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Assad funds his own enemies

December 31, 2015

The regime of Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad is buying millions of dollars in oil from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Maybe years of sanctions against Syria have backfired in that Assad doesn’t have too many other willing sellers. This business relationship between Assad and ISIS helps explain the protracted nature of the conflict.

That, and we’ve been too slow to recognize that Assad may be the lesser priority evil in the region. The thinking in fashionable circles in D.C. for the last couple years was to defeat Assad then defeat ISIS. It may be a better idea to let him defeat ISIS and then reassess.

Here’s a telling excerpt from an interview by NPR’s Renee Montagne with Treasury official Adam Szubin (h/t El Grillo):

…MONTAGNE: I think it will amaze listeners to hear that a great deal of the oil paying for the Islamic State’s war is going to the regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the very person he’s fighting. You’ve been quoted as saying the two are trying to slaughter each other, and they are still engaged in millions of dollars of trade. What is going on there? Are they functionally partners?

SZUBIN: I wouldn’t call them partners. Clearly they’re adversaries on the battlefield, but necessity makes some strange bedfellows. And in this instance, the Syrian regime is very hungry for gas and also for oil. And they don’t mind seemingly purchasing some of it from ISIL…

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Paks recall diplomat over alleged terror funding

December 28, 2015

Normally Pakistan would have given an award to such a person. Maybe the recall of the diplomat in question is a sign of progress. But likelier than not, her patrons in Islamabad are probably irate that she got herself caught. She allegedly gave $385 to an operative of the jihadist group JMB. From BD News 24 (h/t Ranel):

Pakistan withdraws ‘terror-link’ tainted diplomat from Bangladesh

Senior Correspondent,  bdnews24.com

Published: 2015-12-23

Pakistan has recalled its Second Secretary (Political) at the High Commission in Dhaka after allegations of her ties to terrorism in Bangladesh surfaced.

Md Shahidul Islam, an immigration officer at Shahjalal International Airport, told bdnews24.com that Fareena Arshad left Dhaka in a Pakistan International Airlines flight at 1:35pm on Wednesday.

Earlier in January this year, Mazhar Khan, another Pakistani official working in the Dhaka mission, had been expelled after Bangladesh intelligence accused him of funding Islamist radicals and peddling fake currency.

Detective Branch of police recently claimed to have ‘found evidence of Fareena Arshad’s terror links’ based on information revealed during the interrogation of several arrested members of Jama’atul Majahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

One JMB member, Idris Sheikh, also mentioned the links in a confessional statement at a Dhaka court, they said.

Sheikh, who was once involved in politics in Pakistan, in the statement said he was in touch with the female diplomat and had received Tk 30,000 from her…

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ISIS makes as much from taxes as oil

December 23, 2015

The Financial Times has conducted an investigation of the finances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  They concluded that ISIS makes “at least as much” money from taxation and extortion as they do from oil.  This is basically what Money Jihad has been pointing out about militant Islamist groups since the inception of this blog.  Jihadists that control territory tend to “live off the land.”  Traditional Islamic law gives them ample justification or cover for this behavior.

From FT on Dec. 14 (h/t El Grillo):

Even under jihadi rule, death and taxes remain the two great certainties of life. Some learn that the hard way.

As Isis officials announced a religious tithe known as zakat last summer, Mansour, a 26-year-old grocery storekeeper in eastern Syria, stalled payment while he tried to cook his books.

A week later, four Isis officials stormed into his shop, ordered him outside, and tallied the bill themselves — to his dismay they based their calculation on the retail price of his stock. There were no price tags on the tinned beef, so one tax collector rode around town on his motorbike comparing canned beef prices in other stores.

Five hours later, the audit was complete. The bill: 32,500 Syrian lira (about $108).

“They told me, ‘You liar . . . How will victory be achieved if you’re not paying zakat?’” Mansour told the Financial Times via an internet site. Like all those from Isis territory who were interviewed by the FT, Mansour requested that his real name be withheld for his safety.

Syria’s oil may ostensibly be the militant group’s most profitable resource but even if US, French and Russian planes succeed in trying to bring down its crude production, local revenues like taxes could keep the Isis economy churning. An FT investigation indicates Isis earns at least as much from taxation, extortion and confiscation as oil…

Read the rest of the FT article here which includes much more detail than the excerpt above.

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Suspect in Maryland took money for jihad

December 21, 2015

Mohamed Elshinawy, a Maryland resident, received $1,000 from a terrorist suspect in Egypt through Western Union.  That caught the attention of investigators.  They learned that Elshinaway had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  They also watched while Elshinawy accepted another $8K that he believed was money from ISIS to help him carry out a terrorist attack in the United States.  Elshinawy now claims that he was simply trying to defraud ISIS.  Yeah, because stealing money from an international terrorist organization is the smartest way to make a little cash on the side…

From the Baltimore Sun on Dec. 14:

Feds: Edgewood man pledged allegiance to Islamic State, received funds from Egypt

A Harford County man pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State and received thousands of dollars from overseas to carry out an attack, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Mohamed Elshinawy, 30, of Edgewood was arrested Friday on charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and other offenses, federal prosecutors said.

