Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

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Western aid to Syrian rebels mounts

August 15, 2012

Syrian rebels have been funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar from the outset of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad.  The U.S. and Britain have become financially committed in recent months as well.  Note the recent developments:

The Western aid fits the pattern of taxpayer money given as foreign aid to the foot soldiers of the Arab Spring.  The first problem with the Syrian aid, as with the Egyptian and Libyan aid that preceded it, is that the cash winds up in the pockets of rebels who carry dual membership with Al Qaeda.

The second problem is that the Syria Accountability Act prohibits Americans from exporting goods to and doing business with Syria.  The law permits federal aid to Syria if and only if Syria restores Lebanese sovereignty, renounces Hezbollah, and terminates its weapons of mass destruction programs.  Those conditions haven’t been met.

Granted, the reported aid isn’t going to the Syrian regime, but the 2003 act does not make a distinction between the Syrian regime and Syrian dissidents.

Keep in mind that if you tried sending or selling supplies without a license to anybody in Syria, you would be arrested, put on trial, and convicted for export violations.  Just ask Mazen Ghashim, who was convicted for export violations in 2008 for shipping computers to Syria.

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5 ways to fight zakat for jihad

August 6, 2012

Zakat, the Muslim wealth tax and pillar of Islam from which profits can funneled to the mujahideen, has been used repeatedly to fund jihadist operations across the world including the 9/11 terror attacks and the Iraq insurgency.  Despite zakat’s bone-chilling track record, it is extremely unlikely if not impossible to impose an outright ban the practice.

That doesn’t mean we can afford to shrug our shoulders and do nothing to counter the violent, jihadist stream of zakat to terrorism.  We certainly should not, as Pres. Obama said in Cairo, promote zakat-giving by American Muslims.

Here are five models that could be used individually, but preferably in tandem to achieve the best results, to limit the ability of zakat solicitors and donors to use the funds for militant purposes:

5.  The NYPD surveillance model.  The New York Police Department’s surveillance program has been criticized by the Leftist media and Muslim “rights” agitators.  But the NYPD approach offers one of the few hands-on, common sense methods of determining which mosques and charities knowingly undertake to fund terrorism overseas and at home.  Embedding undercover mosque crawlers is not a violation of civil liberties or the freedom to worship—it is a sensible measure based on experience.  The NYPD model could be employed by major metropolitan police departments in places such as Chicago, Minneapolis, and Dearborn.

4. Improved state regulatory oversight.  In the U.S., charities are regulated at the state level, as they should be.  The federal government does not have the enumerated constitutional authority or the wisdom to regulate philanthropy.  But state governments and their top charitable regulators—usually either the state’s secretary of state or attorney general—can and must exercise their authority to oversee nonprofit entities.  The state elected officials should improve their provision of searchable, online records of charities’ registration and renewal documents, and should require the disclosure of information about the president and boards of the charities, etc.  Citizens should be aware of the important role that these statewide elected officials play in shining the sunlight, particularly on small Islamic charities that lack transparency.  Nationwide crackdowns on disreputable charities such as the “Operation False Charity” initiative should be replicated against Muslim organizations that purport to solicit donations for charity, but actually use them for Wahhabi and jihadi endeavors.

3.  The Canadian model.  The Canadian Revenue Agency has done a commendable job of carefully examining the charitable credentials of Islamic entities.  CRA has recently revoked the tax-exempt status of several of Canada’s most dubious Islamic charities including WAMY, the World Islamic Call Society, and IRFAN.  The IRS should take a page from Canada’s book and immediately strip IFANCA of its 501(c)3 status, for example.

2.  Sanctions model.  The authority to designate foreign charities as terrorist entities has been used somewhat appropriately by successive leaders at the State and Treasury Departments, but there are glaring examples of foreign philanthropic foundations that have not been designated due to diplomatic sensitivities.  The Saudi-based International Islamic Relief Organization has never been designated although its branches in the Philippines and Indonesia have been recognized by the U.S. as Al Qaeda affiliates.  The Muslim World League and the World Association of Muslim Youth are two other examples of “humanitarian” religious agencies that provide significant Saudi financial support for terrorism.  The U.S. has designated the Union of Good as a terrorist network, but it has not identified the member organizations of UoG (although Israel has).  We’re never going to confront the problem of Saudi terror funding through zakat unless we’re willing to name and shame the biggest Saudi perpetrators.

