Posts Tagged ‘Algeria’

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Follow the francs: the Kouachi brothers’ links

January 9, 2015

Said and Cherif Kouachi, the main suspects in the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, each have their own relationships to jihadist groups.

The older brother, Said Kouachi, reportedly trained with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Penisula (AQAP) in Yemen. AQAP makes about $10 million a year from ransoms, and is also funded by robberies (including banks, post offices, and payroll delivery trucks), and Saudi donors.  AQAP’s leader has previously said that ransoms make up about half of AQAP’s revenues, suggesting that their overall budget is about $20 million a year.  France’s quiet policy of paying ransoms to terrorist groups to release French hostages may be revisited in the near future given how ransom money can be used by groups like AQAP to train recruits in marksmanship and making bombs.

How Kouachi funded his airfare to Syria, and how the brothers paid for the AK-47s used in the attack (which cost $1,200 to $1,800 on France’s black market), have yet to be determined.

Younger brother Cherif Kouachi was a member of a recruitment ring in Paris known as “Nineteenth Arrondissement Iraqi Networks” or the “Butte-Chaumont network” that funneled Muslims from France to wage jihad in Iraq in the mid-2000s. The ringmaster was Farid Benyettou, an Algerian fed on a steady diet of jihadist texts and websites. As the case of the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston illustrated, the websites that Tamerlan learned from didn’t host, administer, and fund themselves. There is usually an extensive, costly infrastructure behind so-called “lone wolves,” who are actually borrowing information, ideas, and tips from the wider jihadist network. The wider network is much more expensive to maintain than the few hundred or thousands of dollars it may have taken to carry out a single attack.

The Kouachi family is from Algeria, where jihadists including Al Qaeda in North Africa (AQIM) are heavily funded by ransom payments and drug trafficking.

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Biggest prior terrorist attack on France funded by Algerian from London

January 8, 2015

Before the Charlie Hebdo massacre yesterday, the last major terrorist attacks on French soil were the Paris transit bombings of 1995. Those attacks, which killed eight and injured 150, were carried out by the Groupe Islamique Arme (GIA), an Algerian jihadist group. The mastermind of the GIA bombings was Rachid Ramda, an Algerian living in the U.K. at the time who the British then detained but refused to extradite to France until 10 years later. The delay in Ramda’s extradition was allegedly because of Great Britain’s “Londonistan” policy of not wanting to offend Muslim investors and immigrants even to the point of jeopardizing public safety. Ramda was eventually convicted on several charges over the Paris bombings, including the financing of the attacks which involved a wire transfer from Ramda to onsite bomber Ait Ali Belkacem. Here’s a look back at coverage of Ramda’s conviction by Reuters from 2007:

French court convicts Algerian of Paris bombings

A French court jailed Algerian Rachid Ramda for life on Friday for his role in financing a spate of bomb attacks on the Paris underground rail network that killed eight people and wounded 200 others in 1995.

Paris Assizes Court ordered that Ramda should serve a minimum 22 years behind bars for his role in the attacks, the worst bombings on mainland France since World War Two.

Court president Didier Wacogne, sitting with six professional assessors, said Ramda was “guilty of complicity to murder and attempted murder” as well as an array of explosives and other offences.

Around 70 relatives and friends of victims of the attacks were present for the verdict which was met in silence.

Ramda, 38, who denied the charges, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2006 for terrorist conspiracy linked to the same bombing campaign.

His lawyer Sebastien Bonot protested during the case that Ramda was being tried a second time for the same crime, and said after Friday’s verdict that his client would appeal.

“This decision is certainly not a surprise but we feel that justice and the law have not been done,” he told reporters.

The prosecution said Ramda was a key figure in Algeria’s radical Armed Islamic Group (GIA), and added that phone taps showed he was in regular contact with Ali Touchent and Boualem Bensaid, the GIA’s coordinators in France.

A police search of Ramda’s London address produced a Western Union payment slip bearing his fingerprints which showed he had sent 5,000 pounds ($10,250) to the Paris bombers

The source of the Charlie Hebdo attackers’ weapons and money are not yet known.

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OPEC hostage shared goals of captors

December 20, 2013

Thirty-eight years ago today, Carlos the Jackal and his band of terrorists forced their way into a meeting of OPEC in Vienna, Austria.  The terrorists eventually received millions of dollars from OPEC’s member nations to secure the release of the hostages after a trans-Mediterranean flight to Algeria.

OPEC leader Sheikh Yamani was spared for two reasons:  1) he paid off Carlos the Jackal, and 2) he also believed in armed Palestinian resistance against Israel.  Carlos’s fellow terrorists never understood why Yamani was a target.

From the documentary “Terror’s Advocate”:

After all, Yamani had orchestrated the Arab oil embargo that damaged the West economically, and Yamani would later fund Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, according to the Golden Chain document.  So Yamani was really on the same ideological side as Carlos and Arab terrorist groups from the outset.

