Posts Tagged ‘Italy’


Italy paid $500K ransom to Somali pirates

October 13, 2015

A separate report from Al-Jazeera claims that Italy has also paid a multi-million dollar ransom to al-Nusra Front in Syria.

Informative reports, but it’s not just Italy that misleads the public about paying ransoms to villains and terrorists.  Many, if not most, European governments facilitate the payment of such ransoms.  We used to call it “funding both sides of the conflict.”  It causes wars to last longer.  European diplomats act like they are contributing to world peace, but their government-backed ransom payments are just prolonging the pain and strife.

From The Guardian on Oct. 8:

Italian intelligence lied about hostage rescue to hide ransom payment

Leaked document shows Italy made up story about 2012 rescue of Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz to hide ransom payment

Italy’s intelligence service helped concoct a false story about a rescue of hostages by security forces to hide a ransom payment, according to a leaked spy agency document.

The payment was made for the release of Bruno Pelizzari, an Italian, and South African Debbie Calitz, who were taken by Somali pirates in 2010 and released in 2012.

The document marked “secret” says the Italian intelligence agency AISE paid a ransom of $525,000 (£346,000). “To conceal the payment of the ransom, AISE, SNSA (Somalia’s national security agency) and the hostages agreed to inform the media and public that the release of the hostages was the result of a successful rescue operation by the Somali security forces.”

The document highlights the contradictions in the international response to kidnapping. Both the US and UK governments refuse to pay ransoms, but other European countries have a more ambiguous approach, routinely making payments while publicly denying it.

The Italian government response to the case of Pelizzari and Calitz reflects the confusion and obfuscation…


World’s biggest Islamic charity branded as terrorist group by 2nd Middle East country

November 17, 2014

Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) has been designated as a terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates, the second Middle Eastern country to do so within the past five months. In June, IRW was declared illegal by Israel for being a financial conduit to Hamas, and it was banned from operating in Israel and the West Bank.

The Birmingham, England-based IRW is the largest international Islamic charity in the world with a £155 million (240 million USD) budget in 2013.  IRW has over 280 employees and is active in more than 30 countries.  IRW maintains over a dozen affiliates throughout the world, each with multi-million dollar operating budgets of their own including Islamic Relief USA, which is the largest Islamic charity in America.

IRW accepted a $50,000 check from Osama Bin Laden in 1999, had a Gaza program coordinator who aided Hamas from 2005-06, received over £60K from an Al Qaeda front group from 2003-08, has leaders who are closely aligned with the global Muslim Brotherhood, and had programs staffed by Hamas personnel in the Palestinian territories as recently as this year.  Supporters of IRW have noted that the UK’s charitable regulator has not confirmed the evidence against IRW; however, a 2013 audit found that the Charity Commission is understaffed, too passive in its investigations, and is generally unfit for its regulatory duties.

UAE calls 15 Muslim groups in the West “terrorists”

In addition to the IRW designation, the UAE named 15 other Islamic charities and advocacy groups in the U.S. and Europe as terrorist entities:

  • Islamic Relief UK (the British affiliate of IRW)
  • Muslim Association of Britain (part of the U.K. Muslim Brotherhood)
  • Cordoba Foundation in Britain (once described by David Cameron as a Muslim Brotherhood front group)
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (the self-described civil rights group which was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas-financing trial)
  • Muslim American Society (which was created by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood)
  • Union of Islamic Organizations of France (a French Muslim group tied to the Muslim Brotherhood that profits from halal certification)
  • Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (an alliance financed by Gulf sources with ties to Hamas)
  • Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland (the “main representative” of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany)
  • Associazione Musulmani Italiani (Italian Muslim Association)
  • League of Muslims in Belgium (La Ligue des Musulmans de Belgique)
  • Muslim Association of Sweden (Sveriges muslimska förbund)
  • Islamic Society in Denmark (Islamsk Trossamfund)
  • Islamic Council Norway (Islamsk Rad Norge)
  • Finnish Islamic Association (Suomen Islam-seurakunta)
  • CANVAS in Belgrade, Serbia

The UAE designated over 80 groups overall, most of which are located in the Middle East.  The practical effect of the designations are limited, designed for “transparency” and to “raise awareness.”  In other words, the designations include not asset freezes, travel bans, or prohibitions on transacting business with the designated groups.


UK lifts sanctions on Al Qaeda henchman

September 10, 2013

The British have removed Mohammed Daki—who is the former roommate of a 9/11 planner, a convicted forgery expert, and a recruiter for the Iraq insurgency—from their list of sanctioned terrorists.  Mr. Watchlist notes that the decision follows similar de-listings of Daki in August by the United Nations, Australia, and Canada.

