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The Terror Finance Blog returns

February 20, 2015

The Terror Finance Blog is back up and running after domain problems over the past several months.  The new URL is http://www.terrorfinanceblog.com .  Please visit the website and update your bookmarks, favorites, or blog rolls. TTFB has been a key source of information and analysis of terror finance issues since 2006.  Money Jihad blogger A.D. Kendall has been a contributing expert with TTFB since March 2014.

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Dark money news: recommended reading

February 19, 2015
  • Names of three Golden Chain donors to Al Qaeda are said to have shown up on list of Swiss bank account holders… more>>
  • Billions are invested into the financial technologies of tomorrow while pennies are spent on security… more>>
  • Not persuaded that some diplomats launder money? The FBI says a former ambassador from Venezuela raised funds for Hezbollah while in office… more>>
  • Weapons smuggling is the target of recurring U.S. sanctions against small, obscure Iranian companies… more>>
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Ted Talk: Hawala focus distracts from Gulf donors

February 17, 2015

Following 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, concerns about the use of hawala in terror finance schemes led Coalition forces and the new Afghan government to refrain from paying Afghan troop wages through hawala, although no other formal banking or payroll system was available at the time. Dr. Edwina Thompson argues that the preoccupation with hawala also distracted Coalition partners from confronting the true source of terror finance:  Gulf donors.

Here’s Thompson’s recent TEDxClapham talk on the subject.  Pay particular attention to minutes 11-14.  But watch the whole video—it includes Thompson’s reflection on her own near abduction by militants while doing research in Jalalabad:

The point is well made. As Money Jihad has often said, hawala is not a source of financing terrorism, it is a method. We can regulate or eliminate methods, but determined sources of financing will find other ways of transferring value unless we stop those donors where they live.

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Where the D.C. sniper got his money

February 16, 2015

Thirteen years ago today, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo began a series of shootings that would culminate with the Washington, D.C.-area sniper killings of October 2002. Their first victim was a then 21-year-old Keenya Cook, who survived a point blank gunshot to the head in Washington state in February 2002.

Livelihood before the killing spree

Muhammad served in the U.S. military from 1978 to 1994. With 17 years in service, he would have been three years shy of receiving an Army pension. As a civilian in the 1990s, Muhammad tried to make ends meet by starting a business, but the Washington Post called Muhammad “a serial loser” and “failed businessman whose karate school and car-repair business went bust.” He had hoped to teach karate to Muslim boys but there wasn’t enough demand.

In 1994, Muhammad began attending Nation of Islam meetings, and formally joined in 1997. The Nation of Islam Muhammad denied that Muhammad served as a paid security guard during the Million Man March in 1995, and said it ultimately “lost contact” with Muhammad in 1999.

Around that time, Muhammad traveled to Antigua, where he began making money by forging citizenship documents for Jamaicans at $3,000 per set. The buyers would use these forged documents to gain entry into the U.S. This is how Muhammad met Malvo, a Jamaican teen attempting to immigrate illegally into the U.S.

2002

After shooting Keenya Cook, unemployed drifters Muhammad and Malvo left Washington on a cross-country odyssey until their main shooting spree in the fall. How did they pay for basic necessities and travel? The answer is probably through crime.

For example, Muhammad stole steaks from a grocery store in February. He and Malvo lived in homeless shelters. In March of that year, the pair stole a credit card from a Greyhound bus driver in Arizona. (Muhammad didn’t use this card for any expenses except for a $12 purchase at a gas station. But it was Muhammad’s intention to use this stolen account to receive a future ransom from authorities in exchange for stopping the October shootings.) In August, Malvo stole the wallet of one of their shooting victims in Louisiana. In September they robbed a liquor store in Alabama.

DC sniper attacks

Muhammad had larger ambitions than sleeping in cars and eating stolen food for the rest of his life. According to Malvo, Muhammad wanted to establish a terrorist training camp for orphans and homeless boys. Muhammad believed that he could blackmail the authorities to give him $10 million to stop his killing spree. With that $10 million, he and Malvo would flee to Canada and build their encampment there. Prosecutors discounted this theory, alleging instead that Muhammad mainly wanted to regain custody of his children from his ex-wife, but the judge found that motive implausible.

