Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

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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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Time for due diligence on welfare recipients?

March 19, 2014

This piece also appears at Terror Finance Blog:

The family of Boston marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received over $100,000 in public benefits from 2002 to 2012 according to documents compiled a year ago from state agencies by the Massachusetts House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight.

The aid included food stamps and welfare benefits to the Tsarnaevs’ parents and to Katherine Russell, Tamerlan’s wife.  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also received student financial aid and forbearance (although he probably omitted income from drug sales and auto repair referral kickbacks on his student aid application).

Public benefits, being somewhat fungible, free up money for the recipient to put toward purposes separate from what was intended.  During the period of time that Katherine Russell received food stamps and welfare payments (2011 through 2012), Tamerlan was able to fly to Russia in early 2012 to seek out radical connections.  In effect, the benefits that Tamerlan and Katherine received through her name may have enabled the purchase of Tamerlan’s plane ticket to the jihadi rat’s nest of the North Caucasus.

The question of public benefits funding terrorists in Boston comes after years of ongoing scandals documented in Great Britain, where dangerous Islamists like Abu Yahya, Anjem Choudary, Emdadur Choudhury, and Abu Qatada have had their homes, welfare benefits, and legal expenses paid from taxpayer money.  “Twentieth” 9/11 hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui also received welfare benefits in England, along with the family of Abu Hamza.  Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia have also dealt with the same exploitation of their generous public benefit programs by Islamists.

Several of these abuses probably occurred because of guidance that individual benefit recipients received from radical imams in their communities. Deceased terrorist imam Anwar al-Awlaki once wrote in Inspire magazine that, “All of our [Islamic] scholars agree on the permissibility of taking away the wealth of the disbelievers in dār al-ĥarb [the non-Muslim world] whether by means of force or by means of theft or deception,” for the purposes of carrying out jihad.  And the same Anjem Choudary mentioned above once encouraged Muslims living in the U.K. to collect public benefits as “jihad seeker’s allowance” instead of getting a job.

In light of this problem, it may be time to contemplate whether government agencies that issue public benefits should be required to adhere to the same know-your-customer provisions and due diligence requirements under which private sector financial institutions already operate.

Banks are required to conduct due diligence on account holders by carrying out activities like cross-checking their names against databases of sanctioned individuals or politically-exposed persons to help ensure that the bank is not assisting the customer in carrying out financial crimes such as money laundering, sanctions evasion, terrorist financing, graft, or other offenses.  Bank employees also have mechanisms and the responsibility to file reports when suspicious activity is observed.

However, there appears to be no equivalent legal requirement for government agencies that provide public benefits such as welfare payments, food stamps, or tuition assistance to undertake these due diligence and reporting functions.  Agencies screen applicant eligibility for a variety of public benefits (such as proof of financial need for student aid, and proof that you are actively seeking employment to obtain jobless benefits, etc.), but this screening tends to focus on the applicant’s legal eligibility for the benefit rather than on the risk that the benefit may be diverted by the recipient toward criminal or terrorist enterprises.

Neither is there a uniform standard for government agencies to report criminal misuse of public benefits to a central authority.  Rather, suspicions of fraudulent claims are handled differently by every agency awarding benefits, with different mechanisms for investigating and denying claims.  And again, the benefit fraud cases are focused on false claims by recipients who never should have received the benefit, and rarely target individuals who receive a benefit lawfully but misappropriate that benefit toward unauthorized purposes.

Should an assessment of high risk or an OFAC database name match be grounds for the denial of the benefit?  Perhaps not, but at least the filing of a suspicious activity report by a government compliance officer would provide additional data points for regulators to review and share with law enforcement as needed.

If due diligence requirements are worthwhile enough for the federal government to impose on the private sector, the private sector financial institutions have a right to ask the government to eat its own cooking.  This expansion of know-your-customer provisions to the government sector would seem especially important considering statements by radical imams and actions by terrorists like the Tsarnaev brothers to use public benefits to finance their planning and terrorist operations.

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Kazakh jihadists sent money abroad

May 3, 2013

The Kazakh terrorist group Jund al-Khilafah, or the Soldiers of the Caliphate, has the financial means to support militants beyond Kazakhstan’s borders, according to a think tank report earlier this year.  Jund al-Khilafah has sent money to fellow fighters in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and possibly even to Mohamed Merah, the North African terrorist who killed seven people in France last year.

