Posts Tagged ‘Mali’

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UN suspects Mali terrorists are poaching wildlife

October 27, 2015

Slaughtering elephants and selling their ivory?  Using the profits to buy weapons?  The worrisome thing about this report is that it comes from Mali, not from East Africa where such reports are more commonplace.  It suggests that the tactic of poaching to fund jihad is spreading to northwestern Africa.  From Vice News on Oct. 20 (h/t El Grillo):

Terrorist Groups Are Poaching Elephants In Northern Mali, Warns UN

Terrorist groups in northern Mali are among those poaching the region’s shrinking herd of desert elephants, according to the United Nations, part of a global wildlife trafficking trade that helps fund armed groups and fuel conflict.

“We strongly suspect there is a link between the poachers and the armed terrorists, who could be relying on the illegal ivory trade to finance some of their activities,” said Sophie Raviers, the UN’s environment representative in Mali…

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Fastidious terrorists are no laughing matter

January 24, 2014

Recordkeeping for purchases as little as 60¢ by Al Qaeda in Mali engendered a lot of mirth and clever commentary in the blogosphere around Christmastime, but there’s a serious implication to the jihadist organization’s techniques.  Al Qaeda’s financial policies indicate that they may well still remain a disciplined and hierarchical group, despite perceived fragmentation and a proliferation of Al Qaeda offshoots over the last five to 10 years.

From the Associated Press on Dec. 29:

TIMBUKTU, Mali –  The convoy of cars bearing the black Al Qaeda flag came at high speed, and the manager of the modest grocery store thought he was about to get robbed.

Mohamed Djitteye rushed to lock his till and cowered behind the counter. He was dumbfounded when instead, the Al Qaeda commander gently opened the grocery’s glass door and asked for a pot of mustard. Then he asked for a receipt.

Confused and scared, Djitteye didn’t understand. So the jihadist repeated his request. Could he please have a receipt for the $1.60 purchase?

This transaction in northern Mali shows what might seem an unusual preoccupation for a terror group: Al Qaeda is obsessed with documenting the most minute expenses.

In more than 100 receipts left in a building occupied by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu earlier this year, the extremists assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb. The often tiny amounts are carefully written out in pencil and colored pen on scraps of paper and Post-it notes: The equivalent of $1.80 for a bar of soap; $8 for a packet of macaroni; $14 for a tube of super glue.

The accounting system on display in the documents found by The Associated Press is a mirror image of what researchers have discovered in other parts of the world where Al Qaeda operates, including Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. The terror group’s documents around the world also include corporate workshop schedules, salary spreadsheets, philanthropy budgets, job applications, public relations advice and letters from the equivalent of a human resources division.

Taken together, the evidence suggests that far from being a fly-by-night, fragmented terror organization, Al Qaeda is attempting to behave like a multinational corporation, with what amounts to a company-wide financial policy across its different chapters.

“They have to have bookkeeping techniques because of the nature of the business they are in,” said Brookings Institution fellow William McCants, a former adviser to the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. “They have so few ways to keep control of their operatives, to rein them in and make them do what they are supposed to do. They have to run it like a business.”

The picture that emerges from what is one of the largest stashes of Al Qaeda documents to be made public shows a rigid bureaucracy, replete with a chief executive, a board of directors and departments such as human resources and public relations. Experts say that each branch of the terror group replicates the same corporate structure, and that this strict blueprint has helped Al Qaeda not just to endure but also to spread…

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Money jihad news: recommended reading

January 9, 2014
  • Yasin al-Qadi, former financial associate of Al Qaeda, has been rubbing elbows with Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan… more>>
  • A suicide bomber targets a bank in northern Mali, killing two UN soldiers in the process (h/t TROP)… more>>
  • Saudi Arabia’s financing of Al Qaeda is an open secret among American government officials, says the Executive Intelligence Reviewmore>>
  • Rijock calls for tougher penalties against money laundering in 2014… more>>
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Top terror finance stories of 2013

December 30, 2013

From massacres on the streets of Syria to the streets of Boston, 2013 has offered far too many illustrations of how terror-borne bloodshed is financed:

