Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

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Terror finance news: recommended reading

December 19, 2013
  • Jihad Watch:  Australia: Muslim radicals tried robbing an ATM to fund jihad in Syria
  • Kenneth Rijock:  “How extensive was Hezbollah’s Canadian shopping spree?
  • Israel Matzav:  “Your taxes at work: ‘Cash strapped’ Palestinian Authority gives freed terrorist murderers $50,000 each”

 

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Hezbollah bank fined

July 11, 2013

The fine of $102 million against Lebanese Canadian Bank is far less than the $1.9 billion settlement with HSBC or the $600+ million settlements with ING and Standard Chartered last year.  It also appears that nobody from the bank will ever face prosecution for aiding Hezbollah, and the extradition of one of their big-time money laundering clients, Ayman Joumaa, appears to have stalled.

From Agence France Presse (h/t El Grillo):

US fines ‘Hezbollah’ bank $102 mn for laundering

(AFP) – Jun 25, 2013

WASHINGTON — A Lebanese bank accused of laundering money from drugs and other operations for clients tied to Hezbollah militants agreed Tuesday to pay US authorities $102 million to settle the charges.

Beirut-based Lebanese Canadian Bank was singled out in February 2011 for allegedly moving hundreds of millions of dollars for criminal groups and traffickers operating in Latin America, West Africa and the Middle East.

Some of the customers it served were closely linked to Hezbollah, which Washington has blacklisted as a “terrorist organization.”

US authorities had already taken control of $150 million the bank set aside for a possible penalty as it was being bought in 2011 by another Beirut bank, Societe Generale de Banque au Liban…

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Mosques and “orphans project” help finance Hezbollah from Germany

July 5, 2013

Hundreds of Hezbollah agents in Berlin are using Germany to raise money for their cause according to a new report from the interior ministry.  Since the EU does not officially consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization, law enforcement can’t do much to put a stop to Hezbollah’s financial activities there.

Take special note of the Orphans Project Lebanon, which is described in the report as a channel for Hezbollah’s money.  Exploiting sympathies about orphans is a frequent fundraising tactic used by Islamist terrorist groups.

From the Jerusalem Post (h/t Jihad Watch):

German mosque groups raising funds for Hezbollah

By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT

06/23/2013

BERLIN – The head of Germany’s federal agency for domestic intelligence and the country’s Interior Ministry have recently presented a report showing Hezbollah’s use of German based mosques and their affiliated organizations to raise funds for the terrorist group’s activities in Lebanon.

According to the 2012 report published this month by the domestic intelligence agency, known as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the terrorist organization finances its activities through “Hezbollah-affiliated mosque associations” and raises funds within the framework of “religious ceremonies” as well as membership contributions.

Dr. Hans-Peter Friedrich, the head of Germany’s Interior Ministry, and Dr. Hans-Georg Maaßen, the relatively new director of the intelligence agency introduced the report several weeks ago in Berlin.

It is unclear from the report if the Hezbollah funds in Germany are funneled to aid the terrorist group’s efforts in Syria to support the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The report showed a steady presence of Hezbollah members in the Federal Republic, 950 members, the same figure for 2011. The intelligence agency’s 2010 report showed the number of Hezbollah members to be 900.

The 381-page 2012 intelligence report lists the Hezbollah attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, under the category of Islamic terrorism.

Although the Bulgarian Interior Minister blamed Hezbollah for the attack, which resulted in the deaths of five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver, the German report stated that “Hezbollah was brought into connection with the attack” but that the link was not yet definitively proven. The report was published before the Bulgarian government submitted new evidence, according to a JTA article last week, showing a Hezbollah operative used a printer in Lebanon to aid the terrorists with fake documents as part of their planning for the attack.

The German report also contained information about the July 7, 2012, arrest of a Hezbollah member in Cyprus who plotted to kill Israelis and Jews on the Island. Germany’s report, however, does not contain the March conviction of Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, who admitted he was a Hezbollah operative and part of the terrorist organization’s global mission to monitor Jews.

Young German Hezbollah members are strongly connected and active on the Internet, including social media and various web forums, the report noted. Growing street demonstrations involving Hezbollah supporters and members were documented, including an event attended by 1,100 Hezbollah supporters last year at the Al-Quds Day march in Berlin. At 600, the 2012 number of young members almost doubled from 2011.

According to the report, as many as 3,000 Hezbollah supporters participated in the Iranian-sponsored Al- Quds Day march in the 1990s. The event calls for the destruction of Israel and stokes anti-Western hate.

