Posts Tagged ‘Times Square’

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Obama’s 10 biggest terror finance blunders

November 5, 2012

  1. Promising to make it easier for Muslims to give zakat.  Pres. Obama has tried to remove the so-called “chilling effect” that George W. Bush, the Patriot Act, the Treasury Department, and law enforcement “created” by closing down Islamic charities that funded terrorism.  Rather than building on the Bush administration’s successful prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for sponsoring Hamas, Obama won’t prosecute Islamic Relief, he won’t prosecute CAIR, he won’t investigate ISNA or NAIT, and the IRS has been derelict in stripping suspicious Islamic organizations of their tax-exempt status.
  2. Funding the Arab Spring that has led to the rise of Muslim Brotherhood dominated governments in the Middle East who behave against U.S. national security interests.
  3. Minimizing our energy independence from Middle East oil by reducing oil production on federal lands and waters, rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, impeding hydraulic fracturing permitting, etc.
  4. Making little to no progress on bankrupting the Taliban.
  5. Dragging his feet in adopting sanctions against Al Qaeda and Taliban affiliates such as the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network. Read the rest of this entry ?
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Taliban’s Long Island hawala dealer gets off with probation

December 6, 2011

The financial middle man whose services allowed failed terrorist Faisal Shahzad to plant his dud bomb in Times Square has been sentenced to only three months probation on charges that carried a maximum 10 year sentence.

Younis, the Long Island hawaladar

Centereach hawala dealer

Younis could have served as a warning to all illicit money services

It is stunningly myopic that Judge John Keenan sided with defense attorneys Philippe Solages and Gino Giorgini who argued for zero jail time on the flimsy grounds that Long Island hawala dealer Mohammad Younis (not to be confused with international microcredit advocate and suspected embezzler Muhammad Yunus) supposedly “cooperated” with law enforcement.

But the more scandalous head-scratcher is why federal prosecutors, including the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara and Asst. Attorney John Cronan, only pushed for a six month sentence on two charges that each carried up to a five-year sentence.  Mr. Bharara made the news in 2010 for dissolving a successful counterterror section of his office and merging it with a narcotics office.  The non-sentence within the framework of a deal backed by prosecutors would appear to be another Bharara failure to understand that funding terrorism against civilians is no ordinary crime.

The 9/11 Commission identified hawala as a funding method for Al Qaeda leading up to the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon.  But unwilling to ban hawala or even to tax hawala transactions, public policy makers have been at a loss for how to tighten the screws on hawala.

And here came a case sitting on a silver platter.  Mohammad Younis received $12,000 from his brother, a fellow hawaladar in Pakistan, and gave $7,000 of it to Shahzad and $5,000 to somebody else.  According to Bharara, “Shahzad noted that the cash he received from Younis facilitated the attempt.”  The payment, again according to Bharara and Shahzad himself, was arranged by Tehrik-e-Taliban (the Pakistani Taliban).  So here in the middle of a Taliban-funded terror attack was an unlicensed hawala dealer.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara

This case presented a fast ball right down the middle for prosecutors:  a clear-cut incident of an unlicensed hawala dealer accepting Taliban money and giving it to a jihadist for an attempted terrorist attack on the U.S.  It was a golden opportunity for federal prosecutors and New York law enforcement to knock it out of the park, and demonstrate the full force of American law.  They could have used the case to set the example to Muslim hawaladars operating throughout the U.S. that they will be prosecuted fully.  But the prosecutors foolishly blinked.

News and law enforcement accounts are unanimous in saying that Younis was unaware that the money would be used for terrorism.  Indeed!  Maintaining deniability is the purpose behind hawala, and is the problem inherent to hawala in terms of terror finance!  Hawala to its very core flouts modern know-your-customer regulations faced by banks and other legitimate money services businesses.  Hawaladars KNOW their transactions fund illegal activity, which is precisely why they do not want to know whom nor what their transactions fund.  To absolve a hawala broker who claims innocence after the fact is to fail to understand the criminally negligent foundations of hawala.

Younis will have to pay a $2,000 fine and forfeit $12,000.  By comparison, a Jewish rabbi in New York convicted on unlicensed money exchange charges earlier this year (in a case that involved zero allegations of funding terrorism) was fined $36,740 and had to forfeit $367,500.  Younis, whose work funded an actual terrorist attempt, will pay only about 3 percent of what Rabbi Kassin was forced to pay.