  1. Sunni and Western powers risk funding Syrian rebels despite their Al Qaeda allegiance
    Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the U.S., U.K., and France have provided money and supplies to the enemies of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad despite the risk of the materiel falling into the wrong hands.  Gulf-based support has gone directly toward Salafist fighters; Western aid has been targeted toward the supposedly moderate Free Syrian Army, but entire brigades of the FSA have pledged allegiance to al-Nusra Front—Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria—during 2013.  Reports this month of a “suspension” of U.S. aid have been somewhat exaggerated; as one official conceded, “the suspension of aid only applies to the opposition in northern Syria, adding that supply lines from Jordan in the south would continue.”  Foreign support has prolonged the conflict in Syria and increased the chances for Al Qaeda to take over the country.
  2. Boston marathon bombing made possible by Saudi money
    North Caucuses militants have been funded for decades by Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis and their wealthy expatriate terrorists like Ibn al-Khattab  and Osama Bin Laden and invested millions of dollars into the training and recruitment of fighters, the construction of radical mosques, and the creation of jihadist websites in Slavic languages.  Tamerlan Tsarnaev read and engaged with these websites and pursued support from these Saudi-sponsored sources when he traveled to Russia in 2012.  Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar also learned from Inspire magazine by deceased terror imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who presided over Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.In effect, Saudi money created the breeding environment both online and on the ground in the North Caucuses in which the Tsarnaevs’ plot was hatched.

    Sadly, the media and public officials have been slow to recognize and expose the connections between the Saudis, the North Caucasus militants, and their followers living in North America.  Two Democrat-appointed federal judges inexplicably reversed the conviction this year of Pete Seda, a Muslim “peace activist” who sent money through a Saudi-based charity from Oregon to Chechen terrorists in the early 2000s.

  3. The U.S. became the world’s #1 energy producer in 2013.  This development reduces our dependence on Arab oil and the flow of petrodollars that fund terrorism.
  4. The compensation of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism was ignored during negotiations in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program.
  5. The Somali Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab’s finances rebounded in 2013 despite their loss of control in 2012 of the key harbor in Kismayo to Kenyan, African Union, and allied forces.  The main ingredients in their financial resurgence included an expansion al-Shabaab’s lucrative charcoal smuggling operation, the resumption of payments from the Dahabshiil money service to al-Shabaab, and indirect support from the Gulf.  The funding has allowed operations such as killing sprees in Mogadishu and the September terrorist attack on Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya.  Nevertheless, a British court injunction has forced Barclays to continue partnering with Dahabshiil to facilitate remittances to Somalia.
  6. Read the rest of this entry ?
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France fuels Al Qaeda with €25m infusion

November 8, 2013

Talk about funding both sides of the conflict.

While France has led the way in the fight against jihadists in Mali, it also continues to pay ransoms to Al Qaeda and its offshoots to secure the release of Frenchmen abducted abroad.  The latest ransom—a 35 million USD transfer to Al Qaeda in North Africa—is a direct violation of the G8’s recent public pledge against making such payments.

See this and this for previous Money Jihad coverage of multi-million dollar French ransom payments to terrorists.

From International Business Times on Oct. 30:

France ‘Paid Al-Qaida €25m to Release Hostages in Niger’

France paid up to €25m ($34m, £21.5m) in ransom to al-Qaida to free four Frenchmen who had been held hostage for years in the African Sahel, according to sources close to the operation.

The sources dispute claims by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian that no money was paid to secure the release of Pierre Legrand, 28, Daniel Larribe, 62, Thierry Dol, 32, and Marc Féret, 46.

Le Drian said the four, who had been kidnapped in 2010 in Niger, were released thanks to the brokerage of the country’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.

“There was no assault. There was an initiative taken by the networks of [President Issoufou] which permitted liberation without clashes,” Le Drian told France’s TF1.

However a source close to the Nigerian negotiating team told AFP a large sum was paid to the group responsible for the abduction, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Between 20 and 25 million euros was paid to obtain the release of the French hostages,” the source said. Similar claims were made by Le Monde…

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Islamist rebels using charity for jihad

March 10, 2013

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Aaron Y. Zelin have compiled some very important research in a new Foreign Policy article entitled “Uncharitable Organizations” about the growing sponsorship of jihadist activities overseas by non-governmental organizations.  They write that Islamic charities are using humanitarian aid in countries with Islamist movements including Tunisia, Syria, and Mali in order to 1) strengthen the dependence of the populations on their services, and 2) to provide a cover for their militant activities.

Specifically, Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (AST) and Syrian Islamic Front (SIF) rebels are accepting aid from Middle Eastern charities that have all been previously linked to terror financing including the Turkish charity IHH, Kuwaiti charity RIHS, and Qatar Charity.  Qatar Charity itself is also active in Mali working in an apparently parallel fashion with rebel fighters.

Money Jihad has taken the liberty of boiling down their article into a few brief slides about three of the groups Gartenstein-Ross and Zelin discuss:

Readers are encouraged to read the original article at Foreign Policy online.

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Recommended reading from the Economic Warfare Institute

February 10, 2013
http://www.unodc.org/unodc/secured/wdr/Graphs_Cocaine_globa_seizures_all.pdf

Chart from UNODC’s World Drug Report 2012

Terror finance expert Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Ken Jensen have written a new piece on the Economic Warfare Institute Blog entitled “Trafficking Cocaine in the Name of Allah.”

