Posts Tagged ‘Somalia’


Italy paid $500K ransom to Somali pirates

October 13, 2015

A separate report from Al-Jazeera claims that Italy has also paid a multi-million dollar ransom to al-Nusra Front in Syria.

Informative reports, but it’s not just Italy that misleads the public about paying ransoms to villains and terrorists.  Many, if not most, European governments facilitate the payment of such ransoms.  We used to call it “funding both sides of the conflict.”  It causes wars to last longer.  European diplomats act like they are contributing to world peace, but their government-backed ransom payments are just prolonging the pain and strife.

From The Guardian on Oct. 8:

Italian intelligence lied about hostage rescue to hide ransom payment

Leaked document shows Italy made up story about 2012 rescue of Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz to hide ransom payment

Italy’s intelligence service helped concoct a false story about a rescue of hostages by security forces to hide a ransom payment, according to a leaked spy agency document.

The payment was made for the release of Bruno Pelizzari, an Italian, and South African Debbie Calitz, who were taken by Somali pirates in 2010 and released in 2012.

The document marked “secret” says the Italian intelligence agency AISE paid a ransom of $525,000 (£346,000). “To conceal the payment of the ransom, AISE, SNSA (Somalia’s national security agency) and the hostages agreed to inform the media and public that the release of the hostages was the result of a successful rescue operation by the Somali security forces.”

The document highlights the contradictions in the international response to kidnapping. Both the US and UK governments refuse to pay ransoms, but other European countries have a more ambiguous approach, routinely making payments while publicly denying it.

The Italian government response to the case of Pelizzari and Calitz reflects the confusion and obfuscation…


Kenya puts al-Shabaab on sugar-free diet

July 12, 2015

Kenya is tightening the screws against the multi-million sugar smuggling business that profits al-Shabaab across the border in Somalia.  (See here and here for prior coverage of al-Shabaab’s sugar business.)  The surprising thing about this report is the quotation from a security source who described the crackdown by saying, “It’s like the government is awakening.”  Money Jihad believed that the Kenyan government was one of the few entities that have taken the threat of al-Shabaab seriously, and that they have taken steps before to reduce the flow of money to the terror group over the past several years.  Whatever the case, it would be more significant if the Gulf states, which are some of the biggest buyers of Somali contraband, joined Kenya on operations like this.  But don’t hold your breath for that.

From Midnimo last month (h/t El Grillo):

Somalia: Kenya wages war on smugglers who fund Somali Islamist militants

When Kenyan police arrested six men in the vast Dadaab refugee camp near the Somali border last April, their ultimate aim was to dismantle a decades-old sugar smuggling trade that is funding Somali militants waging war on Kenya.

The arrests, coming weeks after four al Shabaab gunmen massacred 148 people at nearby Garissa university, were part of Nairobi’s new strategy to choke off the flow of money to Islamists whose cross-border raids have hammered Kenya and its tourism industry.

While cash from sugar smuggling may amount to only a few million dollars, experts say such sums are enough for attacks that need just a few assault rifles, transport and loyalists ready to die – such as the Garissa raid or the 2013 assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall that killed 67 people.

“It’s like the government is awakening,” said a senior Kenyan security source from Garissa region, adding the authorities had previously often “turned a blind eye to all these things because a lot of people were benefiting – but at a cost of security.”

However if a lasting impact is to be secured more must be done, say security and diplomatic sources. That includes rooting out corruption in the police force and going after smuggling cartel bosses as well as the middle men detained so far.

The move to tackle the cross-border trade may prove as vital as the military offensive against al Shabaab inside Somalia by African Union peacekeepers and Somali soldiers that has pushed the group into smaller pockets of territory…


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.


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…


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.


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.


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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