Posts Tagged ‘Al-Aqsa Television’

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Al-Shabaab profits from Somali telecom sector

August 18, 2014

Without a stable central government, Somalia’s telecommunications network has been unregulated for decades.  This has allowed for tremendous growth and fairly low prices for phone and Internet access in Somalia compared to neighboring countries.

However, this has also created a Wild West atmosphere of clan elders and businessmen in Mogadishu cutting deals with international—often Saudi-backed—telecommunications providers like Arabsat.  Arabsat is based in Saudi Arabia and is owned by the Arab League.  In addition to providing phone coverage, Arabsat’s satellites host television broadcasts by well-known hate channels Al Manar and Al-Aqsa.

The government of Somalia has made attempts recently to begin taxing and regulating the telecommunications industry, but the bigger factors at play are the taxes you don’t see.  Some evidence suggests that informal licenses are granted by warlords or businessmen in exchange for bribes paid behind the scenes.

Reporting from the Gulf News earlier this year went even farther, suggesting that the warlords allow the telecoms to over-charge customers so they can pocket the difference or pay off al-Shabaab too:

…By persuading other telcos worldwide to clip the ticket for them, these [Somali telecommunications providers] groups has [sic] become wealthy enough to avoid attempts by government and the regulatory International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to rein them in.

Not only do these groups exploit vulnerable customers charging them often beyond their means and disproportionate to costs, there are also suspicions that some sponsor the terrorist scourge, Al Shabaab.

By negotiating with foreign companies to charge above the usual rates and to put money collected into overseas funds, these “companies” avoid tax — and have sufficient clout to offer deals to favoured factions, or fund groups they believe will deliver a government suited to their economic or ideological aims…

There are also rumors of relationships between, or at least pressure exerted by, al-Shabaab on several specific Somali telecommunications companies including Hormuud Telecom.  RBC Radio reported this year that, “Al Shabab has closed down Hormuud Telecom Company’s branch in Jilib town, Middle Jubba region after the company failed to pay $50,000 which Al Shabab demanded from local companies,” and added that, “Extorting money from private business companies and aid agencies operating in Somalia is seen as the biggest source of investment for Al Shabab’s war with the government.”  Some sources have gone further, describing Hormuud as “al-Shabaab’s messenger” or “the phone of death” taking its cues from al-Shabaab.

In October 2011, Hormuud was allowed to remain in operation while two rival companies were closed by al-Shabaab.  One of those rivals, Nationlink Telecom, eventually reopened after allegedly paying $30,000 to al-Shabaab to resume operations.  An al-Shabaab member told the Somalia Report that non-cooperative companies would be forced to close “until their managers agree to pay taxation for the war against the infidels as well as the crusaders.”

While it is possible that some of the claims about the telecommunications business in Somalia have been exaggerated due to clan or business rivalries, former al-Shabaab commander Mohamed Farah Al-Ansari confirmed the role of extortion against Somali telecommunications companies in funding al-Shabaab in an interview with Voice of America last year.

There are enough grounds for concern that international investors and corporations would do well to examine any business deals with Somali telecommunications companies with the utmost caution.  Similar to the risks of doing business with the money transfer company Dahabshiil, the taint of al-Shabaab is simply too strong to ignore.

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10 companies that make money from terror ties

July 15, 2014

Longtime Money Jihad readers already know that sharia banks are conduits for funding jihadist groups, but may not be aware of some of the other corporations and businesses that are in financial cahoots with terrorists.

