Posts Tagged ‘Tamerlan Tsarnaev’

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Money and plots: suggested news reading

March 12, 2015
  • German police raid a mosque before a terror cell could meet with arms dealers in Bremen… more>>
  • Lajnat al Daawa al Islamiyya, a Kuwait-based charity designated by the U.S. and UN as a terrorist entity, was a donor to the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge where the Tsarnaev brothers worshipped… more>>
  • Two terrorist facilitators scam £150,000 from an elderly Englishman to fund jihad in Syriamore>>
  • Authorities have frozen its bank account of CAGE, a Muslim-British advocacy group that defends terrorists, but CAGE is still fundraising… more>>
  • A Yemeni bound for Qatar with £500,000 cash hidden in his luggage tells JFK airport authorities the money was for his “really big family”… more>>
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Tsarnaev friend sent $70K to 15 people overseas

June 16, 2014

The Associated Press is reporting that Khairullozhon Matanov, a friend of Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, used aliases to transfer over $70,000 overseas in the years leading up to the Apr. 15, 2013, attack. The source of the money has not been disclosed, but we know that the Tsarnaev brothers were the recipients of over $100,000 in public benefits from 2002 to 2012. The AP reports that one of the overseas transfers was made while Tsarnaev was travelling in Russia—the intimation being that the transfer may have been for or on behalf of Tsarnaev.

Were Matanov and Tsarnaev scratching each other’s backs?

…Agent Timothy McElroy said that between 2010 and 2013, Matanov sent more than $71,000 to 15 people in six countries. McElroy said agents determined that most of the money — about $56,590 — was sent to Matanov’s family, while the rest — about $14,800 — went to non-family.

Matanov’s lawyer, Edward Hayden, said the money transfers ‘had nothing to do with terrorism.’

‘He was uncomfortable sending all the money in his own name,’ he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Garland said Matanov had repeatedly deceived authorities when questioned about his relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the days after the bombings. Garland said his “pattern of deceit” was also shown through Matanov’s use of aliases when sending money….

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Time for due diligence on welfare recipients?

March 19, 2014

This piece also appears at Terror Finance Blog:

The family of Boston marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received over $100,000 in public benefits from 2002 to 2012 according to documents compiled a year ago from state agencies by the Massachusetts House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight.

The aid included food stamps and welfare benefits to the Tsarnaevs’ parents and to Katherine Russell, Tamerlan’s wife.  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also received student financial aid and forbearance (although he probably omitted income from drug sales and auto repair referral kickbacks on his student aid application).

Public benefits, being somewhat fungible, free up money for the recipient to put toward purposes separate from what was intended.  During the period of time that Katherine Russell received food stamps and welfare payments (2011 through 2012), Tamerlan was able to fly to Russia in early 2012 to seek out radical connections.  In effect, the benefits that Tamerlan and Katherine received through her name may have enabled the purchase of Tamerlan’s plane ticket to the jihadi rat’s nest of the North Caucasus.

The question of public benefits funding terrorists in Boston comes after years of ongoing scandals documented in Great Britain, where dangerous Islamists like Abu Yahya, Anjem Choudary, Emdadur Choudhury, and Abu Qatada have had their homes, welfare benefits, and legal expenses paid from taxpayer money.  “Twentieth” 9/11 hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui also received welfare benefits in England, along with the family of Abu Hamza.  Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia have also dealt with the same exploitation of their generous public benefit programs by Islamists.

Several of these abuses probably occurred because of guidance that individual benefit recipients received from radical imams in their communities. Deceased terrorist imam Anwar al-Awlaki once wrote in Inspire magazine that, “All of our [Islamic] scholars agree on the permissibility of taking away the wealth of the disbelievers in dār al-ĥarb [the non-Muslim world] whether by means of force or by means of theft or deception,” for the purposes of carrying out jihad.  And the same Anjem Choudary mentioned above once encouraged Muslims living in the U.K. to collect public benefits as “jihad seeker’s allowance” instead of getting a job.

