Swedish Islamists are taking out loans through text message services to join the battle in Syria. They use the borrowed funds to buy plane tickets, cars and, presumably, other equipment when they arrive. Sweden’s security agency says that a majority of fighters’ travels are debt-financed. Thus the lenders are violating the first rule of lending: character. What kind of screening are these small lenders performing on their borrowers? So much for knowing your customer.
From The Local on June 22 (h/t Moscow Ghost):
SMS loans fund Syria terror trips from Sweden
Sweden’s Security Service (Säpo) has warned that growing numbers of muslims are funding trips to Syria with money secured via text message loans secured in Sweden.
Investigators working for the security service told Sveriges Radio that there had been a rise in people taking trips to the Middle East to fight alongside terror organisations such as Isis (also known as IS) over the last year, with growing numbers of visits funded by loans taken out in Sweden.
Martin Frimansson, an expert on terrorist funding at Säpo, explained that while some Swedes had borrowed money from banks or using Swedish credit cards, others had paid for their travel using SMS loans (money borrowed via text message from private companies) or made their way to Syria and Iraq using cars rented in Sweden.
According to Frimansson, a “clear majority” of trips were made possible due to loans, although he did not give any specific figures.
He suggested that some Swedes were also taking out loans in order to raise their status within Isis or other terror groups.
“It could be that if you have a car and money…you automatically become a team leader. If you have no money when you arrive, no car or anything – then maybe you’ll be the ambulance driver,” he said.
By law, credit companies and banks are required to adhere to a range of measures designed to prevent the financing of terror activities, but according to Säpo the trend for Swedes borrowing money for suspect trips to the Middle East suggests that much more needs to be done.
The security service is calling on lenders to file reports on people who are failing to repay their loans more quickly and to be stricter about who they lend money to in the first place.
“They are the first hurdle to stopping terrorist financing. It is a big responsibility,” said Frimansson.
In April, Säpo told The Local
there was “very little” it could do to stop people travelling to Syria to join al-Qaeda inspired groups, as EU officials estimated up to 6,000 people from across Europe have now fought in the war-torn nation.
It confirmed that at least 150 Swedish residents were known to have been to Syria or Iraq to fight for Isis or other extremist groups, with intelligence suggesting that at least 35 had died in the process.
Earlier this year, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad also told Sweden’s tabloid newspaper Expressen that he believed some of “the most dangerous leaders of Daesh and Isis in our region are Scandinavian”…
July 10, 2015
A recent research paper on the Syrian economy included an instructive revelation. Chatham House fellow Hayder al-Khoei drew special attention in a tweet to the off-hand but crucial finding in the report: that Syria’s economy grew 80 percent in 2014 due to a spike in Turkish imports that coincided with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Specifically, the report found:
… It is not clear what caused this surge in Turkish exports, but it coincided with the height of the advances by ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, and some of the additional sales could have been accounted for by additional procurement from Turkey by ISIS – for example steel pipes and sections for oil refining projects… (p. 26)
It won’t be proven in a court of law, but it is clear what Chatham House is suggesting. It is clear what readers will take from this. And it has been clear for some time that ISIS would not have been able to surge to such a dominant position in Iraq without extensive cross-border Turkish support. Money Jihad reported on the very phenomenon of Turkey’s contributions to ISIS almost to the day one year ago.
Hat tip to Moscow Ghost.