Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’

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Suspect in Maryland took money for jihad

December 21, 2015

Mohamed Elshinawy, a Maryland resident, received $1,000 from a terrorist suspect in Egypt through Western Union.  That caught the attention of investigators.  They learned that Elshinaway had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  They also watched while Elshinawy accepted another $8K that he believed was money from ISIS to help him carry out a terrorist attack in the United States.  Elshinawy now claims that he was simply trying to defraud ISIS.  Yeah, because stealing money from an international terrorist organization is the smartest way to make a little cash on the side…

From the Baltimore Sun on Dec. 14:

Feds: Edgewood man pledged allegiance to Islamic State, received funds from Egypt

A Harford County man pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State and received thousands of dollars from overseas to carry out an attack, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Mohamed Elshinawy, 30, of Edgewood was arrested Friday on charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and other offenses, federal prosecutors said.

The criminal complaint filed against Elshinawy lays out extensive communications the FBI says he had with contacts overseas and alleges he received at least $8,700 he believed was from the Islamic State terror group, sometimes called ISIL.

“When confronted by the FBI, he lied in order to conceal his support for ISIL and the steps he took to provide material support to the deadly foreign terrorist organization,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General John P. Carlin said in a statement.

“He will now be held accountable for these crimes.”

It is not clear in court papers if prosecutors believe the money wired to him was from the terrorist group or from a sympathizer.

Federal authorities have brought charges against dozens of people they say are Islamic State supporters, but terrorism analysts said the allegation that Elshinawy might have received funding from the group is new.

Michael Greenberger, director of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, said the charges represent another example of ISIL’s reach from its bases in the Middle East and the group’s hope to cause mayhem in the United States.

“It appears they have enough money to be able to set out a lot of lures, hoping that one lure will catch somebody who’s willing to engage in dangerous activity,” Greenberger said.

A couple who investigators believe were inspired by ISIL killed 14 people in a shooting rampage this month at a government facility in San Bernardino, Calif. The group, which controls territory in Syria and Iraq, has claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed scores in Paris, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.

Elshinawy is the first person to be charged by federal prosecutors in Maryland for alleged ties to the group. It was unclear Monday where he was being held.

No one answered the door Monday afternoon at his address, a townhouse in the 300 block of McCann St. in a neighborhood called Harford Commons, which has several blocks of identical green-and-white one-story homes. A neighbor said she had seen FBI agents in the area but assumed it had to do with drug dealing rather than a terrorism case.

Agents first interviewed Elshinawy in July, after learning about a suspicious $1,000 wire transfer he received from Egypt, according to the criminal complaint.

Elshinawy initially said the money was from his mother before changing his story and admitting he had been in contact with a childhood friend who had been arrested in Egypt on terror charges, an FBI agent wrote in the complaint. The friend had fled to Syria, but Elshinawy said the friend put him in touch with an ISIL operative who sent the money, the FBI says.

Elshinawy said the operative did not give him any guidance on how to carry out an attack but cited the shooting at a contest featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas, as an example, according to the FBI…

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Suggested reading: You can’t afford to play dumb

April 2, 2015
  • The financial crime chief at Istanbul P.D. says Erdogan sheltered an Al Qaeda financier… more>>
  • Pizza businessman Kamran Malik pleads guilty to shipping rifles and rifle parts to Pakistan without a license… more>>
  • Before a U.S. company acquires a foreign business, it should follow this helpful pre-acquisition due diligence checklist… more>>
  • If a country is always in the news along with phrases like “dragged through the street” or “human shield” you might want to do some screening before taking on business partners there… more>>
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Where the D.C. sniper got his money

February 16, 2015

Thirteen years ago today, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo began a series of shootings that would culminate with the Washington, D.C.-area sniper killings of October 2002. Their first victim was a then 21-year-old Keenya Cook, who survived a point blank gunshot to the head in Washington state in February 2002.

Livelihood before the killing spree

Muhammad served in the U.S. military from 1978 to 1994. With 17 years in service, he would have been three years shy of receiving an Army pension. As a civilian in the 1990s, Muhammad tried to make ends meet by starting a business, but the Washington Post called Muhammad “a serial loser” and “failed businessman whose karate school and car-repair business went bust.” He had hoped to teach karate to Muslim boys but there wasn’t enough demand.

