Posts Tagged ‘fida’’

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Seminary officials serve as Taliban henchmen

May 20, 2014

Islamic seminary administrators in Islamabad, Pakistan, get their marching orders from Taliban elements 270 miles away in Miranshah along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The Deobandi faculty are assisting the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) in issuing extortion demands and negotiating ransom payments from businessmen and politicians. The TTP-seminary connection was exposed in a joint report from Islamabad and Rawalpindi police last month with the latest revelations coming from an analysis of phone calls between the TTP and the Islamabad seminaries.

Keep in mind that the men serving as the Taliban’s intermediaries are the same men who are “educating” the next generation of imams in Pakistan’s capital. Ponder for a moment how that bodes for the future.

Thanks to Watcherone for sending this in from the newspaper Dawn on May 1:

ISLAMABAD: Seminaries operating inside the capital are reportedly assisting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with the collection of extortion and ransom money by arranging deals between militants and their victims, sources in civil and military intelligence agencies said. In addition, the seminaries are also providing courier services to the TTP by arranging for the money to be transported to pre-determined locations easily accessible for TTP personnel, sources said.

Intelligence officials said that an analysis of the calls made in cases of extortion and ransom demands revealed that most of them came from Miranshah in North Waziristan.

Officials cited the case of retired Lt-Gen Dr Mehmoodul Hasan, who in 2013 received a call from a man named Latif, who introduced him as the second-in-command to Hakimullah Mehsud and demanded Rs50 million in extortion money.

Following the demand, an administrator from an Islamabad-based seminary acted as the mediator and finalised their deal at Rs10 million. The man also sent two persons to collect the money from Lt-Gen Hasan.

“Then, nearly a month ago, a man named Ashfaq called Lt-Gen Hasan again, demanding a further Rs50 million within 10 days,” the officials said, adding that this was followed by another call from someone who identified himself as a leader of the Taliban and asked the general to ensure they got their money within 72 hours.

“The same man who brokered the first agreement was used to negotiate the price,” the officials said.

Moreover, two industrialists from Faizabad and a politician have been receiving calls for extortion since a year, the officials said, adding that they refused to pay the amount and also denied meetings with those who approached them for finalising the deal. In response, the miscreants affiliated with Qari Sanaullah, allies of Qari Mansoor affiliated with TTP based in Miranshah, are planning to target them, they added.

The officials said that the role of the religious seminaries in collecting extortion for the TTP was established and action against them has been suggested…

“…has been suggested”? Yeah, thanks Pakistan. Good “suggestion.” The Taliban’s next victims will surely appreciate that action against them was “suggested” by somebody.

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France fuels Al Qaeda with €25m infusion

November 8, 2013

Talk about funding both sides of the conflict.

While France has led the way in the fight against jihadists in Mali, it also continues to pay ransoms to Al Qaeda and its offshoots to secure the release of Frenchmen abducted abroad.  The latest ransom—a 35 million USD transfer to Al Qaeda in North Africa—is a direct violation of the G8’s recent public pledge against making such payments.

See this and this for previous Money Jihad coverage of multi-million dollar French ransom payments to terrorists.

From International Business Times on Oct. 30:

France ‘Paid Al-Qaida €25m to Release Hostages in Niger’

France paid up to €25m ($34m, £21.5m) in ransom to al-Qaida to free four Frenchmen who had been held hostage for years in the African Sahel, according to sources close to the operation.

The sources dispute claims by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian that no money was paid to secure the release of Pierre Legrand, 28, Daniel Larribe, 62, Thierry Dol, 32, and Marc Féret, 46.

Le Drian said the four, who had been kidnapped in 2010 in Niger, were released thanks to the brokerage of the country’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.

“There was no assault. There was an initiative taken by the networks of [President Issoufou] which permitted liberation without clashes,” Le Drian told France’s TF1.

However a source close to the Nigerian negotiating team told AFP a large sum was paid to the group responsible for the abduction, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Between 20 and 25 million euros was paid to obtain the release of the French hostages,” the source said. Similar claims were made by Le Monde…

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Taliban force businessmen to support jihad

October 18, 2013

Even after formally being out of power for a dozen years, the Taliban has been able to sustain diversified and balanced revenue streams from a wider span of sources than nearly any other terrorist group on earth.  They collect royalties on opium and ordinary crops, taxes on shipments within and beyond Afghanistan, state sponsorship through Pakistan’s ISI spy service, zakat from wealthy Gulf donors siphoned through third party Islamic charities, jizya from Sikhs and other religious minorities in South and Central Asia, and ransoms from ordinary and wealthy Pakistanis—all of which they justify on the basis of Islamic law.

Dawn calls the ransoms “extortion,” which is vibrant and growing enterprise for Mullah Omar’s men:

Terror group sees Islamabad as a lucrative city for extortions

For the last couple of years, the capital city has seen an alarming increase in extortion cases. Unable to trace the culprits, the police say an outlawed terror group is behind the crime.

The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has a hand in all the small and big extortion incidents. The terror outfit is involved in extorting money from rich people directly and indirectly, a police officer told Dawn on the condition of anonymity. He added that the TTP was found directly involved in targeting big businessmen, traders and professionals, especially doctors. But these cases were not so rampant.

