Posts Tagged ‘TTP’

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Terror finance predictions for 2015

January 1, 2015
  • Counter-terror attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner says that a jury trial will begin in January for the Sokolow v. Palestinian Liberation Organization. The case is notable in that it takes on the Palestinian Authority itself in addition to the PLO, and could set the precedent for further lawsuits to help de-fund the PA and PLO by terrorist victims’ families.
  • A trial to set damages for Arab Bank PLC’s role in financing terrorism is scheduled to begin in May (h/t Sal). Arab Bank wanted to skip the trial and settle for $12 million, but U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan ruled that a trial would be a more useful starting point.
  • NYU professor Maha Hosain Aziz predicts that lone wolf Islamist terrorist attacks will increase, requiring closer monitoring of social media by law enforcement (h/t Don). Money Jihad predicts that public officials will cite these increased lone wolf attacks as an excuse for why they fail to interdict terrorist funds. They will claim that self-financed attacks are harder to detect than transactions across terrorist financial networks.
  • Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford says Afghan forces will be “tested” by the Taliban in 2015. As Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq indicated, leaving inadequate forces to combat terrorists can lead to their financial resurgence as it did with ISIS. This looks even more ominous when coupled with the Pakistani Taliban’s “stockpiling” of cash through extortion and kidnap-for-ransom schemes in 2014.
  • The FC Barcelona soccer team will not renew its sponsorship deal with Qatar in 2015 over terror finance concerns.
  • Finally, increased cyber-attacks and cyber-theft are always a safe bet. McAfee Labs predicts that “Small nation states and foreign terror groups will take to cyberspace to conduct warfare against their enemies” and increased ransomware attacks in 2015.

Money Jihad predictions last year for 2014 were somewhat prescient, including the projection that Narendra Modi would move against illicit finance if elected as prime minister of India, which he was and which he did, and that ransomware would develop into a larger cyber-security threat. But our predictions that Congress would declassify 28 redacted pages of its report into 9/11, and that Congress would tighten sanctions on Iran proved to be off.

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Supporting mischief: recommended news reading

July 17, 2014
  • Are we in an age of unilateral easing of sanctions on rogue states without obtaining meaningful changes in behavior first? Case in point:  Japan on North Korea… more>>
  • A University of Texas student has pleaded guilty to luring recruits to wage jihad in Somalia, or, failing that, to prepare for World War IIImore>>
  • Boko Haram is illustrating how ineffective U.S. counter-terror finance policies can be… more>>
  • Smuggling eight guns from Minnesota to Nigeria stuffed in a brown paper bag between the seat cushions of a ’98 Mercury is one way to run afoul of authorities… more>>
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Seminary officials serve as Taliban henchmen

May 20, 2014

Islamic seminary administrators in Islamabad, Pakistan, get their marching orders from Taliban elements 270 miles away in Miranshah along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The Deobandi faculty are assisting the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) in issuing extortion demands and negotiating ransom payments from businessmen and politicians. The TTP-seminary connection was exposed in a joint report from Islamabad and Rawalpindi police last month with the latest revelations coming from an analysis of phone calls between the TTP and the Islamabad seminaries.

Keep in mind that the men serving as the Taliban’s intermediaries are the same men who are “educating” the next generation of imams in Pakistan’s capital. Ponder for a moment how that bodes for the future.

Thanks to Watcherone for sending this in from the newspaper Dawn on May 1:

ISLAMABAD: Seminaries operating inside the capital are reportedly assisting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with the collection of extortion and ransom money by arranging deals between militants and their victims, sources in civil and military intelligence agencies said. In addition, the seminaries are also providing courier services to the TTP by arranging for the money to be transported to pre-determined locations easily accessible for TTP personnel, sources said.

Intelligence officials said that an analysis of the calls made in cases of extortion and ransom demands revealed that most of them came from Miranshah in North Waziristan.

