In 1991, the United States of America saved Kuwait from its invasion by Iraq.
Ten years later, an Islamic charity in Kuwait “returned the favor” leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the U.S. by playing a role in “anomalous” transactions by the reputed banking partner of Osama bin Laden as laid out by the 9/11 Commission’s monograph on terrorist financing.
After 9/11, the Somali-based al-Barakaat bank promptly fell under suspicion for helping fund al Qaeda’s operations. Many members of the intelligence community perceived that Osama bin Laden was a “silent partner” in the founding of al-Barakaat with Ahmed Nur Ali Jumale.
U.S. intelligence agents had sources with personal knowledge of the situation who explained:
…at the direction of senior management, al-Barakaat funneled a percentage of its profits to terrorist groups and that UBL [Usama Bin Laden] had provided venture capital to al-Barakaat founder Ahmed Jumale to start the company. The agent believed these sources, because they had been vetted and the information they were providing was consistent with intelligence he had previously received.
Kuwait’s relations with al-Barakaat
A subsequent investigation by a U.S. team into Jumale’s records “revealed several suspicious transactions that Jumale could not adequately explain. Specifically, two NGOs made a number of unusually large deposits into the account of a Kuwaiti charity official over which Jumale had power of attorney. The funds were then moved out of the account in cash.”
The role of al-Barakaat and the nameless Kuwaiti charity have never been properly explained, although Kuwait’s al Qaeda-affiliated charity, the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), has been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Just last month, Spanish intelligence officials have disclosed that RIHS has funded radical, separatist mosques in Catalonia, and that RIHS seeks to establish an office in Spain.
No law against terrorist financing
What is the most nauseating is that Kuwait still has no law against terrorist financing. The State Department’s report on global terrorism in 2010, which was published late just a month ago, provided a painful update:
The Kuwaiti government lacked comprehensive legislation that criminalizes terrorist financing. Draft comprehensive anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance (AML/CTF) legislation was first submitted to the National Assembly in December 2009. Kuwait’s parliament rejected the combined bill in November 2010, sending it back to the Council of Ministers with a request to separate terrorist finance from the AML law. By separating terrorist financing from money laundering, Kuwait made measured progress over the past year on its draft AML legislation, which remained under consideration by the Parliament.
One wonders how the State Department can count Kuwait hosting a conference on money laundering and terrorist financing 10 years after 9/11 as “measured progress.”
Last week, the International Monetary Fund warned that Kuwait could be turning into a beehive of money laundering activity.