As is usual in such cases, no explanation for the removal has been provided, but the move is clearly the result of yet another cryptic recommendation made by a UN ombudsman.  Like instances covered by Money Jihad here, here, here, and here, the ombudsman makes confidential reports for removal with no opportunity for public hearings, public comment, or testimony from Al Qaeda’s victims or their families.  The decisions are made in closed-door meetings between the ombudsman and undisclosed parties.  There are no apparent disclosure requirements on who may be lobbying the ombudsman, such as wealthy Saudis and their lawyers.

The confidential recommendations made are then rubber-stamped by the UN’s Al Qaeda sanctions committee,  many Western governments follow suit, and the public is the last to know.

And who is Daki?  The Washington Post once reported that, “To Italian law enforcement officials, Mohammed Daki, a Moroccan expatriate, former engineering student and mosque preacher, was a dangerous terrorist who mingled with 9/11 plotters in Germany and, from a base in Italy, recruited suicide bombers for attacks in Iraq.”

History Commons notes that Daki lived at the same address at the same time as 9/11 facilitator Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and Global Jihad notes that, in 2005, Daki was sentenced to 22 months for forging documents.

But none of the rap sheet matters, and neither do our opinions.  All that matters is the recommendation of an unelected ombudsman whose reports none of us are allowed to read.


Stella the dog finds €3m in illicit cash

October 12, 2012

Stella, a yellow lab with a nose for cash, has discovered $4 million in her career as a bulk cash sniffing dog at the international airport in Naples Italy.  While this report from CNN Money highlights the dog’s role in detecting tax evasion, her skill can be, and probably has been, applied to currency smuggling for any reason including money laundering and terrorist financing.

A dog and a terror finance detector—a jihadist’s worst nightmare!


Europe pays ½ ransom, but hostages die

March 21, 2012

A news report indicated that U.K., Italy, or both contributed toward a ransom down payment for the release of a Briton and an Italian from a jihadist group in Nigeria.

After the down payment, British special forces attempted to free the abductees.  Unfortunately, the jihadists murdered the two non-Muslim Europeans during the raid.

Now the hostages are dead, and some of the jihadists who were not detained in the raid may have made off with the down payment money.  If you need another reason why we should not negotiate with terrorists or why ransom demands should not be paid, now you have one.

From the Guardian on Mar. 10:

Nigerian kidnappers ‘received ransom downpayment’

Extremists given part of ransom before failed attempt to rescue British and Italian hostages, agency reports

Ransom money was paid to the Islamic extremists holding British and Italian hostages in Nigeria before British special forces tried to rescue them from their compound, a news agency has claimed.

Part of a €1.2m ransom was paid to release hostages Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, who were killed during the raid on Thursday which sparked a diplomatic row.

The ransom talks, in which both British and Italian officials had participated, began with a request for €5m and the release of prisoners, the Mauritanian agency reported, quoting sources close to the extremists. During the talks, questions were sent to the kidnappers for the hostages to answer about their families to prove they were still alive.

The British took a tougher line in negotiations than the Italians and demands eventually settled on €1.2m and no prisoner release, it is alleged. After a downpayment, British and Nigerian operatives were able to follow the extremists back to their hideout, setting up the raid.

The Italian foreign ministry declined to comment on the report. The Italians protested that London failed to inform them of the raid until it was under way President Giorgio Napolitano calledBritain’s unilateral action “inexplicable”.

Operatives from Britain’s elite Special Boat Service and Nigerian soldiers surrounded the kidnappers’ hideout on Wednesday, a day before the firefight in which McManus and Lamolinara were killed, the Italian paper Corriere della Sera reported on Saturday. Quoting a Nigerian journalist, Ahmad Salkida, the paper said that, once surrounded, the kidnappers asked to be able to flee the hideout but their request was turned down by soldiers, who demanded they surrender. The kidnappers refused and the raid got under way.

The wife of one of the guards holding the hostages said on Saturday the two men were taken into a lavatory and shot dead during the rescue attempt.

The woman, who gave her name only as Hauwa and said she was 31, cried into her hands as she spoke to Reuters. Hauwa said bullets were fired into the room where she and her husband were staying, killing him.

“After that, there were about six men who came out of the house with the two hostages,” she said. “They came into our wing of the compound, pushed the captives into the toilet and just shot them. I screamed.”

Nigerian authorities have detained five Islamist militants suspected of involvement in the kidnapping. Two of the men were arrested before the rescue attempt and three at the compound where the raid took place.

Italian secret service officials were first alerted to the raid by British counterparts at 10.15am on Thursday, Corriere della Sera reported. They, in turn, informed Italian PM Mario Monti 15 minutes later. By 12.30, the UK ambassador to Italy, Christopher Prentice, was holding talks with Italian government officials to update them on the operation.

British government officials have said Italy had been told of the possibility of a raid and Corriere della Sera said Italian defence minister Giampaolo Di Paola had been informed the week before that special forces had been deployed to the area.

