Posts Tagged ‘IMU’

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The plot to fund Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

May 31, 2013

Uzbek national Fazliddin Kurbanov has been arrested in Idaho for providing material support to terrorists and possessing destructive devices such as IED components.  From CNN:

The financial details in the indictment are scant:

… The defendant, Fazliddin Kurbanov, did knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with other co-conspirators, both known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to provide material support and resources, to wit, personnel, including himself, computer software and money, to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan…”

From the wording, it is unclear whether Kurbanov and the conspirators only agreed to provide money, or if money was actually transferred.  The amount of money and the method of transfer is not specified either, but separate terrorism finance cases recently have involved illicit transfers anywhere from $1,500 to $50,000 by foreign nationals in the U.S. to terrorist organizations in their home countries.

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Kazakh jihadists sent money abroad

May 3, 2013

The Kazakh terrorist group Jund al-Khilafah, or the Soldiers of the Caliphate, has the financial means to support militants beyond Kazakhstan’s borders, according to a think tank report earlier this year.  Jund al-Khilafah has sent money to fellow fighters in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and possibly even to Mohamed Merah, the North African terrorist who killed seven people in France last year.

The Jamestown Foundation offered this analysis in January:

…Jund al-Khilafah is based in the North Caucasus and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, and it carried out three separate attacks in Atyrau, Taraz and Almaty in late 2011 (Tengrinews, September 28, 2012). As evidenced by slain Tunisian-born Jund al-Khilafah amir Moez Garsallaoui’s connections to Mohammed Merah, who killed three Jews and four French paratroopers in southwest France in March 2012, Jund al-Khilafah also has international operational capabilities. There are an estimated 200 to 300 Kazakhstani militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, many of whom have financial relationships with Jund al-Khilafah supporters in Kazakhstan (September 9, 2011). This became apparent with the sentencing of Aidos Kusanov on October 8, 2012, who transferred 380,000 tenge (approximately $2,500) to Jund al-Khilafah in Pakistan through the Aqtobe-based [Kazakh] militant group Ansar al-Din. Ansar al-Din has not claimed any attacks in Kazakhstan, but has issued numerous video statements condemning the Kazakhstani government on jihadist websites, such as hunafa.com and Kavkaz Center, and seeks to “establish links of material support” to “assist the families of the mujahideen,” according to its own propaganda (http://hunafa.com/?p=3839)…

Despite Jund al-Khilafa and Ansar al-Din’s operational links to Kazakhstan, the flow of militants and funds still appears to be from Kazakhstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan or elsewhere—not the other way around. This could soon change, however. In a November 2011 Islamic Jihad Union video statement, a Kazakhstani fighter said that that after victory in Afghanistan, their “goal” is Central Asia, while another fighter, who claimed to be the “amir,” said their “sphere of interest” is Central Asia, in particular Kazakhstan (Kavkazcenter.com, December 2011). Other experts in the region argue that the IMU and other militants are already in Kazakhstan, using the country effectively as a “terminal” linking Europe, Central Asia and Afghanistan, and therefore the militants do not want to destabilize Kazakhstan, yet (Tengrinews, September 6, 2011)…

How Jund al-Khilafah acquired the money that it was able to transfer to Afghanistan and Pakistan is unclear, although the Saudi-backed Wahhabi foundation known as the Muslim World League is active in Kazakhstan.  The MWL has financed the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups globally, particularly in countries at the fringes of the Islamic world.

A case in late-2011 revealed a Jund al-Khilafah suicide bomber who “was part of a group that planned to rob a number of stores, banks and currency exchanges and to attack law enforcement personnel,” and whose leader wanted operatives “to commit both jihad and economic crimes.”  Reliance on theft can sometimes be an indicator of a terrorist group with limited funds, but the ability to send surplus funds outside their home base undercuts that possibility.

