Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

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IRA surviving on tobacco fumes

February 15, 2015

Two ex-IRA members have been arrested in the Canary Islands for a money laundering scheme involving at least 10 million euros. Like other IRA has-beens, the culprits seem to have shifted from crimes for a cause to crimes for profit. Or is the IRA’s “next generation” building a nest egg for a comeback?

Hat tip to El Grillo from Agence France-Presse last month:

Two ex-IRA members arrested in Spain for smuggling

Madrid (AFP) – Two former members of the Irish Republican Army were arrested in Spain during a sweep on an alleged tobacco and alcohol smuggling racket, police said Monday.

A Spanish police spokesman told AFP the ex-IRA members arrested for heading the network were Leonard Hardy, 53, and his wife Donna Maria Elizabeth Hardy, 48, both of whom were convicted of a 1989 bombing of a British army barracks in Germany.

The couple was arrested in Lanzarote on the Canary Islands on December 29 with five accomplices as part of coordinated sweeps in Las Palmas, Alicante, Malaga and Murcia, a police statement said.

“They led an organisation smuggling tobacco and alcohol, and laundered money through the acquisition of buildings,” the statement said, adding that an estimated 10.5 million euros ($12.5 million) worth of real estate had been involved.

High Court judge Pablo Ruz charged the couple with money laundering, smuggling and the funding of terrorism linked to the IRA, a judicial source said.

He ordered that Leonard Hardy be jailed while the investigation continued while the wife was released under judicial supervision so she could look after the couple’s children in Britain, the source added.

Spanish officials froze additional property assets worth more than 5.5 million euros ($6.5 million), and 90 bank accounts and investment portfolios in Spain…

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Spain’s hawala network funds ISIS and al-Nusra

February 1, 2015

Intelligence services and Spanish authorities say that with a network of over 250 hawala dealers, Spain has become a financial center for funding terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Hawala is the traditional Islamic method of transferring value without transferring physical money.

The news daily El País further reports that there are scarcely any controls over hawala businesses in Spain. The majority of the hawala dealers are Pakistani, while many of their customers are Syrian and Moroccan. A hundred Moroccans in Spain have already joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of 9/11, used hawala agents in Logroño and Barcelona in the early 2000s. And Spain’s hawala system has only grown since then.

Hat tip to Well es bien for sending this over.

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Terror finance predictions for 2015

January 1, 2015
  • Counter-terror attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner says that a jury trial will begin in January for the Sokolow v. Palestinian Liberation Organization. The case is notable in that it takes on the Palestinian Authority itself in addition to the PLO, and could set the precedent for further lawsuits to help de-fund the PA and PLO by terrorist victims’ families.
  • A trial to set damages for Arab Bank PLC’s role in financing terrorism is scheduled to begin in May (h/t Sal). Arab Bank wanted to skip the trial and settle for $12 million, but U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan ruled that a trial would be a more useful starting point.
  • NYU professor Maha Hosain Aziz predicts that lone wolf Islamist terrorist attacks will increase, requiring closer monitoring of social media by law enforcement (h/t Don). Money Jihad predicts that public officials will cite these increased lone wolf attacks as an excuse for why they fail to interdict terrorist funds. They will claim that self-financed attacks are harder to detect than transactions across terrorist financial networks.
  • Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford says Afghan forces will be “tested” by the Taliban in 2015. As Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq indicated, leaving inadequate forces to combat terrorists can lead to their financial resurgence as it did with ISIS. This looks even more ominous when coupled with the Pakistani Taliban’s “stockpiling” of cash through extortion and kidnap-for-ransom schemes in 2014.
  • The FC Barcelona soccer team will not renew its sponsorship deal with Qatar in 2015 over terror finance concerns.
  • Finally, increased cyber-attacks and cyber-theft are always a safe bet. McAfee Labs predicts that “Small nation states and foreign terror groups will take to cyberspace to conduct warfare against their enemies” and increased ransomware attacks in 2015.

Money Jihad predictions last year for 2014 were somewhat prescient, including the projection that Narendra Modi would move against illicit finance if elected as prime minister of India, which he was and which he did, and that ransomware would develop into a larger cyber-security threat. But our predictions that Congress would declassify 28 redacted pages of its report into 9/11, and that Congress would tighten sanctions on Iran proved to be off.

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ISIS fundraisers afoot in Ceuta

September 15, 2014

A cell of Islamic State of Iraq agents have been arrested after operating in Morocco. Several of the operatives are said to have raised funds for their cause in Ceuta, a Spanish city adjoining Morocco. The Local, which subsequently reported that there are as many as 95 Spaniards fighting with ISIS in Syria, has the story:

Spain helps Morocco break up ISIS terror cell

Nine jihadists belonging to a recruitment cell for the terrorist group ISIS were arrested on Thursday in the north of Morocco with the help of Spanish security forces.

The arrests took place in Fez, Tétouan and Fnideq (Castillejos), not far from North African Spanish enclave of Ceuta, after extensive investigations involving Spanish security agents.

Some of those detained had ‘strong ties’ to Spain, Spain’s Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The cell is believed to have been dedicated to the recruitment, financial support and deployment of jihadists. Moroccans and others recruited to the cause by the group would be sent to training camps in Siria and Iraq run by the terrorist organization ISIS.

Once there, they would learn how to use firearms, build and defuse bombs, steal cars and other skills needed to carry out terrorist attacks or suicide missions.