But politicians across the political spectrum in Italy have demanded to know why Rome was not warned that the raid was about to take place, calling it a “slap in the face”.

Italy’s predilection for negotiating with kidnappers instead of rescuing hostages through force was shown in Afghanistan in 2007, when it released Taliban prisoners in return for the freeing of an Italian journalist…


Italy embraces Syria like a beautiful woman

February 18, 2011

Move over France.  Syria has another suitor.  Italy has increased its imports from Syria by 140 percent since 2009.

The love fest might not be so bad if Italy were getting something equal in return, but Syria is importing as much from Italy.  Neither would it be so bad if Syria had solid anti-money laundering controls in place and could guarantee that profits from its export business weren’t helping fund the abuses of the Syrian regime.

From ANSAmed (with special thanks to GoV):

DAMASCUS, FEBRUARY 16 – In the month of October trade between Italy and Syria was at about 1.7 billion euros, an increase of 88% over 2009, according to the latest ISTAT (Italian national statistics institute) data available, reported by the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) office in Damascus. Fostering growth in trade between the two countries is especially an increase in Italian imports from Syria, which rose by 140% compared with 2009, and an increase in Italian exports to Syria, which rose by 55.4% on 2009. After 4 consecutive years of a surplus for Italy, the Italy-Syria trade balance saw a slight deficit of 6 million euros, a worsening of the situation compared with 2009 when Italy had a surplus of 195 million euros.


Treasury mysteriously de-lists Faraj Farj Hassan al Saadi

October 20, 2010

Yesterday, lumped in with a laundry list of Columbian drug dealers designated under the Kingpin Act, the Treasury Department quietly deleted Faraj Faraj Hussein al-Sa’idi (also known by five aliases) from their terror listing of specially designated nationals.

The reasons for the de-listing are unclear, and few if any media outlets have published any further detail, much less a proper justification for the removal.

According to Kufr Akbar’s Notes on Sunni Terrorists blog, Faraj al-Sa’idi was convicted by a court in Milan, Italy, in 2006 to a five year prison sentence, a conviction which was upheld on appeal, for membership in the terrorist organization known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.  Nevertheless, al-Sa’idi was never extradited from Britain where he has lived since 2002.

The U.N. Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee conducted a review of Mr. al-Sa’idi’s case and apparently decided NOT to de-list him.  The U.N.’s review was completed in January 2010.

The Brits give him safe haven, the U.S. removes him from its terror list, but Italy and the UN stick to their guns on this slug.  Here’s the question for Adam Szubin, the director of the agency within Treasury that removed Sa’idi from Treasury’s list:  what gives?


Media whitewash hawala in Italy

November 22, 2009

As the investigation of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks expands throughout the planet, Italy has arrested two men involved with financing the attacks.  A Pakistani father and son who ran a “money transfer agency” are accused of transferring money to the 26/11 assailants the day before the attacks began.

Newspaper accounts (AP, Agence France-Presse, The Times), briefly summarize the arrests, briefly reference the Mumbai connection, and refer to the problem as “concealment” or “fraud.”

But they have all left out the obvious nexus between this “money transfer agency” and hawala, the Islamic system of debt transfers.

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Italians burnish anti-jihad credentials

November 17, 2009

A European terrorist cell that was trying to raise money to finance jihad in Algeria has been “dismantled” by Italian authorities, according to this story from the AP:

MILAN —  Italy’s top security official said Thursday that authorities have smashed an international terror cell with the arrest in Italy and elsewhere in Europe of 17 Algerians who were raising money to finance terrorism.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, speaking to reporters in Rome, called the terror cell “significant.”

“An Algerian terror cell that gathered money for terrorist activities outside of Europe has been dismantled,” Maroni said.

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Another Taliban funding source?

October 17, 2009

Earlier this week Money Jihad examined surging Taliban revenues from drug trafficking, organized crime, the Persian Gulf, and protection payments from local Afghanis.

 On Thursday The Times reported more people making protection payments.  Who are they?  The Italians.  Here’s the report, subsequently denied by the Italians and French:

When ten French soldiers were killed last year in an ambush by Afghan insurgents in what had seemed a relatively peaceful area, the French public were horrified.

Their revulsion increased with the news that many of the dead soldiers had been mutilated — and with the publication of photographs showing the militants triumphantly sporting their victims’ flak jackets and weapons. The French had been in charge of the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, for only a month, taking over from the Italians; it was one of the biggest single losses of life by Nato forces in Afghanistan.

What the grieving nation did not know was that in the months before the French soldiers arrived in mid-2008, the Italian secret service had been paying tens of thousands of dollars to Taleban commanders and local warlords to keep the area quiet, The Times has learnt. The clandestine payments, whose existence was hidden from the incoming French forces, were disclosed by Western military officials.

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