Posts Tagged ‘Kuwait’

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Money and plots: suggested news reading

March 12, 2015
  • German police raid a mosque before a terror cell could meet with arms dealers in Bremen… more>>
  • Lajnat al Daawa al Islamiyya, a Kuwait-based charity designated by the U.S. and UN as a terrorist entity, was a donor to the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge where the Tsarnaev brothers worshipped… more>>
  • Two terrorist facilitators scam £150,000 from an elderly Englishman to fund jihad in Syriamore>>
  • Authorities have frozen its bank account of CAGE, a Muslim-British advocacy group that defends terrorists, but CAGE is still fundraising… more>>
  • A Yemeni bound for Qatar with £500,000 cash hidden in his luggage tells JFK airport authorities the money was for his “really big family”… more>>
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De-funding jihad from England: suggested reading

December 29, 2014

Here’s a round-up of news stories that we didn’t have time to cover in the latter half of 2014 about British authorities’ efforts to crackdown on fundraising for jihadists overseas…

  • The UK Charity Commission has frozen the bank account of Viva Palestina, an aid group that has delivered cash to Hamas (h/t El Grillo)… more>>
  • Police are trying to trace the network that raised the €20,000 for Amal El-Wahabi to send to her husband to fight infidels and apostates in Syriamore>>
  • British bureaucracy led to a two month delay in applying sanctions against Kuwaiti men who sent piles of money to the Islamic State (h/t BPA)… more>>
  • The Charity Commission is investigating 86 groups for terrorist financing risks, with 37 of them active in Syria… more>>
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Arab state cash: recommended news reading

August 27, 2014
  • Samer Majzoub has served as Montreal’s middleman with the radical World Assembly of Muslim Youth and now Kuwait’s embassy to fund Islamic schools in Canada… more>>
  • Who funds the ISIS crisis? A top German official says, “The keyword there is Qatar“… more>>
  • The chorus grows:  “The U.S. needs to call a spade a spade and label Qatar as a State Sponsor of Terrorism“… (h/t Brian)… more>>
  • What role does Venezuela play as a cash courier for “humanitarian relief” on behalf of terror sponsors? Answer>>
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Money and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

August 11, 2014

In 2007, the Islamic State of Iraq was seen as “the richest of the insurgency groups” in Iraq with $1 billion to 1.5 billion “collected in revenue by the group through foreign donations, enforced taxation and confiscation of the property and funds of Iraqis.” But the U.S. surge and ISI missteps significantly damaged the jihadist group’s ability to raise funds.

Seven years and three names later, ISIS amassed a $2 billion comeback and took control of large swathes of territory in northern Iraq including Mosul and 35 percent of Syria.

ISIS’s financial recovery has been marked by a slight shift away from reliance on local extortion networks (although those are still in effect), improved organizational and financial management by ISIS leader and self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the departure of U.S. troops in 2011.

The most important elements of ISIS’s funding are sadaqa (voluntary donations) from Arab donors in the Gulf; sales and tolls collected on sales of oil from fields under its control; and increasingly through money made by controlling key infrastructure.

Here’s a rundown of ISIS’s main funding channels:

Sadaqa from private donors

Fundraising is aided by contemporary marketing methods

Oil

  • ISIS controls 60 percent of Syrian oil including the lucrative Omar field
  • In Iraq, ISIS controls Butmah and Ain Zalah oil fields, the refinery in Baiji, and oil and gas resources in Ajeel in northern Iraq
  • ISIS sells or collects a portion on black market sales to Turkey, Iran, and in Syria itself
  • Revenue estimates for ISIS range from $1 million to $3 million daily

Dams

  • In addition to oil, control of key infrastructure such as the dams in Mosul, Fallujah, and Tabqa present increasingly significant revenue potential for ISIS.
  • Professor Ariel Ahram notes this is already occurring at Tabqa, where ISIS is involved in selling electricity.
  • New York Times reporter Tim Arango says that possession of the Mosul dam can enable ISIS to “use it as a method of finance” through extortion schemes to continue their operations.

Other sources

  • Isis has seized arms from Iraqi depots, including U.S. weapons given to Iraqi forces, plus weapons smuggled from Turkey and Croatia
  • The collection of ransom money has sustained ISIS throughout its existence
  • Antiquities smuggling

Incidently, little is being done by the Gulf states to curtail the flow of donations to ISIS because they either want an independent Sunni state carved out of Iraq or to replace Iraq’s Shia-led government with Sunnis. Washington should designate Saudi Arabia and Qatar as state sponsors of terrorism, but it won’t because of diplomatic considerations.