The disturbing factor is that the TTP was also indirectly encouraging small groups to collect extortions and share the money with it. This racket of splinter groups has widened its activities across the city but most of the cases are not reported to the police on time, he said.

The TTP started getting extortions after its traditional source of foreign funding was either plugged or reduced. In the early days, militant groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan used to receive funds from abroad.

Though the militant groups still receive funds from other countries, they are not sufficient to carry out terror activities. This has forced them to look for other sources of income inside the country, with extortion, kidnapping for ransom and bank robberies being the most lucrative of them.

It was in September 2012 when the police arrested three people in the capital city and unearthed the TTP’s direct involvement in receiving extortions. The network had demanded Rs 6 million as extortion from a trader in the Blue Area.

During investigation, the accused disclosed that they collected extortions from traders and transferred the money to Manchester, UK, through Hundi for onward delivery to the terror network.

In June this year, traders of Sabzi Mandi informed the police that a group of Afghan nationals was forcing extortions from them, but when the police registered a case, the group escaped from the area. During investigation of the case, it was revealed in August that some people in Khana Pul, Sihala and Mandi Mor areas also collected millions of rupees every month and diverted them to militant outfits, the officer added.

The second direct involvement of the TTP in extortion came to light when a business centre in Sihala was attacked a week back. This was the second attack on the centre since July 26.

On June 17, Mohammad Raja Asif, the owner of the centre, received a telephone call in which the caller threatened him to pay Rs100 million. Later, he continued receiving similar calls from different local and Afghan numbers.

On July 26, his business centre was attacked with hand grenades in which his office was damaged. The next day – July 27 – he received another call from an Afghanistan-based number and the caller told him that the attack was the result of his failure to pay the extortion sum.

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Taliban nets 650 million rupees from ransoms

September 27, 2013

In the last 18 months, the Taliban has received at least Rs 650 million (over 6 million USD), in ransoms for kidnapping businessmen in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Pakistan.  The International News speculates that the real figure is higher than official reports—probably billions of Pakistan rupees.  Some of the captives’ families are able to pay the ransoms; some are not.  Those who don’t are killed:

Over Rs650m paid to Taliban as ransom

Billions of rupees paid but not reported; police, agencies totally flopped

Usman Manzoor

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Despite the payment of hundreds of millions from taxpayers’ money, not only the police but all the intelligence and law enforcement agencies have failed to trace extortion and kidnapping for ransom cases in the federal capital and Rawalpindi, being carried out by the Taliban.

Latest official documents show that some Rs650 million have been paid to the Taliban by the businessmen of the twin cities during the last 18 months alone. The billions of rupees paid have not been reported to the police and agencies, and the businessmen have dealt secretly with the Taliban to save their lives.

Documents available with The News reveal that in Rawalpindi and Islamabad alone, a list of 45 cases of kidnapping for ransom and extortion has been prepared in which Rs653 million have been paid to Taliban while billions have remained undiscovered…

The report submitted to the high-ups of the police, accompanied by the list of 45 cases since January 2012, states that at least four traders have been killed by the Taliban for not obeying their command to pay ransom and extortion money…

The Taliban is biding their time until U.S. troops leave Afghanistan.  They’ve got plenty of money in the bank from schemes like this to coopt, bribe, or conquer Karzai.  While asset freezes and sanctions against Al Qaeda have been somewhat useful, Western financial pressure on the Taliban has been ineffective for a decade.

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AP deems terrorist ransom demands “pragmatic”

January 27, 2013

In reference to the Algerian hostage standoff that left 37 captives dead, the Associated Press has painted an almost sympathetic portrait of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the lead abductor.

Starting off with a headline claiming that Belmokhtar preferred making money to killing hostages, the AP further asserts that Belmokhtar was “known as the more pragmatic and less brutal of the commanders of an increasingly successful offshoot of al-Qaeda,” that “those who have dealt directly with him say his cell has never executed a captive,” and that Belmokhtar denounced actions that “caused many civilian casualties.”

Any exceptions to this history of Belmokhtar’s alleged benevolence, intimates the AP, may have involved friendly fire by security forces attempting to rescue hostages.  The AP inserts this whiff of suspicion about the rescuers twice in the article saying, “It’s unclear if the two died from friendly fire,” and later on, “It’s unclear how many were killed by friendly fire.”  Just once, couldn’t the AP have written, “It’s unclear how many were killed by Belmokhtar’s men”?

The AP does not even seem to consider that Belmokhtar may use the money from ransoms to purchase more arms, recruit and train more terrorist operatives, and carry out more abductions and terrorist attacks that kill people.  The AP appears to cast Belmokhtar’s motives as primarily financial without identifying his religious and ideological motivations.  Why didn’t Belmokhtar pursue a career as a businessman, or even as a crime boss, rather than as a terrorist, if his motives were mostly financial?