Kazakhstan, with its population of young, male, ethnic Kazakhs who are increasingly falling under the spell of jihad, has come under renewed scrutiny following the arrest of two Kazakh associates of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who once launched fireworks with Tsarnaev on the banks of the Charles River, helped Tsarnaev dispose of evidence after the bombing, and subsequently lied to investigators about their activities.

How one of the two Kazakhs, Dias Kadyrbayev, who drove a BMW, obtained money for travel, rent, and tuition in Massachusetts has yet to be determined.

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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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Taliban doles out Rs 150 million in funding

February 18, 2013

Freelance journalist Syed Shoaib Hasan reports that the Muraqaba shura, a council of regional Taliban and Al Qaeda faction leaders, routinely distributes millions of rupees to affiliated terrorist tribal organizations at two to six week intervals.  In an example from May of 2012, the shura disbursed 70 million to the Pakistani Taliban, Rs 50 million to another Taliban faction, between RS 30 and 40 to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and smaller amounts to Harkat ul-Mujahideen and Jaish Mohammad.

In his piece, Hasan also analyzes the history of financing militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11.  He argues that forcing front charities to register with the government actually worsened matters by giving terrorists the patina of legitimacy and access to the international financial system.

Complicating the fight against terrorist financing is the militants’ new tendency to steer donations to small trusts affiliated with mosques rather than madrassas, which is more difficult to track.  Hasan reveals that one in three mosques in Karachi admits to funding militants.

Hat tip to Sal and Colby Adams for sending this over via Twitter.  From Money Matters magazine:

The militant economy

The slush funds accumulated by the militants were fed into the global financial system and were fed into the global financial system and were used to buy legimate businesses involved in construction, shipping and transport. Revenues from these concerns are now fuelling the insurgency

By Syed Shoaib Hasan

On a bright May afternoon in 2012, five men with assault rifles strode into a two-storeyed building near the bazaar in Miramshah. All wore their hair long and oiled under their Chitrali hats but the rangy frame, the narrow, aquiline nose and deep-set eyes instantly betrayed Zulfiqar alias Hakimullah Mehsud, ameer of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. An hour later the coterie emerged, with a staggering Rs70 million in cash.

The money was Mehsud’s share from a fund administered by the Taliban’s Shura-e-Muraqibat (Council of Common Interest), ostensibly an oversight committee that handles matters related to various militant groups headquartered in the tribal areas. (While some western news agencies have described it as an Al Qaeda-formed and managed entity, the shura is clearly of Taliban origin and character.) But managing and distributing funds from the Afghan Taliban structure – ‘the emirate’, as it is referred to in militant circles – is one of its primary functions.

Disbursed at two- to six-week intervals, these funds comprise the largest chunk of revenues for all militant groups in the tribal region – barring the Arab Al Qaeda – and, for some, are the only source. That May, other than the TTP, the Taliban factions headed by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir got Rs50 million each while the former Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, now known as the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, got between Rs30 million and Rs40 million. Other recipients of these stipends from the emirate include the Taliban faction of Omar Khalid as well as splinter factions of the Harkatul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Takfeeri Group of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. (Some analysts believe that the TTP also funnels money from its share to the Punjabi Taliban.)

The money is to cover the operational costs of militancy. The bulk of it is, of course, spent on arms and ammo. The rest is distributed over transport costs; communications equipment (including satellite and cellular phones as well as walkie talkies) and – in an interesting sign of the times – media cells. (The Afghan Taliban themselves, for example, have a 100-plus dedicated media cell staff that operates a website available in five languages and manages high-tech studios with editing facilities.) Besides this, small amounts are also made available for the ‘shuhuda fund’, which enables payments between Rs5,000 to Rs10,000 for the families of the successful suicide bombers.

The 9/11 shift

The role of the emirate in funding is relatively new. Before 9/11, most militant groups operating in the Af-Pak region drew funds from two main sources: the Pakistani and Middle Eastern Islamic states and large and small private donors. From the times of the Afghan war till about the nineties, say militants, the size of this pie was around $6 billion. Historically, as much as two-thirds came from the states, with Saudi Arabia leading with contributions that went up to 50 percent of total funding. Close on the kingdom’s heels were Iraq and the Gulf Arab states.

