Posts Tagged ‘Jordan’

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Syrian rebels awash in Saudi-supplied arms

March 22, 2013

We have known for months that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been financing and supplying Syrian rebels, but a recent interview with Zayd Alisa on Iranian television details increased arms shipments by the Saudis purchased from Croatia and routed through Jordan.  The beneficiaries include the al-Nusra Front—the Al Qaeda front group in Syria.

Iran is extremely hostile to Saudi Arabia, and Iranian news is grossly biased—which should be kept in mind while watching this—but the details discussed are largely based on solid reporting in New York Times article from late February.

The New York Times notes that Iran’s “shipments to Syria’s government, still outstrips what Arab states have sent to the rebels,” so Saudi Arabia and Qatar certainly aren’t the only ones to blame for funding the bloodshed in Syria.

More recently, the London Telegraph has reported that the U.S. and Europe have airlifted 3,000 tons of weapons to Syrian rebels.

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Case can proceed against terror-funding bank

January 22, 2013

Progress made as court rejects bank’s appeal

Arab Bank’s refusal to turn over records has been a major obstacle in the Linde v. Arab Bank terrorist financing case.  To move beyond the legal stalemate, the presiding judge said the jury could infer what it wants to about Arab Bank’s secrecy.  The bank appealed the judge’s jury instruction to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  The appellate court ruled Friday that it had no standing to review the case at this time (h/t @ChallahHuAkbar), and that there’s nothing drastic enough about the judge’s instruction to cause the circuit court to intervene.

From Bloomberg:

Arab Bank Sanctions Order Appeal Dismissed by U.S. Court

Arab Bank Plc (ARBK)’s appeal of sanctions for not obeying discovery orders in a lawsuit brought by victims of terrorist attacks was dismissed by a federal appeals court in New York.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled today that it couldn’t hear the bank’s appeal of a sanctions order imposed by U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon in Brooklyn until after the consolidated suits pending before her have ended.

“We conclude that the sanctions order is not a reviewable collateral order, and we therefore dismiss the bank’s appeal for want of jurisdiction,” the panel of judges said.

“We conclude further, that this is not an appropriate case for issuance of the extraordinary writ,” the appeals court said, adding, “the bank has not established (among other factors) that it has a ‘clear and indisputable right’ to such drastic relief or that review after final judgment will not provide adequate relief.”

Courtney Linde, the widow of John Linde Jr., who was killed Oct. 15, 2003, while guarding diplomats traveling in the Gaza Strip, sued in federal court in Brooklyn in 2004. She is the lead plaintiff for a half-dozen families suing the Amman, Jordan-based lender in cases that allege it “knowingly and purposefully supported” foreign terrorist organizations between 1995 and 2004 by providing financial support. The bank has denied wrongdoing.

Sanctions Imposed

The judge imposed sanctions upon the bank for not complying with several court orders to produce documents the plaintiffs said were relevant to their case. Gershon’s sanctions took the form of a jury instruction that would permit — but not require — the jury to infer from the bank’s failure to produce the documents that it provided financial services to foreign terrorist groups and did so knowingly.

Gershon also precluded the bank from introducing for the jury’s consideration certain evidence related to undisclosed materials.

The bank argued that the sanctions were “unduly harsh,” that jury instructions would predetermine the outcome of the case, and that the documents are covered by foreign bank secrecy laws, so that their disclosure would subject the bank to criminal prosecution.

Ten similar suits brought against the bank by the families of dozens of victims of other attacks in Israel were consolidated and are pending before Gershon. She hasn’t yet determined whether any of those cases will go to trial.

‘Substantially Right’

“We think they got it substantially right,” Gary Osen, a lawyer for some of the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview about the decision to dismiss the appeal. “It just means these cases can go forward. All we ask for is our day in court.”

Bob Chlopak, a spokesman for Arab Bank, said in an e-mail that the ruling is “not an endorsement of the district court’s sanctions.”

“The bank continues to believe that the district court’s sanctions order raises serious issues of international concern, and it is currently weighing its legal options,” he said.

