Posts Tagged ‘human trafficking’

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Dubai: a Mecca for sex trafficking

April 3, 2015

Watch this video to understand some of the basics about prostitution and human trafficking in the United Arab Emirates:

Money Jihad has previously noted that there are connections between jihadist groups and human trafficking syndicates. A study by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center found that Individuals [within the global illicit marketplace] involved in other illicit activities link to terrorists 35 percent of the time.” Although the video excerpt tends to focus on the women and their experiences, there are powerful networks operating behind them to coerce them into the sex business and skim millions of dollars off the top. Rest assured that the profits from the sex business aren’t being used to build schools and hospitals.

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Crime, sport, and jihad: suggested news reading

January 22, 2015
  • The feds have fined MoneyGram’s former chief compliance officer personally for $1 million for “willful” anti-money laundering failuresmore>>
  • U.S. blacklists soccer team due to drug trafficking by its owner… more>>
  • Citing “extremist” links, Britain ends taxpayer grants to the Muslim Charities Forummore>>
  • Human trafficking has become a standard business practice for terrorist groups… more>>
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Seven habits of highly effective kingpins

May 27, 2014

Criminal and terrorist groups are highly interconnected according to new analysis of data by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. The conventional wisdom was that criminals worry that working with terrorists may draw unwanted scrutiny from their governments, and they are only inclined to cooperate only in resource-poor environments where it is necessary to survive. But the CTC finds that transnational traffickers and criminals appear to be more than willing to partner with terrorists, and that they benefit from these relationships in a wide variety of environments.

The full report can be read here. It is very thorough (89 pages) and includes academic language and models. Here are a just a few of the salient points from the study about members of the global underworld that may be of interest to practitioners and analysts outside of academia:

  1. Interconnected: 98 percent of the individuals in the global illicit marketplace are within two degrees of separation of each other.
  2. International: One in three individuals in the network have international relationships.
  3. Distributed power: Unlike typical hub-and-spoke networks where 80 percent of the connections rely on 20 percent of the actors involved, the global illicit network is somewhat less dependent on a small number of powerful actors/kingpins. Twenty percent of participants are responsible for only 65 percent of underworld connections. This diffuse hub-and-spoke model makes the network tougher for law enforcement to disrupt.
  4. Willingness to work with terrorists: “Individuals involved in other illicit activities link to terrorists 35 percent of the time” (p. 43). Terrorists often serve as “boundary spanners,” that link and form introductions between disparate groups such as drug traffickers, arms dealers, and organized crime.
  5. Frequent bilateral links with the United Arab Emirates: The top two bilateral connections in the criminal underworld–the U.S. and Colombia and the U.S. and Mexico–are probably unsurprising to Americans. The third most prevalent bilateral connections are between India and the U.A.E., and the sixth most common are between Pakistan and the U.A.E.
  6. Organized crime, not just terrorism, benefits from state sponsorship. We know that state sponsorship of terrorism exists, but for some reason we erroneously assume that state sponsorship of crime does not. The evidence from North Korea, Russia, the Balkans, and Pakistan indicates that criminals can carry out national interests—a phenomenon deserving further study.
  7. Convergence is not driven by poverty. Terrorists and criminals are drawn together in a variety of environments, not just in countries where there are little money or resources. The evidence indicates that the opposite is often true—that criminal masterminds prefer climates where there is some level of predictability and economic development, such as Monzer al-Kassar operating in Spain and Dawood Ibrahim in Dubai. Focusing only on failed states could be a red herring.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Twitter user @El_Grillo1 for sending in a link to the CTC study.

This piece has also been published at Terror Finance Blog.

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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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Kidnapped for ransom: ex-hostages describe melted plastic, electrocution sessions

May 2, 2013

Freed captive:  “Death would have been a relief”

Grisly report from Sinai mortician:  corpses from Bedouin kidnappers always show signs of torture to get their families to pay ransoms

Thousands of dollars are demanded for each Eritrean kidnapped as they attempt to cross borders in search of a better life.  When the tribes, terrorists, and criminal syndicates that abduct them don’t get the money they demand, they begin torturing their victims.  In some cases, they do this even while the victim’s families are forced to listen on the telephone.

Please listen to just five minutes from this BBC radio report (sound begins after a few seconds):

The human tragedy is the most shocking element of this story, but keep in mind the equally dangerous result of how kidnappers use ransom money to help buy weapons and perpetrate further acts of violence or terrorism.

The BBC’s Mike Thomson has since followed up with this additional report worth listening to.

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Hamas funded by slave and organ trade

March 24, 2013

Sudanese and East African flesh peddlers aligned with Hamas terrorists are ransoming captives and engaging in the trade of human organs to buy weapons for jihad.  This information does not come from right-wing Cassandras, but from CNN’s own correspondent in Berlin, Frederik Pleitgen.

The wages of this shameful trade are $35 million annually, says Pleitgen, in a completely overlooked but significant piece entitled “Human trafficking in the Sinai: to fight it we need to know it,” last month on the human rights webpage EveryOne.  Here are some of his most salient points:

  • Eritrean and Sudanese human traffickers continue kidnapping Eritrean refugees for ransom.
  • Every refugee kidnapped by the traffickers means roughly 20,000 dollars for armed fundamentalism. The turnover of trafficking is around $35 million per year. The Sudanese President, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, has acknowledged the role of the Rashaida tribe in the slave and organs trade…”
  • “Some of the major traffickers, including Abu Ahmed and Abu Khaled, have declared in interviews reported in the media, to be part of Hamas. In Sudan, through this massive fundraising activity focused on the abduction and sale of human beings, they are preparing the future stages of the war against the “infidels,” Western culture and the State of Israel.”
  • “[T]he Kalashnikovs in possession of Hamas militants are bought with profits from the slave and human organs trade.”

Read Pleitgen’s full piece here, and earlier Money Jihad coverage on this subject here.  Thanks to Twitter user @meankitteh1 for suggesting fresh coverage of the role of human trafficking in financing terrorism.

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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.