Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

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Armed, funded jihad: recommended reading

April 17, 2014
  • “Although funding terrorism was criminalised in Finland 12 years ago, no-one has yet been convicted”… more>>
  • Anti-tank missiles are being shipped through Turkey and Saudi Arabia to Syrian rebels… more>>
  • Pakistani front charities like JKART are funding the Indian Mujahideen… more>>
  • A love for his friend or a love for jihad? Prosecutors say Khurram Syed Sher knew exactly who he was funding… more>>
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British Hamas donors active now in Syria

April 15, 2014

Three Islamic charities based in the U.K. who have funded projects administered by a Hamas “charitable” have also become involved with a radical Syrian aid convoy, according to a new report. The UK Charity Commission is proving itself, as usual, to be asleep at the switch with respect to such charities that are exploiting Britain as a financial base to fund jihad around the world.

Special thanks to Ayre for sending in this report from Stand for Peace:

Three UK charities fund Hamas charitable front

Three UK charities involved with Syrian ‘aid convoy’ efforts – Children in Deen, the Abu Faisal Trust and One Nation – are funding projects in Gaza run by the Al-Falah Benevolent Society (a.k.a. Al-Falah Society or Al-Falah Charitable Society). The Al-Falah Society is  one of “Hamas’s charitable societies”, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

The OPEC Fund for International Development notes that it is funded by “institutions in the Arab, Islamic and international world who believe in the right of the Palestinian people to liberate their land”. It is run by Ramadan Tamboura (aka Ramadan Tanbura), who Ha’aretz newspaper reports is “a well-known Hamas figure”.

One Nation is part of the Aid for Syria convoy, which, as Stand for Peace has previously uncovered, is involved with a number of key extremist preachers in the UK. Aid for Syria convoys include trucks named after the convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui…

Read the rest at Stand for Peace here.

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Nefarious finance: recommended reading

April 3, 2014
  • Back in each other’s arms:  Iran’s financial relationship with Hamas “has returned to what it was,” says Iran’s shura council… more>>
  • The pro-Hamas Islamic charity IHH  is hinting that it will launch another Turkish-based, Mavi Marmara-style “peace flotilla”… more>>
  • Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria has its own revenue sources and doesn’t feel the need to answer to Ayman al-Zawahiri… more>>
  • Smuggling gold to keep Iran in the black?  Prosecutors uncover a sanctions evasion crime ring in Turkey that may go all the way to Prime Minister Erdogan’s office… more>>
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Treasury official says Qatar sponsors terrorism

March 14, 2014

In the bluntest comments yet by U.S. officials about Qatar’s role in financing international terrorism, Treasury undersecretary David Cohen cited Qatar while speaking about state sponsors of terrorism during remarks to the Center for a New American Security on March 4.

Cohen referred to Qatar immediately after stating that “Iran is not the only state that provides financial support for terrorist organizations.”  Cohen pointed to Qatar’s funding of Hamas and terrorists in Syria as problematic areas.

Previously, Treasury officials have stopped just short of suggesting official state sponsorship by the Qatari monarchy, focusing rather on private fundraisers and donor networks based in Qatar.

Excerpts from Cohen’s speech follow.  Kuwait doesn’t come off too in his remarks either:

…But, distressingly, Iran is not the only state that provides financial support for terrorist organizations.

Most notably, Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability.  Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria.  To say the least, this threatens to aggravate an already volatile situation in a particularly dangerous and unwelcome manner.

With new leadership in Doha, we remain hopeful that Qatar – a country that in other respects has been a constructive partner in countering terrorism – will continue to work closely with us to oppose and combat those who adhere to the warped and murderous ideology of Hamas and al-Qa’ida…

[A] number of fundraisers operating in more permissive jurisdictions – particularly in Kuwait and Qatar – are soliciting donations to fund extremist insurgents, not to meet legitimate humanitarian needs.  The recipients of these funds are often terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate, al-Nusrah Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the group formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI)…

Constraining this flow of funds is particularly challenging in an era when social media allows anyone with an Internet connection to set himself up as an international terrorist financier.  We see this activity most prominently in Kuwait and Qatar, where fundraisers aggressively solicit donations online from supporters in other countries, notably Saudi Arabia, which have banned unauthorized fundraising campaigns for Syria.

