Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

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Taliban arms dealer released from Guantanamo

January 19, 2015

Mohammed Zahir

Taliban weapons trafficker and drug smuggler Mohammed Zahir has been released from his Guantanamo jail cell back to freedom in Afghanistan by the Obama administration. Described by the Telegraph as “a leading Taliban weapons supplier,” Zahir reportedly had Stinger missiles and uranium on his property in Afghanistan prior to his arrest years ago. Zahir intended to use the uranium to produce an “atom bomb,” earning him a designation by Daniel Greenfield as a “nuclear terrorist.” In any case, the release of this major arms trafficker who can now revive his old gunrunning network would not, to put it politely, enhance security in Afghanistan; nor would it align with Pres. Obama’s professed support for gun control.

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Terror finance predictions for 2015

January 1, 2015
  • Counter-terror attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner says that a jury trial will begin in January for the Sokolow v. Palestinian Liberation Organization. The case is notable in that it takes on the Palestinian Authority itself in addition to the PLO, and could set the precedent for further lawsuits to help de-fund the PA and PLO by terrorist victims’ families.
  • A trial to set damages for Arab Bank PLC’s role in financing terrorism is scheduled to begin in May (h/t Sal). Arab Bank wanted to skip the trial and settle for $12 million, but U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan ruled that a trial would be a more useful starting point.
  • NYU professor Maha Hosain Aziz predicts that lone wolf Islamist terrorist attacks will increase, requiring closer monitoring of social media by law enforcement (h/t Don). Money Jihad predicts that public officials will cite these increased lone wolf attacks as an excuse for why they fail to interdict terrorist funds. They will claim that self-financed attacks are harder to detect than transactions across terrorist financial networks.
  • Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford says Afghan forces will be “tested” by the Taliban in 2015. As Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq indicated, leaving inadequate forces to combat terrorists can lead to their financial resurgence as it did with ISIS. This looks even more ominous when coupled with the Pakistani Taliban’s “stockpiling” of cash through extortion and kidnap-for-ransom schemes in 2014.
  • The FC Barcelona soccer team will not renew its sponsorship deal with Qatar in 2015 over terror finance concerns.
  • Finally, increased cyber-attacks and cyber-theft are always a safe bet. McAfee Labs predicts that “Small nation states and foreign terror groups will take to cyberspace to conduct warfare against their enemies” and increased ransomware attacks in 2015.

Money Jihad predictions last year for 2014 were somewhat prescient, including the projection that Narendra Modi would move against illicit finance if elected as prime minister of India, which he was and which he did, and that ransomware would develop into a larger cyber-security threat. But our predictions that Congress would declassify 28 redacted pages of its report into 9/11, and that Congress would tighten sanctions on Iran proved to be off.

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Dialing for terror dollars: recommended reading

July 3, 2014
  • The disembowling of Iraq by Al Qaeda (ISIS) is being funded by Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia… more>>
  • ISIS’s annual report is more than a balance sheet or summary of operations.  It’s actually an appeal to potential investorsmore>>
  • The Taliban taxes poppies and blackmails businessmen.  But the dirty little secret behind most of the Taliban’s wealth lies with Arab sheikhs, say Afghan reporters… ground truth>>
  • An Arab interest group in New York opposed to NYPD tactics turns out to be funded by Qatar, the de facto sponsor of the global Muslim Brotherhood… more>>
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Paks blame Afghans for extortion in Peshawar

June 20, 2014

What unbelievable gall Pakistani intelligence is demonstrating by blaming “Afghan nationals” for ongoing extortion, kidnap-for-ransom, and murder-for-hire schemes in Peshawar.

It was Pakistani intelligence that created and funded the Taliban and other jihadist groups in the first place to give Pakistan “strategic depth” in their ruthless desire to gain any conceivable edge over India. It was Pakistan that funded radical curriculum and instruction at madrassas and Afghan orphanages.

Now that their efforts have begun turning their own cities into charnel houses, they’re distancing themselves from their own creation.

Pakistan didn’t seem to mind harboring Osama Bin Laden, because he didn’t attack Pakistan while he lived there. But Pakistan does mind when his buddies start making mischief on their own streets.

Message to Pakistan: you made your own bed, now lie in it.

