Posts Tagged ‘EU’


Sweden: patron of Israel boycott movement

July 31, 2011

If you follow the money, Sweden is among the leaders, if not the number one advocate, of boycotting and disinvestment in Israel.

Sweden is a primary funder of the organizations Addameer, Al Mezan, Diakonia, Alternative Information Center (through Diakonia), Defence of Children International – Palestine Section, Sabeel, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, all of which advocate sanctions or boycotts against Israel.

Sweden is also a main donor for NDC, a conglomerate funding mechanism that finances at least eight anti-Israel organizations itself.

Elder of Ziyon has a helpful chart showing the money behind the movement.  His table also shows that a big culprit is the European Union itself, funding at least 13 such groups.

The original research comes from NGO Monitor.


Recap of sanctions against Iran

May 31, 2011

Attorney Barbara Linney has provided readers with a good summary of sanctions laws against Iran that have expanded over the past year.  From Lexology on Apr. 28:

U.S. Developments. On July 1, 2010, long sought amendments to the Iran Sanctions Act (“ISA”) became law. As amended by the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability & Divestment Act (“CISADA”), the ISA targets persons determined to have invested $20 million or more in Iran’s ability to develop or obtain petroleum resources. CISADA expanded the definition of petroleum resources to include petroleum, refined petroleum products, oil or liquefied natural gas, natural gas resources, oil or liquefied natural gas tankers, and products used to construct or maintain pipelines used to transport oil or liquefied natural gas. Also targeted are persons contributing to Iran’s conventional and nuclear weapons proliferation activities, persons supplying refined petroleum products to Iran, and those who supply goods, services, and technology that could facilitate or contribute to Iran’s ability to produce or import refined petroleum products (subject to certain materiality and value thresholds). Provision of ships or shipping services to deliver refined petroleum products to Iran is a sanctionable service. CISADA also imposed or required adoption of other measures designed to tighten the blockade of Iran, including increased penalties for violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

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Terrorist wives hit gov’t jackpot

May 6, 2010

Let the welfare money flow because any good Muslim wife would never, ever, do anything to fund her husband’s jihad against the West, right?  At least according to a European court.  Check out this Apr. 30 article from The Sun via The Taxpayers’ Alliance (a group which is also quoted in the article):

The Sun: ‘Terror’ families’ benefits victory

EU judges yesterday ruled it ILLEGAL for Britain to slap restrictions on benefits for families of terror suspects.

The controversial decision gives the families full access to state handouts worth tens of thousands of pounds a year.

It is a damaging blow to Britain’s war on terrorism and violent extremists.

The ruling came after the wives of three suspects linked to Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban launched a legal challenge. Under current rules the Treasury can impose strict limits on how benefits are paid to families of suspects.

They can order that a suspect’s wife can only withdraw £10 or £15 a week in cash for each family member. Other payments can only be made via a debit card.

Families can also be ordered to give Treasury officials a detailed breakdown of how they spend their benefits. The restrictions target the spouses of people on the United Nation’s list of suspects who have had their bank accounts and assets frozen.

But the European Court of Justice sparked uproar yesterday by saying Britain’s rules broke EU law.

The judges ruled: “The regulation ordering funds to be frozen applies only to assets that can be used to support terrorist activities.” They said benefits money was intended to meet “vital needs”.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance said the EU move “undermined” the UK justice system’s authority. The Treasury “noted” the ruling. The case will return to the UK Supreme Court for a final ruling.


Cohen defends U.S. access to Euro bank data

April 9, 2010

Picking up where we left off yesterday, Treasury official David Cohen spent much of the second half of his speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy explaining the SWIFT program, or the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP), as Treasury calls it.

The program allows information about European bank transactions to be shared with Treasury upon request to assist with terrorist investigations.