Without interdicting the donations and the contraband oil, U.S. airstrikes will have limited effect on ISIS’s coffers.

This piece is also published at Terror Finance Blog.

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Terror finance trio: Qatar, Kuwait, and KSA

July 22, 2014

They left out Turkey. It is great that more people are coming to this realization and that books are being written about it, but it doesn’t seem to be significantly changing the policies of the West (apart from a growing rift between the U.S. and the Sunni powers in the region over how we’re dealing with Iran). We have yet to designate the major institutional terror donors in Qatar Saudi Arabia as terrorist entities. Kuwait was never blacklisted by FATF even though it took it 10 years after 9/11 to outlaw terrorist financing. NATO has retained Turkey as a member even though it is partnering with Al Qaeda in Syria and helps Iran evade sanctions. And we mostly ignored attacks by Qatari-backed rebels in Mali fighting against our oldest ally, France. Instead of doing something significant, we just nod our heads and say, “yep, the Gulf is where the money for terrorism comes from,” and then we turn the page of the newspaper to something else.

From VOA on July 7 (h/t El Grillo):

Islamist Insurgency Fueled by Global Finance Web

Jeffrey Young

The little cans were at cash registers everywhere in Kuwait, where I lived during much of the 1990s. Covered with pictures of children in anguish amid burning rubble, these cans collected coins and cash for “Palestinian Relief” or the like. Sometimes, I put my change into these cans, causing the person behind the counter to often give me a puzzled look. Then, I learned from my Kuwaiti friends that these collection cans were not always helping those kids – many were funding Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and other violent groups.

Now, 20 years later, there is an international web of finance that leads to deadly insurgents such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Part of it runs through so-called “charities,” while another funding stream for terrorists is enabled by official complicity. And, these sources also intersect.

Colin Clarke, author of an upcoming book titled “Terrorism Inc: The Funding of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Irregular Warfare” says much of the cash now pouring into ISIL and other violent groups comes from three regional sources.

“A key component of support to Sunni extremist groups [including ISIL] comes from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf states of Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia,” Clarke told VOA, adding “The majority of donors likely know exactly where their money is going. Some are blatant about it, while others enjoy the plausible deniability of ambiguity.”

Clarke also contends these three states are using this funding stream as a means of achieving influence with insurgent groups. “The Saudis,” he said, “are reportedly fearful of the threat posed by ISIL, but certainly contribute to radical groups, battling for a leadership role with Qatar, another country active in this funding.”

Kuwait has also allegedly kept the flames of insurgency fueled with cash. Until recently, one of those streams reportedly ran through Kuwait’s Aqaf, its Ministry of Islamic Affairs. In May, Aqaf Minister Nayef al-Ajmi resigned in the wake of accusations by a senior U.S. official that he was enabling terrorists…

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5 big terror finance stories so far in 2014

May 30, 2014

Money Jihad has blogged or tweeted about all these news stories, but they’re all significant enough that they merit a second look by anybody interested in the topic of terror finance. Here are some of the most significant news articles and commentaries written about terrorist financing news developments of the year so far:

Australian money laundering bust: “Project Eligo” resulted in at least 105 arrests, 190 criminal charges, and over $500 million in assets seized in Australia since the beginning of the year. Exchange houses involved in the laundering operation were delivering a cut of profits to Hezbollah, illustrating the control that Hezbollah exerts over global financial transactions…more from the Sydney Morning Herald>>

Canada seizes $7 million in Iranian assets: The seizure is significant not only because it delivers justice to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, but because it demonstrates the validity of the legal theory that terrorism can be partially bankrupted through litigation. Previous judgments have been just that—judgments without seizing or disbursing assets. Now legal methods prove that the lawyers of terrorists’ victims deserve a seat at the table along with military operations, intelligence, law enforcement, sanctions, and other counter-terror techniques…more from the CBC>>

Turkish corruption scandal: The ongoing Turkish corruption scandals boil down to a rivalry between two Islamists, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and the cryptic Pennsylvania imam Fetullah Gulen. But the scandal has also revealed the degree to which Turkey has enabled Iranian sanctions evasion, and at the same time we’re learning more about Turkey’s support for Al Qaeda and Hamas…more from Jonathan Schanzer>>

