Posts Tagged ‘Kenya’

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Kenya alleges Dahabshiil employee recruited for al-Shabaab

February 25, 2016

According to Kenya Media News Agency, an employee of the remittance company Dahabshiil has been charged in Kenya with recruiting fighters to join the terrorist group al-Shabaab.  Abdirizak Mowlana (also spelled Mowlanaa) has been described as “deputy manager” or “assistant manager.”  Dahabshiil operates in dozens of countries.  Mr. Mowlana is said to have held his position in South Africa, but it is unclear whether he managed all South African operations or just one branch office.  If the charges are proven, this news development would be the latest in a long line of red flags about Dahabshiil’s alleged involvement in financing terrorism–allegations which Dahabshiil has previously denied.

Kenya: Video Dahabshiil deputy manager charged with recruiting young Kenyans to Al-Shabaab

Kenyamedia.net – Dozens of men, including Dahabshiil’s deputy manager of South Africa, are charged with recruiting for Al-Shabaab in Kenya.

Abdirizak Mowlana was arrested in Nairobi where he was allegedly recruiting young Kenyan men to Al-Shabaab, a radical Islamic group with ties to the al-Qaeda.

“He ( Mowlanaa) met young Kenyans whom he told that he had jobs in Somalia for them. But we believe that he was taking them to Al-Shabaab to join,” said Joseph, an official for the Kenya Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Kaju, An official from the Kenyan anti-terrorism police said that the agent was investigating his alleged involvement and that he had taken young Kenyans to Somalia twice, where they eventually joined the Somali militants.

“The Assistant Manager of Dahabshiil Mr Mowlanaa has a South African passport and he was a preacher  of the Islamic religion. We introduced each other and often meet the Office of Dahabshiil in Johannesburg, South Africa” Said Mahad Mohamed, a member of the Somali entrepreneurs in South Africa…

UPDATE 3/8/2016:  Money Jihad reached out to Dahabshiil about these allegations prior to the publication of this blog post.  After publication, Dahabshiil responded, “Dahabshiil has confirmed that the accused individual (if he even exists) has no connection whatsoever with Dahabshiil. For the avoidance of doubt, he is not, and has never been, an employee or an agent of Dahabshiil, or otherwise known to Dahabshiil.”

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Kenya puts al-Shabaab on sugar-free diet

July 12, 2015

Kenya is tightening the screws against the multi-million sugar smuggling business that profits al-Shabaab across the border in Somalia.  (See here and here for prior coverage of al-Shabaab’s sugar business.)  The surprising thing about this report is the quotation from a security source who described the crackdown by saying, “It’s like the government is awakening.”  Money Jihad believed that the Kenyan government was one of the few entities that have taken the threat of al-Shabaab seriously, and that they have taken steps before to reduce the flow of money to the terror group over the past several years.  Whatever the case, it would be more significant if the Gulf states, which are some of the biggest buyers of Somali contraband, joined Kenya on operations like this.  But don’t hold your breath for that.

From Midnimo last month (h/t El Grillo):

Somalia: Kenya wages war on smugglers who fund Somali Islamist militants

When Kenyan police arrested six men in the vast Dadaab refugee camp near the Somali border last April, their ultimate aim was to dismantle a decades-old sugar smuggling trade that is funding Somali militants waging war on Kenya.

The arrests, coming weeks after four al Shabaab gunmen massacred 148 people at nearby Garissa university, were part of Nairobi’s new strategy to choke off the flow of money to Islamists whose cross-border raids have hammered Kenya and its tourism industry.

While cash from sugar smuggling may amount to only a few million dollars, experts say such sums are enough for attacks that need just a few assault rifles, transport and loyalists ready to die – such as the Garissa raid or the 2013 assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall that killed 67 people.

“It’s like the government is awakening,” said a senior Kenyan security source from Garissa region, adding the authorities had previously often “turned a blind eye to all these things because a lot of people were benefiting – but at a cost of security.”

However if a lasting impact is to be secured more must be done, say security and diplomatic sources. That includes rooting out corruption in the police force and going after smuggling cartel bosses as well as the middle men detained so far.

The move to tackle the cross-border trade may prove as vital as the military offensive against al Shabaab inside Somalia by African Union peacekeepers and Somali soldiers that has pushed the group into smaller pockets of territory…

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30 sugar smugglers ID’d as al-Shabaab financiers

May 8, 2015

Money Jihad readers may recall that Kenya recently sanctioned 86 people and 13 money transfer companies for their financial ties to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. It has since been revealed that 30 of the sanctioned individuals are sugar smugglers. (Hat tips to Chris Pariso and El Grillo.)

