Posts Tagged ‘Japan’


Publicity stunt: ISIS’s $200m ransom demand

January 27, 2015

Ransom demands by jihadist groups for the release of Western hostages have been averaging about $8 million per hostage over the last couple years. The $200 million recently demanded by ISIS to spare the lives of two Japanese captives was 12 times higher than the going rate. The $200 million amount also coincides with the amount of money that Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe had just offered in aid to Middle Eastern countries fighting ISIS, and ISIS has as much as said that their demand is tit-for-tat. Thirdly, this is the first public demand for ransom by ISIS representing a departure from their standard practice of demanding dollar figures through back channels.  Lastly, one of the hostages has probably already been killed, suggesting that ISIS never intended to offer enough time for Japan to negotiate further much less actually deliver the money.

For these reasons, it is far likelier that the $200 million ransom demand was more symbolic than serious, and that ISIS probably never expected to cash in on this demand. Why not?  Eugenio Lilli offers an explanation to The Telegraph:

…In the context of this struggle for influence, Isil’s new strategy of demanding a costly ransom could be partly explained as an escalation of the propaganda war after gunmen reportedly affiliated to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) killed 12 people in an attack against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The Charlie Hebdo attack gave al-Qaeda huge international exposure. An explicit request for a ransom could be Isil’s attempt to make the news and regain some lost terrain…


U.S. & Japan leading donors to Pakistan

May 7, 2012

Despite the role of Pakistan’s ISI spy service in funding the Taliban, and despite Pakistan serving as host for Osama bin Laden while he was in hiding, the U.S. continues to lead the world in donating development aid to Pakistan.

The Congressional Research Service offers this chart in a recent report:

Wasted Pakistani donations graph

The argument for aid is that strengthens Pakistani institutions and stability which helps decrease the risks that Pakistan would turn into a fundamentalist Islamic state.  But in many ways, Pakistanis already live under sharia law, and the government sponsors jihadists anyway.

Moreover, as author Douglas Wissing has pointed out, mismanaged development aid projects can actually increase instability.  Given what we know about Pakistan’s corruption and consistent mismanagement of public projects and funds, are we actually foolish enough to believe that development aid to Pakistan is being managed well?

If as much scrutiny were applied to aid in Pakistan as has been applied to money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am confident that we would find a string of abuses where aid ends up being contracted out by Pakistani officials to their own relatives, to Islamic militants, or is just outright stolen.


Noorzai brothers acquire millions for Taliban

October 20, 2011

The Taliban, the richest jihadist organization in the world, owes some of its recent financial success to Faizullah and Malik Noorzai, two brothers from Afghanistan who have both performed the hajj and who are each approximately 50 years old.  The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against the duo on Sept. 29 for their roles as financiers for the Taliban.  Malik, who according to Reuters is living in Pakistan, has already denied that he’s given money to anybody, but Faizullah is mum.

What’s interesting is the Noorzai brothers funding methods:  Faizullah obtained over a hundred grand from (big surprise here) Arab donors from Gulf nations.  He also collected “tens of thousands” through his Afghan-Pakistan border madrassa.  Malik also received money from Gulf donors under the cover of fake investments and through a sizable hawala account.

Here’s the skinny from Treasury:

Hajji Faizullah Khan Noorzai (Faizullah)
Faizullah has served as a prominent Taliban financier with whom senior Taliban leaders invested funds. He has collected more than $100,000 for the Taliban from donors in the Gulf and in 2009 gave a portion of his own money to the Taliban.

Faizullah also financially supported a Taliban commander in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan and has provided funding to assist with training Taliban and al-Qa’ida fighters who were to conduct attacks against coalition and Afghan military forces.

In addition to his financial support, Faizullah has facilitated Taliban training and operations. As of mid-2009, Faizullah supplied weapons, ammunition, explosives, and medical equipment to Taliban fighters from southern Afghanistan. In mid-2008, Faizullah was responsible for housing Taliban suicide bombers and moving them from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Faizullah has also provided anti-aircraft missiles to the Taliban, helped move Taliban fighters around Helmand Province, Afghanistan, facilitated Taliban suicide bombing operations and has given radios and vehicles to Taliban members in Pakistan.