The bank, Jordan’s largest, won dismissal in November of a separate case filed by former Israeli government official Mati Gill, which alleged that the lender supported the group Hamas. Gill, who was injured in a 2008 by a shot fired from Gaza, a territory bordering Israel, sought damages from the bank…

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Sharia banks that fund terrorism

January 7, 2013

The connections between ethical finance and violent extremism

The relationship is simple.  Jihadists know they can trust sharia-compliant banks to maintain their anonymity, not ask too many questions, and facilitate high-dollar transactions on behalf of their terrorist groups.  Some Islamic financial institutions, such as National Commercial Bank and Islami Bank Bangladesh, have taken the relationship a step farther by donating a portion of their bank profits in the form of zakat as an act of corporate “charity” to terrorist organizations, or in the case of Al Rajhi, through private zakat donations of leading bankers.  Saudi Arabia and Iran are key bases for these activities, but this is a global phenomenon.  Here’s Money Jihad’s short list of the worst offenders:

Al Rajhi Bank:  The Saudi financial institution has served as the sharia bank of choice for the world’s jihadists, including East Africa embassy bomber Mamduh Mahmud Salim, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and organizations like Indonesian Kompak and Al-Haramain.  Bank co-founder Sulaiman Al-Rajhi appeared on the infamous Golden Chain document of Al Qaeda financiers.  These allegations were reinforced by the recent U.S. Senate investigation into HSBC’s correspondent relationships.

Al Shamal Islamic Bank:  Osama Bin Laden co-founded the Al Shamal in Sudan and invested $50 million there.  During the 1990s and early 2000s, Al Qaeda distributed money to its cells through Al Shamal.  Funds passed through Al Shamal were used in preparation for terrorist attacks.

National Commercial Bank:  Offering conventional and sharia banking services, Saudi Arabia’s self-described first, largest, and most prominent bank is NCB.  Among other misdeeds, a Saudi audit revealed that NCB transferred $74 million in the 1990s as zakat through its charitable front organizations to Al Qaeda (see here, here, and here).  Khalid bin Mahfouz, the head of the bank, exploited libel laws to sue author Rachel Ehrenfeld in an effort to silence accusations about his role in financing terrorism.

Arab Bank:  This conventional bank in Jordan maintains a wholly-owned subsidiary (Islamic International Arab Bank PLC) that offers full-range sharia services.  Arab Bank has transferred money on behalf of Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), a notorious French charity, to a known financial subunit of Hamas.  The Jordanian bank has paid out insurance benefits to families of suicide bombers for the Saudi Committee—another charity that funds Hamas.  Arab Bank has handled transactions for the Holy Land Foundation, whose leaders now sit behind bars for financing terrorism.  It has been the subject of American investigations, but the bank has consistently refused to turn over related documents to the U.S.

Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited:  IBBL, Bangladesh’s biggest sharia bank, has handled Wahhabi accounts to propagate radical Islam since its inception.  In 2011, the Bangladeshi home ministry intelligence revealed that 8 percent of the bank’s profits were diverted as corporate zakat to support jihad in Bangladesh.  One of the men on IBBL’s board of sharia advisors was arrested in connection with a terrorist attack against Bangladeshi police officers.  The U.S. Senate slammed British bank giant HSBC for maintaining relationships with IBBL despite evidence that it served terrorists like Shaikh Abdur Rahman of Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and terror-funding Islamic charities like IIRO.  The Senate’s report also implicated HSBC for disregarding evidence of terror financing at another Bangladeshi sharia bank with whom it worked:  Social Islami Bank.

Bank Melli:  The Iranian Islamic bank sent “at least $100 million to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard branch that supports Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups, the Quds Force” between 2002-06.

Bank Saderat:  Another major Iranian sharia finance house, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the rocket-funding Bank Saderat, stating that “The bank is used by the Government of Iran to transfer money to terrorist organizations, including Hizballah, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A notable example of this is a Hizballah-controlled organization that has received $50 million directly from Iran through Bank Saderat since 2001.”

Other culprits include Dubai Islamic Bank, which is active in both the U.A.E. and Pakistan, and Tadamon Islamic Bank.

So much for “ethical finance.”  For further developments, please continue reading Money Jihad, Shariah Finance Watch, and @moneyjihad on Twitter.

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Arab Bank escapes justice in terror finance case

November 27, 2012

The judge’s ruling can be paraphrased as:  Well, Arab Bank may have funded terrorism, but you can’t prove it (because they won’t turn over their documents).  And even if you could prove it, that doesn’t mean the money that the bank gave terrorists directly led to your injuries.