Private fundraising networks in Qatar, for instance, increasingly rely upon social media to solicit donations for terrorists and to communicate with both donors and recipient radicals on the battlefield.  This method has become so lucrative, and Qatar has become such a permissive terrorist financing environment, that several major Qatar-based fundraisers act as local representatives for larger terrorist fundraising networks that are based in Kuwait…

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Illicit transfer news: recommended reading

March 13, 2014
  • Eight have been arrested in raids over zakat raised in Britain to fund terrorism in Syria… more>>
  • Is a millionaire bitcoin trader copping a plea over money laundering allegations?  More>>
  • By sea, land, and air—Iran’s history of busted arms smuggling operations is exposed… more>>
  • Speaking of Iranian weapons trafficking, Iraq has been a helpful facilitator to their neighbor lately… more>>
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“Charity worker” dies while driving truckload of bombs for al-Nusra

February 25, 2014

A British Muslim who raised £140,000 from supporters in England killed himself in Syria while driving a truck full of explosives into an Aleppo prison. The flags of al-Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, were found on the scene.

British police are rightly concerned that other Britons fighting in Syria will return to the U.K. to continue their jihad.  The authorities would do well to be concerned also about the use of “charitable” fundraisers in Britain to finance the purchase of weapons and explosives for the battlefronts of the Middle East.

From the Daily Mail on Feb. 13 (with a hat tip to Vlad Tepes):

Are Syria charities a front for Jihadists? Fears convoys in the country are being used to help militants after thousands in cash is seized

  • Security services fear the relief effort is being hijacked by radical Islamists
  • British suicide bomber Abdul Waheed Majeed travelled to Syria under the banner of carrying out charitable work
  • 41-year-old died when he drove a dumper truck full of explosives into the gates of Aleppo prison last week
  • He was revealed as a former driver for hate cleric Omar Bakri
  • Met Police Commissioner ‘deeply concerned’ at threat posed by British jihadists returning from the war zone after being radicalised there

By Chris Greenwood and Emine Sinmaz and Inderdeep Bains

Charity aid convoys are at the centre of a counter terrorism investigation over fears they are supporting Al-Qaeda militants in Syria.

Tens of thousands of pounds in cash has already been seized from relief vehicles travelling from Britain to the war-torn state.

Security services fear the huge relief effort is being hijacked by radical Islamists determined to support networks of violent jihadists.

Yesterday Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said he remains deeply concerned at the threat posed by returning British jihadists.

‘We have not changed the policy,’ he said. ‘We are concerned about the number of British people going to Syria for humanitarian reasons or to get involved in the war that is happening.

‘There are a few hundred people going out there. They may be injured or killed, but our biggest worry is when they return they are radicalised, they may be militarised, they may have a network of people that train them to use weapons.’

British Home Counties suicide bomber Abdul Waheed Majeed, 41, was among those who travelled to Syria under the banner of charitable work.

He joined an aid convoy after his Crawley mosque raised more than £140,000 to help refugees in just a few months.

Volunteers travelled the 2,000 mile journey in a fleet of old ambulances loaded with supplies, including food, bedding and medical equipment.

But Majeed left them to kill himself by driving an armoured dumper lorry laden with explosives into the gates of Aleppo prison last week.

The vehicle was draped in the flags of Jabhat al-Nusra, an extremist faction aligned to al-Qaeda and banned in Britain.

Further details of how the father-of-three was radicalised emerged yesterday as hate preacher Omar Bakri revealed he was a close aide.

The cleric, barred from Britain almost nine years ago, said Majeed was a key member of his banned organisation Al-Muhajiroun.