Ehrenfeld & Jensen report that terrorists in Mali and Algeria use the drug trade to finance their activities, noting that, “While Islam forbids the use of drugs by Muslims, there are no such limitations in selling it to the infidels.”

The article also accounts for several other funding sources of the Mali rebels, which, as Money Jihad has indicated, include Saudi Arabia and QatarIt’s all well worth the read; check it out here.

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Qatar funding Islamist rebels in Mali

February 1, 2013

A French military intelligence source has divulged that Al Qaeda-linked rebels in Mali have received financing from Qatar.  This disturbing but predictable news comes as France attempts to pacify the Malian countryside while receiving logistical and political backing from the U.S.

There have been earlier allegations of financing Malian jihadists by Saudi Arabia as well.  This would be consistent with the flow of money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to dissidents and rebels in countries undergoing “Arab Spring” uprisings.  The difference this time is that Western officials are on the opposite side.  Saudi and Qatari state sponsorship of enemy fighters united against France suggests a burgeoning proxy war between Nato and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

From France 24:

Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?

Oil-rich gulf state Qatar has a vested interest in the outcome of the north Mali crisis, according to various reports that have been picked up by French MPs, amid suspicion that Doha may be siding with the rebels to extend its regional influence.

Since Islamist groups exploited a military coup in the Malian capital of Bamako in early 2012 to take control of the entire north of the country, accusations of Qatari involvement in a crisis that has seen France deploy troops have been growing.

Last week two French politicians explicitly accused Qatar of giving material support to separatists and Islamists in north Mali, adding fuel to speculation that the Emirate is playing a behind-the-scenes role in spreading Islamic fundamentalism in Africa.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Communist Party Senator Michelle Demessine both said that that Qatar had questions to answer.

“If Qatar is objecting to France’s engagement in Mali it’s because intervention risks destroying Doha’s most fundamentalist allies,” Le Pen said in a statement on her party website, in response to a call by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani for dialogue with the Islamists.

‘Cash from Doha’

The first accusations of Qatari involvement with Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups came in a June 2012 article in respected French weekly the Canard Enchainé.

In a piece title “Our friend Qatar is financing Mali’s Islamists”, the newspaper alleged that the oil-rich Gulf state was financing the separatists.

It quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying: “The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.”

A month later Sadou Diallo, the mayor of the north Malian city of Gao [which had fallen to the Islamists] told RTL radio: “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”

The presence of Qatari NGOs in north Mali is no secret. Last summer, in the wake of the separatist takeover, the Qatari Red Crescent was the only humanitarian organisation granted access to the vast territory.

One member of the Qatari humanitarian team told AFP at the end of June that they had simply “come to Gao to evaluate the humanitarian needs of the region in terms of water and electricity access.”

Deeply entrenched

Regional geopolitical expert Mehdi Lazar, who specialises on Qatar, wrote in French weekly news magazine L’Express in December that Doha’s relationship with predominantly Muslim north Mali was deeply entrenched.

“Qatar has an established a network of institutions it funds in Mali, including madrassas, schools and charities that it has been funding from the 1980s,” he wrote, adding that Qatar would be expecting a return on this investment.

“Mali has huge oil and gas potential and it needs help developing its infrastructure,” he said. “Qatar is well placed to help, and could also, on the back of good relations with an Islamist-ruled north Mali, exploit rich gold and uranium deposits in the country.”

Qatar’s foreign policy is also motivated by religion, wrote Lazar, and success in Mali would “greatly increase the Emirate’s influence in West Africa and the Sahel region”…

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Officials deny paying Muslims to free a Christian

May 3, 2012

Beatrice Stockly, a Christian woman from Switzerland who worked in Timbuktu, was abducted earlier this month after an Islamist coup in the once democratic nation of Mali.  Reports indicate that Stockly may have been sold by her captives to the fundamentalist Muslim group Ansar Dine.

Ansar Dine then released Stockly on Apr. 24 after reportedly brokering a deal with the Swiss government.  Officials from Burkina Faso, whose special forces accepted the handover of Stockly by Ansar Dine, denied that any ransom was paid.

Naturally, Switzerland and Burkina Faso must deny the claim that a ransom was paid because:  1) paying such ransoms violates international law, 2) announcing ransom payments in public encourages further abductions by the jihadists, and 3) paying ransoms indicates the countries are not prepared to use force to free their kidnapped citizens.