In light of this problem, it may be time to contemplate whether government agencies that issue public benefits should be required to adhere to the same know-your-customer provisions and due diligence requirements under which private sector financial institutions already operate.

Banks are required to conduct due diligence on account holders by carrying out activities like cross-checking their names against databases of sanctioned individuals or politically-exposed persons to help ensure that the bank is not assisting the customer in carrying out financial crimes such as money laundering, sanctions evasion, terrorist financing, graft, or other offenses.  Bank employees also have mechanisms and the responsibility to file reports when suspicious activity is observed.

However, there appears to be no equivalent legal requirement for government agencies that provide public benefits such as welfare payments, food stamps, or tuition assistance to undertake these due diligence and reporting functions.  Agencies screen applicant eligibility for a variety of public benefits (such as proof of financial need for student aid, and proof that you are actively seeking employment to obtain jobless benefits, etc.), but this screening tends to focus on the applicant’s legal eligibility for the benefit rather than on the risk that the benefit may be diverted by the recipient toward criminal or terrorist enterprises.

Neither is there a uniform standard for government agencies to report criminal misuse of public benefits to a central authority.  Rather, suspicions of fraudulent claims are handled differently by every agency awarding benefits, with different mechanisms for investigating and denying claims.  And again, the benefit fraud cases are focused on false claims by recipients who never should have received the benefit, and rarely target individuals who receive a benefit lawfully but misappropriate that benefit toward unauthorized purposes.

Should an assessment of high risk or an OFAC database name match be grounds for the denial of the benefit?  Perhaps not, but at least the filing of a suspicious activity report by a government compliance officer would provide additional data points for regulators to review and share with law enforcement as needed.

If due diligence requirements are worthwhile enough for the federal government to impose on the private sector, the private sector financial institutions have a right to ask the government to eat its own cooking.  This expansion of know-your-customer provisions to the government sector would seem especially important considering statements by radical imams and actions by terrorists like the Tsarnaev brothers to use public benefits to finance their planning and terrorist operations.

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Top terror finance stories of 2013

December 30, 2013

From massacres on the streets of Syria to the streets of Boston, 2013 has offered far too many illustrations of how terror-borne bloodshed is financed:

  1. Sunni and Western powers risk funding Syrian rebels despite their Al Qaeda allegiance
    Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the U.S., U.K., and France have provided money and supplies to the enemies of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad despite the risk of the materiel falling into the wrong hands.  Gulf-based support has gone directly toward Salafist fighters; Western aid has been targeted toward the supposedly moderate Free Syrian Army, but entire brigades of the FSA have pledged allegiance to al-Nusra Front—Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria—during 2013.  Reports this month of a “suspension” of U.S. aid have been somewhat exaggerated; as one official conceded, “the suspension of aid only applies to the opposition in northern Syria, adding that supply lines from Jordan in the south would continue.”  Foreign support has prolonged the conflict in Syria and increased the chances for Al Qaeda to take over the country.
  2. Boston marathon bombing made possible by Saudi money
    North Caucuses militants have been funded for decades by Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis and their wealthy expatriate terrorists like Ibn al-Khattab  and Osama Bin Laden and invested millions of dollars into the training and recruitment of fighters, the construction of radical mosques, and the creation of jihadist websites in Slavic languages.  Tamerlan Tsarnaev read and engaged with these websites and pursued support from these Saudi-sponsored sources when he traveled to Russia in 2012.  Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar also learned from Inspire magazine by deceased terror imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who presided over Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.In effect, Saudi money created the breeding environment both online and on the ground in the North Caucuses in which the Tsarnaevs’ plot was hatched.

    Sadly, the media and public officials have been slow to recognize and expose the connections between the Saudis, the North Caucasus militants, and their followers living in North America.  Two Democrat-appointed federal judges inexplicably reversed the conviction this year of Pete Seda, a Muslim “peace activist” who sent money through a Saudi-based charity from Oregon to Chechen terrorists in the early 2000s.