Post 9/11, the situation changed. The US-led crackdown on militant groups began with the now-famous ‘follow the money’ directive and the US Patriot Act of 2001. As a result, funds from state sources all but dried up. As the world and Pakistan woke up to the abuse of hundi and hawala – the traditional trust-based system of money transfer in vogue for money transfer to militant organisations as well as conventional Islamic charities – private donations also disappeared.

Over the next 18 months, the flow of money to militant groups ebbed to an all-time low. The period coincided with the time militant operations were at decade-long nadir and many in Pakistan were quick to call it the ‘end of jihad’ in the region. That could well have happened – without funding, the militants could not have continued undermining the US-dubbed ‘War on Terror’. But a loophole emerged – inadvertently provided by the Pakistani authorities themselves, as they looked to close down all non-formal avenues for money transfer.

A better mousetrap

In their bid to screen all ‘suspicious’ transactions, the authorities hit many Islamic charities and some individuals suspected of transferring funds for militant operations. While a few were involved – the Al Akhtar Trust, for example – most were simply what they said they were: welfare organizations and people working primarily among the urban and rural poor. Accordingly, after a thorough examination of their sources of funding, these groups and individuals were allowed to continue their activities.

However, in order to distinguish them from the militant groups, the charities were required to register themselves and maintain bank accounts for financial transactions. This ensured that only those who had valid ID cards issued by the then newly instituted National Database Authority (Nadra) could open bank accounts. Further, the move also ensured that even where occasional hawala transactions were used, the monies did eventually cross banking lanes and were thus documented. The final salvo was the provision of a list of proscribed organizations – the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi and Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan, among others – to the State Bank of Pakistan, which was to make sure their accounts were frozen.

At the time, this may have seemed a leak-proof system, especially to western observers. But in a corrupt third world bureaucracy, there were more holes in this ‘fool-proof’ mechanism than Swiss cheese.

Step up and identify yourself

For starters, the basis of the system – the newly introduced CNIC – could easily be subverted. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Eid meat used as cover for funding Al Qaeda

December 13, 2012

Attorneys for two of the defendants say that their clients only collected money to buy meat for Eid, but French prosecutors allege that the money went to an offshoot of Al Qaeda.

Eid presents a noteworthy opportunity for Muslims living in the west to transfer money to the Middle East under the guise of charity for meat purchases for poor families.  The radical Turkish flotilla “charity,” IHH, which has been banned by Germany for funding Hamas, has used Qurbani meat distribution as its pretext for operating in 95 countries.

From Radio Free Europe on Dec. 4:

Paris Trial Begins Of 10 Alleged Fundraisers For IMU

Ten defendants have gone on trial in the French capital on charges that they helped finance the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an extremist group accused of links to Al-Qaeda.

The suspects, who are described as mainly of Turkish origin, are alleged to have collected thousands of dollar from people at mosques in French cities to send to the IMU between 2003 and 2008.

They were arrested in 2008 in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Lawyers for at least two of the defendants have rejected the charges, saying the money was collected for “humanitarian” uses.

The IMU, which was formed to overthrow the Uzbek government and create an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia, is officially considered a terrorist group by the United States.

In October 2001, the UN Security Council formally listed the IMU as being “associated” with Al-Qaeda.

H/t to Twitter user El Grillo for alerting me.

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IMU money man tapped Europe, Turkey

October 31, 2012

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned Qari Ayyub Bashir for his role as a financier for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and probably Al Qaeda, too.  The designation prohibits Americans from doing business with Bashir, and freezes any assets Bashir has in U.S. banks.

The designation also gives us more insight into where the IMU is accessing funds.  Rather than the typical Gulf sources of Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., Qari Bashir is said to have collected money from Europe and Turkey prior to transferring it to a man described as “a financial facilitator for Al Qaeda.”