Though not cited in the agency’s report, The Jerusalem Post reported in 2012 that the Imam Ali Mosque in Hamburg, widely considered by experts in Germany and abroad to be part of the long arm of Iran’s regime in the Federal Republic, chartered buses and sent Hezbollah supporters to an anti-Israel and anti-Western demonstration. Hamburg’s local intelligence agency stated that “two buses with roughly 90 people traveled to Berlin this year. The costs for the travel were paid for by the IZH,” an organization that operates the Shi’ite mosque.

According to the report, Berlin has 250 active Hezbollah members. It revealed that in Berlin there is an annual “victory celebration of the liberation” celebrating the IDF withdrawal from south Lebanon in May 2000. On May 26, 2012, roughly 700 Hezbollah participants took part in the event.

The report noted that in September 2012, Hezbollah members in many German cities protested against the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called for worldwide demonstrations against the film.

The most recent intelligence report cited the Hezbollah-controlled Orphans Project Lebanon in Germany as a way to send money to Lebanon.

Hezbollah has long used German territory to raise funds for the families of suicide bombers involved in killing Israelis. A 2009 report from the European Foundation for Democracy titled “Hezbollah’s Fund-raising Organization in Germany” revealed that the Orphans Project Lebanon, based in Göttingen, Lower Saxony, is “the German branch of a Hezbollah suborganization” that “promotes suicide bombings” and aims to destroy Israel.

Germany still allows the Orphans Project Lebanon to operate but eliminated its tax subsidy several years ago…

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Lebanese businesses in Europe fund Hezbollah

June 13, 2013

Hezbollah’s financial activities in South America and West Africa are well known, but their European enterprises should also be scrutinized.

Lebanese businessmen, front groups, and khums donors who aid Hezbollah are seldom investigated because the EU does not consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization.

Fortunately, Tablet Magazine is looking into issue, and offered this informative article on June 4.  An excerpt follows:

…What Europe should really be worried about is the group’s European business empire and its ramifications for the continent.

Lebanese Shiite communities in Europe provide good recruiting pools for the Party of God and often donate money to Hezbollah-sponsored charities that raise funds for social causes in Lebanon. Businessmen affiliated with Hezbollah also set up façade companies in countries with lax legislation and weak and corrupt governments and then transfer their funds to respectable European accounts. The latter are more important to the Lebanese group. Technically abiding by the European laws and keeping a low profile, they make most of the money the group needs to finance not only its military program but also the schools, hospitals, and community activities meant to secure the group’s popular base inside Lebanon.

According to Lebanese University professor Hares Suleiman, Hezbollah started building its business empire in 2001-2002, following the example of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which had set up networks of companies in the Gulf. “Hezbollah started contacting businessmen and building partnerships, increasing its capital and investing in hotels, the car trade, clothes manufacturing, and wholesale,” he said. “At the same time, Hezbollah members and supporters—who were not businessmen to start with—opened new businesses, investments, and institutions in Lebanon and abroad, in places such as Africa and the Gulf. After the 2006 July War, the phenomenon increased,” he pointed out.

The change was obvious in South Lebanon, where castle-like villas sprang up out of nowhere after the July 2006 war. Most locals would give you the official line of the party they support: They built their villas to show how fast the Lebanese resistance could regenerate after the war with Israel. In the town of Kherbet Selem, where Hezbollah controls the local council, the mayor’s relatives built an actual castle with the Brazilian flag on top—a clue to the source of the money, in Hezbollah’s burgeoning South American business empire—and Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah’s pictures lining the walls.

Most of the money channeled toward South Lebanon’s villages comes from Latin America and West Africa, where most of Hezbollah’s businesses are located. But informed sources say that even some of that money makes stops in Europe-based accounts belonging to financiers and is then laundered through European-based sister companies so it doesn’t attract too much attention.

Lebanese Shiite communities of Hezbollah supporters in Europe also raise funds for the Party of God through donations made to charities. Germany has a large community of Hezbollah supporters that has grown considerably during the past decade. German media reported in 2007 that 900 Hezbollah activists were in the country and that they regularly meet in 30 cultural community centers and mosques. These activists financially supported Hezbollah in Lebanon through fundraising organizations, such as the “Orphans Project Lebanon Association.” Funds donated to that association were then transferred to Hezbollah’s Al Shahid Association, which supports the families of the Party of God’s military personnel who are killed in action.