  3. The U.S. became the world’s #1 energy producer in 2013.  This development reduces our dependence on Arab oil and the flow of petrodollars that fund terrorism.
  4. The compensation of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism was ignored during negotiations in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program.
  5. The Somali Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab’s finances rebounded in 2013 despite their loss of control in 2012 of the key harbor in Kismayo to Kenyan, African Union, and allied forces.  The main ingredients in their financial resurgence included an expansion al-Shabaab’s lucrative charcoal smuggling operation, the resumption of payments from the Dahabshiil money service to al-Shabaab, and indirect support from the Gulf.  The funding has allowed operations such as killing sprees in Mogadishu and the September terrorist attack on Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya.  Nevertheless, a British court injunction has forced Barclays to continue partnering with Dahabshiil to facilitate remittances to Somalia.
  6. Read the rest of this entry ?
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The indirect expenses of jihad

October 1, 2013

Ernst & Young and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) have issued a report on emerging trends in the financing of terrorism.  The central argument of the study is that piracy, smuggling, and counterfeiting have been growth sectors for funding terror, and that India and the world need to establish more mechanisms to combat these methods.

The full report is available here, and a news article about it is here (h/t El Grillo).

There is a lot of value to the report, but one component that readers should take special note of is Ernst & Young’s distinction between the direct expenses for terrorism on things like bombs, materials, and attack plans versus indirect expenses for the bigger picture infrastructure of terrorism:  recruitment, gathering intelligence, and public relations.  This chart comes from their report:

Two broad classes of terrorist expenditures

This is the distinction that Money Jihad has tried to make over the last several months about the Tsarnaev brothers and the Boston marathon bombing.  (See here and here.)  The attack wasn’t just about the costs of the explosives purchased by Tamerlan, or even his travel expense s to Russia, although that certainly still needs to be explained more thoroughly.

The larger question is the indirect expenses that were made toward jihad in the North Caucasus long before the Tsarnaevs hatched their plot.  These were expenditures made over several decades by the Saudis and Western-based Islamic front charities in spreading Salafism through the Caucasus.  It took millions of dollars to create and support radical new mosques, fake “relief” programs, to pay and provision Chechen militants and their leaders, to buy loyalties and pay-off ambivalent politicians, and to create a mushroom patch of jihadist websites in the mother tongue of the Tsarnaev family.

It doesn’t do much good for the federal government and banks to scrutinize and report on every single financial transaction that we undertake if, at the same time, we ignore the millions of petrodollars and zakat donations that go toward paying the indirect expenses of terrorism and inculcating the next generation of jihadists.

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Liberal judges toss Chechen financier’s conviction

September 8, 2013

Just four months after the Boston marathon bombing, two federal judges on a three-judge panel have overturned the conviction of the Oregon-based Islamic “charity leader” and terrorist fundraiser Pete Seda, who helped facilitate the transfer of $130,000 to Chechen terrorists in the early 2000s.

Activists like Seda have served as key conduits for funneling zakat donations from Western countries through Islamic front charities to jihadist causes around the world.  The revenues supported the creation of websites and recruitment tools that helped radicalize North Caucasus diaspora like Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Seda’s conviction was overturned by Judge Mary Schroeder, who was appointed by Jimmy Carter, and Judge Margaret McKeown, who was appointed by Bill Clinton and considered for a Supreme Court appointment by Barack Obama, on the grounds of alleged unfairness during the Seda investigation and trial.