The gentleman who was injured, God bless him, will appeal the decision.  As a refresher, here is Arab Bank’s history:

  • Arab Bank has transferred money on behalf of Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), a notorious French charity, to a known financial subunit of Hamas.
  • Arab Bank paid out insurance benefits to families of suicide bombers for the Saudi Committee—another charity that funds Hamas.
  • Arab Bank handled transactions by the Holy Land Foundation, whose leaders now sit behind bars for financing terrorism.
  • Arab Bank used its New York branch to facilitate these payments.
  • Arab Bank refused to turn over bank documents to the court.

See here and here for prior coverage.

From American Banker magazine on Nov. 15:

Arab Bank Wins Bid to Dismiss Terrorist Financing Suit

A lawsuit by an American man who sought to hold Arab Bank responsible for injuries he sustained in a sniper attack in Israel cannot go forward, a federal judge in Brooklyn has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein of the eastern district of New York ruled on Nov. 6 that Matt Gill, a citizen of both the U.S. and Israel, cannot hold the bank liable for Gill’s being shot in 2008 while standing inside Israel’s borders in an area overlooking the Gaza Strip…

…Though Gill charged Arab Bank with providing material support to Hamas in violation of U.S. law, the court ruled he failed to establish the bank bore legal responsibility for causing his injuries, either by its own actions or in a conspiracy with Hamas.

“Hamas is not the defendant; the bank is,” Weinstein wrote in a Nov. 6 ruling that dismissed the case. “And the evidence does not prove that the bank acted with an improper state of mind or proximately caused plaintiff’s injury.

The ruling comes amid a series of lawsuits filed in Brooklyn federal court that charge Arab Bank with aiding Hamas, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007. Taken together, the cases test how far banks must go to vet customers for ties to terror groups.

“This is the first Arab Bank case where the court has evaluated the entire record, and it dismissed the case concluding that the Bank was not responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries,” bank spokesman Bob Chlopak said in an email.

In his suit, Gill charged the bank with providing financial services to Hamas through a series of groups, charities and people affiliated with the organization.

The court, however, found the alleged connections among the entities and individuals to whom Gil pointed and Hamas either without basis or sufficiently attenuated to warrant a finding the bank funneled money to Hamas that could have helped to finance the 2008 attack.

Though Gill alleged the bank processed roughly 157 transactions on behalf of people allegedly affiliated with Hamas over a roughly four-year period beginning in December 2000, the court concluded he failed to show the transactions accounted for a sufficient enough share of the hundreds of thousands of transactions Arab Bank cleared through its New York office annually or that the bank knew the transactions could result in harm to an American four years later.

“No single or total transfer highlighted by plaintiff establishes the requisite magnitude and temporal connection to the attack required to find that the bank’s actions proximately caused plaintiff’s injuries,” Weinstein ruled.

According to the ruling, the bank’s New York office, without admitting wrongdoing, agreed to pay $24 million in 2004 to settle charges by the U.S. government the bank had failed to monitor suspicious fund transfers.

For his part, Gill says the court erred by not ordering the bank to turn over records of transactions in the three years that preceded the attack. The bank had contended that laws in Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories that govern the confidentiality of transactions prevented it from producing the material.

Gill, who plans to appeal the ruling, asserts “the court erred in refusing to attach probative weight to the defendant’s complete withholding of those records,” Gary Osen, a lawyer for Gill, said in an email.

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Billion dollar giveaways for Islam’s rising tide

June 19, 2012

The G-8 is  doubling down on its promises last year of creating a $20 billion Islamist stimulus package of aid and loans by offering a “New Transition Fund” (ie, international donor aid that the recipients can use as slush funds) to Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia plus a “Capital Markets Access Initiative” (ie, loan guarantees) as part of an overall plan called the “Deauville Partnership.”

This time the G-8 claims that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey will be donors too, although no pledged amounts are disclosed in the official press release.

