Posts Tagged ‘Somalia’

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30 sugar smugglers ID’d as al-Shabaab financiers

May 8, 2015

Money Jihad readers may recall that Kenya recently sanctioned 86 people and 13 money transfer companies for their financial ties to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. It has since been revealed that 30 of the sanctioned individuals are sugar smugglers. (Hat tips to Chris Pariso and El Grillo.)

The Star reports:

…A confidential government report seen by the Star says: “Most of the smuggled sugar enters the country [Kenya] from areas controlled by al Shabaab in Somalia. The sugar barons pay illegal levies (or protection fees) to al Shabaab, who in turn uses the proceeds to fund terrorist activities/operations…

Imposing taxes on businesses is a common al-Shabaab tactic. They do it on the charcoal supply chain, the telecommunications sector, the remittance industry, etc.  Sugar and charcoal tax rates are often based on the rate set for zakat in the Koran:  2½ percent.  Money Jihad has previously covered how lucrative the sugar trade has been for al-Shabaab here.

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Uganda’s police chief to probe remitters

May 3, 2015

The head of Uganda’s national police force said they will investigate money services businesses (MSBs) after Kenya suspended 13 MSBs alleged to finance the terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia. Several of those same companies operating in Somalia and Kenya also do business in Uganda.  Dahabshiil is probably the most prominent of the money transfer companies identified.

From the Kampala Observer via All Africa (h/t Chris Pariso):

Police chief Kale Kayihura has said they are to investigate transactions of money transfer companies here, after evidence in Kenya suggested that some were being used to channel money for financing terrorism.

Speaking in Kampala last week, Kayihura said some of the transfer companies under investigation in Kenya are affiliated to some institutions in Uganda. According to an April 14 gazette notice issued under Kenya’s Prevention of Terrorism Act and signed by police chief Joseph Boinnet, money transfer companies topped the list of 86 accounts alleged to fund terror groups.

The notable money transfer companies mentioned include Dahabshiil, which has agent locations and branches in 126 countries worldwide, including Uganda. Another mentioned company is Kendy Money Transfer Limited, which launched its money transfer services in Kenya last September…

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Salaam African Bank mum on pirates’ accounts

March 30, 2015

The chairman of Salaam African Bank has declined to cooperate with UN investigators about several accounts allegedly held at the bank by piracy financiers. One of those financiers may also be a family friend of a formerly sanctioned business partner of Osama Bin Laden.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea named two pirate leaders, Mohamed Abdi Hassan “Afweyne” and a pirate negotiator named “Ali,” who have deposited money with Salaam, in its October 2014 report.

Afweyne is a pirate hijacker currently awaiting trial in Belgium who reportedly maintains a nearly $1 million account with Salaam Financial Services Bank—a Salaam African Bank affiliate—in Hargeisa, Somalia. Afweyne also holds two accounts with Salaam Somali Bank in Mogadishu, which is also affiliated with Salaam African Bank.

Ali, who has negotiated ransom payments on behalf of Somali pirates in several hijacking cases, is a friend and business partner of the alleged first cousin and son-in-law of Ali Ahmed Nur Jim’ale. Jim’ale was the owner of al-Barakaat, a bank which was until recently sanctioned by the United Nations. The 9/11 Commission said that U.S. intelligence agents believed Osama Bin Laden was Jim’ale’s silent partner in the creation of al-Barakaat.

The association between Ali and Jim’ale’s family, if verified, would serve as evidence of the long-speculated but unproved financial relationship between Somali pirates and Al Qaeda.

In response to the Monitoring Group’s questions about Afewyne and Ali, Salaam African Bank’s chairman, Ismail Egal, “indicated that the bank had no desire” to assist in the investigation. The central bank of Djibouti was also uncooperative in confirming the information gathered by the Monitoring Group.