From The Long War Journal on Oct. 18:

…Treasury described Bashir as being the “head of finance” for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan as well as a member of the group’s shura, or executive council. In this role, he provides financial and “logistical” support for IMU operations in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and fundraises from outside the region.

“Bashir received funds from sources in Turkey and elsewhere in Europe and delivered these funds” to Fazal Rahim, an IMU facilitator who was designated by the US as a terrorist in September 2011 and is thought to be in Pakistani custody. Rahim was also described as a “financial facilitator for al Qaeda” [see LWJ report, US adds 5 al Qaeda, Taliban, Haqqani Network, and IMU facilitators to terrorist list].

Prior to taking on the role of chief financier for the IMU in 2010, Bashir “led attacks against Afghan police in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, and recruited IMU fighters at his madrassa in Pakistan.” Additionally he helped IMU recruits reach their units and commanded “an anti-Coalition militia” in the Afghan provinces of Kunduz and Takhar.

Bashir is an Uzbek national and is based out of Mir Ali, in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. Mir Ali is known to host the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and several other local and foreign terror groups.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a key ally of al Qaeda and the Taliban, and supports operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as plots attacks in Europe. The IMU is known to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and has integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in the north. [For more information on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, see LWJ reports, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan, and IMU announces death of emir, names new leader.]…

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IMU joins ushr bandwagon

December 14, 2010

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on Dec. 10 that the jihadist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is penetrating deeper into Afghanistan and cementing relationships with groups like the Taliban.  It also appears that IMU is taking a lesson from the Taliban’s page by collecting ushr, the onerous Islamic tax on harvests, from Afghan locals:

…Raz Mohammad Faiz, a Pashtun who represented Takhar in the previous Afghan parliament, has an even more expansive take on the IMU, saying it has infiltrated anti-Taliban militias as well. He says that a rivalry between Hizb-e Islami and Jamiat-e Islami is contributing to insecurity in the region. Both are pan-Islamist, Afghan organizations — the former predominantly ethnic Pashtun and the latter composed of ethnic Tajiks. They have competed for political influence in the region since the late 1980s.

He says that locals in the province’s northern districts bordering Tajikistan have said Uzbeks have sought to establish relationships with religious hard-liners.

“They sought cooperation in jihad,” he says, adding that the organization’s activities are on the rise. “[The IMU has] very good relations with [Afghan] Uzbeks. They live in their houses and prefer to use their regions, which are the districts of Dashte-e Qala, Khoja Ghar, and Baharak.

“They are seen in those regions. The locals say that they are being kept by local militia commanders who give them weapons and logistical support,” he adds.

Moeen Mrastyal, a former lawmaker who represented Konduz in parliament, says ties between various jihadist movements are often downplayed. He says that together with the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, the IMU is part of a wider Islamic jihadist movement that operates freely in northern Afghanistan.

“In Konduz we have Turkmens, Uzbeks, and Tajiks who have come from [Central Asia] and are now being spotted by locals in some remote regions,” Mrastyal says.

Mrastyal says that locals are sometime forced to host these uninvited guests. “Wherever people refuse to host them, they are forced to cooperate with the help of the Afghan Taliban. And they also collect ushr,” he says, referring to an Islamic tax on farm production

Quite so.  The ushr emanates, not from a misunderstanding of Islam, but of a plain reading of the Koran (6:142) and Hadith (Sahih Bukhari 2.24.559 and Sahih Muslim 5.2143). Like zakat, spending ushr revenues on jihad is authorized by Islamic law.

It’s an ominous sign if forced ushr payments are indeed spreading to organizations outside of the Taliban.  The ushr is a powerful tool to both enrich the ushr collectors and keep farmers subservient to the Muslim taxman.  It also suggests a growing sophistication and diversity in the revenue collection strategy of the IMU.