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Terror funding & financial crime predictions for 2014

December 31, 2013
  1. As U.S. troops depart Afghanistan in 2014, the Taliban is poised for a banner year, financially speaking.  The Pakistani Taliban is laying the groundwork for a resurgence too, accumulating money from an extortion spree against businessmen (see here, here, here, here, and here) throughout 2013.
  2. The 28-page section of the 2002 report from Joint Congressional Inquiry into Sept. 11, 2001, implicating Saudi financing of the 9/11 hijackers could either be declassified or leaked in 2014.  Enough of a consensus is gathering that the section was redacted for diplomatic purposes, and should be disclosed so the American people know the truth (or at least more of the truth than is already known about Saudi Arabia’s role in financing global terrorism).
  3. “A major data destruction attack will happen,” and ransomware will be involved.  Websense explains, “Historically, most attackers have used a network breach to steal information for profit. In 2014, organizations will need to be concerned about nation-states and cyber-criminals using a breach to destroy data. Ransomware will play a part in this trend and move down market to small and medium sized organizations.”
  4. Narendra Modi could become elected prime minister of India next year.  Mr. Modi has spoken out against corruption, black money, hawala, and terrorism to a greater degree than the current ruling Congress party.  His victory would represent a significant threat to the established criminal and terrorist underworld in India and Kashmir that are being backed by Pakistan.
  5. New legislation including, at the federal level, renewed sanctions against Iran, and at the state level, sharia law bans (“American laws for American courts” initiatives), and anti-fraud legislation at the state level dealing with no-fault car insurance fraud and counterfeit airbags, may be enacted in 2014.

Some other thoughts come to us from the Council on Foreign Relations, which has published an interesting forecast of 2014 based on surveys of public officials and experts, including the possibility of major terrorist attacks in the U.S., in Kashmir, and by al-Shabaab against Somalia’s neighbors.

Incidentally, prosecutors in the case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are pushing for a fall 2014 trial, although defense lawyers have argued that will be too soon.

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2014 will be bumper year for Taliban

December 1, 2013

One of the most striking failures of counterterror finance since 9/11 has been the international inability to de-fund the Taliban.  The Taliban has maintained robust, balanced revenue sources that haven’t changed too much from the type and amount of money they collected to propel them to power in the 1990s.  As ISAF troops depart, the Taliban is poised to profit even more, according to a new UN report reviewed by The Guardian:

…The Taliban remains a powerful and well-funded force, the report says, with the movement raising $155m in 2012 from illegal opium production.

Although the amount of protection money that insurgents receive from security companies employed to guard Nato supply convoys has fallen as foreign forces close bases, the report says 2014 is expected to be a bumper year as the alliance ships huge amounts of equipment out of the country.

It also warns that the Taliban is skimming profit off illegally mined gemstones, including rubies and emeralds. Afghanistan has an estimated $1tn worth of mineral reserves, which it is hoped will eventually help to pay for the country’s 352,000-strong security force.

The report says Kabul needs to do much more to prevent high-grade industrial explosives reaching the hands of Taliban bomb-makers, whose weapons are becoming “increasingly sophisticated and technically advanced” and now account for 80% of army and police casualties…

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Washington Post: lost battle against narcotics in Afghanistan one of “starkest failures” of Obama war strategy

November 18, 2013

On its news pages, not its opinion section, the Washington Post reports the U.S. has “lost its battle” against drugs in Afghanistan.  The collusion between Afghan elites and the poppy industry will only get worse as U.S. troops exit.  One Afghan official is quoted as saying, “the drug economy is fueling terrorism, destabilizing the region and the global village. It is vanishing the achievements of the past 10 years.”

The Taliban is one of the beneficiaries of this industry, from which traditional Islamic ushr taxation on poppy harvests and other drug profits will enable them to keep more fighters on the payroll, buy more weapons, and launch more attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond.

As U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan, poppy trade it spent billions fighting still flourishes

By Ernesto Londoño, Published: November 3

The United States is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan having lost its battle against the country’s narcotics industry, marking one of the starkest failures of the 2009 strategy the Obama administration pursued in an effort to turn around the war.

Despite a U.S. investment of nearly $7 billion since 2002 to combat it, the country’s opium market is booming, propelled by steady demand and an insurgency that has assumed an increasingly hands-on role in the trade, according to law enforcement officials and counternarcotics experts. As the war economy contracts, opium poppies, which are processed into heroin, are poised to play an ever larger role in the country’s economy and politics, undercutting two key U.S. goals: fighting corruption and weakening the link between the insurgency and the drug trade.

The Afghan army opted this spring for the first time in several years not to provide security to eradication teams in key regions, forgoing a dangerous mission that has long embittered rural Afghans who depend on the crop for their livelihoods.

Experts say that, in the end, efforts over the past decade to rein in cultivation were stymied by entrenched insecurity in much of the country, poverty, and the ambivalence — and, at times, collusion — of the country’s ruling class.

With a presidential election just months away, political will for anti-drug initiatives is weak among members of the Afghan elite, many of whom have become increasingly dependent on the proceeds of drugs as foreign funding dries up, said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, who heads the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Afghanistan. “Money is less and less available within the licit economy,” he said. “The real danger is the weakened resistance to corruption and to involvement in a distorted political economy, which weakens your resistance to collusion with the enemy”…