As of mid-2009, Faizullah operated a madrassa near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, where tens of thousands of dollars were raised for the Taliban. Faizullah’s madrassa grounds were used to provide training to Taliban fighters in the construction and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and as of late 2007, his madrassa was used to train al-Qa’ida fighters who were later sent to Kandahar Province.

Hajji Malik Noorzai (Malik)
Malik is a Pakistan-based businessman who, with his brother Faizullah, has invested millions of dollars in various businesses for the Taliban.  In late 2008, Taliban representatives approached Malik as a businessman with whom to invest Taliban funds. Since at least 2005, Malik has personally contributed tens of thousands of dollars and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Taliban, some of which was collected from donors in the Gulf region and Pakistan and some of which was Malik’s own money. Malik also handled a hawala account in Pakistan that received tens of thousands of dollars transferred from the Gulf every few months to support Taliban activities.

Malik has also facilitated Taliban activities in other ways. As of 2009, he had served for 16 years as the chief caretaker of a madrassa near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border that was used by the Taliban to indoctrinate and train recruits. Malik delivered funds that supported the madrassa, among other things.

Malik, along with his brother, has also played a role in storing vehicles to be used in Taliban suicide bombing operations and has helped move Taliban fighters around Helmand Province. As early as 2005, he owned a vehicle import business in Afghanistan that imported vehicles from Dubai and Japan. Malik has also imported auto parts and clothing from Dubai and Japan for his businesses, in which two Taliban commanders have invested. Additionally, in mid- 2010, Malik and his brother secured the release of hundreds of cargo containers, reportedly worth millions of dollars, which Pakistani authorities seized earlier that year because they believed the recipients had a connection to terrorism.

The United Nations Security Council has also sanctioned the Noorzai brothers, calling Faizullah a “prominent Taliban financier. As of mid-2009, supplied weapons, ammunition, explosives and medical equipment to Taliban fighters; and raised funds for the Taliban, and provided training to them, in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region. Has previously organized and funded Taliban operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. As of 2010, travelled to and owned businesses in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Japan.”


Pearl Harbor and 9/11 in numbers

December 7, 2009

Sixty-eight years ago today, the Japanese illegally struck and killed 2,403 Americans at Pearl Harbor.  Eight years ago, using far less equipment, far fewer men, and at far less logistical expense to the enemy, Al Qaeda struck and killed 2,973 using just four commercial airliners and some box cutters.

The purpose of today’s blog is not to reduce or dehumanize the suffering of Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001, to mere statistics, but to use the numbers to illustrate the decreasing costs of inflicting roughly equivalent damage against the United States.

The Japanese operation took an extraordinary amount of planning, equipment, and personnel.  The attacks against civilian targets at the World Trade Center and aboard Flight 93, however, involved training for less than two dozen men, and overall the 9/11 operations consumed far less of the enemy’s resources.

Annual budgets of the Japanese military in the late 1930s compared to Al Qaeda just before 9/11* (figures in billions USD):


Number of aircraft used in the two attacks: 



Number killed:


How is it that the jihadist terrorists do more damage with less resources than the navy of Imperial Japan?

  1. Being unbound by moral constraints reduces costs.  As ruthless, illegal, and sneaky as the Japanese attack was, they still chose military, not civilian, targets.  Al Qaeda had no such compunction then or now.
  2. It is “cheaper” to kill civilians than to kill soldiers and sailors.  Civilians are generally unarmed or have only small arms to defend themselves.  Military personnel are more heavily defended, better organized, can return fire, and can run up enemy costs and casualties.
  3. Exploiting your opponents weaknesses is less costly than confronting strength-to-strength.  Jihadists take advantage of our pourous borders, lax immigration policies, our obsession with political correctness, and our excessive gullibility over any claims about discrimination, profiling, detainee “abuse,” etc.

One could argue that changes in technology, communications, and weapons have lowered the costs of war for our enemies.  But the Japanese could have, had the been so dishonorably inclined, hijacked a jumbo jet in 1941 and flown it into the Empire State Building and killed just as many people.

After 68 years, it’s not technology that has cheapened death—jihad has.

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