Sweden also hosts a strong community of Hezbollah supporters, which it allows to operate freely in the country. Several rallies organized by the party’s supporters had quite a considerable turnout in the country’s main cities and were supported by Sweden’s left-wing opposition parties. In the last year two Lebanese-Swedish men were arrested in separate instances for trying to plan attacks on Israelis in Bangkok and Cyprus. Hezbollah has also done public fundraising in other EU countries such as Denmark.

But the European authorities and law-enforcement agencies often do not look into Hezbollah’s fundraising activities, or into businesses that might have links to Hezbollah, because they are not seen as a threat to public security in Europe—no matter how clear the links are to organizations that sponsor violence elsewhere…

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Backstabbed: How Iraq helps Iran skirt sanctions

April 11, 2013

Nobody has been as good at tracking the painful truth of Iraqi-facilitated evasion of international sanctions on Iran as financial crime consultant Kenneth Rijock.  Consider:

  • The Kurds in northern Iraq have “allowed both rampant money laundering, and widespread facilitation of global Iran sanctions evasion” though their banks. In central Iraq, U.S. dollars are flowing in bulk from Baghdad to Iranmore>>
  • Lebanese banks and Bank Melli, a sanctioned Iranian bank, are operating in northern Iraq.  EU and North American businesses that use Lebanese banks may not be taking sufficient steps to prevent their transactions from benefiting Iranian end-users… more>>
  • “Iraq blatantly disregards UN sanctions on Iran” in accepting an Iranian-flagged vessel‘s shipment at its Um Qasr port, for example… more>>
  • Five Turkish banks in Iraq may be facilitating Iran’s sanction dodging behavior… more>>
  • Iran will reap $16 billion annually from a new natural gas deal with Iraq… more>>

Reading about the dangerous anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) policies of Iraq may be upsetting to those who have made personal sacrifices fighting for Iraqi freedom, but we have to face the current facts.  How does Rijock describe the Iraq invasion?  “Military success, yes; but AML/CFT utter failure.”

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More details emerge on Paraguay’s Hezbollah drug lord

March 5, 2013

In January we learned about Wassim el Abd Fadel, a Lebanese financier of Hezbollah.  A surprising amount of detail has been disseminated through the press about this case.  Now even more has been released.  Thanks to El Grillo for sending this over this update:

Drug lord in Paraguay linked to Hezbollah

It was mid-December last year when Interpol caught, in the transit area of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, a 21-year-old Paraguayan woman who had swallowed over a kilogram of cocaine. Nelida Cardozo Taboada had disappeared from her hometown months before. She confessed to French police that she had been recruited as a “mule” by a network of drug smugglers. Her employer, a Paraguayan woman married to a Lebanese man, had convinced her to swallow the cocaine by promising her a job as a maid in Warsaw, Poland.

It took the police in Paraguay only a few days to reach the head of a Lebanese-led drug cartel in Ciudad del Este, a town located in the infamous tri-border area where the frontiers of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet. Wassim Abdel Fadel was arrested on December 21 together with his Paraguayan wife. But what police uncovered during the investigation led them further than they had expected.

According to information disclosed by Interpol and the Paraguayan police, Fadel, 30, was part of an international drug trafficking network controlled from Isla Margarita, Venezuela, a Caribbean holiday destination that is also an infamous hub for South American drug cartels. The leader of the cartel is Ghazi Atef Nassredine, also known as Abu Ali, a declared Hezbollah supporter who became a Venezuelan citizen 10 years ago and immediately thereafter became Venezuela’s diplomat to Beirut and Damascus. By arresting Fadel, Interpol and the Paraguayan police uncovered an international money-laundering and drug-smuggling network responsible for sending cocaine from South America to the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

Fadel was the leader of a network that would send laundered money, from drugs made in the tri-border area, to bank accounts in Istanbul and Damascus. According to a Paraguay Police Department press release sent to NOW, Fadel’s network regularly sent sums between $50,000 and $200,000 to these accounts. After investigating the owners, Paraguayan police came up with a list of Lebanese nationals known to be high-ranking Hezbollah members. Though the list was not disclosed to the media, the police said that the people on it were involved with Hezbollah’s financial operations. The same bank accounts also allegedly received money from different continents.

Although young, Fadel had gained control of an entire Hezbollah-backed real estate and drug market in Ciudad del Este after the network’s leaders – Lebanese-Americans Nemr Ali Zoayter, Amr Zoher, and Moussa Ali Hamdan – were arrested in Paraguay and extradited to the US. Zoayter and Zoher were caught in Ciudad del Este in 2008, while Hamdan was arrested in June 2010 in the same town.