Sanctions relief offered to Iran could fund terrorism. Easing Iranian sanctions as part of a larger diplomatic push offers no controls over how Iran uses the money. Not only will the money not be used to satisfy judgments won by the victims of Iranian terror, but the money could be given to the perpetrators of Iranian terror, including Hezbollah, the IRGC, Hamas, and the Quds Force…more from Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon>>

Kuwait’s terror financing cabinet minister proves too hot to handle. Kuwait, whose hide the U.S. saved during the Gulf war, brazenly stabbed us in the back after 9/11 by failing to outlaw terrorist financing for 10 years. Then Kuwait added insult to injury in January by promoting a top private fundraiser for jihad in Syria to not one but two major government posts simultaneously. This prompted US Treasury officials to grow a spine and actually condemn Kuwait for rewarding this kind of person. Nayef al-Ajmi finally quit earlier this month… more from Reuters>>

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Accounting for Kuwaiti cash among Syrian rebels

February 23, 2014

How Kuwait came to be such a major regional player in the financing of radical rebels in Syria is the subject of a recent interview with Elizabeth Dickens of the Brookings Institute conducted by Syria Deeply, a website run by journalists. Dickens chalks Kuwait’s ascendance as a financier up to:

  • Lax regulation (ie, the failure of Kuwait to criminalize terrorist financing until recently)
  • Business ties between Kuwait and Syria
  • Numerous, experienced NGOs operate in Kuwait

Here’s an excerpt of the interview, with thanks to Arye Leonid Glozman for sending over a link:

Syria Deeply: Why has Kuwait emerged as a financing and organizational hub for charities and individuals supporting Syria’s rebel groups?

Elizabeth Dickinson: It’s a perfect storm. Kuwait has all the things that one would need to set up such a financing hub. The most important thing it has, or that it had until very recently, was extremely lax regulation. So after Sept. 11, most of the Gulf states had these really strict counterterrorism financing laws that gave them the ability to stop any suspicious transactions very swiftly, and they were cooperating with Western intelligence to build their capacity to find any suspicious transactions in the banking system.

Kuwait, however, did not do that, and its counterterror financing law basically said nothing about terrorist financing being illegal. And its central bank just didn’t have any investigative capacity  so even if they did want to stop something from going on, they wouldn’t really have the ability to investigate and figure out how to stop it.

Factor number two is extremely deep ties between Kuwait and Syria. Before the conflict started, Kuwaiti investors were among the single largest direct foreign investor in Syria, so there’s a lot of really longstanding business ties. You have a lot of Kuwaitis with homes and businesses in Syria, with Syrian wives. So there’s a really close personal connection there. There’s also 120,000 Syrian expats in Kuwait, which is a lot considering the population of Kuwait is only 3 million people.

Then you have all the factors that have made the Gulf a hub for financing  you have a lot of money, and a lot of people who are personally affected by what’s going on in Syria. I’ve had lots of people start crying in meetings there. They had the willpower to start getting involved.

The last part of this perfect storm is that Kuwait has the longest history in the Gulf of charitable and humanitarian work. Because of its relatively open political system, people living in Kuwait are allowed to start NGOs, there are private charities that are private, not semi-state organizations like they would be in Saudi Arabia. The Kuwaitis have a lot of experience doing project finance, going into a country and building mosques, wells and schools. The infrastructure of charitable giving is really strong there, and it has allowed a lot of people with expertise to move into sectors of aid that are more geared towards the military side.

There’s a lot of overlap  sheikhs will do a fundraiser for the mujahideen and their weapons … and hospitals.

Kuwait’s ability to be a hub was recognized early in the conflict by other Gulf citizens who were interested in getting financially involved in Syria. If I’m a Saudi and I want to give money to the rebels in Syria, I’m probably aware that my government is not going to look favorably upon that, so individuals elsewhere in the Gulf rely on bundlers in Kuwait to accept their donations on their behalf, and then the donations go from Kuwait to Syria, rather than directly from Saudi to Syria.

SD: What’s the breakdown of where the money from Kuwait is going?

ED: We have rough ideas of how much it is and where it’s going. Among the pro-rebel groups, the vast majority of the money is going to groups that are in the Islamic Front, like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam. There’s evidence that funds are going to Jabhat al-Nusra…

Read the rest here.  Previous Money Jihad coverage of Kuwaiti financing of Syrian militants can be found here, here, and here.