Officials cited the case of retired Lt-Gen Dr Mehmoodul Hasan, who in 2013 received a call from a man named Latif, who introduced him as the second-in-command to Hakimullah Mehsud and demanded Rs50 million in extortion money.

Following the demand, an administrator from an Islamabad-based seminary acted as the mediator and finalised their deal at Rs10 million. The man also sent two persons to collect the money from Lt-Gen Hasan.

“Then, nearly a month ago, a man named Ashfaq called Lt-Gen Hasan again, demanding a further Rs50 million within 10 days,” the officials said, adding that this was followed by another call from someone who identified himself as a leader of the Taliban and asked the general to ensure they got their money within 72 hours.

“The same man who brokered the first agreement was used to negotiate the price,” the officials said.

Moreover, two industrialists from Faizabad and a politician have been receiving calls for extortion since a year, the officials said, adding that they refused to pay the amount and also denied meetings with those who approached them for finalising the deal. In response, the miscreants affiliated with Qari Sanaullah, allies of Qari Mansoor affiliated with TTP based in Miranshah, are planning to target them, they added.

The officials said that the role of the religious seminaries in collecting extortion for the TTP was established and action against them has been suggested…

“…has been suggested”? Yeah, thanks Pakistan. Good “suggestion.” The Taliban’s next victims will surely appreciate that action against them was “suggested” by somebody.

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Taliban’s extortion bonanza spreads to schools

March 28, 2014

A professor identifying himself with the Taliban has been arrested along with a university employee who conspired with him to carry out extortion against professionals in Rawalpindi. They even threatened at least one student’s father. Whether or not the suspects are actual Taliban members or just two men looking to get a piece of the action is unclear, but extortion threats by the Taliban against Rawalpindi businessmen are common.

At least law enforcement actually made an arrest. In the past, they have simply told shopkeepers to hire their own security guards.

From The Nation:

‘Taliban prof’ held for extorting money

March 24, 2014
Our Staff Reporter

ATTOCK – Police have arrested a professor and his accomplice for allegedly demanding extortion from doctors and businessmen in the name of Taliban.

Both the accused have been arrested on the complaint of a doctor who a few weeks ago got an FIR registered against unknown persons for demanding extortion, and threatened in case of failure dire consequences. As per sources, the police have arrested Professor Waqar Ahmad alias Abulmairaj of MRF College Kamra and resident of Rawalpindi, and his accomplice Muhammad Akram of village Dhurnal, who is also an employee in the same college.

They had allegedly demanded money from doctors and businessmen of Attock and Karma. The professor and his accomplice who is reportedly a low-grade employee used to write letters demanding extortion and giving life threats to doctors and businessmen. They also placed a similar letter in the bag of a student, son of a businessman. Such letters had spread a sense of insecurity and terror…

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Cleric approved kidnap-for-ransom scheme

November 28, 2013

Dawn reports that five members of the Pakistani Taliban were approved to engage in widespread abductions of religious minorities to help fund their operations.  “An unidentified cleric” granted the approval, probably at least partially based on the Qur’an, Sura 47, Verse 4, which allows for the release or ransom of non-Muslim captives depending on the needs of the Muslim community at the time.

Robert Spencer has the details:

Pakistan: Islamic jihad group planned kidnap of Shias and Ahmadis for ransom

This is an Islamically approved method of fundraising, much preferable to crowdfunding at Indiegogo. Kidnapping infidels and releasing them for ransom or killing them, as well as enslaving them if that option is deemed most advantageous for the Muslims, is fully sanctioned in Islamic law: “As for the captives, the amir [ruler] has the choice of taking the most beneficial action of four possibilities: the first to put them to death by cutting their necks; the second, to enslave them and apply the laws of slavery regarding their sale and manumission; the third, to ransom them in exchange for goods or prisoners; and fourth, to show favor to them and pardon them. Allah, may he be exalted, says, ‘When you encounter those [infidels] who deny [the Truth=Islam] then strike [their] necks’ (Qur’an sura 47, verse 4)” — Abu’l-Hasan al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah (The Laws of Islamic Governance), trans. by Dr. Asadullah Yate, (London), Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., 1996, p. 192. “‘TTP planned kidnap of Shias, Ahmadis for ransom,’” by Mohammad Saleem from Dawn, November 13 (thanks to Lookmann):

FAISALABAD: The banned Pakistan Tehreek-i-Taliban’s local militants had allegedly been assigned the task of kidnapping members of Shia and Ahmadi communities for ransom for fundraising.

