Posts Tagged ‘North Caucasus’

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Caucasus jihadists seek off-grid donations

May 26, 2015

Islamic State supporters from the North Caucasus are using Russian-language social media and a digital wallet service called QIWI to raise money to “fight against the disbelievers.” Use of the relatively anonymous QIWI service helps avoid monitoring and reporting of suspicious activity.

Thanks to El Cid, El Grillo, and Moscow Ghost for sending in this May 17 report from Radio Free Europe:

IS Militants Use Popular Russian Web Payment System To Raise Cash

A group of Islamic State (IS) militants from Russia’s North Caucasus region are using the popular Russian QIWI wallet electronic payment system to raise money online.

The group’s use of the QIWI wallet sheds light on how individual factions within IS carry out their own fundraising and outreach, and shows that this particular group has managed to raise cash openly using mainstream resources in Russia even though Moscow has banned IS and donating money to it illegal.

The militants involved in the fundraising are doing so through an unofficial Russian-language IS media activist group, ShamToday, which mostly comprises people from the North Caucasus who are with IS in Syria and Iraq…

Read the rest of RFE’s detailed report here.

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Front charity news: recommended reading

March 27, 2014
  • The Shakhsiyah Foundation receives £70,000 a year in taxpayer money even though Prime Minister Cameron called it a front charity for extremism… more>>
  • Two would-be jihadists from North Carolina intended to use charity as a cover story for their mission overseas… more>>
  • The Turkish “charity” IHH funds and supports Hamas, but has yet to be designated as a terrorist organization by the Obama administration… more>>
  • İMKANDER, another Turkish charity, has taken to the streets in a massive rally to eulogize Doku Umarov, the terror chief of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate (h/t Ayre)… more>>
  • A Dutch money launderer has signed his own death warrant by stealing $35,000 from a Hamas front charity… 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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The indirect expenses of jihad

October 1, 2013

Ernst & Young and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) have issued a report on emerging trends in the financing of terrorism.  The central argument of the study is that piracy, smuggling, and counterfeiting have been growth sectors for funding terror, and that India and the world need to establish more mechanisms to combat these methods.

The full report is available here, and a news article about it is here (h/t El Grillo).

There is a lot of value to the report, but one component that readers should take special note of is Ernst & Young’s distinction between the direct expenses for terrorism on things like bombs, materials, and attack plans versus indirect expenses for the bigger picture infrastructure of terrorism:  recruitment, gathering intelligence, and public relations.  This chart comes from their report:

Two broad classes of terrorist expenditures

This is the distinction that Money Jihad has tried to make over the last several months about the Tsarnaev brothers and the Boston marathon bombing.  (See here and here.)  The attack wasn’t just about the costs of the explosives purchased by Tamerlan, or even his travel expense s to Russia, although that certainly still needs to be explained more thoroughly.

The larger question is the indirect expenses that were made toward jihad in the North Caucasus long before the Tsarnaevs hatched their plot.  These were expenditures made over several decades by the Saudis and Western-based Islamic front charities in spreading Salafism through the Caucasus.  It took millions of dollars to create and support radical new mosques, fake “relief” programs, to pay and provision Chechen militants and their leaders, to buy loyalties and pay-off ambivalent politicians, and to create a mushroom patch of jihadist websites in the mother tongue of the Tsarnaev family.

It doesn’t do much good for the federal government and banks to scrutinize and report on every single financial transaction that we undertake if, at the same time, we ignore the millions of petrodollars and zakat donations that go toward paying the indirect expenses of terrorism and inculcating the next generation of jihadists.

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Liberal judges toss Chechen financier’s conviction

September 8, 2013

Just four months after the Boston marathon bombing, two federal judges on a three-judge panel have overturned the conviction of the Oregon-based Islamic “charity leader” and terrorist fundraiser Pete Seda, who helped facilitate the transfer of $130,000 to Chechen terrorists in the early 2000s.

Activists like Seda have served as key conduits for funneling zakat donations from Western countries through Islamic front charities to jihadist causes around the world.  The revenues supported the creation of websites and recruitment tools that helped radicalize North Caucasus diaspora like Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Seda’s conviction was overturned by Judge Mary Schroeder, who was appointed by Jimmy Carter, and Judge Margaret McKeown, who was appointed by Bill Clinton and considered for a Supreme Court appointment by Barack Obama, on the grounds of alleged unfairness during the Seda investigation and trial.

The two judges claim that the Seda trial began as a white collar crime case but ended as a terrorism case, that some information about a witness named Barbara Cabral was not shared with defense attorneys, and that the scope of a warrant served against Seda before the trial was exceeded by law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Judge Robert Tallman, a Republican who was appointed by Bill Clinton, delivered a vigorous dissent from the liberal judges’ opinion.  Oregon’s Daily Tidings summarizes Judge Tallman’s reasoning:

…In his dissenting opinion, Judge Richard Tallman wrote that the majority judges in the appeal improperly failed to take into consideration that [trial court judge] Hogan held a separate hearing on the Cabral issues before ruling the evidence would not have changed the jury’s verdict.

