Posts Tagged ‘Interpol’


The New World dreams for Old World caliphates

June 17, 2010

Ohio!  Paraguay!  All the Americas–unite for Hezbollah!  From Rantburg today:

[Al Arabiya] Interpol said Tuesday it has arrested a Lebanese national suspected of funneling money to the Shiite armed group Hezbollah in Paraguay in the tri-border area with Argentina and Brazil.

Moussa Hamdan, 38, was arrested in Ciudad del Este, part of the Triple Frontier, a region the United States has repeatedly cited as being exploited by armed groups that “finance terrorist activities.”

Local media, citing local security officials, said Hamdan was financing Hezbollah, which fought a devastating 2006 war with Israel and is blacklisted as a terror group by Washington.

The Interpol chief in Paraguay, Jose Chena, said justice officials would decide within about six weeks whether to extradite Hamdan to the United States, where an arrest warrant has been issued against him.

A cosmopolitan area and significant tourist spot, the Triple Frontier is also considered a major spot for smuggling and other organized crime. Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina deny their shared region is a hotbed for terror financing.

The three countries have refused to cooperate in the production of Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s latest project in a film tentatively titled “Triple Frontier” over concerns the movie could damage their countries’ reputation with tourists.

A significant Arab population lives in the region, with a big presence in Ciudad del Este.


Word of the week: hawala

January 27, 2010

Hawala is Arabic for “transfer.” 

Unfortunately, all too many definitions of hawala highlight the positive aspects of the “transfer,” like the Interpol report that highlights the “cost effectiveness” and “efficiency” of hawala.

And the definitions with more cynical views don’t even bother to tie the hawala back to Islam.  Princeton’s online lookup calls hawala, “an underground banking system based on trust whereby money can be made available internationally without actually moving it or leaving a record of the transaction.”

One of the only definitions I have come across (which I’ll add to our glossary soon) that succinctly describe what the hawala is, its benefits when used legally, and its inherent risk of terrorist or criminal activity comes from a report* issued by the Council on Foreign Relations defining hawala as:

[An] underground banking system, which allows money transfer without actual money movement, or any wire transfer.  There is nothing inherently illegitimate about the hawala system—it offers critically needed financial services in many remote corners of the globe and is used extensively by millions of law-abiding persons… But its nature makes it particularly susceptible to abuse by terrorists and other criminals (Greenberg).

I’d like to think that my own post on hawala here also helps clarify the concept.

What’s important to emphasize is that the hawala is just a type of transaction.  Nothing about hawala implies the source of the money being transferred.  That’s why it’s so absurd to blame hawala for “funding” terror.  What it does is conceal the funding trail.  But our own government officials don’t even seem to understand that.  More on that tomorrow.

*Greenberg, Maurice R.  Terrorist Financing.  Council on Foreign Relations:  New York, 2002.