According to statements released by the Paraguayan police, Fadel had been on the run for over three years. He was not only part of the drug cartel, but also the owner of a car-parts company, Fadel Automotores, located in Ciudad del Este. In 2008, several of his customers reported him to the police because he had defrauded them.

Fadel was born in Toulin, a village in the Lebanese district of Marjayoun. It was obvious to the villagers that he had made a fortune in Paraguay, as he had built a huge mansion in his hometown. However, he is not the only local who made his fortune in South America or West Africa; indeed, villages in the South and Beqaa Valley are studded with villas built by expatriates. But how the emigrants made their millions is often a mystery…

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Ten biggest terror finance news stories of 2012

December 31, 2012
  1. Taliban funding remains intact despite international sanctions
    Reports in 2012 revealed that the Taliban’s funding remains intact, that none of the Taliban’s assets have been blocked by U.S. sanctions, that the Taliban retains its taxing authority over Afghans, and that the UN sanctions only 18 percent of the Taliban’s provincial shadow governors in Afghanistan.
  2. Islamic charities remain top terror financiers
    It’s questionable to even call this “news,” but understanding the role of Muslim charities in funding jihad, of which we saw multiple examples throughout 2012, is the Rosetta stone to bankrupting terrorism.  Instances of Muslim charities behaving badly cropped up, and in some cases have worsened, in both in the Middle East and in the West this year.In the Islamic world, the Saudi charitable foundation IIRO, whose branches in Indonesia and the Philippines were previously blacklisted by the U.S. for funding terrorism, is opening seven new branch offices.  In Bangladesh, the chief of the terrorist organization Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) revealed that Muslim Aid, WAMY, the Muslim World League, the Qatari Charitable Society, and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, are among the primary donors to his jihad.  Read the rest of this entry ?
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Jihadists exploit Latin America to finance terror

December 17, 2012

Latin America has experienced a possible increase in terror financing activities by radical Islamists throughout 2012.  Consider the developments that have been revealed this year:

  • In September, published reports indicated that a Hezbollah camp in Nicaragua is training 30 operatives and is laundering money.
  • The Venezuela chapter of Hezbollah is using Panama for bulk cash smuggling for follow-on transfer to Beirut.
  • Some goods, possibly even missile components, are being exported via Panama directly to Iran.
  • The use of the Venezuelan air carrier Conviasa to smuggle contraband through Africa to Europe earned it an “operational ban” from the EU in April.  Hezbollah profited from the Conviasa flights.  It is unclear whether the ban interferes with Conviasa’s African flights.
  • Cuba was listed again by the U.S. in 2012 as a state sponsor of terrorism partly for the continued safe haven Cuba provides to terrorist groups FARC and ETA.  Havana is now also letting IHH, the radical Islamist Turkish charity that has been banned by Germany for its financing of Hamas, build a mosque in Cuba.
  • A trio of Hezbollah agents in Mexico was exposed during an arrest of one operative who had previously been convicted in the U.S. for credit card fraud that funded terrorism.
  • Ecuador was blacklisted in June by FATF, the international financial watchdog, for failing to make progress against money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • In its annual report in July, the U.S. State Department said, “Brazil has not criminalized terrorist financing in a manner that is consistent with the FATF Special Recommendation II.”

Given its Western heritage and deep Catholic faith, Latin America can and should be a natural ally in the war against Islamic terror.  Its energy resources make it a natural counterweight to the oil powerhouse of the Middle East.

But this wonderful opportunity to present a united trans-American front against jihad is being jeopardized by attitudes of permissiveness, ignorance, and political correctness.  American politicians like Michelle Bachman and Connie Mack who recognize the threat are written off as know-nothing xenophobes.  But the news this year indicates that they are correct.

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Panamanian portal profits Hezbollah

November 30, 2012

Kenneth Rijock has another great piece on Panama—this one is about how Panamanian officials turn a blind eye to one of their banks being used by Hezbollah cocaine traffickers as a financial gateway to Lebanon.

Rijock pointedly asks “Is somebody asleep in Washington?”  Yes sir, and it’s not even 3 a.m.  The sun is up, but our leaders are snoring.

PANAMA IGNORES MASSIVE HEZBOLLAH MONEY LAUNDERING

Hezbollah Venezuela continues to actively launder its narcotics trafficking proceeds through a major Panamanian financial institution, which facilitates the movement of millions of dollars of its cocaine profits. Sadly, the story is well known to many of the country’s government and financial leaders. Though a small unit, numbering less than 100 cadre, Hezbollah Venezuela* regularly and continuously smuggles bulk cash into Panamanian airports, and into the bank. Remember the $25m that was seized upon arrival a while back ? Didn’t you wonder whose money it was ?