The plan, according to sources, was revealed by five militants during their interrogation by intelligence agencies.

The five alleged TTP terrorists — Usman Ghani alias Talha of Jameel Town, Ghulam Mohammadabad, Ali Azam alias Farooq of Razabad, Mubashar Nadeem alias Bao of Chak Jhumra, Usman of Lahore and Shahzad Ali of Gurunanakpura – had been produced before the media by the police at a press conference on Nov 5.

The sources said the plan to kidnap members of two communities was approved after an ‘edict’ in favour of such kidnappings for ransom issued by an unidentified cleric.

According to the sources, the militants told their investigators that they would raise funds for terrorist activities by looting houses of Shia community members and stealing PTCL cables.

They also confessed that they would send a part of their ill-gotten money to their group leader, Qari Imran, in Miramshah…

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Afghan Taliban funds mayhem in Pakistan

October 28, 2013

The Pakistani Taliban, which seeks the overthrow of the government of Pakistan and a deeper implementation of sharia law there, is receiving financial assistance from the Afghan Taliban.  The irony is that the Afghan Taliban itself is funded by the Pakistan’s spy service, the ISI.

This story illustrates, once again, that attempting to use jihadists as a strategic asset always comes back to haunt those who thought they could control them.  Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and certain agencies of and politicians in Western governments repeatedly make this mistake.

This news on the Taliban boomerang came from the Associated Press earlier this month, and the AP even branded it a “Big Story,” but sadly seems to have received scant attention.  Thanks to Arye Leonid Glozman for sending over a link to it:

Afghan Taliban supporting Pakistani militants

By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD

— Oct. 7, 2013

WAZIRISTAN, Pakistan (AP) — The Afghan Taliban are financially supporting Pakistani militants at war with Islamabad and providing sanctuary for them in neighboring Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban’s spokesman said, highlighting the risk both groups pose to the Pakistani government.

The disclosure, which the spokesman made Saturday in an interview with a small group of reporters, is meaningful because Pakistan has long been accused of pursuing a policy of differentiating between the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban as so-called “good” and “bad” militants — even though Islamabad denies this.

Pakistan has waged war against the Pakistani Taliban, which seeks to replace the country’s democratic system with one based on Islamic law. But it has held off on targeting the Afghan Taliban, which has focused its attacks on U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan has historical ties with the Afghan Taliban, and many analysts believe Islamabad views the group as a useful ally in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.

But the Taliban spokesman’s comments illustrate the dangerous nexus between the two groups. This link could become even more dangerous for Pakistan as the U.S. withdraws most of its combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. That could give the Afghan Taliban more space to operate inside Afghanistan, which could benefit Islamabad’s enemies in the Pakistani Taliban.

“The Afghan Taliban are our jihadi brothers,” Shahidullah Shahid said in an interview in Waziristan, the Taliban’s main tribal sanctuary in Pakistan along the Afghan border. “In the beginning, we were helping them, but now they are strong enough and they don’t need our help, but they are now supporting us financially.”

The Afghan Taliban are also providing sanctuary for a prominent Pakistani Taliban commander, Mullah Fazlullah, in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province, said Shahid. Fazlullah was the commander of the Taliban in Pakistan’s northwest Swat Valley but was driven into Afghanistan when the Pakistani army launched a big offensive there in 2009.

