Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

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Hezbollah agent arrested in Atlanta

October 12, 2015

Hezbollah is brazen, organized, and among us.  They are sponsored directly by Shia fundamentalists in Iran.  They exploit Western free markets to fund Iranian terrorism.

From Reuters.  Hat tip to El Grillo:

Two alleged Hezbollah associates face US arms, money laundering charges

NEW YORK: Two Beirut residents have been arrested on U.S. charges that they took part in an alleged scheme to help Hezbollah launder drug money, and to funnel thousands of weapons and military parts to criminal groups in Lebanon and Iran, prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, said on Friday.

Iman Kobeissi, 50, was arraigned in Brooklyn on Friday and held without bail, following her arrest a day earlier in Atlanta on charges of conspiring to commit money laundering and conspiring to deal in unlicensed firearms.

The other defendant, Joseph Asmar, 42, was arrested in Paris on a U.S. warrant and charged with money laundering conspiracy…

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Islamic Relief gave $118K to terror-linked groups

September 21, 2014

New tax documents reveal that Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA), the largest Islamic charity in the United States, gave over $118,000 in grants in 2013 to entities with previous connections to terrorism.

IR-USA’s 2013 tax return, which was filed in July 2014, showed that the charity gave $45,495 in grants to the Florida branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful 2007 prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for financing the terrorist organization Hamas.

Their form 990 also shows that IR-USA gave $40,000 to the radical mosque Dar Al-Hijrah in Falls Church, Virginia, for a “zakat partner program.” Deceased terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki served as the mosque’s imam leading up to and immediately following the 9/11 attacks.

The tax schedule also documented almost $32,909 in grants to Services for Human Advancement and Resource Enhancement (SHARE) affiliates in Atlanta and Indianapolis of the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), a group which was founded by an unindicted co-conspirator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

IR-USA has been involved in several scandals in recent years: Money Jihad previously reported that IR-USA gives about $5 to $10 million per year to its parent charity Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), which has recently been banned from Israel for funding Hamas. IR-USA was also implicated in fraudulent multi-million dollar valuations of its drug stockpiles. More recently, Islamic Relief affiliates have described their own partnerships with the pro-Hamas front charity IHH to conduct operations in rebel-controlled territory in Syria.

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Nunn’s validation of Islamic Relief USA reveals system-wide failure

July 30, 2014

While she ran the Points of Light Foundation, U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (D-Ga.), authorized MissionFish, a Points of Light donation processor, to pass contributions from eBay customers to charities of their choice, including Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA). The Nunn campaign refers to this authorization as “validation;” in other words, Points of Light had researched the charity and validated it for inclusion on MissionFish’s list of eligible charities.

The Nunn campaign argues that $33,000 donated by eBay shoppers passed through Points of Light to IR-USA does not constitute a donation by Points of Light to IR-USA. That is disingenuous because what actually happened is that Points of Light received these ear-marked donations and then cut a check themselves to IR-USA. Points of Light benefits from the transaction because it increases the appearance of their overall charitable volume. The eBay customers would not have been able to donate funds to IR-USA while completing their purchases online if MissionFish had excluded the organization on their menu of options.

IR-USA donates millions of dollars each year to Islamic Relief Worldwide, a UK-based organization that has been banned by Israel for aiding Hamas, and whose leadership is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. A Department of Justice official has implicated IR-USA for being a conduit for the flow of money from America to terrorist groups abroad. Russian intelligence indicates that IR-USA funds militants in the North Caucasus—the region where the family of the Boston marathon bombers originate. Nunn and Points of Light could have discovered several of the red flags about IR-USA, many of which had already cropped up before validation occurred, by conducting due diligence research or even a basic Internet search.

Unfortunately, Points of Light isn’t the first organization to legitimize IR-USA. IR-USA work has been acknowledged by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, the Obamas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it maintains 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.

These politicians and agencies have been willing to overlook questionable practices by IR-USA because of their eagerness to demonstrate cooperation with Muslim Americans and Islamic charitable sector. The embrace of IR-USA was exacerbated by IR-USA’s fraudulent representation of itself as a larger charity than it actually was by hyper-inflating the valuation of their deworming drug stockpiles. Although the value of deworming drugs may sound like a technical, minor point, it is not. IR-USA basically perpetrated a fraud for several years by overstating the value of the drugs which made up 75 percent of their assets. Bigger institutions like USDA and Points of Light are likelier to partner with bigger charities, which IR-USA seemed to be. If IR-USA had reported a truthful value of its donations and assets, it may not have been viewed as a big enough charity to attract institutional partners like these.