I and a couple others on this very blog have expressed misgivings about the scope of the program.  I wrote in February that, “There may be sensitive or classified details, but what would be helpful is if Treasury could give us some actual aggregate stats on how successful the program has been to judge whether it’s worth keeping.”

Well, my wish has been granted.  Leaving aside all the problems with Cohen’s speech on Tuesday, he provided not only program stats, but examples of the program’s effectivness.  But let him tell you about it:

[The U.S.] permitted a noted French counter-terrorism expert, Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiére, to review the TFTP on behalf of the EU, and offered him unprecedented access to the program. 

In late 2008, Judge Bruguiére issued a report in which he reached two critical conclusions.  First, he found that the Treasury Department had implemented significant and effective controls and safeguards that ensure the protection of personal data.  Second, he reported that the TFTP generated significant value, in particular for countries in the EU, where over 1,300 TFTP-derived leads concerning specific terrorist threats had been shared with Member States.  Judge Bruguiére reiterated both of these conclusions in a second report on the TFTP, which he issued in early 2010.

Judge Bruguiére’s conclusion that the TFTP is an extremely effective counter-terrorism investigative tool–not only for the United States, but for Europe as well–is emphatically true.   TFTP-generated leads have aided thousands of investigations, here and abroad, by providing law enforcement and counter-terrorism officials with information that helps them follow the money to the violent extremists who are dead-set on doing us harm.  This is the stuff of everyday, nose-to-the-grindstone work that protects our mutual security in often imperceptible, but nonetheless consequential, ways.

Let me offer some examples: TFTP-generated leads have assisted in the investigations of the 2002 Bali bombings; the Van Gogh murder in the Netherlands in 2004; the plan to attack John F. Kennedy airport in 2007; the Islamic Jihad Union plot to attack Germany that same year; the Mumbai attacks in 2008; and the Jakarta hotel attacks in 2009. 

Information gleaned from the TFTP has been used productively in investigations of several al Qaeda-linked terrorist attacks, including the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the 2005 bombings in the London Underground. 

Results from searches of TFTP data have also aided investigations that have disrupted several planned al-Qaeda plots.  For example, we passed results from TFTP searches to European governments during their 2006 investigation into the al Qaeda-directed plot to attack transatlantic airline flights between the UK and the U.S.  The plot was foiled, and in mid-September 2009 three individuals were convicted for their involvement and each was sentenced to at least thirty years in prison.

To take another example, in October 2008, eight individuals were arrested in Spain for their suspected involvement with al Qaeda.  European partners provided us information outlining these individuals’ suspected connection to terrorism, and TFTP information clarified connections between the targets and other individuals in Spain, Morocco, and the Netherlands.  Many of those arrested are now serving jail time.

As of today, we have shared over 1,550 TFTP-generated reports with our European colleagues…

Good!  Cohen may be a suspect salesman, but this part of his speech was an important message and I’m grateful to the intelligence professionals and financial experts that authorized these examples  (if they had been classified before) to be released to the general public.  If these details are accurate, Europe should be ashamed that allowed an important tool like this to expire.


U.S. & European cooperation: vital for security or just Big Brother?

February 10, 2010

A committee of the European Union’s parliament has recommended the suspension of a program that allows the United States to obtain information on transactions and accounts from the Brussels-based banking transfer service known as SWIFT.

The program has been important to U.S. law enforcement investigations since 9/11.  Gen Jim Jones, U.S. National Security Advisor, has urged Europe to reconsider the bank deal.  It is vital in combatting financial crimes, Jones argued, including stopping Al Qaeda from expanding its foothold into the African Sahel.

In other news, the FinCEN, an agency of the U.S. Treasury, has floated a new rule for consideration that would enable U.S. states and local law enforcement to make requests for financial information under Sec. 314(a) of the Patriot Act.  Until now, only federal law enforcement has been able to request such information from foreign governments.

Does sharing information like this help with terrorist finance investigations, or does it represent the move toward a global big brother that will violate the financial privacy of American and EU citizens?