1.  The Bush/HLF model. The successful prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for funding Hamas offers an aggressive law enforcement model that would require a renewed federal commitment.  Raids, seizures, and closures of suspect organizations and charities can take place under the executive order authorities of the President or ordinary criminal warrants.  The worst Islamic charities should be prosecuted under the material support provisions of the the Patriot Act.  We have to put the leaders of the worst offending Islamic charities into orange jumpsuits to set the example for other Muslims who wish to do the same.

Sadly, the Obama administration has tended to pursue a far more limited “settlement model,” in which the Department of Justice enters settlements and U.S. attorney agree to plea deals with jihadists’ attorneys.  Yes, some go-getter U.S. attorneys have continued to prosecute individual terror financiers and even a Hezbollah funding network.  But the big picture strategy of investigating, closing, and prosecuting major Islamic charities has been totally abandoned by the Obama administration.

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Treasury settles for less

June 15, 2012

Trade sanctions attorney Erich Ferrari has an interesting take on a recent settlement between OFAC (an agency within the Treasury Department) and Genesis Assets Managers, a U.S. firm that invested in a company whose investment portfolio is made up entirely of Iranian securities.  Such a blatant violation of U.S. sanctions laws would normally prompt prosecution and a heavy fine, or at least a higher settlement amount than what OFAC ultimately agreed to.    Here’s what Mr. Ferrari says about the settlement:

Today, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that Genesis Assets Managers, LLP (GAM) was paying $112,500 to settle apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR). In short, GAM a U.S. based firm serving as a investment manager for Genesis Emerging Markets Fund, violated the ITR when its agent, Genesis Investment Management, LLP invested $3 million to Cayman Islands’ based First Persian Equity Fund on behalf of GAM. First Persian Equity Fund is a company which invests solely in Iranian securities.

Despite OFAC finding that GAM failed to use a minimum amount of caution, provided a substantial benefit to Iran through their actions, and had knowledge of the transactions, OFAC stated that GAM’s activities were not egregious. I must say I was surprised by OFAC’s finding that the activity was non-egregious, considering this is a financial services firm operating without any sort of OFAC compliance program. Moreover, OFAC admits GAM’s activities undermined the sanctions program by providing a substantial economic benefit to Iran. There must have been a great deal of lawyering done to convince OFAC that this activity wasn’t completely reckless.

There were a few things working in GAM’s favor when OFAC determined what settlement amount was appropriate. First, they self-disclosed the apparent violation; thereby reducing any base penalty by half. Second, they substantially cooperated with OFAC during its investigation. Third, they took steps to remediate the violations. Finally, and quite surprisingly, OFAC stated that GAM may not have known of their OFAC obligations under U.S. law. Again, I am surprised by this, as those in the financial services industry should be more on aware of OFAC and the sanctions programs it administers than anyone. Indeed, the financial services industry is the first line of defense for catching and preventing OFAC violations.

Despite my surprise at how OFAC is viewing the apparent violations, I think it goes to show what a great tool the voluntary self-disclosure program can be. Since OFAC found that the transactions were non-egregious and GAM self-disclosed the base penalty was capped at $125,000. Therefore, mitigation based on other factors found in the OFAC Enforcement Guidelines was only $12,500 or about 10% of the base penalty. However, when one considers that the base penalty could have been in the millions, it really does seem like GAM received a massive break from OFAC.

Mr. Ferrari expresses “surprise” at the leniency of the settlement.  But this event does seem consistent with the Obama administration’s tendency to enter settlements with sanctions violators and terror financiers.

