Posts Tagged ‘EU’

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EU to delist IRGC subsidiary in Iran deal

July 28, 2015

One of several poison pills in the pages of the nuclear agreement with Iran is an offer to lift sanctions on an Iranian construction company controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  The maneuver would enrich the IRGC front company and strengthen the IRGC’s political and economic stranglehold over public life in Iran.  Money made by the construction company will also be funneled into terrorism by the IRGC.  From Ali Alfoneh of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (h/t @skinroller):

EU Delisting of IRGC Construction Giant Will Boost Terror Financing

Ali Alfoneh
27th July 2015 – FDD Policy Brief

The Iran nuclear deal signed July 14 stipulates that eight years after its implementation, the European Union will delist a construction conglomerate owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In so doing, the EU will inject a massive cash flow into one of the IRGC’s other primary industries: terrorism.

Khatam al-Anbia (literally, “Seal of the Prophets”) was born as an IRGC engineering corps during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), building trenches and fortifications. Since then, it has developed into the largest contracting company in Iran – potentially even the country’s largest firm outright – benefitting from government contracts on a no-bid basis.  Its projects now include developing Iran’s massive South Pars gas field, building a pipeline to Pakistan, and a Tehran metro line, to name a few.

In 2010, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned the conglomerate, citing declassified intelligence that the profits from its activities “support the full range of the IRGC’s illicit activities, including WMD proliferation and support for terrorism.”

The demise of Hassan Shateri, the head of Khatam al-Anbia’s Lebanon branch, is a case in point. On February 12, 2013, Shateri was killed while accompanying an arms convoy en route from Syria to Lebanon – allegedly in an airstrike by Israeli jets. Details soon emerged that he was heading efforts to replenish Hezbollah’s missile arsenal and its launch sites along the Israeli border. Shateri, reports revealed, was actually a commander of the Quds Force, the IRGC external arm responsible for “exporting the revolution” worldwide…

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Syrian gangs profit from human pipeline

November 6, 2013

The Mirror is reporting that Syrian refugees are paying high dollar to crime syndicates to gain entry to Europe.  The British daily says that this phenomenon raises the specter that groups fighting in Syria such as Al Qaeda could use the same tactics to send jihadists into the EU.

Criminal gangs smuggling Syria refugees into Britain for £11,000 a time exposed

27 Oct 2013

The gang’s activities raise serious concerns that terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda could use similar tactics to sneak jihadists into Europe

A people-trafficking gang raking in millions of pounds by bringing hundreds of Syrian refugees into the UK is today exposed by the Sunday Mirror.

The gang in Istanbul, Turkey, told our undercover investigators that for £34,000 they would smuggle three men here from Syria using false ­passports and minders.

We had earlier met a Syrian woman who used her life savings to pay the gang to help her flee after being tortured in her home country.

The teacher, who we are calling Ishtar to protect her identity, is now living in southern England.

She told how traffickers got her from Turkey to Britain after handing her a false ­passport.

She was flown to Austrian capital Vienna, driven to Sweden, then caught a BA flight to the UK.

The gang’s activities raise serious concerns that terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda could use similar tactics to sneak jihadists into Europe.

We were alerted to the criminal ­organisation by an anonymous phone call to our London offices.

Our investigator was warned: “This trade is making millions for Turkish gangs.

“They have fixers around Europe and in the UK flying people across Europe. They have people working in airports who look the other way.

“They are taking Syrians to Italy, Holland and the Scandinavian countries, but Britain is the most expensive. On landing, the Syrian asks for asylum.

“They are often out of the airport within three hours because nobody is going to send them back to a country where people are being killed by chemical weapons.”

Ishtar told us how she escaped and why she turned to the traffickers.

She said: “Hundreds of Syrians pay gangs in Turkey to get them into Britain so they can apply for asylum.

“I used my life savings and my family’s gold to pay a gang €13,000 (£11,000) to help me start a new life in safety…

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EU court further limits blacklisting authority

September 23, 2013

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) set a high bar this summer for justifying individual sanctions against terrorist financiers by tossing an appeal of the court’s earlier decision on sanctions against Yasin al-Qadi, the Saudi multimillionaire creator of the Muwafaq Foundation.

In 2008, the ECJ ruled that the authorities levying such sanctions had to provide a summary to the sanctioned individual of the information that led to the sanctions.  The European Commission complied by providing a summary to al-Qadi and his lawyers.

But ECJ and al-Qadi still weren’t satisfied.  An even higher standard has been promulgated:  the allegations in the summary must be “well founded.”  Surely, the litigants in the case which included the U.K., the European Commission, and the EU’s Council of Ministers, believed the evidence was well-founded enough to impose the sanctions, but not well-founded enough to meet the ever shifting standards of the ECJ.

