Posts Tagged ‘Benevolence International Foundation’

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UN quietly lifts sanctions on Bin Laden accomplice

June 24, 2013

Saudi removed from UN sanctions list

The UN’s sanctions committee removed Adel Batterjee’s name from its Al Qaeda blacklist earlier this year.  News coverage of the removal appears to have been limited to Saudi media outlets.  The U.K. followed suit shortly thereafter by lifting sanctions on Batterjee as well.

The shocking development casts further doubt on the cryptic de-listing process spearheaded by Canadian lawyer and UN ombudswoman Kimberly Prost that also led to white-listing of Muhammad Atta associate Abdelghani Mzoudi, jihadist financier Yasin Al-Qadi, and Al Qaeda check smuggler Soliman al-Buthe.  Prost’s reports and recommendations to the UN committee are secret, and the decisions are made with no explanations, transparency, or opportunities for public comment.

Meanwhile, author J. Millard Burr has published a new book, The Terrorists’ Internationale, through the American Center for Democracy.  Burr’s book documents the growth of Islamist terror groups in the 1980s and 1990s and the role of Sudanese intriguer Hassan al-Turabi in their development.  In it, Burr describes Adel Batterjee as a “close friend” of Osama bin Laden who “‘had become an important figure in the jihad movement’ by the mid-nineteen eighties.”  Batterjee moved back and forth between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to obtain financing for Lajnat Al-Birr Al-Islamiya (The Islamic Benevolence Committee), a bin Laden front charity.

Contradicting Batterjee’s claims that he had no contact with Bin Laden after 1991, Burr writes:

…Bin Laden and Batterjee had re-created their [Lajnat] charity in the Sudan and in 1992 registered it under a new name, the Al-Birr al-Duwaliya–known in the West as the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF). Its official headquarters was listed as Saudi Arabia, and Batterjee was named its director. Although centered in Khartoum, the “charity” continued to operate in Pakistan; Batterjee reduced the Al-Birr operation at Peshawar, but the small staff located there was likely called on to support Bin Laden’s interests in the Dawa Al Irshad at Murdike, and with two mujahideen training camps located in the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands…

The CEO of the Benevolence International Foundation served 10 years in federal prison on racketeering charges stemming from the foundation’s “charitable” work.  In 2004, Treasury undersecretary Stuart Levy said that Batterjee “ranked as one of the world’s foremost terrorist financiers, and employed his private wealth and a network of charitable fronts to bankroll the murderous agenda of al-Qaeda.”

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Ibn al-Khattab: the bin Laden of Chechnya

April 21, 2013

Well-to-do Saudi served as Chechen commander and jihadist financier

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1952053.stm

Deceased Chechen commander Ibn al-Khattab

In Money Jihad’s earlier post on the history of terror finance in Chechnya, one name came up again and again:  Ibn al-Khattab.  The terrorist leader was an early disciple of Osama bin Laden, and would benefit from bin Laden’s encouragement and financial support for years until al-Khattab’s death in 2002.

But al-Khattab was also a force unto himself, managing the flow of jihadist recruits and financing their operations in the Chechen guerrilla war against Russia.  One of the better descriptions of al-Khattab’s activities comes from the book Chechen Jihad by Yossef Bodansky.  Here’s an excerpt:

The Chechen jihadists received another injection of strength at this time with the arrival of an organized group of hardened Arab mujahedin from the Gulf states, including Saudis and Kuwaities, and the Maghreb region of north Africa, including Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian, and other troops.  These fighters were commanded by one Ibn al-Khattab, often referred to as Emir Khattab or simply Khattab.  Khattab, whose real name was Samir bin Salakh al-Suwailim, was a Bedouin from the Suwailim tribe of northwest Saudi Arabia and southern Jordan; over the years he has identified himself with both nations, depending on the circumstances.  Born in 1970 to a fairly wealthy and well-educated family, Khattab received both Western and Muslim education, including learning English.  In 1987 he was accepted to a college in the United States, but before continuing with his education, he decided to visit Afghanistan and briefly participate in the jihad.