The Jamestown Foundation offered this analysis in January:

…Jund al-Khilafah is based in the North Caucasus and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, and it carried out three separate attacks in Atyrau, Taraz and Almaty in late 2011 (Tengrinews, September 28, 2012). As evidenced by slain Tunisian-born Jund al-Khilafah amir Moez Garsallaoui’s connections to Mohammed Merah, who killed three Jews and four French paratroopers in southwest France in March 2012, Jund al-Khilafah also has international operational capabilities. There are an estimated 200 to 300 Kazakhstani militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, many of whom have financial relationships with Jund al-Khilafah supporters in Kazakhstan (September 9, 2011). This became apparent with the sentencing of Aidos Kusanov on October 8, 2012, who transferred 380,000 tenge (approximately $2,500) to Jund al-Khilafah in Pakistan through the Aqtobe-based [Kazakh] militant group Ansar al-Din. Ansar al-Din has not claimed any attacks in Kazakhstan, but has issued numerous video statements condemning the Kazakhstani government on jihadist websites, such as hunafa.com and Kavkaz Center, and seeks to “establish links of material support” to “assist the families of the mujahideen,” according to its own propaganda (http://hunafa.com/?p=3839)…

Despite Jund al-Khilafa and Ansar al-Din’s operational links to Kazakhstan, the flow of militants and funds still appears to be from Kazakhstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan or elsewhere—not the other way around. This could soon change, however. In a November 2011 Islamic Jihad Union video statement, a Kazakhstani fighter said that that after victory in Afghanistan, their “goal” is Central Asia, while another fighter, who claimed to be the “amir,” said their “sphere of interest” is Central Asia, in particular Kazakhstan (Kavkazcenter.com, December 2011). Other experts in the region argue that the IMU and other militants are already in Kazakhstan, using the country effectively as a “terminal” linking Europe, Central Asia and Afghanistan, and therefore the militants do not want to destabilize Kazakhstan, yet (Tengrinews, September 6, 2011)…

How Jund al-Khilafah acquired the money that it was able to transfer to Afghanistan and Pakistan is unclear, although the Saudi-backed Wahhabi foundation known as the Muslim World League is active in Kazakhstan.  The MWL has financed the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups globally, particularly in countries at the fringes of the Islamic world.

A case in late-2011 revealed a Jund al-Khilafah suicide bomber who “was part of a group that planned to rob a number of stores, banks and currency exchanges and to attack law enforcement personnel,” and whose leader wanted operatives “to commit both jihad and economic crimes.”  Reliance on theft can sometimes be an indicator of a terrorist group with limited funds, but the ability to send surplus funds outside their home base undercuts that possibility.

Kazakhstan, with its population of young, male, ethnic Kazakhs who are increasingly falling under the spell of jihad, has come under renewed scrutiny following the arrest of two Kazakh associates of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who once launched fireworks with Tsarnaev on the banks of the Charles River, helped Tsarnaev dispose of evidence after the bombing, and subsequently lied to investigators about their activities.

How one of the two Kazakhs, Dias Kadyrbayev, who drove a BMW, obtained money for travel, rent, and tuition in Massachusetts has yet to be determined.

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Kickbacks for Tsarnaev on luxury car repairs?

April 28, 2013

During an interview with CNN last week, auto mechanic Gilberto Junior discussed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s behavior between the time of the Boston Marathon bombing and before his capture.  The interview offered some clues on Dhokhar Tsarnaev’s financial situation.  H/t Lea Savoy:

The reference to the $900 Louis Vuitton shoes, which Junior repeated in interviews with other news outlets, raised a lot of eyebrows, but the bigger question—about why Dzhokhar was shuttling friends back and forth for repair work at Junior’s shop in the first place—has received scant attention.

One of the websites that did pick up on it, The Slate, ran the headline, “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev May Have Had Two Shady Side Businesses. Only One Involves Pot,” elaborating:

… But perhaps the more puzzling nugget in the [Boston] Globe piece is what the paper calls his “mysterious side enterprise involving repairing damaged cars”:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev regularly brought cars to Junior’s Auto Body, a well-worn shop on the Cambridge-Somerville line, on a road lined with scrap metal and auto repair garages.

Why a 19-year-old college student was bringing cars in for work for people he said were friends remains unclear, though his father had worked as a garage mechanic before he returned to the family’s native Russia. The shop owner, Gilberto Junior, said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sometimes accompanied friends to the shop, riding in the passenger’s seat. Often, the friends told Junior they were students at MIT, he said…

It is legal for Junior to have paid possible commission fees to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for legitimate referrals.  But Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have been skirting the law if he received cash for the referrals and failed to report it on income tax returns or student financial aid applications.  (It may be worth noting that encouraging unnecessary repairs is common scam reported by consumer advocates.)

But no large amounts of money appear to have changed hands.  Junior told the Boston Globe that “I don’t think he ever brought any friends in here that spent more than $500.”  These were minor repairs like removing dents after fender benders.  Tsarnaev’s final visit to Junior’s auto body shop provides an example of the type of work involved:

Two weeks ago, said 44-year-old Gilberto Junior, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had brought in a white Mercedes 1967 station wagon to have the damaged rear bumper repaired. He said it belonged to his girlfriend.

That was not unusual: Tsarnaev often brought in cars for wealthy friends from Boston University and MIT, Junior said, and always paid in cash.

The bigger question involves the identity of Tsaranaev’s cash-paying “friends.”  Read the rest of this entry ?