The Monitoring Group has called for international sanctions against Somali pirate leadership, but those sanctions have not been levied. This state of affairs “has allowed pirate leaders, investors and facilitators, not only to invest their illegally acquired funds into other business ventures, but also to keep those funds in bank accounts, transfer them to business partners, launder them overseas or support family and friends in the diaspora,” according to the report.

Hat tip to Ayaamo News.

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10 red flags over Dahabshiil

February 28, 2015

Does the international remittance company Dahabshiil finance terrorism? Are its anti-money laundering and counter-terror finance programs adequate? Here are 10 warning signs to keep in mind:

  1. Mohammed Sulaymon Barre, a Somali citizen and former Guantanamo Bay detainee, was alleged by U.S. officials to have worked in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Sudan in 1994 and 1995. He later worked at a Dahabshiil office in Pakistan before his detention. During a 2005 hearing at Guantanamo, a military judge told Barre, “I am convinced that your branch of the Dahabshiil company was used to transfer money for terrorism.” (Source: Washington Post).
  2. In early 2011, Somali music star and future member of Somalia’s parliament, Saado Ali Warsame, released a protest song entitled, “Dhiigshiil ha dhigan” (which translates as “Don’t Deposit with Dahabshiil” or “Don’t send your money through Dahabshiil”). The song called Dahabshiil a “blood-smelter,” “the enemy of Somalia,” and implored Somalis: “do not deposit your money” with Dahabshiil. (Source: Money Jihad)
  3. In late 2011, the Bell Pottinger public relations and lobbying firm cited its success in “manipulating Google rankings” on behalf of its client Dahabshiil to ensure that the Guantanamo Bay detainee story about Mohammed Sulaymon Barre didn’t appear on the first 10 pages of Google search results. (Source: The Independent)
  4. Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan were convicted in October 2011 on federal charges of providing material support to the terrorist group al-Shabaab. The indictment had alleged that “Ali and others acting at her direction transmitted funds to al-Shabaab through the hawala money remittance system” using Dahabshiil and other remitters. (Source: U.S. v. Amina Farah Ali)
  5. In December 2011, Minneapolis-based Franklin Bank and St. Paul-based Sunrise Community Banks ceased doing business with Somali hawala dealers and money transfer organizations including Dahabshiil over “concerns that the accounts put them at risk of violating federal rules designed to halt terror financing.” (Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune).
  6. The British banking giant Barclays announced its intentions to sever ties with Dahabshiil in 2013 over regulatory compliance and terror financing concerns. (Source: Associated Press.) Litigation ensued which delayed Barclays’s plans, but a deal to end their business relationship was finally reached in April 2014. (Source: Financial Times)
  7. In April 2014, U.S. Bancorp backed out of a long-planned deal with Dahabshiil after “an independent review of Dahabshiil and the inherent risk of doing business in Somalia.” (Source: American Banker)
  8. Danish regulators found Dahabshiil offices in Copenhagen, Kolding, Aalborg, and Aarhus to be “completely inadequate” in their compliance with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws in Denmark, and referred the case to police for further investigation in July 2014. (Source: Danish Financial Supervisory Authority)
  9. Somali news outlets reported in July 2014 that several Dahabshiil offices in Middle and Lower Juba were ordered by al-Shabaab to be closed after failing to make payments to al-Shabaab on time. (Sources: Radio Kulmiye, Shiniile News, and Dayniile)
  10. Merchants Bank of California announced this month that it is ending its Somali remittance services including Dahabshiil accounts amidst “concerns that some money could be making its way to Islamic militants.” (Source: KARE 11)

Dahabshiil denies all allegations of financing terrorism.

