Posts Tagged ‘Taliban’


Taliban sends tax bills to big telecom

January 28, 2016

The Taliban has demanded that four telecommunications companies operating in Afghanistan pay them a 10 percent.  This news from Agence France Presse suggests the Taliban is expanding the scope of their revenue dragnet.  The companies have not commented on whether or not they will give in to the Taliban’s demands, although AFP quotes one corporate source who sounded like they haven’t decided what to do yet.  The situation is resembles Somalia, where telecommunications companies have reportedly made payments to the terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

Afghan Taliban flex muscles with new telecom ‘tax’


Published: January 18, 2016

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban have demanded a hefty new “protection tax” from Afghan mobile phone companies, industry and militant sources told AFP, as the resurgent group tightens its stranglehold on a rare successful business in a slumping war economy.

At a secret meeting last month near Quetta, the Taliban’s central leadership formally demanded the tax from representatives of four cellular companies in exchange for not damaging their sites or harming their employees.

The edict was motivated by an Afghan government announcement in October that it had amassed a windfall of 78 million Afghani within days of imposing an additional 10 per cent tax on operators, according to two telecom company officials who attended the meeting and a third industry executive privy to the information.

“They want us to pay the same amount paid to the government,” one of the officials who was at the gathering told AFP.

“We told them that this will kill our business, but they said: ‘This is the only way to guarantee your people are not harmed and your sites are not burned’,” he added.

A source in the Quetta Shura — the Taliban’s Pakistan-based leadership council — confirmed the meeting, telling AFP the group was waiting for a formal response from the companies.

“We told them: ‘It is our right to tax you if you want us to protect your (transmission) towers around Afghanistan’,” he said. “‘You will have to pay’.”

The militants have long targeted Afghanistan’s private telecom firms, kidnapping engineers, destroying transmission masts and forcing regular coverage blackouts in volatile areas to avoid detection of their fighters.

Local-level Taliban commanders have been known to extort from businesses operating in their areas, notably the telecom firms and logistics companies supplying Nato bases and Western-funded construction projects.

But this appears to be the first time the central leadership has formally demanded a levy from business enterprises, underscoring how they increasingly operate like a shadow government.

It also highlights the dangers of doing business in conflict-torn Afghanistan — particularly for the telecom industry, fast becoming a battleground in the Taliban’s war against the US-backed Afghan government.

The companies said to be at the meeting — Abu-Dhabi based Etisalat, South Africa’s MTN and homegrown firms Roshan and Afghan Wireless Communication Company — officially declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

But one of them confirmed the meeting and tax demand, voicing a mix of helplessness and frustration.

“Ten per cent tax to the Taliban? That means we will have to share our revenue information with a militant organisation,” a Kabul-based company representative told AFP.

“That’s just not feasible. We told them ‘no’.”

But one of the telecom officials who attended the Pakistan meeting said there was no escaping the Taliban edict, adding that the companies at best could wrangle a concession from the insurgents in future negotiations…


5 terror finance predictions for 2016

January 11, 2016
  • TrendMicro says2016 will be the year of online extortion.” Rather than simply holding data for ransom, hackers will threaten to divulge personal information about users if a ransom isn’t paid. Cyber-criminals will use the psychology of fear to a greater extent than ever before through ransomware.
  • Enhanced financial monitoring in EU. This is as much of a reflection on 2015 as it is a prediction for 2016, but second-generation Muslim immigrants will continue returning from the Syrian front to Europe. Domestic intelligence services will be too under-resourced to monitor all of the jihadist returnees. A British psychic website goes as far as to predict a terrorist attempt to assassinate Chancellor Angela Merkel. While there is no way of predicting such a thing, it does seem that since Germany has been such a favored destination for Middle Eastern transients, Germany could very well be targeted by ISIS operatives for a major operation. German authorities would do well to beef up customs and border searches for the possibility of bulk smuggled cash and to increase monitoring by undercover agents of black market firearms purchases by suspected Islamists.
  • Forecasters are predicting a modest rebound but a continued low price for oil in 2016. This will put pressure on the budgets of the Arab Gulf monarchies. It should also mean that they’ll have less money to export Wahhabism and fund Islamist rebellions.
  • Expect Washington to promulgate more counter-terror finance regulations that paint with a broad brush. Compliance officer Doug Cornelius predicts that “FinCEN will come out with new regulations imposing anti-money laundering requirements on investment advisors and fund managers.”
  • Taliban spending spurt. There are mixed predictions for the Taliban in 2016. Some analysts predict that the Taliban will topple the Afghan government again, while others predict that the leadership scuffle in the wake of Mullah Omar’s reported death, the rival appeal of ISIS in Afghanistan, the strength of Afghan security forces, could weaken the Taliban or force it to a negotiated settlement. Sensing that it’s do or die for the Taliban, Money Jihad predicts they’ll employ more aggressive and audacious tactics, and they’ll be willing to expend hundreds of millions of dollars for their militant operations in 2016.