Bakri said he worked as his driver between his North London home and Crawley, where he nurtured a power base of militant supporters…

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Accounting for Kuwaiti cash among Syrian rebels

February 23, 2014

How Kuwait came to be such a major regional player in the financing of radical rebels in Syria is the subject of a recent interview with Elizabeth Dickens of the Brookings Institute conducted by Syria Deeply, a website run by journalists. Dickens chalks Kuwait’s ascendance as a financier up to:

  • Lax regulation (ie, the failure of Kuwait to criminalize terrorist financing until recently)
  • Business ties between Kuwait and Syria
  • Numerous, experienced NGOs operate in Kuwait

Here’s an excerpt of the interview, with thanks to Arye Leonid Glozman for sending over a link:

Syria Deeply: Why has Kuwait emerged as a financing and organizational hub for charities and individuals supporting Syria’s rebel groups?

Elizabeth Dickinson: It’s a perfect storm. Kuwait has all the things that one would need to set up such a financing hub. The most important thing it has, or that it had until very recently, was extremely lax regulation. So after Sept. 11, most of the Gulf states had these really strict counterterrorism financing laws that gave them the ability to stop any suspicious transactions very swiftly, and they were cooperating with Western intelligence to build their capacity to find any suspicious transactions in the banking system.

Kuwait, however, did not do that, and its counterterror financing law basically said nothing about terrorist financing being illegal. And its central bank just didn’t have any investigative capacity  so even if they did want to stop something from going on, they wouldn’t really have the ability to investigate and figure out how to stop it.

Factor number two is extremely deep ties between Kuwait and Syria. Before the conflict started, Kuwaiti investors were among the single largest direct foreign investor in Syria, so there’s a lot of really longstanding business ties. You have a lot of Kuwaitis with homes and businesses in Syria, with Syrian wives. So there’s a really close personal connection there. There’s also 120,000 Syrian expats in Kuwait, which is a lot considering the population of Kuwait is only 3 million people.

Then you have all the factors that have made the Gulf a hub for financing  you have a lot of money, and a lot of people who are personally affected by what’s going on in Syria. I’ve had lots of people start crying in meetings there. They had the willpower to start getting involved.

The last part of this perfect storm is that Kuwait has the longest history in the Gulf of charitable and humanitarian work. Because of its relatively open political system, people living in Kuwait are allowed to start NGOs, there are private charities that are private, not semi-state organizations like they would be in Saudi Arabia. The Kuwaitis have a lot of experience doing project finance, going into a country and building mosques, wells and schools. The infrastructure of charitable giving is really strong there, and it has allowed a lot of people with expertise to move into sectors of aid that are more geared towards the military side.

There’s a lot of overlap  sheikhs will do a fundraiser for the mujahideen and their weapons … and hospitals.

Kuwait’s ability to be a hub was recognized early in the conflict by other Gulf citizens who were interested in getting financially involved in Syria. If I’m a Saudi and I want to give money to the rebels in Syria, I’m probably aware that my government is not going to look favorably upon that, so individuals elsewhere in the Gulf rely on bundlers in Kuwait to accept their donations on their behalf, and then the donations go from Kuwait to Syria, rather than directly from Saudi to Syria.

SD: What’s the breakdown of where the money from Kuwait is going?

ED: We have rough ideas of how much it is and where it’s going. Among the pro-rebel groups, the vast majority of the money is going to groups that are in the Islamic Front, like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam. There’s evidence that funds are going to Jabhat al-Nusra…

Read the rest here.  Previous Money Jihad coverage of Kuwaiti financing of Syrian militants can be found here, here, and here.

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Weapons routed from Balkans to Syrian rebels

February 18, 2014

A new report indicates that a Croatian arms smuggling kingpin is being paid by the spy agencies of Middle Eastern monarchies to supply Syria’s extremist rebels.  The article is presumably referring to Saudi Arabia’s spy service, (the General Intelligence Presidency), Qatari State Security, and the Turkish clandestine agency MIT.  Some of the weapons that the Croatian dealer is transferring to Syria may have originated from Libya (see here and here).  And this isn’t the first time that European countries have been used for logistics behind illegal arms transfers to the Syrian front.

Thanks to Kathi Lynn Austin, the executive director of the Conflict Awareness Project, for tweeting out a link to this report from Panorama:

Intelligence Online: Croatian arms baron is settled in Azerbaijan from where it will deliver weapon to Syria

Croatian businessman, leader in Balkans’ arms trade Hrvoje Petrac is looking for a new business opportunities in Syria. As the French edition of Intelligence Online reports, he now works in Baku.

