Posts Tagged ‘al-Nusra Front’

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Terror plotting news: suggested reading

April 7, 2016
  • Al Qaeda in Syria seizes weapons from Western-backed rebels… more>>
  • U.S. indicts 7 Iranians who hacked 46 American banksmore>>
  • Documents seized from ISIS show Turkey gave their fighters safe passage to Syria… more>>
  • Belgium’s alleged Muslim Brotherhood front is funded by Qatar Charitymore>>
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15 years prison for Saudi who funded al-Shabaab

December 27, 2014

A Saudi man who previously lived in California has been sentenced to 15 years in U.S. federal prison after transferring $11,000 to the Somali jihadist group al-Shabaab and for attempting to transfer another $13,000 to al-Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda offshoot in Syria.  Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed was a naturalized U.S. citizen residing in Saudi Arabia prior to his extradition to Florida for trial.  Note that the convict isn’t a small town Saudi peasant: he’s a computer scientist whose family had money for him to get a college degree and travel internationally.  From the Miami Herald with a hat tip to Jihad Watch:

…Mohammed and [co-conspirator Mohamed Hussein Said] met in Saudi Arabia in May 2011 and agreed to provide financial and other resources to an al-Qaida affiliate, al-Shabaab, which was seeking to overthrow the U.S.-backed transitional government in Somalia.

Through September of that year, Mohammed allegedly wired Said more than $11,000 via Western Union to back al-Shabaab, the indictment said.

In April 2012, the FBI undercover employee established online contact with Mohammed, according to the indictment. Mohammed arranged to send a series of Western Union wire transfers totaling more than $9,000 through November to the FBI employee. The funds were intended for another al-Qaida affiliate, the Nusra Front, which is fighting the government of President Bashar Assad in Syria.

Last December, Mohammed also met in person with a purported associate of the FBI undercover employee and gave him 14,400 Saudi Arabian riyals, worth about $3,800, which also was meant to support the Nusra Front, the indictment said.

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Charity raised zakat in France for jihad in Syria

December 8, 2014

Two leaders of an Islamic charity in Paris have been indicted for raising money for terrorists in Syria and Iraq including al-Nusra Front.  (Hat tip to El Grillo and Sal.)  The charity, Pearl of Hope, had its assets frozen in January and was closed by authorities in November.  A French news weekly reported that Pearl of Hope collected 60,000 to 100,000 euros (75K-130K USD), but it is unclear if all of that went to Syria and Iraq, or if it included the charity’s operations in Gaza.

The founder and president the charity, Yasmine Znaidi, responded by saying, “My crime is to be Muslim.”  She has previously claimed to be mostly interested in helping orphans and distributing baby milk.  The website OnIslam referred to the charity’s closure as the result of the “government’s witch hunt” against Muslim charitable giving.

Jihad financier, president of Perle d'Espoir

Ms. Znaidi, President of Pearl of Hope

Actually, the hands of authorities seem to have been forced by the behavior of Znaidi’s colleague, Nabil Ouerfelli, who posted incendiary comments along with photos of weapons and the black flag of jihad on Facebook while he fought alongside other jihadists in Syria.  Ouerfelli had also taken 10,000 euros in cash with him to Syria.

The website Dreuz was critical of the the delay in acting against Pearl of Hope, noting that the charity has has been engaged in financing terrorism in Gaza for a couple years, but that French authorities ignored their activities until they crossed the line by working with jihadists in Syria and Iraq.  Dreuz also notes that Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP) has routinely transferred money to Hamas, but has not been held accountable by French authorities. The U.S. lists CBSP as a specially designated global terrorist entity, and CBSP was named in the terror finance lawsuit against Arab Bank as well as suits against Credit Lyonnais.

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Accounting for Kuwaiti cash among Syrian rebels

February 23, 2014

How Kuwait came to be such a major regional player in the financing of radical rebels in Syria is the subject of a recent interview with Elizabeth Dickens of the Brookings Institute conducted by Syria Deeply, a website run by journalists. Dickens chalks Kuwait’s ascendance as a financier up to:

  • Lax regulation (ie, the failure of Kuwait to criminalize terrorist financing until recently)
  • Business ties between Kuwait and Syria
  • Numerous, experienced NGOs operate in Kuwait

Here’s an excerpt of the interview, with thanks to Arye Leonid Glozman for sending over a link:

Syria Deeply: Why has Kuwait emerged as a financing and organizational hub for charities and individuals supporting Syria’s rebel groups?