10 biggest terror finance news stories of 2015

January 4, 2016
  1. Funding of Paris attacks

The November 2015 attackers paid for $32,000 worth of pre-attack operations including hotel lodging and car rentals through anonymous prepaid cards purchased in Belgium. Payments were loaded in small increments; rules for prepaid cards allow for reloading up to $2,500 without identity verification. Although the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is responsible for the attacks and the training of several attackers, the precise source of the $32,000 is less clear. Money for travel appears to have become available after a stopover in Greece.

  1. Nuclear deal will release billions to Iran

The nuclear agreement that President Obama signed will release $100 billion to $150 billion of frozen assets to Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism. Hopefully the asset thaw will get gummed up in court while attorneys seek to collect the compensation that is owed to the victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism first.

  1. Wahhabi funding monarch takes power

Saudi Arabia has crowned a new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, who started his career in public service by bankrolling the exportation of radical Wahhabism throughout the Islamic world. We will be contending with well-funded terrorist groups for as long as men such as Salman rule Arabia.

  1. Coalition bombs ISIS oil fields

According to news reports, the U.S. is increasing pressure against ISIS’s financial assets by bombing oil fields in their territory. If true, the bombing means that the Obama administration has begun to recognize that it is worth destroying oil infrastructure to deprive ISIS of funding even if it means it will be harder to rebuild the infrastructure when and if ISIS retreats.

  1. Son of terror victim sues wire transfer company

The son of a slain Somali politician and singing star is suing the money transfer company Dahabshiil for its alleged involvement in issuing a bounty for the singer’s murder. Saado Ali Warsame had sung a song denouncing Dahabshiil as a financier of terror and a profiteer from inter-tribal conflict.

  1. Jihadists in Yemen fund Charlie Hebdo assassins

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) gave $20,000 to future Charlie Hebdo attacker Said Kouachi before he and his brother left Yemen in August 2011. The foreign funding helps explain how a group of underemployed ex-cons were able to buy AK-47s for their January 2015 attacks and pay for Said Kouachi’s international travels.

  1. PA and PLO owe damages for terror attacks

A jury found the Palestinian Authority and the PLO liable for terrorist attacks with American victims in the early 2000s, with damages set at $656 million in Sokolow v. PLO. A federal judge set $10 million bond while the PA and PLO appeal.

  1. Taliban takes control of more turf

The Washington Post reports that the Taliban has taken control or maintains a significant presence in 30 percent of Afghanistan—the most territory it has occupied since 2001. The problem with this from a financial standpoint is that the Taliban lives off the land. One of their primary sources of income is taxation on commercial activity in the areas they control. More turf means more money.

  1. Arab Bank settles with terror victims

Arab Bank PLC provided client services to Hamas affiliates which funded terrorist attacks against Israel. After years of lawsuits, the settlement was reached between the bank and American victims of these terrorist attacks, possibly for $1 billion. Together with the Sokolow, these cases show that legal tactics can be used effectively to hit terrorists where it hurts: their wallets.

  1. Debt-financing of San Bernadino attack

Syed Rizwan Farook took out a $28,000 debt consolidation loan weeks before waging an assault against his victims. This method of financing attacks is particularly popular among jihadists living in Western countries where easy credit is, well, easy.