By the way, aren’t we repeatedly told that the Obama administration (including Geithner and Clinton) has adopted the toughest sanctions regime against any country ever?  Yet in this instance, a clear sanctions violator is let off with a slap on the wrists.

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Kudos to Jessica Rubin for jizya insight

March 27, 2012

The term “jizya” gets thrown around somewhat casually these days.  Anytime a foreign aid payment is made to an Islamic country, at least a couple counter-jihad blogs will call it “jizya.”

From a purely technical standpoint under Islamic tax law, money transferred from the Dar al-Harb (the non-Muslim world) to the Dar al-Islam (the Muslim world) does not correspond to the letter of the tax laws administered by Muhammad.  (Perhaps this is because during his lifetime, it was unthinkable that non-Muslim nations would voluntarily transfer portions of their wealth to Muhammad without having been conquered or forced into a punitive treaty.)

Under Islamic tax law, the jizya is a nasty, discriminatory, hateful tax paid by dhimmis—that is, by non-Muslims living under Muslim domination.  A “harbi,” a person who lives outside the Islamic world, is technically not a dhimmi, and is not lawfully subject to the jizya.

That being said, Jessica Rubin has written an exceptionally wise, insightful, and instructive piece about how foreign aid to Islamist countries does indeed constitute jizya—at least in the spirit of Islamic law if not the letter.  Please read it.  We’ve been analyzing commentary on the jizya for several years now, and this is among the best.  Published by the American Thinker on Mar. 24:

Obama Dances the Jizya
By Jessica Rubin

In the classic Mafia protection racket scheme, the owner of a business must pay the pizzo for the Mafia organization to protect the owner from violence by an alleged third party — usually a branch the organization itself. In the same way, the U.S. taxpayer is paying various “moderate” Muslim countries and organization to protect us from extremist Muslim organizations. We pay not only in money, but by chipping away at our individual human rights in order to appease Muslim elements not to go over to the extremist elements.

In many ways, we are already paying the Islamic form of the pizzo — namely, the jizya. Formally, the jizya is a “tax” paid by kafirs already living under Muslim domination. It is a tax that must be paid at risk of losing one’s head. Moreover, the jizya is not just a “head” tax; it is also intended to be a form of humiliation.

Qur’an (9:29) – “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

Paying the jizya is just part of dhimmitude. The full status of dhimmitude is a miserable, soulless existence. The linguist and Arabic scholar Mark Durie has traveled extensively to record and observe the status of dhimmis in the ummah (Muslim world). Think of the life of a cowering, abused dog. As Durie says, “it involves embracing your own inferiority.” Indeed, Sura 9:29 of the Koran says that the purpose of the dhimmi system is to “kill the soul” of the non-Muslim, so he will render willingly everything demanded of him.

Every time you go through security at an airport, you are in effect paying the jizya. You are also being humiliated. This is the price we must pay in order not to be blown up.

We pay Pakistan to be “on our side’ against al-Qaeda. We pay the Karzai Mafia to hold fast against the Taliban. We pay in blood and money.

Obama started his presidency by paying obeisance to the leaders of the ummah in the course of his apology tour and then made his shameless Cairo speech. This humbling of the U.S. before the Islamic world is part of the “humiliation” that is central to accepting one’s status as a dhimmi. As Mark Durie says, “The two most characteristic psychological traits of the dhimmi are gratitude and humility. We are seeing both these traits shaping public discourse around Islam. President Obama, for example, has spoken of the ‘debt’ the West owes to Islam. This sense of indebtedness is being imparted to our schoolchildren through Islamicized history textbooks.”

The worst of the tribute we pay the Islamic world is the sacrifice of our values — i.e., our souls. The right to free speech is being chipped away. Any criticism of Islam is labeled Islamophobia. This is the first soul-losing step on the road to full dhimmitude — part of which contains the principle that one must never say or do anything to offend Muslims.

Starting as early as 2008, there was a government memo that warned against “offending,” “insulting,” or being “confrontational” to Muslims.

By 2011, as reported by the Daily Caller, “the Obama administration was pulling back all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam that some Muslim groups have claimed are offensive.”