Arriving in Pakistan in the fall of 1987, Khattab met some of the key leaders of the Arab “Afghans,” including Sheikh Abdallah Azzam, Sheikh Tamim Adnani, and Osama bin Laden.  Captivated by their call for jihad, he committed his life to the jihad.  Khattab ccompleted his training in the international camp in Jalalabad, under Hassan al-Sarehi, the commander of the 1987 Lion’s Den operation in Jaji.  Impressed with the zeal and skills of his young trainee, Sarehi invited Khattab to join his forces in Jaji.  Between 1988 and 1993, Khattab participated in all the major operations in the Afghan jihad, including the capture of Jalalabad, Khowst, and Kabul.  He also spent time expanding his knowledge of Islam and his military skills, while becoming conversant in both Pashto and Russian.

Khattab would later claim that he decided to join the Chechen jihad after seeing televised footage of Islamist mujahedin reciting takbirs (Koranic verses) before going into battle.  But his status as a commander also played a role.  By the early 1990s, Khattab had emerged as one of the most fierce and competent commanders, popular with both the Afghan and the Arab “Afghan” mujahedin.  He also became one of bin Laden’s key protégés.  Khattab spent the years between early 1993 and early 1995 commanding a small Arab elite force in support of the Tajik Islamist mujahedin, particularly in the Fergana Valley.  He returned to Afghanistan to train and lead one of the first elite forces to go to Chechnya.

When bin Laden and the Islamist-Jihadist leadership decided to escalate the jihad in the Caucasus, they summoned Khattab back from Tajikistan and dispatched him to Chechnya.  Ali Hammad, a senior al Qaeda commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the mid-1990s, knew Khattab as a senior commander under bin Laden and considered him “one of the more important personalities in Al Qaeda.”  Ali Hammad confirmed that Khattab went to Chechnya on bin Laden’s orders, and that he and bin Laden personally managed the subsequent flow of jihadist volunteers into the area.

Khattab arrived in Chechnya in the spring of 1995 with eight veteran Arab “Afghan” commanders, followed by a few dozen combat veterans.  He soon became one of the most important commanders in Chechnya, quickly forming a close relationship with Shamil Basayev.  One of Basayev’s closest personal friends, Chechnya’s onetime foreign minister Shamil Beno, reported that Basayev underwent a profound change in 1995 under Khattab’s influence.  Basayev “started moving from freedom for Chechnya to freedom for the whole Arab world,” Beno said.  “He changed from a Chechen patriot into an Islamic globalist.”

But al-Khattab didn’t only receive funds from the Middle East and Al Qaeda.  He was the recipient of zakat donations from U.S. Muslims.  Benevolence International Foundation, a Saudi-created Islamic charity which relocated to Chicago in 1993, was shut down by the Bush administration after 9/11 for its role in financing jihad in Bosnia and Chechnya.  The racketeering trial against BIF’s leader revealed that “[Al-Khattab] did have ties to Saudi Arabia: a fund-raising website listed the Benevolence International Foundation—originally a Saudi-based charity—as a vehicle for contributions.”

The Obama administration and its allies would later criticize George W. Bush for creating a “chilling effect” on Muslim charitable giving by closing down organizations such as BIF, and Pres. Obama personally promised to make it easier for American Muslims to donate zakat.

In addition to receiving money from BIF, al-Khattab secured funding from Osama bin Laden in 1999 to fund Chechen operations.  The website History Commons has noted that Osama bin Laden and Ibn al-Khattab also shared the same wealthy Arab donor network.  By October 2001, Khattab had an enough of a financial war chest to offer to pay salaries and death benefits to jihadists who went to fight in Afghanistan against the impending American and coalition invasion.

It’s a mistake to think that any single terrorist operation only cost the price of materials used to carry out the operation.  It takes a lot of money to create a culture of indoctrination, training, and media messaging.  A single attack is the result of sizable investments over a long period of time by men such as Ibn al-Khattab.

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Bangladesh overwhelmed by the financial jihad

November 26, 2012

Bangladesh continues to teach the world more and more about the collusion between Islamic sharia financial institutions and terrorist organizations.

First there was the revelation that IBBL uses zakat to fund terrorists.  Then there was the U.S. Senate’s damaging report about HSBC last summer which highlighted the British bank’s relationships with IBBL and another sinister sharia bank in Bangladesh, the Social Islami Bank Limited.