The Star reports:

…A confidential government report seen by the Star says: “Most of the smuggled sugar enters the country [Kenya] from areas controlled by al Shabaab in Somalia. The sugar barons pay illegal levies (or protection fees) to al Shabaab, who in turn uses the proceeds to fund terrorist activities/operations…

Imposing taxes on businesses is a common al-Shabaab tactic. They do it on the charcoal supply chain, the telecommunications sector, the remittance industry, etc.  Sugar and charcoal tax rates are often based on the rate set for zakat in the Koran:  2½ percent.  Money Jihad has previously covered how lucrative the sugar trade has been for al-Shabaab here.

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Uganda’s police chief to probe remitters

May 3, 2015

The head of Uganda’s national police force said they will investigate money services businesses (MSBs) after Kenya suspended 13 MSBs alleged to finance the terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia. Several of those same companies operating in Somalia and Kenya also do business in Uganda.  Dahabshiil is probably the most prominent of the money transfer companies identified.

From the Kampala Observer via All Africa (h/t Chris Pariso):

Police chief Kale Kayihura has said they are to investigate transactions of money transfer companies here, after evidence in Kenya suggested that some were being used to channel money for financing terrorism.

Speaking in Kampala last week, Kayihura said some of the transfer companies under investigation in Kenya are affiliated to some institutions in Uganda. According to an April 14 gazette notice issued under Kenya’s Prevention of Terrorism Act and signed by police chief Joseph Boinnet, money transfer companies topped the list of 86 accounts alleged to fund terror groups.

The notable money transfer companies mentioned include Dahabshiil, which has agent locations and branches in 126 countries worldwide, including Uganda. Another mentioned company is Kendy Money Transfer Limited, which launched its money transfer services in Kenya last September…

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Kenya nabs imam alleged to have funded attack that killed 148

April 24, 2015

Keep up the good work, Kenya.  From IntelligenceBriefs.com on April 20:

Garissa Attack: Sheikh Mahat Omar, Alleged University Terror Financier Held

Kenyan police are currently detaining a Muslim cleric alleged to have financed the Garissa attack in which Al-Shabaab terrorists killed 148 people.

Police say Sheikh Hassan Mahat Omar who they are holding in Nairobi will help police investigations.

The Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) on Monday got a 30-day extended detention order by a court against Sheikh Hassan Mahat Omar, who was arrested on Friday.

According to the police, Sheikh Mahat Omar has close links with Mohammed Kuno, alias Sheikh Mahammad, alias Dulydin, alias Garmadhere, Al-Shabaab’s leader in the Juba region of Somalia and the alleged mastermind of the recent terrorist attack at the learning institution.

The prosecution alleged in court on Monday that Mr Omar and a Mr Ali Hassan Gure, who is yet to be presented in court, are involved in the financing of terrorism…

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Kenya suspends 13 remitters including Dahabshiil

April 17, 2015

Kenya has frozen the bank accounts of 86 people and suspended the licenses of 13 money transfer organizations, including Dahabshiil, for their alleged role in funding the terrorist group al-Shabaab.  From NTV Kenya last week:

Critics of decisions like this often claim that regulators are cutting off “life lines” to poor Somalis by making money transfers to Somalia more difficult.  But as the news report points out, there are major, conventional banks that provide wire services.  It’s just that the fees are higher with the banks than with smaller money transfer firms and hawala dealers.  Kudos to Kenya for attempting to rein in the funding of al-Shabaab.

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Somali in Holland funded al-Shabaab

August 4, 2014

Farhia Hassan, a Somali living in the Netherlands, has been arrested as part of a U.S. sting against an international cell of East African women who financed al-Shabaab. Additional arrests were made in Virginia and Washington state. The women sent the money back home to “brothers in the mountains,”—al Shabaab fighters in Somalia. The money was transferred in small increments probably to avoid scrutiny. Hassan is said to be pregnant, which her lawyers will probably use to argue against her extradition.

Thanks to Theo Prinse for sending over the story from Omroep Zeeland. An English account of the development comes from DutchNews:

Dutch Somali woman faces deportation to US over terrorist funding

A 30-year-old woman who lives in Terneuzen faces extradition to the US on charges of helping finance the al-Shabaab terror group.