Often inaccurately described as an “Asian” invention, hawala is a Muslim money transfer system based on the statements and actions of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, documented in the Hadith.

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10 years after 9/11, Treasury looks at hawala

June 17, 2011

The failed Times Square bombing has prompted FinCEN to consider tightening the screws on hawala.  The shocking thing about this article from MoneyLaundering.com on June 14 is that it has taken so long for FinCEN to become concerned about hawala.  The 9/11 Commission found that hawala played a significant role in Al Qaeda’s financing, particular after the East Africa embassy bombings, but also including 9/11 itself.  We also already knew that Italian hawaladars played a role in financing the 26/11 terror attacks against Mumbai.

The sad thing is that, even though FinCEN has become more worried, the only apparent “solution” offered in this article is closer cooperation with law enforcement.  Here’s a suggestion:  outlaw hawala in the U.S., and as soon as any hawala operator is discovered, get a warrant, seize his records, cuff him, jail him, put him on trial, and bulldoze his office after his conviction.

Failed Bombing Prompted Treasury to Scrutinize Unregistered MSBs, Hawala Networks: Sources

By Brian Monroe

Last year’s failed Times Square car bombing has been the chief impetus behind a recent U.S. Treasury Department’s initiative to identify unregistered money services businesses and hawala networks, according to sources.

The department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) began more closely screening the suspicious activity reports (SARs) it receives after it was disclosed that Pakistan-born Faisal Shahzad, who attempted in May 2010 to blow up an explosive-packed Nissan in the heart of Manhattan, had received funding for the operation through hawala brokers, said an individual familiar with the matter.

After the disclosure, the bureau began more closely working with regional law enforcement officials and regulators to determine how to better identify similar brokers, known as hawaladars, said the person, who asked not to be named. In May, FinCEN asked money services businesses (MSBs) to report the names and tax identification numbers of their agents, among other data.

After the attempted bombing, FinCEN officials were “very worried” because, along with the Internal Revenue Service, the bureau is responsible for oversight and enforcement of MSBs, said the person. FinCEN officials wanted to find a way to thwart transfers similar to those received by Shahzad, who accepted $12,000 in funding via a hawaladar from co-conspirators in Pakistan.

Following Shahzad’s arrest, there is a “greater realization in law enforcement that these hawalas can be tied to some pretty serious stuff,” including terrorist financing, said Martin Ficke, a former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent. “These agencies have to do something to close that gap.”

The number of hawala brokers in the country remains a guess at best. While FinCEN lists more than 42,000 registered MSBs on its Web site, the number of unregistered MSBs, including hawala operations, is close to 160,000, according to a 1997 estimate by a third-party consultant commissioned by FinCEN…

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Congressional probe of hawala upcoming?

May 27, 2010

It’s encouraging that politicians (even a Democrat in this case!) are sounding the alarm about Islamic hawala.  But if Congress just issues another boilerplate government study about how “the majority” of hawala transfers are for “good purposes” and are more “efficient” than our Western banking system, the report won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

From the Boston Herald on May 22:

U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, (D-South Boston) wants a congressional probe of informal Islamic banking networks as authorities investigate whether three New England detainees were inadvertantly involved in financing the botched Times Square bombing.

Lynch’s push comes as law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that terror suspect Faisal Shahzad confessed to interrogators he received financing from the Pakistani Taliban through the informal “halawa” system used by Muslim to transfer funds globally.

But, one official told The Associated Press, “there’s a belief that no one in the U.S. who got him the funds was aware of what they were for.” Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, was the only person in the United States who was “operational” in the clumsy May 1 Times Square plot, the official said.

Lynch said, “The recent attempted bombing in Times Square only underscores the need to redouble our efforts to combat international terrorist financing. Informal financing networks can be insidious and difficult to track.”

Lynch and U.S. Rep. Mike Castle (D-Delaware) wrote to Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Barney Frank (D-Newton) this week urging hearings.

Meanwhile, Pakistan General Consul Barry Hoffman, who yesterday visited one of three Pakistani New England detainees, Mohammad Rahman of South Portland, at an immigration facility in Maine, described him as a mild-mannered techie who didn’t espouse radical Islamic views.

“He comes from a good family in Karachi . . . he does not seem like a radical,” Hoffman said. “He’s being treated well. I spoke to a reverend and he’s arranging to get him a Koran and prayer rug”…