The two judges claim that the Seda trial began as a white collar crime case but ended as a terrorism case, that some information about a witness named Barbara Cabral was not shared with defense attorneys, and that the scope of a warrant served against Seda before the trial was exceeded by law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Judge Robert Tallman, a Republican who was appointed by Bill Clinton, delivered a vigorous dissent from the liberal judges’ opinion.  Oregon’s Daily Tidings summarizes Judge Tallman’s reasoning:

…In his dissenting opinion, Judge Richard Tallman wrote that the majority judges in the appeal improperly failed to take into consideration that [trial court judge] Hogan held a separate hearing on the Cabral issues before ruling the evidence would not have changed the jury’s verdict.

Tallman wrote that the appellate judges should not reverse Hogan’s ruling without it being “clearly erroneous,” which was not the case.

Moreover, Tallman’s minority opinion argued that the scope of the search warrant was not breached by agents searching Seda’s computers and that the other issues do not rise to the level necessary for overturning the jury’s guilty verdict.

Tallman also took issue with the majority opinion’s apparent dismissing of the key evidence in the actual tax fraud and conspiracy charges that were at the core of the case against Seda.

Seda and his codefendant, a Saudi national named Soliman Al-Buthe, went to great lengths and expenses to convert funds wired to Al-Haramain into $130,000 worth of hard-to-trace $1,000 cashier’s checks that Al-Buthe then carried from Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000, according to Tallman’s opinion.

Al-Buthe, also known as Al-Buthi, did so in violation of federal financial-reporting rules that he had complied with on nine other occasions, Tallman noted.

Also, Al-Buthe carried with him and failed to report that he was carrying a cashier’s check made out to him at an Ashland bank for $21,000, which Al-Buthe deposited in his personal bank account in Saudi Arabia.

“A reasonable jury could have concluded on this evidence that this was Al-Buthe’s ‘cut’ for serving as the courier,” Tallman wrote.

The jury also heard plenty of evidence on what Tallman calls the “deceitful manner” in which Seda hid the smuggled money by falsely declaring on a tax return that the money went toward the purchase of a prayer house in Missouri.

Had the men’s intent been not to smuggle the money to the Middle East, Seda simply could have wired the money directly to Al-Haramain’s main office in Saudi Arabia for about $15, Tallman wrote.

“The jury obviously thought the entire handling of the money reeked of criminal intent, as evidenced by its verdict,” Tallman wrote.

Hat tip to Rushette for alerting us to the appeals court decision.

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Welfare and drug money aided Tsarnaevs

April 25, 2013

The Tsarnaev brothers’ portfolio included proceeds from drug sales, and at least in the case of Tamerlan and Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, state welfare benefits.

CBS News reported yesterday that “Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers and suspects in last week’s Boston Marathon bombing attack, may have financed their plot through drug sales, investigators believe.”

Yesterday’s Boston Herald detailed the public assistance that Tamerlan received up until 2012:

Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned.

State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits. Russell Tsarnaev’s attorney has claimed Katherine — who had converted to Islam — was working up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tsarnaev stayed at home.

In addition, both of Tsarnaev’s parents received benefits, and accused brother bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were recipients through their parents when they were younger, according to the state.

The news raises questions over whether Tsarnaev financed his radicalization on taxpayer money…

Some news accounts portrayed the welfare benefits as a simple failure to make ends meet—an unfortunate result of a difficult economy.  But the possibility of intentional exploitation of public benefits by Tamerlan Tsarnaev should not be cast aside as a fringe theory.

The Associated Press recently reported that “Tsarnaev became an ardent reader of jihadist websites and extremist propaganda, two U.S. officials said. He read Inspire magazine, an English-language online publication produced by al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate.”

Observers have naturally focused on the infamous Inspire article, “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” for giving instructions on constructing a pressure cooker bomb.

They should also look back at an article in the January 2011 edition of Inspire entitled “The Ruling on Dispossessing the Disbelievers’ Wealth in Dar Al-Harb,” in which al-Awlaki declared that Muslims living in the non-Muslim world should poach, steal, and embezzle just as if they were living off the land by hunting and gathering wood—an activity permitted under Hanafi rulings.  That behavior is even more blessed if it is done with the intent to fund jihad.