With personal musings in italics, here’s the press release filled with euphemisms for how many of your tax dollars and tax euros will go to help line the pockets of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, or to repress their political opponents, or both:

Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition Fact Sheet on Finance

5/21/2012

Context

The Middle East and North Africa region is undergoing one of the most important transitions of our time. The G-8 launched the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition[1] to support the historic changes in the Middle East and North Africa. In the face of numerous challenges, the five transitioning countries (Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia) have taken important steps to toward democracy and economic development. However, these countries face growing economic challenges, including a difficult external environment and, for some countries, delays in the political transition.
For which the only possible solution could be throwing more money at the transitioning countries, right?
The Partnership’s efforts on finance focus on economic stabilization, near-term job creation, and economic governance to help the Partnership countries move towards sustainable and inclusive growth. Specifically, the Partnership is launching a Capital Markets Access Initiative, creating a new Transition Fund, and promoting assistance by International Financial Institutions (IFI) in a coordinated and effective way.
Coordinated and effective you say?  Well, how could we possibly argue with that?
Capital Markets Access Initiative
 
The heightened uncertainty associated with political transitions has meant that the five transitioning countries face significant constraints in financing their budgets and accessing external capital to support much-needed investments. Access to private sector finance for governments and businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, will be important to restoring economic stability, increasing jobs, reducing poverty, and boosting long-term growth. Since the events of last year, the Partnership countries and their private sectors have experienced reduced access to the international capital markets.
If banks have reduced lending to these countries, that should serve as a signal that such loans are a risky bet.  But somehow our politicians think they have a better sense of the creditworthiness of these nations than professional bankers who do this for a living.
The Capital Markets Access Initiative aims to help the transitioning countries reintegrate into international capital markets under reasonable financing terms to fill their sizable financing gaps and to allow their enterprises to invest in job-creating projects. In particular, the Initiative creates a collective approach to channel credit enhancement and political risk insurance instruments to transitioning countries and their private sectors.
As an example of the work of this initiative, on April 20, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Tunisian Finance Minister Houcine Dimassi signed a declaration of intent to proceed with a U.S. loan guarantee for Tunisia. Since the signing of the declaration, teams from the U.S. and Tunisian governments have made considerable progress toward signing a loan guarantee agreement and hope to proceed as quickly as possible with additional actions that would allow the Tunisian government to re-enter international capital markets later this year. This guarantee, combined with additional financing from the multilateral development banks, will help Tunisia meet its 2012 financing needs. Work proceeds on a follow-on financing package from the multilateral development banks, including additional sovereign guarantees.
Ah, it took this far reading through the press release and this example to find out that they’re referring to loan guarantees; ie, if the countries can’t pay back loans to banks, we’ll pay the loans for them.  That should give them a great incentive to comply with the terms of the loan!
A New Transition Fund
The five transitioning countries face an urgent need to fundamentally re-orient their economies to address their high levels of unemployment, weak rule of law, and deteriorating public services. The transitioning countries have asked for support to meet these demands, including technical assistance (TA) and grant resources to accelerate innovative reforms. While a wide range of bilateral and multilateral donors currently provide TA, it has not sufficiently addressed the needs of some key areas, in particular economic governance.
No problem–the U.S. and Europe have plenty of money these days to share with you!
Members of the Deauville Partnership have proposed a new, grant-based Transition Fund to help countries implement critical reforms in the areas of: (1) economic governance, (2) trade, investment, and integration, and (3) institutional reform. A new Transition Fund would support a combination of diagnostic analyses, technical advice, and initial implementation of targeted policy initiatives and reforms that have strong demonstration effects. The G-8, regional partners and transition countries are working together to advance this fund. The fund will have broad support from G-8 and Gulf donors, and is expected to be operational later this year.
Multilateral Assistance and IFI Coordination Platform   
 
The IFI Coordination Platform aims to facilitate information sharing and operational dialogue with the Partnership countries, identify opportunities for joint transactions and policy and analytical work, and coordinate monitoring and reporting on the implementation. The IFIs established a dedicated Coordination Platform in advance of the Finance Minister’s Meeting in Marseille on September 10, 2011 to better leverage the collective resources of the ten IFIs that work in the region, with the African Development Bank as the first chair of the rotating secretariat. Since that time, the Partnership has sought to deepen the cooperation among the ten IFIs and between bilateral and IFI assistance.
On April 20, the Partnership called on the ten Partnership IFIs to deliver on their commitments in the short term, particularly in the area of job creation and small and medium enterprise (SME) development. Examples of ways in which the IFIs are providing concrete support to the Partnership countries this year include:
  • The provision of development policy loans to Tunisia (African Development Bank and World Bank), Jordan (World Bank), and Morocco (World Bank) underpinning governance, private sector reforms and domestic markets.
  • In Tunisia, the African Development Bank is supporting SME credit lines and rural infrastructure to support inclusive growth.
  • Support for public-private partnerships through the Arab Financing Facility for Infrastructure, launched last year by the World Bank and Islamic Development Bank.
  •  Development of relevant post-secondary education skills in the region through the International Financial Corporation “e4e Initiative for Arab Youth.”
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Arab Monetary Fund are cooperating to promote local currency and capital markets in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia.