The army has also staged many offensives in Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region, the Taliban’s main sanctuary, but the militants have proven resilient and continue to carry out regular attacks.

The Taliban have financed many of these attacks through a combination of kidnappings, extortion and bank robberies. But Shahid’s comments indicate these sources of financing do not always provide the funds they need.

The government has more recently stepped up efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, but those efforts do not appear to be making much progress…

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Taliban force businessmen to support jihad

October 18, 2013

Even after formally being out of power for a dozen years, the Taliban has been able to sustain diversified and balanced revenue streams from a wider span of sources than nearly any other terrorist group on earth.  They collect royalties on opium and ordinary crops, taxes on shipments within and beyond Afghanistan, state sponsorship through Pakistan’s ISI spy service, zakat from wealthy Gulf donors siphoned through third party Islamic charities, jizya from Sikhs and other religious minorities in South and Central Asia, and ransoms from ordinary and wealthy Pakistanis—all of which they justify on the basis of Islamic law.

Dawn calls the ransoms “extortion,” which is vibrant and growing enterprise for Mullah Omar’s men:

Terror group sees Islamabad as a lucrative city for extortions

For the last couple of years, the capital city has seen an alarming increase in extortion cases. Unable to trace the culprits, the police say an outlawed terror group is behind the crime.

The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has a hand in all the small and big extortion incidents. The terror outfit is involved in extorting money from rich people directly and indirectly, a police officer told Dawn on the condition of anonymity. He added that the TTP was found directly involved in targeting big businessmen, traders and professionals, especially doctors. But these cases were not so rampant.

The disturbing factor is that the TTP was also indirectly encouraging small groups to collect extortions and share the money with it. This racket of splinter groups has widened its activities across the city but most of the cases are not reported to the police on time, he said.

The TTP started getting extortions after its traditional source of foreign funding was either plugged or reduced. In the early days, militant groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan used to receive funds from abroad.

Though the militant groups still receive funds from other countries, they are not sufficient to carry out terror activities. This has forced them to look for other sources of income inside the country, with extortion, kidnapping for ransom and bank robberies being the most lucrative of them.

It was in September 2012 when the police arrested three people in the capital city and unearthed the TTP’s direct involvement in receiving extortions. The network had demanded Rs 6 million as extortion from a trader in the Blue Area.

During investigation, the accused disclosed that they collected extortions from traders and transferred the money to Manchester, UK, through Hundi for onward delivery to the terror network.

In June this year, traders of Sabzi Mandi informed the police that a group of Afghan nationals was forcing extortions from them, but when the police registered a case, the group escaped from the area. During investigation of the case, it was revealed in August that some people in Khana Pul, Sihala and Mandi Mor areas also collected millions of rupees every month and diverted them to militant outfits, the officer added.

The second direct involvement of the TTP in extortion came to light when a business centre in Sihala was attacked a week back. This was the second attack on the centre since July 26.

On June 17, Mohammad Raja Asif, the owner of the centre, received a telephone call in which the caller threatened him to pay Rs100 million. Later, he continued receiving similar calls from different local and Afghan numbers.

On July 26, his business centre was attacked with hand grenades in which his office was damaged. The next day – July 27 – he received another call from an Afghanistan-based number and the caller told him that the attack was the result of his failure to pay the extortion sum.

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Businessmen receive demands for ‘money for jihad’ from Pakistani Taliban

June 26, 2013

Osama bin Laden once said, “Your duty is to support the Mujahideen with money and men. I have experienced Jihad myself and I know how costly it can be. The Zakat (tithe) of one affluent Muslim merchant is enough to finance all the Jihadi front against our enemies.”

Now the Pakistani Taliban have recorded a video telling Rawalpindi entrepreneurs that they need money for jihad and to provide for their “protection.”  From Dawn, Pakistan’s biggest English language newspaper, on June 16:

TTP demands ‘protection money’

Mohammad Asghar

Updated 2013-06-17

RAWALPINDI, June 16: The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is reported to have asked two local businessmen to pay ‘protection money’ to them to help militants carry out ‘jihad’.

