Posts Tagged ‘terrorist financing’

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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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Ted Talk: Hawala focus distracts from Gulf donors

February 17, 2015

Following 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, concerns about the use of hawala in terror finance schemes led Coalition forces and the new Afghan government to refrain from paying Afghan troop wages through hawala, although no other formal banking or payroll system was available at the time. Dr. Edwina Thompson argues that the preoccupation with hawala also distracted Coalition partners from confronting the true source of terror finance:  Gulf donors.

Here’s Thompson’s recent TEDxClapham talk on the subject.  Pay particular attention to minutes 11-14.  But watch the whole video—it includes Thompson’s reflection on her own near abduction by militants while doing research in Jalalabad:

The point is well made. As Money Jihad has often said, hawala is not a source of financing terrorism, it is a method. We can regulate or eliminate methods, but determined sources of financing will find other ways of transferring value unless we stop those donors where they live.

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Terror finance clues: suggested news reading

February 5, 2015
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria pays local guides to trick journalists into being kidnapped… more>>
  • Turkish intelligence has been caught smuggling guns across the Syrian border to Al Qaeda… more>>
  • Why ISIS needs Saudi money to take the business of terror to a higher level… more>>
  • Former Senator Bob Graham tells an audience, “Al-Qaeda was a creature of Saudi Arabia; the regional groups such as al-Shabaab have been largely creatures of Saudi Arabia; and now, ISIS is the latest creature!” More>>
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Spain’s hawala network funds ISIS and al-Nusra

February 1, 2015

Intelligence services and Spanish authorities say that with a network of over 250 hawala dealers, Spain has become a financial center for funding terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Hawala is the traditional Islamic method of transferring value without transferring physical money.

The news daily El País further reports that there are scarcely any controls over hawala businesses in Spain. The majority of the hawala dealers are Pakistani, while many of their customers are Syrian and Moroccan. A hundred Moroccans in Spain have already joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of 9/11, used hawala agents in Logroño and Barcelona in the early 2000s. And Spain’s hawala system has only grown since then.

Hat tip to Well es bien for sending this over.

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More Kouachi funding news: suggested reading

January 15, 2015
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula “chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation” against Charlie Hebdo, according to AQAP chief Nasr al-Ansi… more>>
  • Azerbaijan Press Agency reports that the total value of weapons and ammo seized from the Kouachi brothers’ and Amedy Coulibaly was 27,000 euros… more>>
  • A weapons dealer in Belgium comes clean about selling $5,000 of arms to Coulibaly, which were later used by the Kouachi brothers in the Paris attacks… more>>
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The $20,000 behind the Paris attacks came “from abroad”

January 14, 2015

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 according to CBS News yesterday (h/t El Grillo), which supports Money Jihad analysis of the Kouachis’ funding earlier this week. The report also adds credibility to claims by AQAP and Cherif Kouachi himself that the Charlie Hebdo attacks were planned, ordered, and financed by AQAP itself. The physical transfer of funds to Kouachi suggests that bulk cash smuggling (or the smuggling of other financial instruments) back to Europe was the method used rather than a wire, hawala transaction, or trade-based money laundering operation.

Relatedly, the Associated Press reported weapons for the Paris terrorist attacks came from abroad:

Several people are being sought in relation to the “substantial” financing of the three gunmen behind the terror campaign, said Christophe Crepin, a French police union official. The gunmen’s weapons stockpile came from abroad, and the size of it plus the military sophistication of the attacks indicated an organized terror network, he added.

“This cell did not include just those three, we think with all seriousness that they had accomplices, because of the weaponry, the logistics and the costs of it,” Crepin said. “These are heavy weapons. When I talk about things like a rocket launcher – it’s not like buying a baguette on the corner, it’s for targeted acts.”

The Belgian daily La Dernière Heure corroborates that several of the weapons acquired by the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly were bought in Brussels.

The $20,000 figure reported by CBS is also consistent with an estimate over the weekend from counterterror expert Jean-Paul Rouiller. Bloomberg Businessweek reported:

…The Kalashnikov rifles and other weapons used by the attackers, Chérif and Saïd Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly, likely cost less than €10,000 ($11,800), according to Jean-Paul Rouiller, director of the Geneva Centre for Training and Analysis of Terrorism, a Swiss research group. Including the cost of Saïd Kouachi’s 2011 trip to Yemen, where he may have received training from al-Qaeda, the total price tag for the deadly attacks by the three men might have reached about $20,000…

Bloomberg went on to report that, “for what Rouiller describes as ‘such a low-cost operation,’ financing from abroad would be unlikely”—a theory that now seems to have been disproved by the evidence.

Regardless of where it is finally determined that the funds for the weapons originated, it should be kept in mind that the direct expenses of the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly aren’t the only expenditures that matter. The weapons training camp in Yemen that both Kouachi brothers attended in 2011 wasn’t “self-financed” by individual AQAP recruits. The militants at the AQAP camp that trained the Kouachi brothers didn’t self-finance their own wages. The human smuggling network that helped sneak the Kouachi brothers across the border from Oman into Yemen isn’t self-financed. Anwar al-Awlaki, the terrorist imam with whom the Kouachi brothers met while in Yemen and possibly assigned them their marching orders, was not self-financed either. Not to mention that the Kouachi brothers’ basic cost of living in Paris probably wasn’t met by part-time work delivering pizzas and gutting fish at the market.

We will also discover over time that the websites, texts, and videos that the Kouachis and Coulibaly consumed, like most Islamic radical materials, are generally produced by entities backed by Wahhabi patrons. It is important to think of the bigger picture not just of the money it took to carry out the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher operations, but the amount of money it takes to sustain a terrorist infrastructure in Yemen (and beyond) that these sleeper cells count on for arms, training and guidance.

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AQAP to reap windfall from Paris attacks

January 10, 2015

After Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for planning the attack against Charlie Hebdo, former CIA deputy director Mike Morell told CBS Radio News yesterday that, “This is gonna put a lot of money in AQAP’s pockets. One of the ways you raise money in the terrorist world is to have a successful attack.

Indeed, AQAP would seem to have needed a notable success in the wake of their failed “underwear bomb” of Christmas 2009 and abortive air cargo bomb plot of 2010. AQAP had resorted to robbing banks, post offices, and payroll caravans in recent years, possibly to offset losses as wealthy Arabs diverted their zakat to ISIS rather than traditional Al Qaeda affiliates.

Morell’s comments dovetail with those of terror finance expert Loretta Napoleoni, who recently said of the Islamic State that:

The more famous you are, the more money you attract… The [ISIS] strategy is very interesting because instead of attacking the army of Assad—the army of Damascus—what they did was actually attacking the other jihadist groups. And that gave them a sort of notoriety within the jihadist movement because they looked the strongest, the better organized, the biggest, so everybody wanted to join them—so people wanted to move from one group to another to join them. But the same thing was for the sponsors who said “this is a really good group, this is a better group than the other, so let’s send them money.” Then there’s the other aspect of notoriety which is of course through the Internet. This organization was so popular on the Internet because they were so successful that they started to get money coming from all over the world from sympathizers and supporters.

Read in this light, the Charlie Hebdo attack would seem to put AQAP back on broader jihadist map, and give it a sales pitch for bigger recruitment and donations.