[1] Countries in the Partnership include the five Partnership countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, and Libya), the G-8, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey. The International Financial Institutions include the African Development Bank, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the International Monetary Fund, the OPEC Fund for International Development, and the World Bank. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is also a Partnership member.

Of course no numbers are mentioned in the press release.  For what it’s worth, Reuters reports that “The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was also trying to change its charter to create a special fund worth $4 billion to invest in the region over the next three years,” and that the IMF “has said it could provide $35 billion to help emerging Arab democracies.”

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If the Taliban’s Jordanian donors could talk…

January 20, 2011

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s old cell block buddy, Isam Mohammed Taher al-Barqawi, is on trial in Jordan.  Al-Barqawi accepted zakat from “unspecified donors” for the Taliban.  The Associated Press offered no details on the identities of the donors.  Certainly, if the donors spoke out, they would swear up and down that “we were only making humanitarian donations to help poor, blind, hungry, orphaned, Afghani amputees.”

By JAMAL HALABY, Associated Press Jamal Halaby– Mon Jan 17

AMMAN, Jordan – The Palestinian-born mentor of slain al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi pleaded innocent at the opening of his trial on terrorism charges in Jordan on Monday.

Isam Mohammed Taher al-Barqawi and three other Jordanian-Palestinians, including a fugitive who is being tried in absentia, are charged with recruiting militants in Jordan to join a “terrorist organization” identified as the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The four are also charged with attempting to harm Jordan’s relations with Afghanistan. If convicted, they face 15 years in jail.

The prosecution indictment said the Jordanian cell sought to help the Taliban in its “terror attacks” against U.S. and other troops in Afghanistan.

It said the four raised funds from unspecified donors in Jordan and tried to go to Afghanistan to join the “terrorist” Taliban, but that their plan failed because al-Barqawi, being the prime suspect, was arrested last September.

The hearing was adjourned until Jan. 30 to hear the prosecution witnesses.

Al-Barqawi, known as Sheik Abu-Mohammed al-Maqdisi, shared a cell block between 1995 and 1999 with al-Zarqawi, who led al-Qaida in Iraq before he was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006.

Al-Maqdisi was released in 2008 after three years in jail for encouraging attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.

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Jordan puts money where mouth bites

December 13, 2010

According to the Wall Street Journal, Jordan has escalated its efforts to lobby senior U.S. officials to save Arab Bank’s hide from terror finance litigation in American courts.  For the moment, the U.S. is standing firm in resisting Jordanian efforts.

Wonder why Jordan is going to such lengths to protect Arab Bank from litigation over terrorist financing?  There’s a semi-official, almost understandable explanation that Jordan wants to protect the bank’s financial interests by reassuring account holders that information about their transactions will not be released to foreign governments.

There’s another possible explanation.  Jordanians enjoy giving money to Hamas.  They want to continue giving money to Hamas.  They like Hamas.  And they don’t want the money flow shut down.

Public opinion data recently released by the Pew Research Center (see here for our earlier Pew coverage) show that 60 percent of Jordanians approve of Hamas:

Chart on Jordan poll results

60% of Jordanians favor Hamas

That probably means that 60 percent of Arab Bank’s managers and employees approve of Hamas.  And they’ve been busy acting in behalf of their customers and their own biases.

Arab Bank transferred money on behalf of the Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), the notorious Islamic charity in France, to the Ramallah al-Bireh zakat committee—a known financial subunit of Hamas.  Arab Bank also transferred money to Ramallah al-Bireh in large quantities from Jordan itself.  Arab Bank also transferred money from Saudi Arabia to the Saudi Committee—another committee established to fund Hamas.

If the Pew findings are any indication, Jordan may not be protecting Arab Bank for the money, but for the love.