The deference to Muslim sensibilities reached the ludicrous extent of censoring photographs of the late Osama bin Laden lest they “offend” Muslims.

The statement by Dwight C. Holton, U.S. Attorney for Oregon, says it all. After discussing the matter with Attorney General Eric Holder, Dwight C. Holton said, “I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated.”

And now the Obama administration has announced its intention to “give” $3 billion to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The payment is part of Obama’s outreach program in Egypt. The idea is that by paying the jizya to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Brotherhood will keep the “radical” Salafists at bay — a classic Mafia squeeze-play protection racket.

This outreach program, the Obama administration alleges, will make us safer in the U.S., as accommodating Muslims at home and abroad will result in there being less fertile breeding grounds for terrorists. Winston Churchill would call it “feeding the crocodile.”

The U.S. is paying tribute to the House of Islam. Obama is their agent and bagman, and the bag doesn’t contain just our money; it also contains our values.

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2011: Iran’s nuclear march unfazed by sanctions

January 10, 2012

In its November report, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that:

  • The Iranian military has procured nuclear and dual-use material and equipment
  • Iran has acquired information on how to create nuclear weapons through a secret network
  • Iran has tested nuclear weapon components

The advance in Iranian efforts to use nuclear program for military purposes strongly suggests that the sanctions regime is not having the impact necessary to stop their acquisition of the bomb.  Sanctions may have damaged their economy and currency, but that is irrelevant because Iran has shown that it will continue funding its nuclear program regardless of economic conditions.

Pres. Obama’s decision to appoint lightweight David Cohen as undersecretary of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence indicated a lack of seriousness about enforcing serious sanctions against Iran to bankrupt its nuclear program.  In 2011, Cohen has succeeded mostly in alienating the U.S. Senate by stabbing New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez in the back.  If only we would treat our foreign enemies that way.

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2011: Folly of funding the Arab Spring

January 5, 2012

The year 2011 will be remembered for the Arab Spring, and it will only look worse as the fog clears.  We saw the power vacuum created by the ouster of Arab leaders.  Now we see the filling of the vacuum by Islamist elements bent on imposing sharia law, subjugating their non-Muslim minority populations, and putting peace agreements with Israel into a paper shredder.  What’s worse—we bankrolled it.

Whether it was Pres. Obama’s insistence on a massive G8 stimulus package for the Islamic world or Hillary Clinton’s halal food distribution to the Libyan rebels, 2011 is one for the record books in terms of funding the very same menacing global force that we’ve been fighting since 9/11.

Here are 2011’s low points of squandered, taxpayer-originated Western aid money to a region falling under the shadow of the Muslim Brotherhood:

  • $135 million in U.S. financial aid to Libyan rebels and their newly forming Islamist government
  • €70 million ($90 million USD) from the European Commission humanitarian aid department (ECHO), €20 million from Sweden, over $15 million from the U.K. in aircraft and ships, and other EU member aid for a sum of $195 million in total European aid to Libya
  • Most notably, $20 billion in aid and loans for Egypt and Tunisia from the taxpayers of the G8 economies
  • France provided at least “40 tonnes of weapons” to Libyan rebels
  • For Tunisia, U.S. aid to the tune of $2 million in “Transitional Initiative” funds; and an additional $5 million to support “civil society” groups to peddle their influence with the new Islamist government
  • Federal grants to facilitate remittance programs to Tunisia and Libya
  • Pentagon officials announced in November that U.S. arms deals with Egypt will continue even though Egypt will most likely not honor its peace treaty with Israel

Supporters of the funding will say that this is helping to promote “reform” in the Arab world.

But recall that the Taliban itself was originally seen in the 1990s by several observers as a “reform movement” that would purge Afghanistan of its violent history of rival warlords that competed along ethnic, tribal, and regional lines.  There are many to this day (including State Department employees in private) who say we shouldn’t be worried about the Taliban because they’re more concerned with controlling Afghanistan than they are in exporting terrorism.