A senior police official told Dawn that the chief executive of an Islamabad-based business establishment had received four letters allegedly from the head of the TTP’s `finance wing’.

The businessman has been asked to pay $25 million. The letter, bearing the name of its sender, said the money was needed for jihad and it would be received abroad (in Dubai). “If you paid the money, we will protect you. Otherwise, there will be no guarantee.”

The TTP threatened that its ‘operational wing’ would come into action if the money was not paid.

When an official of the business establishment was contacted, he denied having received any letter from the TTP. “No such thing is either in my knowledge or of the chief executive,” he said.

But the police official said a complaint had been received from the business establishment and its security had been strengthened.

He said one of the businessmen contacted police, then a security audit of the business establishment was conducted and its chief executive was provided security.

“Another businessman (a property tycoon) has also been receiving extortion threats, but he has not informed police,” the official said.

Attempts to contact the property tycoon remained fruitless.

Last month, the TTP demanded Rs100m from a businessman belonging to Murree.

Police said a man delivered a letter and a Universal Serial Bus or USB (a data storage device) at the office of Raja Hanif.

Mr Hanif is father-in-law of Sadaqat Abbasi, who contested the recent general elections as a candidate of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf from Murree.

Mr Hanif said in a statement recorded by the police that the letter had been written on the TTP’s letterhead.

Police could not trace the two suspects seen on the USB video, saying they needed money for jihad.

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The Taliban’s jihad tax

April 8, 2013

Traditional terror finance analysis has regarded “revolutionary taxation” imposed on businesses and capitalists as a tactic of urban guerrillas such as Basque separatists, and demands for protection payments are commonly associated with the mafia.

But another group is increasingly adopting these techniques in Karachi, Pakistan—the Taliban.

It’s not really new for the Taliban.  (They’ve been extorting money for businessmen and peasants alike for years as zakat for jihad.)  But collecting such money in Karachi represents increased power and autonomy of the Pakistani Taliban, and it’s a trend that must be monitored closely.

This story from the Global Post in February slipped by us somehow:

Pakistan’s ‘Terror Tax’

The Taliban is embracing mafia-style tactics in Pakistan’s wayward port city of Karachi.

KARACHI, Pakistan — In November, armed men from the Pakistani Taliban showed up in front of Ali Hussain’s factory, asking for money in exchange for protection.

But Hussain didn’t have the $100,000 these men wanted.

“Just tell them to go to another factory,” he said to his chief security guard, whom called him on his office phone, as he watched the scene unfold on a security monitor.

Two of them raised their AK-47s toward the tiny camera outside the gate. “You pay us, we protect you. You decide not to give us the money, we’ll kill your only son.”

It’s a scene playing out with ever-greater frequency in some parts of Karachi, Pakistan’s wayward northern port city, as the Taliban embraces mafia-style tactics to help line its pockets.

When four days later, more armed men showed up, Hussain had no other choice but to pay. Before he could hand over the check, he heard the sound of indiscriminate gunfire.

Hussain’s 33-year-old son, the factory’s production manager, was shot. A bullet pierced through his side, ripping apart his spleen and part of his pancreas.

In 2012 alone, police said at least 115 different establishments in Karachi have been victims of what locals now dub the “terror tax.” Many more such incidents may not have been reported to authorities. While other mafia groups are also guilty of such shakedowns in Karachi, the police said the Taliban is one of the worst offenders.

The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-i-Taliban, or TTP, is an umbrella group of Islamic militants originating from Pakistan’s northern tribal region. The Pakistani Taliban is not related to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which has a vastly different history and identity.

Just three years ago, it was the Awami National Party (ANP) — a left-wing, secular group affiliated with Pakistan’s large Pashtun population — that controlled the area of Karachi where Hussain’s factory operates. Though ANP-linked men frequently asked small business owners for “protection money,” many businesses were left alone because they already supported the party financially or politically.