Once it has arrived in Panama, the drug cash is deposited in a bank whose ownership is linked through family ties to a senior government leader. Hezbollah has a small, but extremely effective, contingent in Panama, who facilitate the onward movement. Ultimately, most of the illicit profits are transferred to Beirut, and provide financial support for Hezbollah, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) group.

Formed only a few years ago, and seemingly undercapitalised, it has quickly outgrown its original location, and plans to move into a multi-million dollar skyscraper for its new headquarters. It would appear that providing financial support to terrorist organisations pays well; ask the owners.

Why isn’t the Government of Panama closing down this bank ? It would mean a regulatory agency would be shutting down a relative’s business, and obviously, this does not happen in the Republic of Panama.

A final question: why, in the face of overwhelming proof, has the bank not been sanctioned by the Latin American team  at OFAC ? Is somebody asleep in Washington ? The leader of Hezbollah Venezuela is OFAC-sanctioned.
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*Sometimes known as Hezbollah Latin America.

Hezbollah gets a lot of money from its international criminal network, but we shouldn’t forget when we hear information like this that the terrorist organization also receives a lot of money from khums, the traditional Shia Muslim tax—it just doesn’t get as much attention from law enforcement or coverage by the news media.

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Potential game changer in terror finance law

November 29, 2012

A ruling by the New York Court of Appeals may change the way terror financiers take advantage of correspondent bank relationships in the U.S.  Kudos to Shurat HaDin for pushing this case forward (and for linking to the news too).

This ruling will probably cause a stir among bank compliance circles because it could be difficult and expensive to conduct sufficient screening of correspondent banks.  But the alternative, which is to passively condone terrorist transactions in your bank that originated from a foreign bank, isn’t such a great alternative.

Given the size and centrality of the financial sector in New York, this state-level ruling will have international consequences.

From the Jerusalem Post on Nov. 21:

Lebanon War victims alter game of terror financing

Terror groups may no longer be able to do transactions in US dollars after a groundbreaking ruling by the highest state court in New York, the New York Court of Appeals, announced Shurat Hadin, the Israel Law Center, on Wednesday.

The ruling was issued on Tuesday in favor of victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks from the 2006 Lebanon War and could be a “game changer” in the global financial war on terror financing.

Until now, terror financing could avoid scrutiny in the US by making fund transfers through American correspondent banks.

A correspondent bank essentially serves as a middle bank for fund transfer for banks that do not have local US branches.

As long as the terrorist-affiliated banks had no local branch in the US they were insulated from any legal consequences, and the correspondent bank could plead ignorance regarding the transactions.

However, using a new interpretation of an existing law, the appeals court ruled that correspondent banks will now be held liable for civil damages if it is found that they facilitated transactions that ultimately can be traced back to terror entities.

This places the onus on correspondent banks to do more careful policing of where fund transfers are eventually going even behind sometimes what could be many layers of straw companies to hide that terrorists are receiving the money.

Most importantly, many correspondent banks simply may cease involvement in any transactions where they have doubts about a possible terror connection to avoid even the possibility of heavy civil liability and bad press.

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Lebanese Islamic charities fund Hamas

October 10, 2012

The stench of laundered money has wafted from Lebanon throughout the international financial system for years.  Usually that’s because of Lebanese banks being used to fund Hezbollah.

But the latest announcement by the U.S. Treasury Department indicates that Lebanon is being used as a funding base for Hamas as well.

Treasury has designated two Islamic charities in Lebanon, Al-Waqfiya and Al-Quds, as being “controlled” by Hamas.  Treasury’s press release explains that the charities exist, “to support the families of Hamas fighters and prisoners and to raise money for programs and projects in the Palestinian territories intended to spread Hamas’s influence and control.”

It’s important to note that the sanctions won’t have much of a practical effect unless Al-Waqfiya or Al-Quds normally keeps money in a U.S. bank, does business with American companies, or receives zakat donations from American Muslims.

Treasury’s announcement also revealed that Al-Waqfiya and Al-Quds charities are members of Yusuf Qaradawi’s Hamas-funding network, the Union of Good (UoG).  Treasury should go farther than these two designations by publishing an exact list of all charities that fall under the UoG umbrella.

While Israel has published a members list before, the U.S. only maintains a blanket designation against UoG, and has only specified a few of the charities that belong to it.