Elizabeth Dickinson: It’s a perfect storm. Kuwait has all the things that one would need to set up such a financing hub. The most important thing it has, or that it had until very recently, was extremely lax regulation. So after Sept. 11, most of the Gulf states had these really strict counterterrorism financing laws that gave them the ability to stop any suspicious transactions very swiftly, and they were cooperating with Western intelligence to build their capacity to find any suspicious transactions in the banking system.

Kuwait, however, did not do that, and its counterterror financing law basically said nothing about terrorist financing being illegal. And its central bank just didn’t have any investigative capacity  so even if they did want to stop something from going on, they wouldn’t really have the ability to investigate and figure out how to stop it.

Factor number two is extremely deep ties between Kuwait and Syria. Before the conflict started, Kuwaiti investors were among the single largest direct foreign investor in Syria, so there’s a lot of really longstanding business ties. You have a lot of Kuwaitis with homes and businesses in Syria, with Syrian wives. So there’s a really close personal connection there. There’s also 120,000 Syrian expats in Kuwait, which is a lot considering the population of Kuwait is only 3 million people.

Then you have all the factors that have made the Gulf a hub for financing  you have a lot of money, and a lot of people who are personally affected by what’s going on in Syria. I’ve had lots of people start crying in meetings there. They had the willpower to start getting involved.

The last part of this perfect storm is that Kuwait has the longest history in the Gulf of charitable and humanitarian work. Because of its relatively open political system, people living in Kuwait are allowed to start NGOs, there are private charities that are private, not semi-state organizations like they would be in Saudi Arabia. The Kuwaitis have a lot of experience doing project finance, going into a country and building mosques, wells and schools. The infrastructure of charitable giving is really strong there, and it has allowed a lot of people with expertise to move into sectors of aid that are more geared towards the military side.

There’s a lot of overlap  sheikhs will do a fundraiser for the mujahideen and their weapons … and hospitals.

Kuwait’s ability to be a hub was recognized early in the conflict by other Gulf citizens who were interested in getting financially involved in Syria. If I’m a Saudi and I want to give money to the rebels in Syria, I’m probably aware that my government is not going to look favorably upon that, so individuals elsewhere in the Gulf rely on bundlers in Kuwait to accept their donations on their behalf, and then the donations go from Kuwait to Syria, rather than directly from Saudi to Syria.

SD: What’s the breakdown of where the money from Kuwait is going?

ED: We have rough ideas of how much it is and where it’s going. Among the pro-rebel groups, the vast majority of the money is going to groups that are in the Islamic Front, like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam. There’s evidence that funds are going to Jabhat al-Nusra…

Read the rest here.  Previous Money Jihad coverage of Kuwaiti financing of Syrian militants can be found here, here, and here.

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Indictment: Saudi-American financed jihad in Somalia and Syria

October 7, 2013

Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed, a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, has been arrested and extradited to Florida where he awaits trial along with a Kenyan for supporting terrorism.

Mohammed wired money to the al-Shabaab terrorist organization in Somalia, and he intended to recruit jihadists on behalf of Al Qaeda in Iraq to serve with the al-Nusra Front in Syria.

The international nature of Mohammed’s financial enterprise confirms, once again, the central role played by Saudis in exporting Salafist terrorism around the world.  The wars in Somalia and Syria not “nationalist” uprisings to oust corrupt or despotic leaders:  they are the results of transnational Islamic political ideology.

From VOA in August:

US Charges 2 Men With Trying to Support al-Qaida

U.S. federal prosecutors have charged two men with attempting to provide support for al-Qaida and two affiliated militant groups.

Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed, 30, and Mohamed Hussein Said, 25, made their initial appearance in a federal court in Miami, Florida on Thursday.

The two men are accused of conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida, al-Qaida in Iraq and the Somali militant group al-Shabab.

Prosecutors say they conspired to raise money and recruits for the groups.  They say Mohammed wired money to Said for the purpose of supporting al-Shabab, and to another person whom he believed was a fundraiser and recruiter for al-Qaida and al-Qaida in Iraq.

They say the men also agreed to support al-Qaida by moving experienced al-Shabab fighters to the conflict in Syria.

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Syrian rebels awash in Saudi-supplied arms

March 22, 2013

We have known for months that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been financing and supplying Syrian rebels, but a recent interview with Zayd Alisa on Iranian television details increased arms shipments by the Saudis purchased from Croatia and routed through Jordan.  The beneficiaries include the al-Nusra Front—the Al Qaeda front group in Syria.