Some of those recruited by the men arrested are believed to have participated in acts of violence in Syria and Iraq, including decapitations which were filmed and shared on social media…

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Catalan rangers catch falcon smugglers

March 31, 2014

Arab falconry - http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/257/cache/abu-dhabi-desert-falcon_25765_600x450.jpg

British and Spanish authorities have unraveled an international falcon smuggling ring in Catalonia. The news report doesn’t mention it, but the demand for falcons is almost exclusively from the Middle East. The main market is the Persian Gulf, and Dubai is a key port of entry and transit (as it also is for smuggled ivory, big cats, and other wildlife contraband). From Wildlife Extra on Mar. 20:

Bird crime ring busted by Spanish and UK wildlife crime units

The UK National Wildlife Crime Unit have helped COS AGENTS RURALS DE CATALUNYA (Catalonia Rural Ranger Corps) uncover an international bird laundering ring.

Agents in Spain investigating individuals keeping Peregrine falcons, became suspicious of documentation that they had seized, which indicated that falcons in their possession had been captive bred in the UK.

Enquiries by the NWCU revealed that leg rings being worn by some of the falcons in Spain were not the original rings referred to on the documentation.

Evidence gleaned by the NWCU suggests that fake rings are being manufactured to match genuine permits…

What is the connection between hunting with falcons and financing terrorism, apart from the fact that both involve wealthy Arabs? The filmmakers of “Feathered Cocaine,” the 2010 documentary about falcons and Osama Bin Laden, revealed the following:

Feathered Cocaine interviews Robert Baer, a former CIA agent, about the Royal Falconry Camps and how they are used to funnel huge amounts of cash to Terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The money transfers are cash only and are flown between countries in large military Government airplanes that are not checked by customs upon arrival. The CIA believes these planes are used to deliver cars, cash, weapons and supplies to militant terrorists. The Persian Gulf rulers have refused to shut down these camps when asked to do so…

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Two imams arrested in bust of organized counterfeit clothing ring

January 3, 2014

Counterfeiting isn’t just about fake currency, but a host of knockoff products either sold on the black market or fraudulently passed off as legitimate brands to unsuspecting customers.

Imams at mosques in Xinzo de Limia and Ourense in Spain have been detained in connection with a multi-million dollar counterfeit clothing operation involving 10 illegal factories, 99 people, and 235 tons of phony clothes.

As Bloomberg’s Hitha Prabhakar warned us, retail crime represents “a $38 billion black market business that funds not only organized crime, but also terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda as well as drug lords in Central America.”

Thanks to Gisele for sending this in:

Two imams held as Spain police smash counterfeit clothing ring

Madrid (AFP) – Police have smashed Spain’s largest counterfeit clothing ring, arresting 99 people, including two imams, over the sale of 235 tonnes of fake designer clothes and shoes, the government said Saturday.

The ring made the counterfeit items in illegal factories in northern Portugal and then shipped them across the border by van to Xinzo de Limia, a city of around 100,000 people in northwestern Spain, the interior ministry said in a statement.

“The network, of Moroccan origin, had ‘regional delegates’ across Spain who distributed over the past two years 235 tonnes of fake garments and footwear, generating revenues of 5.5 million euros ($7.5 million),” it said.

“Part of this black money was hidden along with bank cards and other financial documents belonging to the organisation in the mosques of Ourense and Xinzo de Limia,” it added.

Among those arrested was the imam of the mosque of Xinzo de Limia, whom police said was one of the leaders of the ring. The mosque received nearly 100,000 euros in donations from the ring.

The imam at the mosque in the nearby city of Ourense was also detained as part of the operation. His name appears on bank accounts used by the group and police suspect him of helping to launder money earned by the ring.

Police searched over 117 locations across the country, including the two mosques, as part of their investigation, which was launched in September 2012 and carried out in cooperation with Portuguese authorities.

Police seized just over one million items of counterfeit clothing, as well as bank cards, several weapons and software containing the logos of over 200 registered brands.

Police also closed 10 illegal factories in northern Portugal where the fake goods were made.

The operation “dismantled the main network which manufactured and distributed counterfeit clothes in the Iberian Peninsula”, the statement said.

The authorities detained 65 people in Spain and 34 in Portugal. The arrested include 37 Senegalese nationals, 34 Portuguese citizens, 19 Moroccans and nine Spaniards.

One commenter on the original article made the observation that this story “helps explain why so many in the ME [Middle East] wear designer clothes.”

Previous reports have indicated that Hezbollah operates clothing manufacturing businesses in Europe.

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PKK terror financier taken into custody

March 1, 2013

A Kurdish-Swede has been arrested by Spaniards along with 21 other PKK terrorists in Spain and France.  The operatives reportedly imposed a common Marxist guerrilla fundraising technique—a revolutionary tax—on their fellow Kurds to buy weapons for terrorism against Turkey.  From Sweden’s The Local on Feb. 16:

Madrid court remands Swede on terror charges

A 65-year-old Swedish man was on Friday remanded into custody by a Madrid court on suspicion of terror crimes connected to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PPK).

“According to information from the Spanish police, he is suspected of extortion for terrorist purposes,” said Catarina Axelsson at the Foreign Ministry’s press service.

The Swede and five others were arrested in Spain on Tuesday in a series of coordinated raids which also saw 16 arrested in France.

Those detained are all suspected of belonging to the terrorist-classified Kurdish separatist movement PKK. They are suspected of having coerced other Kurds into paying a so-called “revolution tax”.

According to the charges, the collections are intended to have been used to finance the purchase of explosives and weapons for terrorist activities in Turkey.

In the course of the raids, police seized weapons and cash.

According to news agency Europa Press the Madrid court released three of the six arrested in Spain, although they remain under suspicion and are not permitted to leave the country.

The 65-year-old Swede, who is reported to be resident in the south of Sweden, is receiving assistance from the embassy and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The PPK is a Kurdish organization founded in 1984 that fights against the Turkish state for an autonomous Kurdistan, as well as for the rights of Kurds in Turkey.

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