Terror financier deported

July 24, 2015

This individual supported, a flagship jihadi website of the early 2000s (see here and here).  He also supported Azzam Publications, a website which instructed readers how to send money to the Taliban in 2001.  His prison sentence in the U.S. is up, and he’s heading back to Britain.  The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a press release about the deportation last week (h/t to @skinroller):

ICE deports prolific terrorist fundraiser to UK

PHILADELPHIA — A British national who was sentenced in federal court for multiple crimes supporting terrorism fundraising efforts was deported late Monday. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led the investigation into the terrorist supporter’s activities, and ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) handed him over to British authorities.

Babar Ahmad, 41, was extradited to the United States in 2012 to face charges for operating a family of websites collectively known as Azzam Publications, which an HSI investigation determined was established to “incite the believers” and also to raise money for known terrorist groups, including the Taliban.

Ahmad admitted to the crime in 2013 and received a 150-month prison sentence by a federal judge in July 2014. He was deported once he completed the prison term, which included time served in Britain and the United States leading up to his sentencing…


Outfoxing jihadi financiers: news reading tips

January 29, 2015
  • American banks have begun breaking off their old love affair with Arab banks… more>>
  • A Democrat congressman recently planned to speak at an event with a Taliban fundraiser… more>>
  • Too often, organized smuggling networks simply aren’t prosecuted… more>>
  • A Pakistani boatload of terrorists self-detonated off India’s waters. Most Indian media and officials agree that a terrorist plot was foiled in the process, except for the Indian Express which claimed the offenders were just petty smugglers. A blogger carefully dismantles the Indian Express’s version of events… more>>

$1 million in Afghan smuggling a day

January 25, 2015

A hundred million Pakistani rupees (roughly 1 million USD) worth of merchandise is smuggled out of Afghanistan through the Afghan Trade Transit (ATT) corridor with Pakistan every day according to check-post and customs officials. In their 2010 book On the Trail of Terror Finance, John Cassara and Avi Jorisch wrote that the ATT “has resulted in massive smuggling and trade fraud, and it continues to facilitate the laundering of narcotics proceeds that help finance the Taliban.” ATT smuggling serves as another arrow in the Taliban’s quiver as U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan draws down.

From Customs Today:

Smuggling of Rs 100m carried out daily thru Afghan Transit route: sources

Reported by: Sohail Rab December 25, 2014

KARACHI: The smuggling of around Rs 100 million is being carried out daily through Afghan Transit Trade (ATT), it was learnt here.

The highly informed sources while sharing their views with Customs Today have disclosed that 95 percent of smuggling of goods including tiles, diesel, cloths, tea, tyres and others is being carried out through Afghan Transit Trade.

The sources revealed that ‘Sheela Bagh’ check-post near Chaman border is among one of the burning spots where the smuggled goods are being transported to Quetta and then Karachi while the smuggled goods are also being loaded on the retrograde containers on returning from Afghanistan near ‘Waish’ Border.

They further disclosed that the smugglers have strong nexus with the security personnel of Frontier Constabulary (FC) and Customs officials at different check-posts and the biltee of smuggled consignments under the smugglers’ name is being cleared from different check-posts easily without any checking.

The sources claimed that 60per cent of smuggling would be curtailed, if strict surveillance and vigilance would be conducted at ‘Sheela Bagh check-post near Chaman Border. They further recommended the authorities concerned of FBR to form joint examination teams comprising of the personnel of Pakistan Customs, Coast Guards and Rangers at National Highway, RCD and Superhighway in order to eliminate smuggling of goods. They further said that the Quetta to Karachi Bus Terminal and Northern Bypass are two more “deliberately” vulnerable spots where the smuggled goods are easily coming into Karachi…


Taliban arms dealer released from Guantanamo

January 19, 2015

Mohammed Zahir

Taliban weapons trafficker and drug smuggler Mohammed Zahir has been released from his Guantanamo jail cell back to freedom in Afghanistan by the Obama administration. Described by the Telegraph as “a leading Taliban weapons supplier,” Zahir reportedly had Stinger missiles and uranium on his property in Afghanistan prior to his arrest years ago. Zahir intended to use the uranium to produce an “atom bomb,” earning him a designation by Daniel Greenfield as a “nuclear terrorist.” In any case, the release of this major arms trafficker who can now revive his old gunrunning network would not, to put it politely, enhance security in Afghanistan; nor would it align with Pres. Obama’s professed support for gun control.