In 1994, Muhammad began attending Nation of Islam meetings, and formally joined in 1997. The Nation of Islam Muhammad denied that Muhammad served as a paid security guard during the Million Man March in 1995, and said it ultimately “lost contact” with Muhammad in 1999.

Around that time, Muhammad traveled to Antigua, where he began making money by forging citizenship documents for Jamaicans at $3,000 per set. The buyers would use these forged documents to gain entry into the U.S. This is how Muhammad met Malvo, a Jamaican teen attempting to immigrate illegally into the U.S.

2002

After shooting Keenya Cook, unemployed drifters Muhammad and Malvo left Washington on a cross-country odyssey until their main shooting spree in the fall. How did they pay for basic necessities and travel? The answer is probably through crime.

For example, Muhammad stole steaks from a grocery store in February. He and Malvo lived in homeless shelters. In March of that year, the pair stole a credit card from a Greyhound bus driver in Arizona. (Muhammad didn’t use this card for any expenses except for a $12 purchase at a gas station. But it was Muhammad’s intention to use this stolen account to receive a future ransom from authorities in exchange for stopping the October shootings.) In August, Malvo stole the wallet of one of their shooting victims in Louisiana. In September they robbed a liquor store in Alabama.

DC sniper attacks

Muhammad had larger ambitions than sleeping in cars and eating stolen food for the rest of his life. According to Malvo, Muhammad wanted to establish a terrorist training camp for orphans and homeless boys. Muhammad believed that he could blackmail the authorities to give him $10 million to stop his killing spree. With that $10 million, he and Malvo would flee to Canada and build their encampment there. Prosecutors discounted this theory, alleging instead that Muhammad mainly wanted to regain custody of his children from his ex-wife, but the judge found that motive implausible.

Here’s an excerpt from the $10 million ransom note Muhammad left for police in the middle of his killing spree:

Letter from the D.C. sniper

While there is no evidence of foreign sponsorship behind the D.C. sniper’s attacks, it is worth noting that the Taliban came into existence by recruiting from orphanages and madrassas in Pakistan. Like them, Muhammad somehow got the idea that starting such a camp would be a goal worth killing for. Law enforcement said that Muhammad “modeled himself” after Osama Bin Laden.

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How the Arab League roped 7 U.S. companies into their Israel boycott in 2012

November 17, 2012

The Arab League has imposed a formal economic boycott against Israel since 1948 to the present.  In 1977, Congress passed legislation prohibiting U.S. businesses from becoming instruments of foreign-led, non-U.S. boycotts such as the Arab League boycott of Israel.

Under the law, if an entity asks an American firm for assurance that it does no business with Israel, the U.S. company is supposed to report that request to the federal government.  The business is not supposed to comply with the request or furnish information to the requestor that would help the Arab League enforce its boycott.

The Bureau of Industry and Security’s Office of Antiboycott Compliance has settled with seven U.S. companies in 2012 for 44 alleged violations of antiboycott regulations this year:

  • Parfums de Ceour, a Connecticut-based discount perfume seller, furnished information three times to the United Arab Emirates, and failed to report six requests it received from the UAE, to assist with the boycott.
  • The Miami branch of Banco Sabadell provided boycott-related information twice to Syria.
  • Samuel Shapiro & Co., a trade logistics company in Maryland, made five failures to report requests from the UAE for boycott guarantees.
  • SteelSummit International, a New York steel producers, gave information four times to Saudi Arabia about whether it had business relationships with Israel.
  • Polk Audio, a speaker manufacturer in Maryland, failed to report a request from Oman and provided information to Oman.
  • Dover Energy’s Texas valve and switch maker, Norriseal, failed six times to report requests from Pakistan and four instances of cooperating with Pakistan’s requests for boycott assurances.
  • Grainger, the Illinois-based industrial supplier, failed to report 12 requests it received from Kuwait for boycott information.

The companies were required to pay over $100,000 total in civil penalties for the above violations this year.

A possible defense of the businesses is that requests from importers or banks from the Arab League states are deceptively designed to elicit the information they want without directly inquiring about business dealings with Israel.  Instead, they’ll request a signed statement confirming that a company’s ship can enter an Arab port, which is designed to weed out companies and shippers that have done business with Israel.

Nevertheless, U.S. antiboycott regulations have been on the books for over 40 years, and companies—particularly those doing business in the Middle East—should know that by now.

Hat tip and thanks to Twitter pal RushetteNY for suggesting coverage of antiboycott compliance.