The revelations probably had something to do with FATF issuing a warning to Bangladesh to clean up its act and tighten the screws on terror financing.  The government of Bangladesh is indeed trying to, but the jihadi swamp there is so foul, and sharia banking is so dominant over conventional banking, that one wonders if the swamp can ever be drained.

This informative November article from the Eurasia Review provides some excellent background on the last 20 years of terrorist financing in Bangladesh and how the country wound up in its current stew with FATF:

Bangladesh: Banking For Terror – Analysis

By: SATP
November 12, 2012

By Sanchita Bhattacharya

In what seems a logical culmination of events, Bangladesh has been given time until February 2013 to address deficiencies in its fight against money-laundering and terror-financing to avert black-listing by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)…

…[T]he U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation, in its July 17, 2012, report titled U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History, disclosed that two Bangladesh-based banks, Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL) and Social Islami Bank Limited (SIBL) were involved in terror financing. Regarding the functioning of HSBC, it was mentioned that the bank acted as a financier to clients seeking to route funds from countries like Mexico, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, Myanmar, Japan and Russia. The report also stated that the HSBC supplied dollars to IBBL and SIBL, ignoring evidence of their links to terror financing. HSBC did not submit these two banks to enhanced monitoring for suspicious transactions, despite recommendation by HSBC’s own Financial Intelligence Group (FIG).

According to the document, SIBL’s ownership stakes were held by two Saudi Arabia based non-governmental organizations (NGOs): the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) – implicated in terrorist financing by the U.S. administration and included on the list of those prohibited to do business in the country; and Lajnat-al-Birr-al-Islam (Benevolence International Foundation, BIF), one of al Qaeda’s financers.

It was noted, further, that Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank, also engaged in suspicious transaction, had a 37 per cent ownership in IBBL. HSBC also had maintained an association with Al Rajhi, a member of al Qaeda’s “Golden Chain” – a list including at least 20 top Saudi and Gulf States’ financial sponsors of al Qaeda, including bankers, businessmen, and former ministers.

The U.S. report on terror financing was not a recent finding. Since 9/11, the U.S. has taken strong steps to halt the flow of funds to terrorist organizations under Executive Order 13224 and related elements of the USA Patriotic Act.

The exposure of the unholy nexus between banking establishments and terrorist activities in Bangladesh can be traced back to the watershed country-wide serial bomb blasts on August 17, 2005. 459 explosions had been orchestrated in 63 of the country’s 64 Districts (excluding Munshiganj), killing three persons and injuring 100 others, on that date. After the serial blasts, which were orchestrated by the Jamaat ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the role of IBBL in promoting religious terror was brought under scrutiny, when Bangladesh Home Ministry constituted a committee to investigate terror financing. Subsequent to the arrest of the JMB ‘chief’ Shaikh Abdur Rahman and his second in command Siddiqui Islam alias Bangla Bhai, and the subsequent seizure of some banking documents, the investigation team documented suspicious transactions with IBBL branches in Sylhet, Gazipur and Savar, where violations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act were noticed. The Act which came into existence in 2002 was last amended on June 20, 2011. Rahman and Bangla Bhai were also found to have accounts with IBBL. The two were eventually hanged on March 30, 2007 – Rahman in Comilla Jail and Bangla Bhai in Mymensingh Prison.

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Where are they now?

June 4, 2010

The Treasury Department has designated seven U.S. Muslim charities since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.  Critics of U.S. designation procedures love to point out that only one of those organizations involved has been convicted, but what of the others?

Al Haramain Islamic Foundation—The Saudi charity Al Haramain funded Somali and Bosnian Islamists, had ties to Al Qaeda, and helped fund the 2002 Bali bombing.  Its U.S. branch in Oregon was designated by Treasury in 2004.  Al Haramain’s parent organization was dissolved by the Saudi government and the United Nations also blacklisted Al Haramain.  Legal charges in the U.S. were dropped because the two individuals who operated the charity fled to Saudi Arabia.  The charity was shut down and its assets are sold.  Therefore the government determined, “it would be an inefficient waste of resources to proceed against the shell corporation in this case until one of the individual defendants is apprehended.”

Benevolence International Foundation—BIF raised money to arm Al Qaeda.  Treasury designated them in 2002.  The “charity” has been shut down, and their CEO is serving time in federal prison for racketeering.

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