But it is only logical to assume that a payment was in fact made.  There would have been no incentive for Ansar Dine to release the woman otherwise.  Moreover, Islamic law permits the collection of ransoms after abducting non-Muslims—a precept with which Ansar Dine is certainly familiar.  Ansar Dine probably has a little more spending money today than it had prior to the Stockly affair.

A photo was taken of Ansar Dine fighters as Stockly was handed over to Burkinabe forces:

 

Photo from Agence France Presse, Apr. 25

From News24.com last week:

Swiss hostage released in Mali

Timbuktu – A Swiss woman abducted last week in rebel-held Timbuktu in northern Mali was freed on Tuesday and handed over to the security services of Burkina Faso, an AFP journalist reported.

After arriving aboard a pick-up truck wearing a black dress and turban, Beatrice Stockly removed the garments before boarding a helicopter that had left Burkina Faso early on Tuesday.

Stockly was the last Westerner living in Timbuktu and refused to leave after the legendary desert city fell to the Islamist Ansar Dine rebels on April 1.

Ansar Dine’s assault on Timbuktu was backed by fighters from al-Qaeda’s north Africa branch, known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

A source in Timbuktu previously said Stockly had originally been in the hands of a private militia that wanted to sell her to AQIM.

Perhaps AQIM wouldn’t pay as much for Stockly as Ansar Dine offered…

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Dinner interrupted by gun-wielding kidnappers

November 26, 2011

Abductions for ransom by Muslim terrorists (fida’) are a common method of raising funds for jihad.  The Al Qaeda chapter of North Africa (AQIM) has been so successful in holding Europeans for ransom that they have been able to transfer excess profits to Al Qaeda itself.  This Associated Press article (via Washington Post) yesterday says that AQIM may have raised up to $130 million from ransoms alone, which would put it financially among the upper tier of jihadist groups worldwide:

BAMAKO, Mali — Gunmen killed a German man in Mali’s most famous city of Timbuktu and seized three men from the Netherlands, South Africa and Sweden, their tour guide said, as officials on Saturday ordered a plane to evacuate foreigners from the tourist destination.

Ali Maiga was with the tourists during Friday’s attack at a Timbuktu restaurant. A witness and an official said gunmen burst into the restaurant, grabbed four tourists dining there and executed one when he refused to climb into their truck.

Officials on Saturday evacuated foreigners from Timbuktu to the capital, said a man who owns a hotel in Bamako where the tourists previously stayed. He asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ward Bezemer confirmed later that one Dutch man was among those kidnapped.

“In the interests of the people involved, we never comment on these cases,” Bezemer told The Associated Press.

The kidnapping comes ahead of an official visit by Mali’s president to the Netherlands next week.

Until a few years ago, Timbuktu was one of the most visited destinations in Africa, but it is now one of the many former tourist hotspots in Mali that have been deemed too dangerous to visit by foreign embassies because of kidnappings by the local chapter of al-Qaida.

Friday’s incident comes after two French citizens were grabbed in the middle of the night from their hotel in the Malian town of Hombori on Thursday. French judicial officials have opened a preliminary investigation into their kidnappings.

Neither kidnapping has yet been claimed by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, whose members have kidnapped and ransomed more than 50 Europeans and Canadians since 2003.

If Friday’s kidnapping is by AQIM, it will mark the first time they have taken a hostage inside of Timbuktu’s city limits. Thursday’s kidnapping would be another first — the first hostage taking south of the Niger River.

The group’s footprint has grown dramatically since 2006, when the Algerian-led cell first joined al-Qaida. Security experts estimate the group has been able to raise around $130 million from ransom payments alone.

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Terror & drugs

January 26, 2010

When it comes to the connection between drugs and terrorist financing, there are two types of observations:  those that are legitimate causes for concern and further investigation, and those that are designed to distract from the larger money jihad against the West and make terrorism appear like any other form of international crime.  (See one of my posts on our government’s attempt to sanitize jihadist financing here.)

Today and later this week I’ll make several posts about terror & drug stories in the news—again, some are legitimate, but some are case studies in misdirection.

For now let’s look at a development that is genuine cause for alarm, which is the exploitation of the African Sahel by Al Qaeda.  Deutsche Welle ran this lengthy piece about the Sahel being used as a transshipment point for drugs from Latin America into Europe:

Two incidents involving the trafficking of drugs to Europe have highlighted concerns about links between Islamist militants and drug-trafficking militants in Latin America.

A little-noticed smoldering plane wreckage with traces of cocaine in a remote area of the West African state of Mali in which an Al Qaeda affiliate and nomadic rebels are active has focused attention on the emergence of the region as a major hub for the trafficking of drugs to Europe.

So has the arrest of three al Qaeda operatives in Ghana, who were charged with narco-terrrorism in New York after being handed over to the US Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) and transported to the United States.

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