Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

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Zakat myth goes global

January 3, 2011

The myth is that zakat donations are somehow limited by international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures.  Recall that the U.S. Treasury Department cannot produce any evidence to prove that there is any “chilling effect” on Muslim giving.  A whole conference on the subject couldn’t produce scientific numbers either.  And our own research has shown that Islamic Relief USA’s revenues have soared in recent years.

Now African Muslim charities are adopting the same the crybaby victim mentality that American Muslim groups and leftists pioneered, claiming that Muslims can’t donate zakat easily.  But as unreliable as information is on the subject even in the U.S., it’s impossible to accept the claims by these NGOs in Africa at face value.  From Uganda’s New Vision on Jan. 2:

MUSLIM non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Uganda are unhappy that the association of terrorism with Muslims is making it difficult for them to receive donor funding.

Meeting at Serena Hotel for the eighth Assembly of Zakat House yesterday, the NGOs expressed fear that they would not receive funds if terrorism is continually associated with Muslims.

“With all the bomb scares, it is becoming hard to get international funds because the money has to be cross-examined many times before it is dispatched to our accounts,” Abdelmola Elmawla, the International Islamic Charitable Organisation director, said.

Apart from the delays in receiving funds, the money is not credited to individual NGO bank accounts. It is instead dispatched to international accounts, where local NGOs have to struggle to get it, incurring costs of accessibility.

The conference, hosted by Zakat House, an international donor agency, has brought together 71 African Muslim NGOs in a bid to draw up a plan to ensure transparency.

“We want to establish country committees that are to be directly accountable to Zakat House for transparency and accountability,” Adel Al-Jeri, the assistant manager for external affairs for Zakat House, said.

The project will cover 14 African countries, which will include Uganda, Senegal, Mali, Sudan and Morocco.

The conference emphasised education as a major capacity-building component for Muslims.

Elmawla said they were building a girls’ secondary school in Koboko district.

They are also planning to build schools in Hoima, Nebbi, Kaberamaido and Isingiro districts.

The project also covers university education, where about 1,000 beneficiaries at the Islamic University in Uganda will be sponsored next year.

Al-Jeri said they had already received the funds to be used to build vocational schools, health facilities and boreholes across Uganda.

However, international NGOs are still facing a challenge in coping with the Ugandan culture and government policies.

If the Zakat House, a Muslim charity itself, is going to be the arbiter of what is and what is not “transparent” and “accountable” for 71 other Muslim charities, the inmates are running the asylum.

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AQIM funds mother Al Qaeda

November 22, 2010

According to Moroccan terrorism expert Mohammed Benhammou, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (the Islamist term for North Africa) is doing well enough financially that it’s able to pump money back into the global Al Qaeda network.  This was reported by Magharebia in a Nov. 10 article entitled “Al-Qaeda looks to Sahel for new funding sources.”

As Al Qaeda’s money dries up in the Middle East, the timing for Bin Laden couldn’t be any better.  Relations between AQIM and Al Qaeda itself haven’t always been great.  But within the last month, Bin Laden went out of his way in an audio recording to endorse AQIM’s attacks against French nationals work and rebuild bridges with AQIM.

Kamel Rezzag Bara, an adviser to the president of Algeria, says that $150 million euros have been paid in ransoms (or fida’ in Koranic parlance) in the Sahel over the past five years.  That sounds like a good reason for Bin Laden to make kissy with AQIM.

Meanwhile, the West has yawned at the requests of African nations to stop lining AQIM’s pockets with ransom payments.

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IMF’s anti-money laundering efforts: right region, right sector?

March 19, 2010

Here is the full text of an article from The Financial on Mar. 12 called, “IMF Technical Assistance Helping African Countries Step Up Measures Against Money Laundering”:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is helping 16 African countries step up their fight against money-laundering and the use of their lucrative gold and diamond industries to fund terrorism through a range of technical assistance programs and seminars targeted at helping countries address institutional weaknesses.

In the last few years, a number of reports have raised concerns about the existence of links between the trade in precious minerals and illicit financial flows, corruption, drug trafficking, arms smuggling and the financing of terrorism.

Anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism is a key focus of the IMF’s program of technical assistance for members. The work of the IMF in this area is financed in large part through a multi-donor topical trust fund on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (the AML/CFT TTF), which was launched in May 2009 with contributions from France, Kuwait, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Switzerland, and the UK.

“In the first stage of the technical assistance, representatives from six French-speaking African countries are taking part in a five-day workshop this week in Tunis. The workshop is jointly organized by the African Development Bank and the IMF’s Legal Department, which oversees the Fund’s work on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. Another workshop is scheduled for June, also in Tunis, for representatives of a group of English-speaking African countries. In the second phase of the assistance effort, participating countries will draw up national AML/CFT strategies with support from Fund-backed experts. IMF staff will also support continued efforts to curb money laundering and terrorist financing through long-term technical assistance programs,” IMF reported.

“Better regulation and oversight of the precious minerals sector will not only help these countries combat these phenomena, but also boost revenues and improve their fiscal situation,” said Emmanuel Mathias, an IMF Senior Financial Sector Expert involved in the program. Improved regulation will also contribute to increasing the compliance of countries in sub-Saharan Africa with the recommendations of the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Africa produces an estimated US$19 billion in gold per year and US$6 billion in diamonds. But an unknown amount is laundered or siphoned each year for criminal purposes. All countries participating in the project either produce or trade in precious metals or stones–mainly gold and diamonds. The countries taking part in the first workshop are: Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Togo.

Hmm… Africa produces $25 billion in gold and diamonds annually?  Keep in mind, businesses in the Persian Gulf region generate $25 billion annually in corporate zakat alone.

I’m glad the IMF is helping with AML in the mines of Africa, but couldn’t IMF resources be put to better use by redoubling their efforts in the Gulf?

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Terror & drugs

January 26, 2010

When it comes to the connection between drugs and terrorist financing, there are two types of observations:  those that are legitimate causes for concern and further investigation, and those that are designed to distract from the larger money jihad against the West and make terrorism appear like any other form of international crime.  (See one of my posts on our government’s attempt to sanitize jihadist financing here.)

Today and later this week I’ll make several posts about terror & drug stories in the news—again, some are legitimate, but some are case studies in misdirection.

For now let’s look at a development that is genuine cause for alarm, which is the exploitation of the African Sahel by Al Qaeda.  Deutsche Welle ran this lengthy piece about the Sahel being used as a transshipment point for drugs from Latin America into Europe:

Two incidents involving the trafficking of drugs to Europe have highlighted concerns about links between Islamist militants and drug-trafficking militants in Latin America.

A little-noticed smoldering plane wreckage with traces of cocaine in a remote area of the West African state of Mali in which an Al Qaeda affiliate and nomadic rebels are active has focused attention on the emergence of the region as a major hub for the trafficking of drugs to Europe.

So has the arrest of three al Qaeda operatives in Ghana, who were charged with narco-terrrorism in New York after being handed over to the US Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) and transported to the United States.

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AQIM’s ransom gravy train

December 6, 2009

According to Algerian president Abelaziz Bouteflika, “ransoms are now the principal source of finance for terrorism.”  For the past two days this blog has focused on the increasing role of abduction and ransom-taking as a major component of jihadist revenues.  This article from Agence France Presse about kidnappings in North Africa drives home that point:

In the last year, kidnappings “have multiplied, and the situation has continuously deteriorated in the last five years,” Alain Antil, a researcher for the French Institute on International Relations (IFRI) said.

“Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb needs money (…) Other groups can snatch Westerners for them and hand them over. You get the impression it’s becoming a business in the (Sahel) region,” Antil explained.

AQIM “has grave financial problems and these kidnappings show a push to resolve this,” French Al-Qaeda specialist Jean-Pierre Filiu of the Paris Institute for Political Qtudies said.

“In times of difficulty (Al-Qaeda’s north African branch) becomes dangerous,” added the author of several books on Islamist extremism.

According to the coordinator of counterterrorism at the US State Department, Daniel Benjamin, AQIM “is financially strapped, particularly in Algeria, and unable to reach its recruiting goals.” Benjamin said that it was reliant on kidnapping Westerners.

AQIM have targeted tourists as well as aid workers.

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