The woman was arrested on Wednesday on the request of the US authorities, the public prosecution department said.

The woman, who was born in Somalia, has Dutch nationality. She will appear in court on Friday and the US has requested her extradition, the prosecution department said.

Brothers

The US department of justice said in a statement that two other women from Kenya and Somalia were also arrested in the US on Wednesday and two more remain ‘fugitives’.

Three defendants who were arrested face charges of providing material support to al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organisation that is conducting a violent insurgency campaign in Somalia’, the statement said.

The statement said the women referred to the money they sent overseas as ‘living expenses,’ and they repeatedly used code words such as ‘orphans’ and ‘brothers in the mountains’ to refer to al-Shabaab fighters, and ‘camels’ to refer to trucks needed by al-Shabaab.

The money transfers often were broken down into small amounts as low as $50 or $100, and the funds were intended for use by al-Shabaab insurgents operating in Somalia…

Prior Money Jihad coverage of terror financing based in the Netherlands is here. Posts about the financing of al-Shabaab are here. See this and these for the use of “orphans” as code for terrorist financing.  The AP and the Washington D.C. affiliate of ABC News have more information on the arrests here.

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Al-Shabaab financial news roundup

April 24, 2014

Thanks to all the tipsters who sent in these items:

» Kenyan police have identified two youth outreach coordinators in Mombasa who incite violence during sermons at mosques and offer who small signing bonuses for new al-Shabaab recruits.  (Hat tip to El Grillo)

» Also in Mombasa, Kenyan authorities are are investigating local businessmen for their role in trafficking weapons and recruiting fighters for al-Shabaab.  The businessmen have used up to 20 domestic and international banks to for their activities.  Officials are also monitoring Riyadh mosque in Nairobi, and Masjid Mujahideen (formerly known as Sakina mosque) and Masjid Shuhadaa (f.k.a. Masjid Musa) in Mombasa for their promotion of jihad in Somalia.

» Meanwhile in downtown Nairobi, a dozen shops are financing al-Shabaab and radical madrasas as well.  The shops are still in business.  Nobody in Kenya appears to have been arrested yet despite the fact that authorities have tipped them off.

» An Ethiopian member of parliament has pointed to a different culprit in fattening al-Shabaab’s portfolio–Egypt.   Egypt is spending money on weapons, indoctrination, and training for al-Shabaab according to the MP who says, “American taxpayers should demand answers from the Obama administration on why billions of their money is going to a country that funds terrorism in East Africa.”  Indeed.

» Barclays attempted to stop doing business with Dahabshiil over the Somali wire service’s lax money laundering and terror finance controls last year, but a court injunction forced their relationship to continue temporarily (despite reports that Dahabshiil pays $1 million to al-Shabaab annually).  Now Barclays and Dahabshiil have struck an agreement which will keep them in business together until Dahabshiil finds another bank to transfer its funds. (H/t Mean Kitteh)

» Foreign aid to Somalia has not been accurately accounted for, and has either been stolen or used or to fund militias, according to an investigative report.   The UAE sent $48 million in 2013 off-the-books, Qatar sent $25 million of which only $5 million was properly accounted for, and Iran sent $20 million in cash that was never deposited through official channels. The report revealed that “The diversion of public funds in Somalia is made easier by the fact that most Arab donors prefer to give their aid in cash.”   (H/t SomaliSijui)

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Interpol targets al-Shabaab’s charcoal smuggling

March 30, 2014

Finally. Action against al-Shabaab’s exploitation of the lucrative Somali charcoal trade is long overdue. Al-Shabaab exacts a 2½ percent tax at several stages of production from the point the charcoal leaves the kilns until it is loaded and shipped illegally to Persian Gulf buyers in contravention of a UN ban on the trade.

From Thomson Reuters on Mar. 27 (h/t El Grillo):

…“The al Shabaab-controlled charcoal trade is emerging as the new security threat facing the country’s biodiversity,” Henry Wafula, a district commissioner in eastern Kenya, said in an interview with Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Charcoal worth more than 140 million Kenya shillings (about $1.7 million) is being shipped out of eastern Kenya illegally every month, Wafula said. The lucrative trade involves cutting down and burning mature trees, particularly in protected wildlife areas. The loss of trees reduces cover for wildlife and worsens soil erosion.