A major charitable bundler like Points of Light had the resources to discover the disturbing truths about IR-USA’s connections to Hamas and its fraudulent financial statements prior to validation. It’s time that federal agencies and institutional donors started paying less attention to warm-and-fuzzy statements by politicians about what a great partner a certain charity is, and pay more attention to the results of basic due diligence research. Until then, and until there are changes at the highest levels of the IRS and the Department of Justice, and a willingness to confront IR-USA for its history of misrepresentations, we will probably see decisions like Nunn’s repeated again.

This piece has also been published at Terror Finance Blog.

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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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Backroom deal suspected as Turkish agent buys foreclosed Gulen school property

April 6, 2013

In 2012, the Atlanta-area Fulton Science Academy (FSA) borrowed $19 million to buy land to expand their campus.  FSA quickly defaulted, and Wells Fargo sued them.  On Feb. 5, the land was sold at a foreclosure auction for $3.2 million according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Foreclosure auction of Fulton Science Academy property

The winning bidder?  A recently incorporated company called “TruGlobe,” with three Turkish officers, who were somehow able to come up with over $3 million on the day of the foreclosure sale, at which cash or cashier’s checks are normally required as immediate payment.

Both the Fulton Science Academy and TruGlobe have addresses in Alpharetta, Georgia.  The similarities between the entities indicate probable collusion between the Gulen charter school and the winning bidder prior to the sale.  It is worth noting that bid rigging at foreclosure auctions is a growth area for criminal activity.

The website Roots in Alpharetta was the first to expose the “amazing coincidence” of the buyer’s Turkish identity:

Did a Fulton Science Academy benefactor purchase their land?

February 6, 2013

Has a Fulton Science Academy benefactor swooped in to save the embattled school’s construction project? Perhaps.

FSA’s stalled construction project off Westside Parkway was sold in a foreclosure auction this past Tuesday. WSBtv reported this week via twitter that a firm by the name of TruGlobe Inc purchased the land on the courthouse steps for $3.2 million.

TruGlobe is based here in Alpharetta, according to records at the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Principals with the company appear to be of Turkish descent and have ties to the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce.

Or it could all be an amazing coincidence. This blogger bets that the FSA will pursue a new state charter and attempt to revive their plans for new campus.

Indeed, the registered agent and chief financial officer of TruGlobe is listed as Ahmed Vehbi Ugur, a young man who describes himself as a board member of the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast.  Ugur is also registered as the CEO of the Maress Corporation, a Turkish kitchen appliance business with an Atlanta office.

The Fulton Science Academy belongs to a network of troublesome charter schools under the direction of Fethullah Gulen, an activist who seeks to replace the formally secular government in Turkey with a sharia-dominated Islamic caliphate.  Gulen schools have undertaken an influence peddling and crony contract scheme in Texas, improper financial activities in Georgia, were denied a charter in Virginia, and are currently under an FBI investigation for kickbacks.

Fulton County itself has recommended early revocation of FSA’s charter due to educational and financial shortcomings.  The State Board of Education of Georgia may consider such a suspension when it meets this month.

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UPDATE—April 8, 2013:  A colleague has noted that the Turkish parties in this case appear to have acquired a $19 million property for a fire sale price of $3 million, short-changing Wells Fargo and the Development Authority of Alpharetta by $16 million in the process.

Technically, the full $19 million debt owed by Fulton Science Academy has not been extinguished by the foreclosure sale to TruGlobe.  Wells Fargo could have pursued a confirmation of deficiency proceeding against FSA for the $16 million still owed.  However, Read the rest of this entry ?

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Revisiting Ghaith Pharaon’s ties to Bin Laden

March 28, 2013

A French parliamentary report released shortly after 9/11 revealed that Ghaith Pharoan and other Saudi elites were “directly linked to [Osama] Bin Laden through banks, holding companies, foundations and charities…”

This is the same Ghaith Pharoan who was involved with the $1.7 billion savings and loan scandals of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and CenTrust in the 1980s.  Although not officially charged with financing terrorism, Pharoan remains under U.S. indictment for “having been a front man in B.C.C.I.’s secret and unlawful acquisitions of American banks, including the National Bank of Georgia and the Independence Bank of Encino, Calif.”