  1. Tajco Ltd.—A Lebanese-based company that uses supermarkets to launder South American drug money through grocery stores in Gambia back to Lebanon for dispersal to Hezbollah. According to former Treasury official Stuart Levey, Tajco and its subsidiaries constitute a “multinational network [that] generates millions of dollars in funding and secures strategic geographical strongholds for Hizballah.”
  2. Dahabshiil—A money services business (technically a remittance company, not a bank) that pays a $500K stipend twice a year to al-Shabaab. Somali journalists and musicians have alleged that the payments aren’t just for “protection,” (ie, the freedom to operate in Somalia without being bombed) but that Dahabshiil shares tribal links and policy goals with the terrorist group.
  3. Al-Aqsa TV—The U.S. describes the media outlet as “a television station in Gaza financed and controlled by Hamas.” Hamas raised the initial capital to create Al-Aqsa TV, negotiated for a satellite provider, and allocates money for its budget. Its programming seeks to prepare children to join and fight for Hamas as they age.
  4. Crescent Foods—the “caterers of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Crescent Foods is routinely selected to provide food at conferences and functions held by a variety of North American Muslim Brotherhood front groups and affiliates including the radical American Muslims for Palestine and organizational co-conspirators of the Holy Land Foundation, a defunct Hamas front charity. Crescent Foods also markets halal foods to the constituencies of these Islamist groups.
  5. Sniper Africa—A South African hunting gear company which is majority owned by a dentist who raised $120,000 for Al Qaeda. OFAC has listed Sniper Africa under its specially designated global terrorist category.
  6. Zurmat Group—A company operating in Afghanistan that sells components that wind up in roadside bombs against our troops. Additionally, the Army Times found that “approximately $1-2 million per month — flow to [the Haqqani network] to finance its activities” from Zurmat Group profits. CENTCOM describes the company as actively supporting the insurgency.
  7. Darkazanli Export-Import Sonderposten—Owned and operated by Imam Mamoun Darkazanli, a longtime Al-Qaeda financier and manager. Darkazanli supports al Qaeda from Hamburg, Germany, and behaved as a type of godfather figure to the Muhammad Atta cell as it prepared for the 9/11 attacks. Darkazanli’s company has provided “cover, business collaboration and communications” for Al Qaeda figures visiting Germany.
  8. The Bank of China—The Chinese bank funded Hamas and Islamic Jihad when it “carried out dozens of wire transfers for the two terror organizations, totaling several million dollars,” from 2003 to 2007 according to a lawsuit by victims of terrorist attacks in Israel. The bank knowingly continued making such transfers even after being warned against it by the Israeli government in 2005.
  9. Jihad al-Bina—Hezbollah’s construction company in Lebanon. Its relationship with Hezbollah apparently transformed it from a $1.8 million business in the 1990s into a $450 million operation by 2006. It has been able to cash in on public contracts to rebuild Lebanese infrastructure through international development aid even though the firm is basically controlled by Hezbollah leaders and Iran.
  10. Al Manar/Lebanese Media Group—This Hezbollah news outlet serves as a “Beacon of Hatred” that runs advertisements encouraging donations to Hezbollah and airs commercials for Hezbollah. The television channel’s programming includes vitriolic anti-Semitic messages and glorification of suicide bombing operations.

In addition to the companies above, there are conventional Western corporations like Chiquita and Echo Bay that have have paid bribes or protection money to rebels or terrorists to prevent their employees and facilities from being attacked, and banks such as HSBC that have dropped the ball on anti-money laundering, sanctions compliance, and counter-terror finance programs. This is totally unacceptable behavior which ultimately helps finance terrorism and increases the odds that more corporations will be exploited by terrorists. At the same time, it should be recognized that these abysmal compliance programs resulted from a combination of mismanagement, lousy judgments, and long-term business motives, but not because of ideological alignment with the terrorists themselves.

A final note: there was an extremely popular article within the past year circulating the Internet about corporations making money off of the global war against terrorism (which itself was only the latest in a decade-long stream of Internet tirades and social media screeds against “war profiteering” in Afghanistan and Iraq). It should just be remembered that for every company allegedly making ungodly profits from providing basic security services that there are companies like those above that are actually funding or making money directly from terrorism. So when you run across articles like that, ask yourself a question: which seems worse to you—a greedy corporation that fights terrorism, or a greedy corporation that funds terrorism?