Iran is extremely hostile to Saudi Arabia, and Iranian news is grossly biased—which should be kept in mind while watching this—but the details discussed are largely based on solid reporting in New York Times article from late February.

The New York Times notes that Iran’s “shipments to Syria’s government, still outstrips what Arab states have sent to the rebels,” so Saudi Arabia and Qatar certainly aren’t the only ones to blame for funding the bloodshed in Syria.

More recently, the London Telegraph has reported that the U.S. and Europe have airlifted 3,000 tons of weapons to Syrian rebels.

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Money trail news: recommended reading

March 21, 2013
  • Of course, old chap, Bank Saderat has financed Iran’s nuclear program. But that doesn’t give you the right to impose economic sanctions, says an EU court… more>>
  • The web, smartcards, and cell phones were sold as glittering innovations that would empower the world’s poor. Now Bangladesh is desperately wading through massive rivers of fast-moving data in time to catch the next terrorist transaction… more>>
  • Nine men have been convicted of fundraising for the jihadist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. An overdue update to this story from Paris… more>>
  • Iranian state-run newspaper claims it has proof that Saudi Arabia is funding Al Qaeda fighters of Syria’s al-Nusra Front.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day… more>>
  • A Muslim Brotherhood group is helping coordinate events in Tunisia thanks to some money from an unexpected source.  The British taxpayer… more>>
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Syria: funding an Islamist rebellion through theft

January 20, 2013

Free Syrian Army steals flour from Aleppo’s main warehouse

Al Qaeda seizes monopoly control of bread distribution

The BBC is reporting that flour heists by the FSA has led to long bread lines and volatile crowds at bakeries in Aleppo.  Daily life in areas under FSA control is turning out to be a disaster for the locals.  One FSA officer tells the reporter, “We are all thieves.”

Western foreign aid to Syria looks increasingly ill-considered.  Take a listen to two minutes of the BBC’s report:

But the FSA’s corruption, greed, and accusations of “theft, looting and kidnapping for ransom,” aren’t the only problems.  The BBC and NPR have also reported that al-Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, has wrested control of flour distribution out of the hands of the FSA.  This ensures that bakers and the hungry are loyal to Al Qaeda exclusively rather than corrupt “moderates” of the FSA.

Either way, the Syrian flour situation is a recipe for disaster.

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Al-Nusra jihadists in Syria sanctioned by U.S.

December 11, 2012

The U.S. State Department listed al-Nusra Front as a foreign terrorist organization yesterday (h/t Twitter user Sal Imburgia ‏@salimb94).  A parallel designation by the Treasury Department will include a prohibition against business deals between Americans and al-Nusra and a freeze of al-Nusra assets in U.S. banks.

A BBC profile of the al-Nusra Front calls the group’s ideology “clearly jihadist,” and says that al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for “many of the bombings that have rocked Syria since the uprising began in March 2011.”

Additional reports have indicated a warm relationship between al-Nusra and Al Qaeda.

Given U.S. support for many groups fighting in the Syrian rebellion, the designation may present a schizophrenic approach to American foreign policy in Syria wherein certain Syrian rebels receive financial support and rebels that they work alongside with receive financial penalties.  McClatchy lays out several other complicating factors in the al-Nusra designation in a good report here.

Kenneth Rijock also weighed in prior to the the designation on what it would mean for U.S. banks with commercial relationships in Syria and the Palestinian territories:

Multiple reports of the imminent OFAC  designation of the Al-Nusra Front, a radical Sunni organisation fighting the Assad regime in Syria, should alert compliance officers whose clients are sending relief funds, and supplies, to Syrian Opposition groups. Its Arabic name is Jabhat Al-Nusra, and the approximate English translation is Front for the Protection of the People of the Levant.

One important detail: Al-Nusra, which has spewed forth anti-American and Anti-Israeli hatred, reportedly contains a fair number of Palestinians. Don’t get caught in an OFAC violation if your clients are in the midst of what you thought were contributions to Palestinian causes, but go straight to Al-Nusra. It has been reported that the OFAC action will take place around 12 December.

I would piggyback on Rijock by making the following suggestion to non-profits, NGOs, charities and their donors:  if you are involved with relief work in either Syria or the Palestinian territories, you should factor the risk of funding this Al Qaeda offshoot into your aid distribution plans.  Are making such donations so important to you that you would risk supporting an Al Qaeda takeover of Syria?