Posts Tagged ‘Spain’


Stashes and sanctions: suggested news reading

May 28, 2015
  • ISIS financier killed in raid; documents seized… more>>
  • Danish jihadists receive 400,000 crowns in welfare benefits, and counting… more>>
  • Iraq faced sanctions for years thanks to Saddam. Now it faces sanctions again thanks to an Iraqi airline helping Iran evade its sanctions… more>>
  • Spain busts up a Chinese money laundering operation that helps illustrate how “smurfing” works… more>>

Spain looks to close gaps on hawala

May 1, 2015

Almost alone among EU countries, the U.S. State Department singled out Spain as facing “significant gaps” in identifying unlicensed hawala dealers in its annual narco-trafficking report. Hawala has been used to finance numerous Islamic terrorist attacks globally. The State Department said the following about Spain’s money laundering and financial crimes enforcement capabilities:

Spain has long combated both domestic and foreign terrorist organizations, and Spanish law enforcement entities have identified various threat finance vulnerabilities, including donations to finance nonprofit organizations; establishment of publishing companies that print and distribute books or periodicals for propaganda purposes; fraudulent tax and financial assistance collections; the establishment of “cultural associations;” and alternative remittance system transfers. Other outlets such as small convenience stores and communication centers that often offer wire transfer services, are used to move money in and out of Spain by making small international transfers for members of the immigrant community. Spanish regulators also note the presence of hawala networks in the Muslim community. While AML/CFT supervision of banks appears to be robust, significant gaps regarding the identification of unlicensed operators, and the supervision of money or value transfer services operating under EU passporting rules remain. In May 2014, Spain approved regulations to implement its 2010 AML/CFT law.

The report seems a little vague on the culprits behind the publishing companies and “fraudulent tax and financial assistance collections.” One might think the report refers to the last gasp of the Basques, but the references to international transfers, the immigrant community, and the hawala network suggest that Spanish officials are more concerned about vulnerabilities within the Muslim community.


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…


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.


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.


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…


Catalan rangers catch falcon smugglers

March 31, 2014

Arab falconry -

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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