Posts Tagged ‘terrorist financing’

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Britain bans ransom payments by insurance companies to terrorist groups

May 25, 2015

Earlier this year, Parliament passed a measure that prohibits insurance companies from paying ransoms to terrorists and provides for penalties if they do. The bill was debated in January, but it was not clear to Money Jihad at the time that the bill actually passed. The reliable Tom Keatinge has let us know that, yes, the bill has been enacted.

For more background on the law, check out Foreign Policy’s report on the subject from Jan. 8.

British legislators are considering a new bill that takes aim at a small, secretive niche in the insurance industry that deals with kidnapping and ransom, the latest money spinner for terrorists.

The new counterterrorism bill, proposed in November and being debated this week in the House of Commons, gives the British government broad powers to address new terrorist threats posed by the rise of the Islamic State.

One of the most controversial provisions would give ministers the ability to block British citizens suspected of fighting for terrorists from returning to the United Kingdom. Another section would require universities to limit the number of “extremist” speakers they host on campus.

But one part of the proposed bill that has gotten less attention would also make it a crime for British insurance companies to reimburse families or companies that pay a ransom to a terrorist in order to secure the release of a hostage. Critics argue that the provision is misguided, that it will do little to stem the flow of money to terrorists, and that it could disrupt the thriving industry of “kidnap and ransom” insurers and negotiators who successfully get people out of hostage situations.

Companies buy this insurance for employees working overseas who are in danger of being taken captive by terrorists, militants, or criminals. If that happens, the insurer connects the company to negotiators to help executives or families make a deal with kidnappers, send payment, and get the hostage back.

Kidnapping and ransom policies have come under scrutiny recently as British and U.S. counterterrorism officials have taken a stronger stance against paying ransoms to terrorists in order to starve Islamist militants of an important new source of funding. The Islamic State has used kidnapping for ransom to underwrite its gory campaigns in Syria and Iraq. A United Nations report in October estimated that the Islamic State had received $35 million to $45 million in ransom payments in the past year.

U.S. officials have long argued that making ransom payments encourages more kidnapping (though that hasn’t stopped Washington from acquiescing to ransom payments). The U.N. passed a resolution in January 2014 to discourage countries from meeting ransom demands, but a New York Times investigation published in July revealed that many European countries have been covertly making payments…

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How entangled is the terror economy is with our own?

March 20, 2015

France 24 recently interviewed Professor Louise Shelley, author of the book Dirty Entanglements. Shelley discusses the variety of revenue sources available to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). She also points to trade-based money laundering as one of the techniques that ISIS uses to finance their activities. The interview also includes a discussion of Boko Haram and its reliance on human smuggling for money. Finally, Shelley addresses how low-level, petty crimes can culminate into larger threats; for example, the Charlie Hebdo attackers sold counterfeit Nikes to help cover their expenses.

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Terror money news: suggested reading

March 5, 2015
  • France arrests 6 Chechens for raising funds and recruiting jihadists… more>>
  • Only military force, not conventional counter-terror finance techniques, can bankrupt ISIS… more>>
  • Saudi Arabia is building a neo-Maginot Line to defend against the same jihadist forces that they bankrolledmore>>
  • Hamas is doubling its stockpile of missiles and rockets for no reason in particular… more>>
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Hezbollah financier in Nigeria exposed

March 3, 2015

We’ve known for years that Hezbollah uses supermarkets in West Africa to launder drug money for Hezbollah (such as Tajco Ltd). Amigo Supermarket in Abuja, Nigeria, is just the latest. The U.S. Treasury Department has named 1) Amigo, 2) an amusement park, and 3) a holding company in Nigeria as Hezbollah front companies. Treasury also sanctioned Mustapha Fawaz, age 47, a Lebanese-born Nigerian citizen who co-owns the companies, calling him, “a significant donor to Hizballah” who has “solicited donations in Abuja, Nigeria, and helped arrange the transmission of these funds to Hizballah in Lebanon.”  Treasury’s action freezes any U.S. assets Fawaz may have and prohibits Americans from dealing with Fawaz.

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Experts study 52 Al Qaeda money schemes

March 2, 2015

When it comes to Islamic terrorism, we typically aren’t looking at money laundering scenarios. Rather, we’re looking money made through legitimate channels which is then diverted toward terrorism.  These recent findings from researchers at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) align with previous Money Jihad analysis.

This graphic from their study shows the breakdown of the different types of financial schemes most commonly employed by Al Qaeda supporters in the U.S.:

Jihad by fraud

A summary of the report is here with links to the full study.

Hat tip to @switch_d and @skinroller on Twitter for sending this over.

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Iran still won’t sign accord against terror finance

February 23, 2015

The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism went into effect in 2002. Over 180 countries have signed the rather bland convention. But not Iran.

Not that we could take Iran at its word, but shouldn’t they agree to sign the convention prior to concluding a deal with Iran about their nuclear program?

Lebanon hasn’t signed it either. Other non-signatory countries with Islamist political movements include The Gambia and Chad. But they don’t have nuclear programs.

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4 “Swedes” used 6 front companies to fund ISIS

February 22, 2015

And these are just among the handful that we know about. Not many details are available, but what sounds unusual about this case is that the suspects appear to have somehow used businesses to channel funds to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (rather than using more conventional terrorist methods of hawala, wire transfers, cash smuggling, or charities).

From Agence France-Presse on Feb. 17 (h/t El Grillo):

Swedish police detained four people Tuesday on suspicion of having used six companies to help fund the Islamic State group, the Dagens Nyheter daily reported.

Police said a “large raid” took place in Stockholm as part of a probe into money laundering and undeclared work but declined to comment further.

Sources close to the investigation told Dagens Nyheter the suspects had ties to Syria and IS.

The paper said Tuesday’s arrests targeted three men and a woman aged between 31 and 50.

Swedish government agencies estimate that up to 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.19 million, 1.05 million euros) are sent to violent extremist groups every year…

AFP goes on to mention that over a hundred “Swedes” have joined terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria since 2012. These are, more precisely, mostly Muslim immigrants, refugees, and their young adult sons who have become residents of Sweden.

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