, the immigrant community, and the hawala network suggest that Spanish officials are more concerned about vulnerabilities within the Muslim community.

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Money and terrorists: suggested news reading

April 30, 2015
  • An Iran nuclear deal could represent “the largest cash infusion to a state sponsor of terrorism in modern history“… more>>
  • Lebanon isn’t alone in the Middle East drug trade.  “ISIS and the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front are also able to develop their own hash-cash economy“… more>>
  • Six Somalis in Minnesota have been charged with supporting the ISIS. Among their activities: selling an old car to cover airfare to Syriamore>>
  • A U.S. company is enabling Hamas to mask its IP address, presumably in exchange for moneymore>>
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