The law firm of Brick Court Chambers notes that the judgment “is of considerable general significance in relation to the standard of review to be applied in sanctions cases, and the treatment of national security-sensitive material, in the European courts.”

Indeed.  The judgment essentially forces European governments to divulge sensitive intelligence to terrorists to explain why the terrorists are being sanctioned by those governments.

European Voice has a good article explaining the background and the ruling:

Top EU court clears Saudi terror suspect

By Toby Vogel  –  18.07.2013

European Court of Justice rules that the UK and the European Commission failed to provide evidence of Al-Qaeda links.

In a final judgment delivered today, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has sided with Yassin Abdullah Kadi, a Saudi national who had fought his blacklisting by the United Nations and the European Union for over a decade.

Kadi was blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council in October 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, over alleged links to al-Qaeda, with the European Union following suit days later. He launched a legal challenge against the freeze of his considerable assets in the EU. In 2008, the ECJ ruled that his rights had been violated because he had not been given the reasons for his blacklisting. The United Kingdom, the European Commission and the EU’s Council of Ministers appealed against that ruling.

Following the 2008 ruling, the Commission provided Kadi with a summary of the reasons for his blacklisting and re-imposed sanctions against him.

The ECJ has now dismissed the appeal by the UK, the Council and the Commission, ruling that “no information or evidence has been produced to substantiate the allegations, roundly refuted by Mr Kadi, of his being involved in activities linked to international terrorism”, according to a summary of the judgment.

The Court also found while the summary the Commission gave to Kadi of the reasons for the sanctions was sufficiently detailed and specific, there was insufficient evidence for his alleged terrorist links.

While the court procedure was underway, and following a decade of litigation in the EU, the US and Switzerland, the UN last year removed Kadi’s name from its sanctions list, following a recommendation from the UN’s ombudsman. Once again, the EU simply implemented the UN’s decision and removed Kadi from its own list as well.

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Financial data mining yields no gold nuggets

September 19, 2013

Financial privacy is becoming a fading memory of the past due to aggressive regulations by Western governments that require bankers to serve as snitches against their own customers for transactions that may or may not be criminal in nature. These regulations are costly for the banks to comply with (costs which are ultimately passed on to customers), and they carry a price for citizens’ privacy as well.

All that might be forgiven if the invasive policies actually result in stopping terrorists, their financial transactions, or their operations.  But according to new research being conducted in the European Union, the results of such programs are “meager and sometimes debatable.” The government holds the data while you’re left holding the bag.

A tip of the hat to Andrew S. Bowen for sending this over:

Terrorism financing barely traceable using data analysis

28 August 2013

Doctoral research by Mara Wesseling has shown that the data analyses being performed as part of the European fight against terrorism financing are of little use for preventing terrorism. Wesseling will receive her doctorate from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) on 3 September.

Immediately following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the European Union created the EU Action Plan for Combating Terrorism, which included action against terrorism financing as a ‘core component’. Politicians, policymakers and legal experts stress the importance of combating terrorism financing, as they see money as a crucial element in the propagation of terrorism. Specific programmes have been set up to address the problem.

‘My research shows that it cannot yet be demonstrated whether these programmes have had much success with regard to tracking down suspected terrorists or preventing terrorist attacks. In light of the meagre and sometimes debatable results of both programmes, the question arises whether the social and political changes instituted as part of the data-analysis-driven fight against terrorism are (still) desirable or justified,’ Wesseling says.

Terrorist Finance Tracking Program

In her research, Wesseling analysed the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP – better known as the SWIFT programme in the wake of the ‘SWIFT affair’) and the Third European AML/CFT directive. These two programmes constitute the most significant initiatives in the European fight against the financing of terrorism.

It has been shown that risk analyses carried out by banks as part of the Third European AML/CFT directive have revealed virtually no patterns that point to terrorism financing. Wesseling goes on to say that the preventive power of the TFTP to detect terrorist networks at an early stage is also limited…

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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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Safety smokescreen for Conviasa ban

April 11, 2012

The European Union has imposed an “operating ban” against the Venezuelan airline Conviasa.  This is the same airline that former ambassador Roger Noriega  said “conducts regular flights between Caracas and Damascus and Teheran. The Hezbollah networks use these flights and others to ferry operatives, recruits, and cargo in and out of the region.”  Amb. Noriega also suggested that Conviasa has been used to traffic cocaine from Venezuela to West Africa.

The new Conviasa ban has been attributed in public to questions about airline safety, but anti-money laundering insider Kenneth Rijock has pointed out on his blog that the ban may actually have been imposed due to the transport of nuclear materials from Venezuela to Iran with a stopover in Europe, or due to bulk gold smuggling by the airline to help buoy a faltering Iranian economy.  From Mr. Rijock on Apr. 4:

DID VENEZUELAN AIRLINE MOVE NUCLEAR MATERIAL THROUGH EUROPE ?