Tallman wrote that the appellate judges should not reverse Hogan’s ruling without it being “clearly erroneous,” which was not the case.

Moreover, Tallman’s minority opinion argued that the scope of the search warrant was not breached by agents searching Seda’s computers and that the other issues do not rise to the level necessary for overturning the jury’s guilty verdict.

Tallman also took issue with the majority opinion’s apparent dismissing of the key evidence in the actual tax fraud and conspiracy charges that were at the core of the case against Seda.

Seda and his codefendant, a Saudi national named Soliman Al-Buthe, went to great lengths and expenses to convert funds wired to Al-Haramain into $130,000 worth of hard-to-trace $1,000 cashier’s checks that Al-Buthe then carried from Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000, according to Tallman’s opinion.

Al-Buthe, also known as Al-Buthi, did so in violation of federal financial-reporting rules that he had complied with on nine other occasions, Tallman noted.

Also, Al-Buthe carried with him and failed to report that he was carrying a cashier’s check made out to him at an Ashland bank for $21,000, which Al-Buthe deposited in his personal bank account in Saudi Arabia.

“A reasonable jury could have concluded on this evidence that this was Al-Buthe’s ‘cut’ for serving as the courier,” Tallman wrote.

The jury also heard plenty of evidence on what Tallman calls the “deceitful manner” in which Seda hid the smuggled money by falsely declaring on a tax return that the money went toward the purchase of a prayer house in Missouri.

Had the men’s intent been not to smuggle the money to the Middle East, Seda simply could have wired the money directly to Al-Haramain’s main office in Saudi Arabia for about $15, Tallman wrote.

“The jury obviously thought the entire handling of the money reeked of criminal intent, as evidenced by its verdict,” Tallman wrote.

Hat tip to Rushette for alerting us to the appeals court decision.

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Russia says 50 groups in U.S. raise funds for North Caucasus extremists

May 26, 2013

According to the Jamahiriya News Agency, Russian intelligence reveals that 50 organizations, many of which are Islamic charities, are actively soliciting and distributing funds from their headquarters in U.S. to terrorist groups in the North Caucasus—the same region where Tamerlan Tsarnaev journeyed prior to the Boston Marathon bombings.  Islamic Relief, the largest Muslim charity in America, is included on Russia’s list.  Read it all:

…According to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, over 60 international extremist organizations, about 100 foreign companies and 10 banking groups participate in providing financial, material and other assistance to the terrorists «touring» the Northern Caucasus. In the U.S. alone, almost 50 organizations are raising funds for the Northern Caucasian extremists. And this is not the entire list of the Chechen terrorists’ accomplices in the U.S.; these organizations began sponsoring the rebels from the moment the bands led by Basayev and Khattab (the latter of which is known to be an emissary of Ben Laden, a staff member of the CIA, and a Canadian citizen who was stripped of his native Jordanian citizenship for his links to American intelligence agencies) invaded the territory of Dagestan.

The following groups are actively raising funds in the U.S.: the Muslim American Bar Association; the Islamic American Center, located in Washington; the Muslim American Council; Islamic Relief/Chechnya appeal, registered with the U.S. Department of State; Islamic City Relief; the Islamic-American Zakat Foundation (president I. Akhmadov); the Islamic Action Center; the Chechen-Ingush Society of America, also known as Chechen relief expenses, with a division called Chechen Relief (president Dr. Mohkammed Musa Shishani); the international Muslim organization Al-Ehsan Charitable Relief Organisation, with its headquarters in Washington; the International Relief Association in Michigan; Islamic Relief Worldwide in California; Mercy International, with its headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan; and the Benevolence International Foundation. In regard to the latter organization, it must be noted that when in January 2003 U.S. intelligence agencies found the head of the foundation, Syrian (or Albanian) American Enaam Arnaut, in the course of investigating sources of financing for Al Qaeda, he admitted that the foundation finances rebels in Chechnya and Bosnia; earlier, in October 2002, U.S. attorney general D. Ashcroft charged him with financing Ben Laden, but when Arnaut stated that the money was going to Chechen terrorists and not Ben Laden, Ashcroft…dropped all charges against him.

The following U.S. organizations also provide various support to Chechen extremists, constantly monitor the situation in Chechnya and conduct political campaigns “in support of the struggling people of Chechnya”: the American Muslim Council; the American Committee for peace in Chechnya; the American Friends Service Committee; and the Islamic Circle of North America.