According to the newspaper, Petrac has previously been in prison for kidnapping the son of the Director of the Croatian arms exporting agency “Agensija Alan”.

“He will supply weapons to Syria via Jordan from Baku. It operates under the auspices and the funding of the security services of the Middle East countries, that are supporting the Syrian rebels,” the article reads.

Intelligence Online notes that Petrac is not the only arms dealer, who is making money on the Syrian conflict. Syrian insurgents also get weapons from Albanian and Serb arsenals.

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What’s really behind the Saudi rewards program

February 16, 2014

Saudi Arabia says it will offer rewards to people within the kingdom who provide evidence about terrorist financing that leads to a conviction (hat tip to El Grillo).

It has been rumored that the maneuver is designed to reign in Saudi-backed elements among the Syrian rebels whom Saudi Arabia can no longer control.

Money Jihad suspects that the initiative, which resembles the U.S. Rewards for Justice program, is a Saudi smokescreen designed to placate Western diplomats, U.S. Treasury officials, and international financial watchdog FATF.

Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the first instance of Saudi deception about a counter-terror finance initiative.

In 2008, Saudi Arabia announced that its central bank, SAMA, would review charitable contributions from Saudi Arabia overseas (which are rife with donations to terrorist causes), but meaningful oversight has never occurred.  Saudi public statements about the SAMA program have been documented to be false.

In 2010, Saudi Arabia’s ulema council issued a ruling against terrorism, but the very same ruling defended zakat, which has often been used by wealthy Saudis to finance terrorist causes.  Saudi pronouncements against terrorism have often focused on protecting its own oil and gas infrastructure, and have pointedly excluded suicide bombers in Israel or Iraq from its definition of terrorism.

In 2014 we are told that Saudi Arabia will pay rewards to those who provide information about terror finance.  If this is actually enforced, Money Jihad predicts that it will be used against Shia dissidents, particularly in its oil rich, Shia-dominant Eastern Province (see related commentary by Amy Myers Jaffe here), or against those who transfer money to Shias in Bahrain or Syria.

It will not be used to curtail Saudi money flowing to Somalia, Bangladesh, Chechnya, or any of the other countries where Saudi Arabia has strategic interests.

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Radical finance: recommended reading

February 6, 2014

Thanks to tipsters Arun, “Mean Kitteh,” and Andrew Bowen for sending links about these items:

  • Reuters reports that Congress “secretly approves” arming the rebels in Syria… more>>
  • The president of a Muslim Brotherhood-linked mosque in Charleston has been indicted in a multimillion dollar cigarette smuggling scheme… more>>
  • Poaching wildlife has become the 4th most lucrative illicit activity in the world… more>>
  • Cuba has announced that it will freeze any assets of Al Qaeda in its banks. One analyst explains why the new sanctions are meaningless, and why terrorists deposit money in Cuba in the first place… more>>
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Kuwait names financier of Syrian rebels to top post

February 2, 2014

Far from cracking down on individual Kuwaitis who have contributed or bundled donations to fund and arm the most radical fighters in Syria, the government of Kuwait is actually rewarding one of the top bundlers, Dr. Nayef al-Ajmi, with new appointments as the minister of justice and minister of Islamic affairs.

Previous Money Jihad coverage of the role played by Kuwait in the financing of Al Qaeda linked rebels can be found here and hereThe National Interest (h/t El Grillo) has the details on the latest wrinkle:

…[B]y royal decree Kuwait just appointed a religious hardliner to head two important ministries whose name should be setting off alarm bells abroad. The individual in question, a Salafist former MP named Nayef al-Ajmi, was sworn in by the Amir as Kuwait’s justice minister and minister of Islamic affairs and endowments on Tuesday, January 7.

Dr. Al-Ajmi is a polished young preacher who had been serving as an assistant dean at Kuwait University’s College of Sharia and Islamic Studies, and he has sat on the Sharia supervisory boards of numerous investment corporations based in the country. However, Al-Ajmi’s case also sits at the nexus of perhaps the worst irritant in Kuwait’s foreign relations: its exportation of violent religious extremism.