In 2013, the annual report of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia estimated that al Shabaab’s charcoal exports from eastern Africa could be as high as 24 million sacks per year, for an overall international market value of $360 to $384 million.

Laws passed by Kenya in 2013 impose tough punishments on illegal logging and related activities, but concern about al Shabaab’s possible use of charcoal trade revenue has drawn INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organisation, into an alliance trying to stop the trade, though there is scant evidence it is used for terror-related operations.

“We have reports linking illegal charcoal trade in Eastern Africa to terrorist activities in the region. But this is not something governments are responding to,” David Higgins, of INTERPOL’s environmental crime programme, told a recent media briefing in Nairobi.

He did not give details of the activities, but said he has information, mainly from non-governmental organisations, that there are links between the charcoal trade and terror cells operating in the region.

INTERPOL began taking an interest in the charcoal trade soon after Kenya passed the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, which spells out penalties up to life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of logging, clearing land or setting fire to vegetation in protected wildlife areas…

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How al-Shabaab controls the ivory trade

January 20, 2014

Marauders in eastern Kenya poach for ivory.  The ivory is bought by brokers who arrange for transport of the merchandise with al-Shabaab through Somalia.  Al-Shabaab exports the ivory from the Somali coast to the illicit world market.

Inter Press Service reports (h/t El Grillo):

…In 2012 and 2013 alone, nearly 60,000 elephants and over 1,600 rhinos were illegally killed for their tusks.

The driving force behind this practice is clearly the significant money that can still be made from these products. According to expert estimates, a rhino horn is worth 50,000 dollars per pound on the black market, more than the value of gold or platinum.

This, activists say, makes poaching very hard to resist.

“Most people know that this is wrong, but you need to make a distinction between poacher and poacher,” Andrea Crosta, the executive director of Elephant Action League (EAL), a U.S.-based group that fights poaching and illegal trafficking, told IPS.

“On one end, you have the poor local tribesman with no job who just needs the money. On the other, you have the organised criminal gangs, with weapons and money, who are able to bribe rangers and get their information.”

Crosta says a pair of tusks can be worth a few years’ salary in many African countries.

“To someone with no job and a large family to feed, that’s a lot of money,” he says. “They know it’s wrong, but the temptation is just too strong.”

Together with a team of EAL members, Crosta spent much of 2010 to 2012 investigating poaching in East Africa. According to their findings, large quantities of ivory were getting into Somalia in a systematic, organised way.

Later, they discovered this process was being run by Al-Shabaab.

“We were undercover, pretending to be researchers and zoologists, and that way we were able to speak with small and big traders, poachers and middlemen,” Crosta, who is currently based in the Netherlands, told IPS.

His team was able to unveil an undercover trafficking system that saw between one and three tonnes of ivory getting into Somalia, facilitated by Al-Shabaab, every month…

The Elephant Action League has previously reported that, “Shabaab has been actively buying and selling ivory as a means of funding their militant operations,” and that Kenyan ivory brokers prefer working with al-Shabaab middlemen because of their organizational skills and efficiency.  Moreover, “the terrorist group pays better than average prices (U.S. $200 per kilogram in 2011-2012), making them desirable buyers of illicit ivory from small-time brokers.”

See previous Money Jihad coverage of ivory-funded terror here and here.

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Muslim Youth Center financier arrested

November 19, 2013

The terrorist group Al-Shabaab has long received money laundered through Al Hijra, the Muslim Youth Center, in Kenya.  Authorities have probably known about Juma Abdallah Kheri, a businessman who worked with Al Hijra, for a long time, but the Westgate mall attack prompted them to apprehend him finally.  From All Africa (h/t El Grillo):

Tanzanian Police Arrest Businessman Accused of Funding Terrorist Activities

1 November 2013

Tanzanian businessman Juma Abdallah Kheri, also known as Chief Abiola and Juma Sahel, was arrested Thursday (October 31st) in Tanga region following intelligence reports that linked him to funding terrorist activities in the country, police said.

Kheri is suspected of working with and funding the Muslim Youth Centre (MYC), al-Shabaab’s affiliate in Kenya.

“He is being held under police custody with two others and the questioning is ongoing. Therefore, I cannot comment beyond this point as of now,” Tanga regional police commander Constantine Massawe told Sabahi.

Massawe said the Tanga region could also have an al-Shabaab presence because of its proximity to Mombasa, an MYC stronghold.