The criminal complaint filed against Elshinawy lays out extensive communications the FBI says he had with contacts overseas and alleges he received at least $8,700 he believed was from the Islamic State terror group, sometimes called ISIL.

“When confronted by the FBI, he lied in order to conceal his support for ISIL and the steps he took to provide material support to the deadly foreign terrorist organization,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General John P. Carlin said in a statement.

“He will now be held accountable for these crimes.”

It is not clear in court papers if prosecutors believe the money wired to him was from the terrorist group or from a sympathizer.

Federal authorities have brought charges against dozens of people they say are Islamic State supporters, but terrorism analysts said the allegation that Elshinawy might have received funding from the group is new.

Michael Greenberger, director of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, said the charges represent another example of ISIL’s reach from its bases in the Middle East and the group’s hope to cause mayhem in the United States.

“It appears they have enough money to be able to set out a lot of lures, hoping that one lure will catch somebody who’s willing to engage in dangerous activity,” Greenberger said.

A couple who investigators believe were inspired by ISIL killed 14 people in a shooting rampage this month at a government facility in San Bernardino, Calif. The group, which controls territory in Syria and Iraq, has claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed scores in Paris, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.

Elshinawy is the first person to be charged by federal prosecutors in Maryland for alleged ties to the group. It was unclear Monday where he was being held.

No one answered the door Monday afternoon at his address, a townhouse in the 300 block of McCann St. in a neighborhood called Harford Commons, which has several blocks of identical green-and-white one-story homes. A neighbor said she had seen FBI agents in the area but assumed it had to do with drug dealing rather than a terrorism case.

Agents first interviewed Elshinawy in July, after learning about a suspicious $1,000 wire transfer he received from Egypt, according to the criminal complaint.

Elshinawy initially said the money was from his mother before changing his story and admitting he had been in contact with a childhood friend who had been arrested in Egypt on terror charges, an FBI agent wrote in the complaint. The friend had fled to Syria, but Elshinawy said the friend put him in touch with an ISIL operative who sent the money, the FBI says.

Elshinawy said the operative did not give him any guidance on how to carry out an attack but cited the shooting at a contest featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas, as an example, according to the FBI…

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Hamas-funding bank wins one appeal

December 16, 2015

Arab Bank PLC had to settle with the victims of terrorist attacks that it helped fund.  But Arab Bank has won an appeal in a separate but related case.  One of the laws used by lawyers who seek compensation for the victims of human rights abuses or terrorism overseas is the Alien Tort Statute.  An appellate court has sided with a lower court that the ATS does not apply in this particular case.  This is an unfortunate development in the legal fight to bankrupt terrorism, but there are still other legal recourses available.

From Courthouse News last week:

MANHATTAN (CN) – Months after Arab Bank settled an anti-terrorism lawsuit filed by U.S. citizens, the Second Circuit refused today to revive a different case the bank faced by foreigners whose families were maimed or killed in attacks on Israel.

Following suicide bombings on Israeli civilians between 2000 and 2004, families of the victims brought lawsuits in U.S. federal courts against Arab Bank and other institutions they accused of supporting terrorists.

The U.S. citizen victims won a verdict holding Arab Bank liable for the attacks last year, and then reached a confidential settlement with the Amman, Jordan-based bank days before the start of another trial to determine damages.

Still keeping mum on those terms, the bank contests reports that it agreed to pay the families $1 billion.

Arab Bank still faced a lawsuit in Manhattan by foreign citizens killed in those attacks, but the Second Circuit ruled Tuesday that this case fails under the Alien Tort Statute…

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Warsame’s son sues remittance company

December 14, 2015

The son of the assassinated politician and singing star Saado Ali Warsame is seeking justice by suing the remittance company Dahabshiil.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the lawsuit is for Dahabshiil “allegedly paying a bounty on her [Warsame’s] life.”  Warsame had discouraged the Somali diaspora from using Dahabshiil to wire money home, because she believed the money services business promoted tribal factionalism and terrorism.  Warsame was shot dead in Mogadishu in 2014.

Prior Money Jihad coverage of the assassination of Warsame and the record of Dahabshiil is here, here, here, and here.  Dahabshiil denies claims of financing terrorism.

Joshua Arisohn of the law firm Bursor & Fisher is representing Warsame’s son, Harbi Hussein.  Kudos to Hussein for the same courage and fight exhibited by his mother, and to Arisohn for taking on this crucial case.  Credit should also go to the Star Tribune and journalist Abby Simons for reporting on this lawsuit.

Since some articles that are critical of Dahabshiil tend to disappear or get bumped down in Google search results, Money Jihad is reprinting most of the Dec. 11 article from the Star Tribune below:

Son of slain Somali political activist sues money-transfer business over bounty

Case alleges that big money-transfer firm helped fund the killers.

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Wildlife smuggling is big business

December 11, 2015

The illegal wildlife trade could become as big as the drug trade, according to this recent Seeker Stories video:

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