But the simple fact of 9/11, which the Taliban enabled by playing handmaiden to Al Qaeda, disproved the delusional concept that Islamist government presents no risk to the West.

We paid for the new Islamist regimes, and it’s time we demand a refund.

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Obama’s flawed sanctions chief ends Arab trip

December 21, 2011

David S. Cohen, a former Clinton lawyer who Pres. Obama entrusted with a sanctions regime that is supposed to provide for the nuclear containment of Iran, is wrapping up a four-day trip to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The State Department says that Mr. Cohen was conferring with officials in those countries about sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

Surprisingly, although Bahrain shockingly has no legal means of freezing assets in its own country, there is no indication that Mr. Cohen addressed this shortcoming with officials in Manama.

Mr. Cohen has consistently misled the American public about the level of Saudi cooperation in combating terrorist financing.  Consequently, it will be difficult to judge the truthfulness of whatever statements are released at the conclusion of this trip.

Moreover, after Mr. Cohen back-stabbed U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) during backdoor negotiations on Iran sanctions, one wonders what would make Arab officials trust Mr. Cohen.

Seeking cooperation on sanctions is a good objective, but sending a flawed messenger indicates Pres. Obama’s lack of seriousness about sanctions against Syria and Iran.

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Zarate blasts Obama’s Iran sanctions pause

October 7, 2011

During an Aspen Institute panel discussion on terrorist financing in July, former counter-terrorism official Juan Zarate rebuked the 2009 to 2010 “pause” in economic sanctions pressure while Obama administration sought engagement with Iran.

Reporter Erin Burnette asked Zarate and former under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Stuart Levey about the wisdom of easing up on the sanctions regime while trying to engage Iran.  Stuart Levey said that top Obama advisors underestimated how long it would take from the time they began seeking engagement until the time a new round of international sanctions would be approved, which was not until July, 2010.

That delay gave Iran a year and a half of essential time to develop their nuclear program without significant financial pressure.  In this video, Juan Zarate calls that pause in the financial pressure “a major strategic mistake.”  The momentum from sanctions beginning in 2005 had been working, and Washington could have kept applying financial pressure simultaneously while pushing for diplomatic engagement.

The timing of the pause was most unfortunate, Zarate argues, because the U.S. already knew about Iran’s “secret” nuclear site at Kom.

In addition to pointing out the Obama administration’s strategic blunder on Iran sanctions, Zarate also lets it slip in the final seconds of the video that Pres. Obama kept the well-respected Stuart Levey “leashed.”

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Hillary begs Obama to keep funding Hamas

August 25, 2011

Hillary asks Obama for a favor

Responding to the foreign aid spending reductions proposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives, Hillary Clinton has written a letter demanding that Pres. Obama veto any legislation that would limit her multi-billion dollar State Department budget.

In other words, not only does Sec. Clinton want to keep spending money during a time of national financial calamity, but it also means that she is rejecting the Republican proposal that the U.S. first certify that money will not go to Hamas, Hezbollah, or the Muslim Brotherhood before it distributes foreign aid.

From the Washington Post (h/t Israel Matzav) on July 27:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is blasting a House bill that would impose strict new requirements on U.S. aid  to countries including Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan and Yemen, warning that she will urge a veto if the measure reaches President Obama’s desk.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Time to stop the PA aid

July 22, 2011

The U.S. has finally smartened up and stalled some of its financial aid to Pakistan.

As the Palestinian Authority considers reconciliation with Hamas, the U.S. Congress is finally having second thoughts about extensive foreign aid to the Palestinian territories.

Couple the rekindling of the romance with Hamas with the news that West Bank residents enjoy a lesser poverty rate than residents of Washington, D.C., and the decision shouldn’t be terribly difficult.

The Palestinian Authority and its PLO predecessor have funded terrorism even more openly than has Pakistan.  Shouldn’t the same freeze on foreign aid apply to the PA, especially in these days of budget austerity?

Not so, says the White House.  Pres. Obama insists (h/t Israel Matzav) on continued funding for the Palestinian Authority

Can 2012 come too soon?