The one saving grace in this well-researched but sadly biased article comes in the dead last paragraph—the least important paragraph for journalists:

“Before he led this operation in Algeria, that was the sentiment I had, that Belmokhtar was less brutal,” [hostage negotiator Moustapha Chaffi] said by telephone on Friday. “Now I find myself thinking that they are all terrorists. That they all take hostages. That they are all fanatics. So to draw a difference between them is really, really relative. There’s in fact no difference anymore.”

That insight should have been the lead paragraph.

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New front in economic warfare: business data held for ransom

January 11, 2013

The cyber-attacks originate “overseas,” often from Russia, but can Iranian-backed hackers or groups like “Izz ad-Din al-Qassam” be far behind?  Surely they can get a mullah to declare fatwa saying that holding data for ransom is permissible under Islamic law, yes?  As long as the purpose is to destroy the “infidel” Western financial system, and especially if the ransom money is used to advance jihad.  From CNN Money:

The article accompanying this video in December also said that “Security firm McAfee on Thursday released a report warning that a massive cyberattack on 30 U.S. banks has been planned, with the goal of stealing millions of dollars from consumers’ bank accounts.”

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African refugees kidnapped to fund militants

November 25, 2012

Sudanese and Eritrean refugees are being abducted by Bedouin gangsters for exorbitant ransoms.  Human rights activists refer to the ongoing terror campaign as “the world’s forgotten hostage crisis.”  Surely, the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt will do something to put a stop to this racket within their own borders, right?  Don’t hold your breath.

The Atlantic (h/t @ChallaHuAkbar) has the latest this overlooked crime spree:

CAIRO — Memories of torture still haunt 17 year-old Ksamet five weeks after she was released from a small, underground room where Bedouins held her captive for two months in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. She was repeatedly raped, beaten, and burned as family and friends abroad raised money for her $25,000 ransom. “They tortured us almost every day,” Ksamet, from Eritrea, said through an interpreter. “And every week, if we didn’t pay, they’d torture us even more.”

The young woman is one of hundreds of Africans who have been held against their will in the lawless region that borders Israel, often severely abused and largely ignored by the international community. Bedouin are holding over 1,000 people, and Egyptian police are detaining 500 more, according to Meron Estefanos, a Sweden-based Eritrean activist and radio presenter who has spoken to hundreds of Eritreans held hostage in the Sinai.

The steady flow of people north through the Sinai has taken place since 2006 and initially consisted mainly of Sudanese migrants paying to be smuggled to economic opportunities in Israel. In 2008, many Eritreans seeking asylum in Israel started to come, too. The vast majority were trying to escape poverty and conscription under an oppressive dictatorship where indefinite national service is mandatory for most — frequently into their 40s and 50s. Legally leaving the country is nearly impossible…

While many Eritreans taken hostage in the Sinai had paid smugglers to take them to Israel, more and more of those held hostage over the past three years never even had a desire to go there. Many have been kidnapped in or around refugee camps in Sudan and Ethiopia or on Sudan’s borders — or sold by rogue smugglers or corrupt Sudanese border guards — and brought to Sinai where Bedouin extort them for cash. “I had no intention of going to Israel,” said Ksamet, who left behind two sick parents after the military drafted her. “I wanted to go to Khartoum.”

Instead, her and her fiancé, who was also fleeing military service, made it just across the border to Kassala, a city in eastern Sudan only a dozen miles from Eritrea. But after four days there, her smugglers — whom she had paid about $3,300 — sold her to members of the Rashaida tribe of Eritrea and Sudan, notorious for trafficking people and weapons up the Red Sea coast. Ksamet’s fiancé ran free before they could get ahold of him. “I still don’t know where he is,” she said.

Hostages report being subjected to electrocution, burned with molten plastic, beaten with chains and rods, hung by their hair, and threatened with organ harvesting, among other torture methods, according to refugee-aid groups and activists. Sexual abuse ranges from rape and the burning of genitalia to sodomy with heated objects — even to children.

Eritrean villages sometimes sell off homes, livestock, and jewelry to free relatives from the kidnappers; ransoms can reach $50,000. The Bedouin put their captives on the phone with family in the diaspora, beating them so their relatives hear them scream as they plead for help.

The Bedouin hold them for months on average, and many people do not survive. Dumped corpses litter the desert, with 4,000 dead over past five years, according to a September report Estefanos co-authored through Tilburg University, in the Netherlands, and Europe External Policy Advisors, a research center in Brussels. “The treatment has gotten to a level where they would rather die than live,” said an employee at a refugee-aid organization in Cairo.

Those raising money often pool funds to free women and children first. Ksamet was one of three women in a group of 14 that also included children. “I was the only woman left” after the other two paid their ransom, Ksamet said. “So they prioritized me.” Often even when the ransom is met, activists say, the Bedouin merely collect the money and sell their human haul on to the next group of kidnappers, ensuring more rounds of beatings and begging…

What the article doesn’t detail, like many other news reports on the subject, is what exactly the Bedouin do with the money they receive.  But according to a Guardian article earlier this year, the beneficiaries of the human trafficking and weapons trafficking program are “Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.”  A separate AP report suggested that Sinai militants may use the money for cross-border attacks against Israel.