The problem is a longstanding one. A 2009 memo signed by Hillary Clinton described Kuwait as a “source of funds and a key transit point” for Al Qaeda but that the government in Kuwait City was “less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators” provided their plotting was focused abroad. The Kuwaiti government has refused to take action against a Kuwait-based relief organization called the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society since it was blacklisted by the UN over a decade ago for giving material support to Al Qaeda.

Which is where Kuwait’s new minister comes in. For one thing, he has propagated anti-Semitic hate speech on national television. In a sermon documented by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Al-Ajmi instructed his congregants that “our struggle with the Jews is one of faith, identity, and existence” since “the Jews of the past were evil, and the Jews of today are even worse. He proceeded to call the Jewish people “the scum of mankind… whom Allah transformed into pigs and apes”.

In addition, Al-Ajmi brings to his new offices a clear record of embracing jihadism in Syria. On Twitter, he has answered theological questions from the general public by ruling that “without a doubt” the struggle in Syria is “a legitimate jihad”.

Even since his political appointment, Al-Ajmi has remained listed as the official spokesperson for a Kuwaiti preachers’ organization, for whom he has apparently helped raise Syria funds. When several of the most extreme battalions in Syria united during November to form an Islamic Front that rejects human legislation in favor of divine law and advocates ethnic cleansing, this association announced its “complete support for this blessed union for the mujahid factions”.

Nayef al-Ajmi also seems to have been associated with a more virulent fundraising network operated by a fellow member of his clan, Shafi al-Ajmi. The latter al-Ajmi has implied that he supports slaughtering captured Shi’ite fighters,women, and children in Syria and had his preacher’s license suspended in August for radical invective on Syria and Egypt.

Human Rights Watch cited reports that Shafi al-Ajmi was a key donor to an operation on Syria’s western coast by Islamist members of the opposition (including Al Qaeda) that led to the mass execution of Alawite villagers, a probable war crime. Fliers for this fundraising effort featured Nayef al-Ajmi’s image as a prominent backer.

After Human Rights Watch’s report stirred up an international controversy, Nayef said he dissociated himself from the donor network, but Shafi has since continued to promote fundraising material featuring Nayef’s image without obvious consequences. Journalist Elizabeth Dickinson has written that Nayef himself made comments at the time suggesting he embraced the sectarian nature and aims of the coastal operation.

Subsequently, Nayef al-Ajmi claimed he exclusively endorsed another Kuwait-based fundraising network called the Council of Supporters for the Syrian Revolution, run by a firebrand former MP named Mohammed Hayef al-Mutairy. Mutairy is famous for seeking a fatwa to murder Syria’s ambassador to Kuwait back in 2011, and in 2013 he suggested kidnapping U.S. soldiers to trade for Kuwait’s remaining detainees at Guantanamo. As the country’s new justice minister, al-Ajmi could be responsible for handling judicial proceedings against these jihadists and evaluating their risk of recidivism should they be repatriated.

The Syrian groups funded by Mutairy’s network have included Ahrar al-Sham, which has intimately coordinated operations with Al Qaeda’s recognized affiliates in Syria. Further, it is now emerging that Ahrar’s own senior ranks are packed with longtime Qaeda operatives, including an influential founding member of Ahrar who answers to Ayman al-Zawahiri and was once Bin Laden’s trusted courier. A recent feature on the Syria conflict by Politico not only described Ahrar al-Sham as “ideologically close to Al Qaeda” but also “heavily financed by Kuwaiti clerics and sheikhs”.

Yet Al-Ajmi seems to project confidence in the work of Mutairy’s group. In September he announced that “I have limited my support for Syria to the Council of Supporters,” making it “the only actor through which I gather funds”. He justified this action “because of my knowledge about all its aspects of exchanging money and because of my confidence in the parties which the Council funds”.

As recently as last month, fundraising fliers for the group boasted of Nayef’s involvement as one of seven “Members of the Council”. Similarly, his relative Shafi’s network has reportedly raised money not just for Ahrar but also for Jabhat al-Nusra, which openly pledges allegiance to Al Qaeda. Credible reports warn that Kuwaiti charities are probably supporting Al Qaeda’s other affiliate in the area, too, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)…

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