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Websites crucial to funding Caucasus jihad

April 22, 2013

Webpages operated by the Caucasus Emirate terrorist organization have played a key and growing role in financing their operations, according to a late-2011 report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies.  The report revealed that while the Caucasus Emirate relied on centralized sites such as Qoqaz.net in the early 2000s, the Caucasus Emirate and Al Qaeda now follow a more decentralized approach of communicating through discussion forums, social media, and smaller websites.

What role, if any, such websites played in engaging Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev is yet to be determined, but the 2011 article below from Reuters via Radio Free Europe about the CSIS findings now merits a second look.

The article also acknowledges the symbiotic relationship and financial ties between Al Qaeda and the North Caucasus guerrillas that Money Jihad profiled last Friday:

Think Tank Says Al-Qaeda Funding Caucasus Rebels

September 30, 2011

A leading Washington think tank says Al-Qaeda is providing growing support, including financial, to Islamic rebels in Russia’s restive North Caucasus.

In its report, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said Al-Qaeda has played a key role in “proselytizing jihadism” to the mujahideen in Chechnya and the Caucasus.

The report’s author, Gordon Hahn, pointed to a growing number of websites linked to the insurgency that are carrying statements of support from leading jihadists such as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who inspired Al-Qaeda in Iraq and is now in jail in Jordan.

Such websites, Hahn said, are also used to raise money.

Hahn pointed to the arrest by Czech police in May of eight individuals in Prague suspected of plotting attacks in the North Caucasus as possible proof of ties to Al-Qaeda.

The rebels goal is a state called the Caucasus Emirate, stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has labeled the insurgency Russia’s top security threat.

Hahn noted Chechen-born rebel leader Doku Umarov has called for the Caucasus Emirate to be incorporated into global jihad…

The full report can be accessed through CSIS’s website here.

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Harvard wins legal battle against terror victims

March 18, 2013

In 2003, victims of an Iranian-sponsored terrorist attack were awarded a multi-million dollar judgment, but have yet to be compensated by Iran.  When the victims sought proceeds from Iranian artefacts kept by museums in Massachussetts,  Harvard and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts balked. In a recent decision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the museums.

The shrewd Rick St. Hilaire unpacks this complex and fascinating case at his cultural heritage blogRead it all here

Both sides made good arguments in this case, and the museums have legitimately argued that the pieces are not “owned” by Iran, and Iran never claimed to own them.

But one wonders whether the museums could have worked out an arrangement with the plaintiffs to compensate them with a portion of ticket sales based on the commercial benefits of the Iranian antiquities, rather than battling the victims in federal court.

Critics of Iran have previously called for the seizure or liquidation of Iranian property in the U.S. to compensate the victims of Iranian-backed terrorist attacks.

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No hard time for tax-dodging jihad donor

June 8, 2012

A Muslim who lied about the purpose of his Massachusetts-based terror financing organization to obtain tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service has been spared by a federal judge from a prison sentence or even a deportation hearing.  Although Emadeddin Muntasser’s conviction on a charge of defrauding the U.S. government was upheld by the First Circuit Court of Appeals last year, the trial court judge has let Muntasser off with a light sentence of six months under house arrest.

Federal prosecutors sought a five year sentence.  Muntasser has served only five months in jail for his crimes, and will face no additional prison time.  This is a man who published a “bloodcurdling” jihadist newsletter throughout the 1990s.  He bundled zakat donations from like-minded hate-filled Muslim residents of the United States, who scrolled “Bosnia mujahideen,” “Jihad Bosnia,” and “mujahideen Bosnia, 9th Battalion” upon the memo lines of the checks they wrote to Muntasser’s organization!

Naturally, the publication of the newsletter or the financial support for jihad abroad were never disclosed in tax filings by Muntasser and his “Care International” organization (or its predecessor organization, al-Kifah).

Once again, we have lost a golden opportunity to demonstrate zero tolerance for Muslims living in the West who fraudulently obtain tax-exempt status for the express purpose of increasing the amount of zakat they can divert toward jihad against non-Muslims overseas.

Incidently, Care International was closely tied to the Global Relief Foundation, the “charity” behind the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings.

Oh, and by the way, Muntasser has apparently been able to build a furniture company with 50 employees despite the legal proceedings against him.  Muntasser is Libyan, but the furniture angle does jog our memory about a report from the NYPD that said “Hamas supporters/members have been identified among a NYC group of Palestinian nationals who originate from a small town in Palestine, Ein-Yabroud, and a Hamas stronghold. Many others from there now reside in the US (NYC, Chicago, NJ, Georgia, and Puerto Rico) owning and operating their furniture and carpet stores, generating funds that are allegedly funneled to Hamas.”

Not to suggest that Muntasser’s furniture profits are funding jihad.  No, that would be quite unfair.  Especially considering how honest Muntasser has always been about his work and his intentions.