The role of the organization American Muslim Assistance (AMA) deserves special mention. It is registered with the U.S. State Department, and its main task is «helping our Muslim brothers throughout the world». The director of AMA, Sheikh Hisham Muhammad Kabbani, who is also the chairman of the influential Islamic Supreme Council of America, chairman of the As-Sunna Foundation of America, and the founder and chairman of the Haqqani Islamic Trust for New Muslims, is known as the author of many works on Islam. AMA operates in the Northern Caucasus and conducts active propaganda to discredit the actions of the Russian authorities. AMA often acts under the cover of other Muslim organizations, in particular, the Islamic Supreme Council of America, which unites 15 million Muslims living in the U.S.

Active propaganda and political activity in the interests of Chechen separatists in the U.S. are also conducted by: the online company Amina Network, with an office in Washington; Human Assistance Development International, which has been in existence for 13 years; an Islamic information server for spreading the ideas of Chechen separatism and extremism on the Internet; and the public relations office of Ruder Finn, Inc. The Islamic Charity Foundation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations regularly organize media presentations in support of Chechen extremists, interact on a regular basis with many American analytical centers, and initiate hearings in the U.S. Congress, to which they actively invite consultants, experts and U.S. government advisors…

Islamic Relief USA’s website says that Islamic Relief was one of the first aid agencies in Chechnya in the ‘90s and that it has worked in the North Caucasus since 1995.

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Zakat funded Russian bombings

April 12, 2010

In a good, tough opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor, Dr. Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation explains how Russian policy toward Islamic terror needs to change.  He also states that Northern Caucus jihad is funded by mosques from Dubai and Dearborn.

Jerusalem, Israel – Monday’s subway suicide bombings, which left 39 people dead and wounded 70 more in Moscow, was allegedly carried out by the Black Widows, a cell of female suicide bombers from the North Caucasus, has deep historic and religious roots. This is the time for the Russian government to review the failing counterinsurgency policies, rooting out corruption and inefficiency and countering the growth of radical Islam.

Russia occupied the Northern Caucasus in the 18th century, sparking a gazawat – a “holy war” or jihad – in Dagestan and Chechnya that continued until the 1860s. The Chechens rebelled again in the 1920s and ’30s, only to be crushed by the Soviets.

Stalin loaded the Chechens and the Ingush in cattle cars and shipped them to Siberia in 1944. Hundreds of thousands perished. After they returned from the exile in 1956, things were relatively calm until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Chechens declared independence. The Russians, fearing disintegration of their Federation, attacked in 1994. But the Chechen insurgency – known for its hostage-taking tactics – ultimately defeated the Russian Army, which withdrew in 1996.

By 1999 the original, secular Chechen leadership had been replaced by jihadist thugs supported by Al Qaeda. The Taliban was the only foreign power to recognize independent “Ichkeriya.” Slave markets and weapons bazaars flourished. Arab emissaries financed, trained, and equipped the Chechen mujahedeen. Reports of kidnappings and decapitations became common news headlines.

When the Chechens invaded neighboring Dagestan, Vladimir Putin, then the newly appointed prime minister, retaliated with overwhelming force. The bloody counterinsurgency lasted until 2005, led by Islamists Shamil Basaev and an Al Qaeda-affiliated Jordanian known as Khattab. Mr. Basaev proclaimed his goal was to create a North Caucasus emirate from the Black Sea to the Caspian that would become part of the global caliphate. Had he succeeded, the newly created emirate would have disrupted the flow of oil from the Caspian to Western markets and become a chronic threat to Russia and Europe.

Basaev and Khattab were eventually killed by the Russian Federal Security Service (the successor to the Soviet-era KGB). The mujahedeen assassinated the pro-Moscow strongman Hajj Ahmad Kadyrov, who had switched sides, abandoning the rebel cause. Mr. Kadyrov’s son Ramzan took over, ruling with an iron hand. His political enemies – guerrillas and human rights activists alike – “disappear.” His walled compound, which I visited in 2008, boasts a petting zoo with lions and tigers, a mosque, and a conference hall.

Kadyrov killed many terrorists in the past three years. Only about 500 rebels are thought to remain in their mountain lairs. However, hundreds more are spread throughout the region’s towns in underground cells, and there are support networks throughout Russia’s largest cities, based in the North Caucasus diaspora.

Ethnic Russian Orthodox people are converting to Salafi Islam and becoming leaders in the terrorist movement. Sayyid Buriatsky, instigator of the November 2009 train attack that killed 27 and alleged spiritual guide of the Black Widows suicide bomber organization, was one such convert. In addition to the most recent atrocity, the Black Widows are reportedly responsible for 600 of the 900 deaths from terror attacks perpetrated in Russia since 2000.

“Jihad” in the North Caucasus is one of the favorite causes for zakat (alms) in mosques from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Dearborn, Mich. Islamist leader Doku Umarov has managed to reactivate the violent Riad us-Salihin (Garden of the Pious), of which the Black Widows are in a suicide vanguard. Mr. Umarov has threatened not only to create a North Caucasus emirate, but also to detach large swaths of southern Russia, from Astrakhan to Rostov.

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