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The money behind the jihad: suggested reading

December 18, 2014
  • During Operation Protective Edge, Israel Defense Forces seized kalashnikovs, electroshock weapons, uzis, and RPG’s among other goodies smuggled through tunnels by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihadmore>>
  • The Union of Arab Banks is concerned that U.S. courts will allow even more cases to be brought against them for facilitating terrorism… more>>
  • A human rights lawyer decries the Salafi business cartels that have taken over Somalia… more>>
  • Congressman wants answers on whether CENTCOM attempted to make a payment for the release of Bowe Bergdahl from its $5 million fund … more>>
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Claim: Somali remittance firm bought bombs, suicide vests (updated)

December 5, 2014

(Updated 12/9/12 to include a response from Dahabshiil)

The Somali news outlet Waagacusub claims that a shipment of bombs, suicide vests, military uniforms and combat boots to the financial services company Dahabshiil has been intercepted. The container was transported by a United Arab Emirates vessel, but Emirati security forces say the container originated in China. The shipment was allegedly intended for delivery to Dahabshiil’s office in Mogadishu, which Dahabshiil denies.  Suicide bomber attacks by al-Shabaab fighters are common in and around Mogadishu.

The allegations against the notorious remittance company could not be independently substantiated by Money Jihad. However, there are some indirect suggestions of potential Dahabshiil involvement in brokering illegal arms deals. In 2013, Inter Press Service reported that weapons are being trafficked in a similar manner as hawala—in other words, arms are being transferred to different owners without being physically moved. The IPS report featured a photograph of Dahabshiil’s Mogadishu office. Waagacusub has previously videotaped witnesses who said that Dahabshiil is involved in the procurement of weapons and vehicles for use in clan warfare. UN investigators recently disclosed that as many as 70 to 80 percent of weapons shipped to Somalia intended for use by the government have been “diverted” for resale in the public marketplace.

Dahabshiil denies involvement in UAE shipment, telling Money Jihad that “Dahabshiil strongly refutes the allegations that it was in any way involved in this incident. Dahabshiil has no involvement whatsoever with the weapons trade.”

Dahabshiil routinely makes payments to the terrorist group al-Shabaab according to reports from multiple Somali news sources, although Dahabshiil denies the charge. Its offices have previously been closed when Dahabshiil has failed to pay or delayed payment. The British bank Barclays is severing ties with Dahabshiil over concerns about money laundering and terrorist financing. Dahabshiil offices in Denmark were recently referred to the police after financial regulators there determined that the remittance company’s offices compliance programs were “completely inadequate.” At least one Dahabshiil branch was found by a Guantanamo military judge to have financed al-Shabaab.

© Text copyrighted 2014 by Money Jihad. Blog URL: moneyjihad.wordpress.com. Any unauthorized reproduction, duplication, or retransmission of this post without the express written consent from Money Jihad is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Money Jihad with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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UAE: ISIS licking chops over vital sea channels

November 20, 2014

Threats to key choke points like the Strait of Hormuz from a joint venture between al-Shabaab and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are possible according to the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates.  The UAE foreign minister’s comments are being construed somewhat narrowly as a warning that ISIS could engage in piracy with al-Shabaab. But that overlooks the wider influence that al-Shabaab wields over shipping, controlling Somali ports and exacting taxes on illegal charcoal exports to the Arabian peninsula.  In other words, al-Shabaab could help ISIS undermine freedom of the seas not just through piracy, but through smuggling and illicit business relationships with Gulf states.  The foreign minister’s warnings should be read within that wider context.

From DefenseNews (h/t El Grillo):

…On Oct. 29, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan raised the piracy concerns, calling for the international community to be more vigilant regarding new threats at the fourth UAE Counter Piracy Conference in Dubai.

“As groups like Daesh [Islamic State] develop ties to criminal networks and arms networks like al-Shabab, it is essential that we prevent them from expanding their operations into the sea and threaten vital channels such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Red Sea, Bab al Mandab and the Gulf of Aden,” he said.

“The nexus of criminal groups, violent extremists, and weak states will require a coordinated response from governments and the private sector,” he said. “We have to ask ourselves these questions and prepare ourselves in case a union of [the Islamic State group] and al-Shabab occurs”…

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