…The ban fails to specify exactly what operating conditions, ramp inspections, or other events caused this action, but the grounds may be much more disturbing than flight safety deficiencies.

Any one of these may have been the reason to ban Conviasa from EU airports:

  1. Seats on Conviasa’s curious long-haul operation between Caracas, Damascus and Tehran, have a history of being inaccessible to civilian passengers. It has served as a conduit for Iranian nationals,  traveling for any number of reasons, including evasion of international sanctions, to gain access to the Western Hemisphere. Visas are freely available at the Venezuelan Embassy in Tehran for official travelers; I have seen a few of them on brand-new Iranian passports.
  2. Anti-Terrorism experts believe that agents of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, especially the Quds Force, its international wing, have entered Venezuela in that manner. Remember also that there is a Hezbollah Venezuela, and this is probably the only direct, open access for members of specially designated global terrorist organisations to travel from the Middle East to Latin America. The arrest and detention, at the US-Mexican border, of non-Spanish speaking Middle Eastern nationals suspected of terrorist affiliations, carrying valid Venezuelan passports, validates this belief. Hamas, ETA, whomever the terrorist group du jour happens to be currently in favour with the Chavez regime.
  3. These wide-body A340 aircraft have been engaged in heavy cargo airlift of military materiel either way, eastbound or westbound. Most experts have heard rumours of missiles to Venezuela; small arms to Syria and Iran; what else has been shipped into Iran, evading the international sanctions ? These aircraft are exempt from normal customs procedures in Venezuela, so frankly, anything goes.
  4. Gold has been known to have been shipped in bulk to Iran; we can also assume that bulk cash, in the form of US Dollars, is also traveling from the Chavez regime to Iran. Remember, due to the sanctions, Iran is in dire need of “Greenbacks” to purchase goods and services in the global marketplace for cash. They are getting some of those needs met from Iraqi sources, but their international purchases from suppliers willing to do business surely do not involve credit.
  5. My best guess is that the EC does not want a nuclear accident at one of the EU airports, due to a mishap involving a Conviasa aircraft carrying Uranium to Iran, or even a nuclear device or component to Venezuela, whose leadership has longed to have the nuclear option. Is that really why Conviasa is now banned from EU airports ?

Should a Conviasa aircraft make a forced landing, or suffer an accident between Caracas and the Middle East, whether through equipment malfunction, or pilot error, we need to see what it is carrying on board, preferably with inspectors carrying radiation-measuring equipment, before its cargo is released. I wonder what will then happen to the Conviasa board of directors and the pilot in command.

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2011: Folly of funding the Arab Spring

January 5, 2012

The year 2011 will be remembered for the Arab Spring, and it will only look worse as the fog clears.  We saw the power vacuum created by the ouster of Arab leaders.  Now we see the filling of the vacuum by Islamist elements bent on imposing sharia law, subjugating their non-Muslim minority populations, and putting peace agreements with Israel into a paper shredder.  What’s worse—we bankrolled it.

Whether it was Pres. Obama’s insistence on a massive G8 stimulus package for the Islamic world or Hillary Clinton’s halal food distribution to the Libyan rebels, 2011 is one for the record books in terms of funding the very same menacing global force that we’ve been fighting since 9/11.

Here are 2011’s low points of squandered, taxpayer-originated Western aid money to a region falling under the shadow of the Muslim Brotherhood:

  • $135 million in U.S. financial aid to Libyan rebels and their newly forming Islamist government
  • €70 million ($90 million USD) from the European Commission humanitarian aid department (ECHO), €20 million from Sweden, over $15 million from the U.K. in aircraft and ships, and other EU member aid for a sum of $195 million in total European aid to Libya
  • Most notably, $20 billion in aid and loans for Egypt and Tunisia from the taxpayers of the G8 economies
  • France provided at least “40 tonnes of weapons” to Libyan rebels
  • For Tunisia, U.S. aid to the tune of $2 million in “Transitional Initiative” funds; and an additional $5 million to support “civil society” groups to peddle their influence with the new Islamist government
  • Federal grants to facilitate remittance programs to Tunisia and Libya
  • Pentagon officials announced in November that U.S. arms deals with Egypt will continue even though Egypt will most likely not honor its peace treaty with Israel

Supporters of the funding will say that this is helping to promote “reform” in the Arab world.

But recall that the Taliban itself was originally seen in the 1990s by several observers as a “reform movement” that would purge Afghanistan of its violent history of rival warlords that competed along ethnic, tribal, and regional lines.  There are many to this day (including State Department employees in private) who say we shouldn’t be worried about the Taliban because they’re more concerned with controlling Afghanistan than they are in exporting terrorism.

But the simple fact of 9/11, which the Taliban enabled by playing handmaiden to Al Qaeda, disproved the delusional concept that Islamist government presents no risk to the West.

We paid for the new Islamist regimes, and it’s time we demand a refund.