The other thing is that radical Muslims have always wanted to control the oil in Saudi Arabia.  Although the Saudi royals are Siamese twins with the radical Wahhabi clerics, and impose strict sharia law against their subjects, the government of Saudi Arabia is seen by Islamists as too friendly to the West from a foreign policy standpoint.  Perhaps Carlos regarded Yamani as a representative of the “establishment,”—or perhaps they had worked out a side deal all along.

Today’s jihadists want control of Arabian petroleum to induce oil shocks against the West like Sheikh Yamani himself had done just a couple years before the OPEC hostage-taking.

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Drugs, Al Qaeda, FARC, and arming the rebels

May 12, 2013

Mounting evidence suggests that weapons given to Libyan militants in the rebellion against Qaddafi were subsequently leveraged to purchase cocaine from FARC for follow-on distribution to the same European countries that helped arm the rebels in the first place.  No lessons will be learned from this fiasco, as it’s full steam ahead with the same players arming Syrian rebels.

From the Mirror (h/t Aisha):

Al Qaeda’s £168million cocaine smugglers: terror group flooding Britain with drugs

28 Apr 2013

Profits are being used to fund terror plots in the UK and western Europe

Al Qaeda has teamed up with other terror groups to smuggle cocaine to Britain, the Sunday People has ­discovered. One plot involved a staggering four tons of the illegal drug with a street value of £168million.

Al Qaeda, led by 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden until his death in May 2011, is using profits to fund terror plots in the UK and western Europe.

And they have paid for the cocaine with weapons looted in Libya during the mayhem following the death of Colonel Gaddafi in 2011.

Spooks from MI6 and the UK’s criminal intelligence agency SOCA have joined forces to investigate al Qaeda’s links to drug cartels and terrorist groups in Africa and South America.

Two Colombians – one a member of left-wing terror movement FARC – were arrested after a probe by the US Drugs Enforcement Agency.

It is understood the South American group, now a major ­cocaine cartel, sold a large quantity of the drug to bin Laden’s North African branch, al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb.

They paid using cash and also weapons looted in Libya.

The drug was shipped to North Africa and moved across the Mediterranean into southern France where it is believed to have been distributed to other European ­countries, including the UK. A second operation carried out by secret intelligence groups led to the arrest of the former head of the navy in West Africa’s Guinea-Bissau, now classed as a “narco-state” because of its reliance on the cocaine trade.Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto and six others have now been flown to New York and charged with drugs trafficking. Four also face terrorism charges.

They were caught in a sting ­operation in which they believed they were talking to members of FARC. They agreed to supply ground-to-air missiles and a quantity of AK-47 assault rifles and grenade launchers in exchange for four tons of cocaine with a street value of £168 million.

Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb has long been involved with cocaine traffickers, receiving large payments to ensure drug runners could safely cross the Algerian Sahara with multi-million-pound consignments.

But spies say this is the first time evidence has emerged suggesting the organisation are themselves trafficking cocaine into Europe.

A highly placed crime ­intelligence source in London said: “It is a very worrying development and both MI6 and SOCA will be working ­together to find out as much as they can.

“When there is an overlap between straightforward crime and security matters, the two agencies work together. There will be a lot of interaction with security forces from several countries.

“France will be particularly involved given the Algerian connection and the fact that France seems to be the main entry point for the al Qaeda shipments. There will also be strong American interest”…

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One Algerian’s financial cyber-crime spree

May 7, 2013

Bank robbery cartoon:

Hacker Hamza Bendelladj’s malware infected personal computers in order to steal the financial credentials of unsuspecting users and sell the data to third parties.  If one man with a computer and an Internet connection can operate a scheme like this, just think of what an enemy state actor could accomplish.

This press release comes to us from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Atlanta Division of the FBI on May 3 (h/t Douglas McNabb):

Algerian National Extradited from Thailand to Face Federal Cyber Crime Charges in Atlanta for SpyEye Virus

ATLANTA—Hamza Bendelladj, an Algerian national also known as Bx1, will be arraigned on federal cyber crime charges for his role in developing, marketing, distributing, and operating the malicious computer virus SpyEye.

“No violence or coercion was used to accomplish this scheme, just a computer and an Internet connection,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Bendelladj’s alleged criminal reach extended across international borders, directly into victims’ homes. In a cyber netherworld, he allegedly commercialized the wholesale theft of financial and personal information through this virus which he sold to other cyber criminals. Cyber criminals, take note—we will find you. This arrest and extradition demonstrates our determination to bring you to justice.”

“Hamza Bendelladj has been extradited to the United States to face charges of controlling and selling a nefarious computer virus designed to pry into computers and extract personal financial information,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman. “The indictment charges Bendelladj and his co-conspirators with operating servers designed to control the personal computers of unsuspecting individuals and aggressively marketing their virus to other international cybercriminals intent on stealing sensitive information. The extradition of Bendelladj to face charges in the United States demonstrates our steadfast determination to bring cyber criminals to justice, no matter where they operate.”