Here’s an excerpt from the $10 million ransom note Muhammad left for police in the middle of his killing spree:

Letter from the D.C. sniper

While there is no evidence of foreign sponsorship behind the D.C. sniper’s attacks, it is worth noting that the Taliban came into existence by recruiting from orphanages and madrassas in Pakistan. Like them, Muhammad somehow got the idea that starting such a camp would be a goal worth killing for. Law enforcement said that Muhammad “modeled himself” after Osama Bin Laden.

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IRA surviving on tobacco fumes

February 15, 2015

Two ex-IRA members have been arrested in the Canary Islands for a money laundering scheme involving at least 10 million euros. Like other IRA has-beens, the culprits seem to have shifted from crimes for a cause to crimes for profit. Or is the IRA’s “next generation” building a nest egg for a comeback?

Hat tip to El Grillo from Agence France-Presse last month:

Two ex-IRA members arrested in Spain for smuggling

Madrid (AFP) – Two former members of the Irish Republican Army were arrested in Spain during a sweep on an alleged tobacco and alcohol smuggling racket, police said Monday.

A Spanish police spokesman told AFP the ex-IRA members arrested for heading the network were Leonard Hardy, 53, and his wife Donna Maria Elizabeth Hardy, 48, both of whom were convicted of a 1989 bombing of a British army barracks in Germany.

The couple was arrested in Lanzarote on the Canary Islands on December 29 with five accomplices as part of coordinated sweeps in Las Palmas, Alicante, Malaga and Murcia, a police statement said.

“They led an organisation smuggling tobacco and alcohol, and laundered money through the acquisition of buildings,” the statement said, adding that an estimated 10.5 million euros ($12.5 million) worth of real estate had been involved.

High Court judge Pablo Ruz charged the couple with money laundering, smuggling and the funding of terrorism linked to the IRA, a judicial source said.

He ordered that Leonard Hardy be jailed while the investigation continued while the wife was released under judicial supervision so she could look after the couple’s children in Britain, the source added.

Spanish officials froze additional property assets worth more than 5.5 million euros ($6.5 million), and 90 bank accounts and investment portfolios in Spain…

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Senator calls for halal financial transparency

February 13, 2015

Questioning whether the halal industry in Australia may be financing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Sen. Jacqui Lambie is introducing a bill mandating disclosure of halal certification fees and creating a formal reporting mechanism for misuse of halal certification money. Given the documented intersections between halal certification boards and the financing of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, this bill would be an important step in the right direction for all Western democracies, including individual American state legislatures, to consider adopting.

From the Australian Associated Press (AAP) on Feb. 10 (h/t El Grillo):

‘Halal money’ funds terrorism: Lambie

Independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has questioned whether halal certification funds militants in Syria and Iraq.

Jacqui Lambie is threatening to introduce a private senator’s bill to stop what she believes is “halal money” funding terrorist group Islamic State.

In a late-night address to the upper house on Tuesday, the outspoken independent senator questioned whether halal certification funds militants in Syria and Iraq.

She said she was prompted to look into the issue after receiving hundreds of emails from concerned residents.

A study the Tasmanian senator commissioned the parliamentary library to examine exposed some “surprising facts” that alarmed her.

Certifiers are not legally required to disclose their fees, nor is there a formal reporting or auditing system to ascertain whether funds are being misused, she says.

“Given that our enemies in Islamic State are receiving a steady cashflow to control their caliphate in Syria and Iraq, why isn’t there a legal requirement in Australia for halal certification fees to be disclosed?” Senator Lambie said.

“And given that our nation is on high terrorism alert, while hundreds of Australian Islamic State sympathisers are fighting our ADF forces in Iraq, why is there is no formal reporting or auditing mechanism in Australia to ascertain whether monies paid for halal certification are misused?”…

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Clandestine money news: suggested reading

February 12, 2015
  • Vigilante hackers want to bankrupt terrorists by attacking their banks’ websitesmore>>
  • A federal judge rejects a slap-on-the-wrist deal with a corporation that made $21 million from illegal transactions with Iran… more>>
  • ISIS is assessing a 50 percent payroll tax against Iraqi civil servants working in their territory… more>>
  • Despite being designated a state sponsor of terrorism, Syria has been given $200,000 of your tax dollars through the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation… more>>
  • Want more news? Visit Drugs & Thugs Blog for more recommended reading… more>>
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