Like many prominent Saudis, Pharoan peddled influence in the U.S. prior to his indictment without regard to political party, allegedly forming relationships with Henry Kissinger, members of the Carter administration including Bert Lance, and George W. Bush before he became involved in politics—a sign of the great lengths to which the Saudis have gone to curry favor with American officials.

The Guardian examined the French report (h/t History Commons) in this difficult-to-Google article below.  Thanks to Rushette for suggesting more coverage related to this subject.

City ‘haven’ for terrorist money laundering

Report says Bin Laden has extensive interests in UK

Osama bin Laden’s extensive financial interests in Britain are outlined today in a French parliamentary report that says the City is a money laundering haven for billions of pounds of tainted and terrorist money.

Up to 40 companies, banks and individuals based in Britain can legitimately be suspected of maintaining direct or indirect relations with the terrorist, according to a 70-page annexe, The Economic Environment of Osama bin Laden, attached to the French report. Compiled by an independent team of financial experts whose identity the French parliamentarians have undertaken not to reveal, the annexe reveals that the structure of Bin Laden’s financial network bears a striking similarity to that used by the collapsed BCCI bank for its fraudulent operations in the 1980s.

“This document clearly shows the great permeability of the British banking and financial system and the fragility of the controls operated at its points of entry,” write the authors of the French report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian.

The annexe establishes numerous links between Bin Laden with international arms and oil dealers and even members of the Saudi elite.

It also pinpoints the relationship and its subsquent breakdown between Osama bin Laden and his family’s holding company, Saudi BinLadin Group, and its multiple subsidiaries, investments and offshoots in Europe.

Many of the individuals concerned, several with British connections, were also involved in various senior roles with BCCI, the report says. Hundreds of banks and companies are mentioned, from Sudan, Geneva and London to Oxford, the Bahamas and Riyadh.

The names of half a dozen former BCCI clients and officials, including Ghaith Pharaon, wanted by the US authorities for fraud, and Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi banker who was closely involved with the bank before it was closed down by the Bank of England in 1991, recur throughout the annexe and are directly linked to Bin Laden through banks, holding companies, foundations and charities, at least one of which, the International Development Foundation, has its headquarters in London.

“The convergence of financial and terrorist interests, apparent particularly in Great Britain and in Sudan, does not appear to have been an obstacle with regard to the objectives pursued [by Bin Laden],” the annexe concludes. “The conjunction of a terrorist network attached to a vast financing structure is the dominant trait of operations conducted by bin Laden”…

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Fruit that funds terror sounds rotten to me

December 23, 2012

Ready for little more “retail jihad” this Christmas?  Debbie Schlussel reports:

Now, that it’s the holiday season and a time of buying and giving Christmas and Chanukah gifts, a lot of people make the convenient choice of sending fruit baskets to their friends and professional associates. But if you take this route, DON’T send a basket from Edible Arrangements. If you do, you are funding HAMAS abroad and Muslim community organizing, such as the group IMAN, the Inner City Muslim Action Network, in the U.S.

Tariq Farid is the CEO of Edible Arrangements, which he started with his brother, Kamran Farid. Not only are they devout Pakistani Muslims, but they are major donors and fundraisers for American mosques, Islamic schools, and similar enterprises in Pakistan. Recent tax returns of their Farid Foundation, to which they and Edible Arrangements are major contributors, show that their foundation gives tens of thousands of dollars to extremist Islamic schools and mosques in America and to Islamic Relief, the HAMAS/Al-Qaeda/Muslim Brotherhood “charity” which sends tens of millions of dollars to finance jihad around the world. An Islamic Relief fundraiser I attended undercover featured young Muslim Arab kids simulating beheadings of Americans, Brits, and Israelis as the evening’s “entertainment.” And as I told you, Islamic Relief’s chief official in Gaza was a HAMAS official with Bin Laden’s photo, swastikas, and a “G-d Bless Hitler” banner as his screensavers.

Sigh.  How can we ever hope to eliminate terrorist financing overseas if we can’t even stop it at home?  Edible Arrangements has over a thousand stores, including locations in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the U.A.E., and oh, let’s see, 107 stores in California.  Our Georgia readers may be interested to know that there are 29 of these stores in the Peach State, including one at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.