“The FBI has expanded its international partnerships to allow for such extraditions of criminals who know no borders,” stated Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office. “The federal indictment and extradition of Bendelladj should send a very clear message to those international cyber criminals who feel safe behind their computers in foreign lands that they are, in fact, within reach.”

Bendelladj, 24, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Atlanta, Georgia on December 20, 2011. The 23-count indictment charges him with one count of conspiring to commit wire and bank fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and 11 counts of computer fraud. Bendelladj was apprehended at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, on January 5, 2013, while he was in transit from Malaysia to Egypt. The indictment was unsealed on May 1, 2013. Bendelladj was extradited from Thailand to the United States on May 2, 2013, and was arraigned in United States District Court before United States Magistrate Judge Janet F. King.

According to court documents, the SpyEye virus is malicious computer code, or malware, which is designed to automate the theft of confidential personal and financial information, such as online banking credentials, credit card information, usernames, passwords, PINs, and other personally identifying information. The SpyEye virus facilitates this theft of information by secretly infecting victims’ computers, enabling cyber criminals to remotely control the computers through command and control (C&C) servers. Once a computer is infected and under the cyber criminals’ control, a victim’s personal and financial information can be surreptitiously collected using techniques such as “web injects,” which allow cyber criminals to alter the display of webpages in the victim’s browser in order to trick them into divulging personal information related to their financial accounts. The financial data is then transmitted to the cyber criminals’ C&C servers, where criminals use it to steal money from the victims’ financial accounts.

The indictment alleges that from 2009 to 2011, Bendelladj and others developed, marketed, and sold various versions of the SpyEye virus and component parts on the Internet and allowed cyber criminals to customize their purchases to include tailor-made methods of obtaining victims’ personal and financial information. Bendelladj allegedly advertised the SpyEye virus on Internet forums devoted to cyber crime and other criminal activities. In addition, Bendelladj allegedly operated C&C servers, including a server located in the Northern District of Georgia, which controlled computers infected with the SpyEye virus. One of the files on Bendelladj’s C&C server in the Northern District of Georgia allegedly contained information from approximately 253 unique financial institutions.

If convicted, Bendelladj faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud; up to 20 years for each wire fraud count; up to five years for conspiracy to commit computer fraud; up to five or 10 years for each count of computer fraud; and fines of up to $14 million…

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Recommended reading from the Economic Warfare Institute

February 10, 2013
http://www.unodc.org/unodc/secured/wdr/Graphs_Cocaine_globa_seizures_all.pdf

Chart from UNODC’s World Drug Report 2012

Terror finance expert Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Ken Jensen have written a new piece on the Economic Warfare Institute Blog entitled “Trafficking Cocaine in the Name of Allah.”

Ehrenfeld & Jensen report that terrorists in Mali and Algeria use the drug trade to finance their activities, noting that, “While Islam forbids the use of drugs by Muslims, there are no such limitations in selling it to the infidels.”

The article also accounts for several other funding sources of the Mali rebels, which, as Money Jihad has indicated, include Saudi Arabia and QatarIt’s all well worth the read; check it out here.

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Convicted Muslim sent £6K to attack Stockholm

August 2, 2012
Stockholm terror financier

Nasserdine at trial (middle) and mugshot (right)

An “Algerian” (a Sunni Muslim) has been found guilty of transferring nearly £6 thousand to the suicide bomber who attempted to kill shoppers on a busy street in Sweden.  Nasserdine Menni, the suicide bomber’s benefactor, believed in the money jihad.  The Koran told him to strive with his wealth for the cause of Allah, and he did.  Menni also rewarded the bomber’s widow after the Stockholm attack.

From The Scotsman on July 20:

Algerian guilty of funding terrorism

AN ALGERIAN national has been found guilty of funding terrorism but cleared of conspiracy to murder following a suicide bombing in Stockholm.

Nasserdine Menni was convicted of transferring money to Taimour Abdulwahab, who later blew himself up in the Swedish capital on 11 December 2010.

A jury at the High Court in Glasgow found a charge that Menni conspired to murder members of the Swedish public not proven.

Menni, whose age is not known, was also convicted of immigration and benefit fraud.

Addressing trial judge Lord Matthews as he left the dock, Menni said: “My Lord, I thank you very much for the justice in Scotland.”

Jurors took just over nine hours to clear Menni of an 
allegation that he conspired with Abdulwahab to further terrorist aims in carrying out the bombing with intent to murder members of the public.

But, following a 12-week trial, he was found guilty of sending a total of £5,725 to a bank account in Abdulwahab’s name in the knowledge that it could be used for terrorism purposes.

Abdulwahab rigged an Audi car with explosives in the hope it would drive people to Drottninggatan, a busy shopping street about 200 yards away, where he was waiting to set off two more devices strapped to his chest and back.

The car bomb never went off but he was unable to detonate the other two explosives as planned.

Menni moved to Glasgow in 2009 after living in Luton, where he is believed to have first met Abdulwahab, for five years.