These days the Taliban has mostly driven out the ANP. The party’s graffiti and flags, which once plastered neighborhoods here, are gone. Inside mosques, flyers now let worshippers know who is in charge. The flyers instruct businesses in need of protection that the Taliban is available and a satellite phone number is listed.

The Taliban has taken hold of parts of Karachi with disturbing ease, taking advantage of endemic poverty, a corrupt municipal government and a growing immigrant population. Some supporters of the Taliban said the group’s presence has rid the area of immoral activities like drugs and prostitution, making them more popular.

Security analysts worry that — with the Taliban’s growing presence in Karachi — Pakistan’s stores of nuclear weapons and other arms could fall into the wrong hands. Militants attacked a key Karachi naval base in August 2012 that some suspect houses part of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Bashir Jan, an ANP official in Karachi, said when the Taliban first began operating in the area, the group had little choice but to withdraw.

“At first, we didn’t do anything,” he said. “But then, when our activists were found dead, we began listening.”

With free run of the streets, the Taliban is now cleaning up on its protection rackets.

Akram Mahmoud, a shop owner in northwestern Karachi, said he pays the Taliban about $30 every month. The sum is an entire year’s worth of tuition for his son, who is in elementary school.

Although many businesses report extortion to the Karachi police, rarely do they respond. One Karachi police officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said police are hesitant to even enter large parts of northern Karachi.

“If someone is stupid enough to report a crime, the Karachi police simply file a report. Too many security personnel have already died just for walking into these streets,” he said.

City officials and political activists say that to effectively fight the Taliban in Karachi, a strong police force is vital.

“Instead the police sit and cower inside their stations. We need a better solution, a better police force,” said an ANP official.

But police officers insist they are no match for the Taliban…

Read the rest of the article here.  Declaring martial law has been rumored as a possible solution to this problem.

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Hafiz Khan convicted for funding the Taliban

March 7, 2013

Two imams in the U.S. have been convicted of terrorist financing within the span of two weeks.  First there was Imam Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud in San Diego who conspired with fellow Somali immigrants in America to fund al-Shabaab in East Africa, and now Hafiz Khan, the Florida-based imam who transferred money to the Pakistani Taliban.

Given the extensive wiretap and documentary bank evidence against Imam Khan, the case never looked good for him.  When his defense attorneys blundered by putting Khan on the witness stand to deliver listless tirades and tortured explanations of why he said what he said, it looked even worse.

First his lawyers said that Khan was mentally incompetent, but the court didn’t buy that.  Then their story was that Khan provided charitable relief and made investments in a potato chip company in Pakistan.  Then the story changed again to Khan purporting that he had lied to the Taliban in his wiretapped conversations, and that he only offered them money to get more money in return.  The plan was supposedly to give the Taliban $50,000 now to get $1 million back from them later, which would represent an unbelievable 1,900% return on his “investment.”

Did it occur to Mr. Khan or his defense team that there is no legal distinction between giving money to a terrorist organization to wage jihad versus giving money to a terrorist organization as an investment?  In any case, the defense was not plausible, and Khan could not explain his taped statements wishing death upon U.S. troops.  Allowing him to testify in his own defense was a disaster.

Real people have been killed or injured and property has been destroyed in Pakistan because of the TTP, and the TTP was enriched because this man collected money fellow Islamists in Florida.  Khan, an old man, faces a maximum 60 year sentence.  He will surely die in prison.  At least he’ll have the opportunity to say good-bye to his family—an opportunity the TTP’s victims never had.

From the Miami Herald on Mar. 4:

Florida imam convicted in Pakistani Taliban case

By CURT ANDERSON

AP Legal Affairs Writer

MIAMI — An elderly Muslim cleric has been convicted by a Miami federal court jury of providing thousands of dollars in financial support to the Pakistani Taliban.

The 12-person jury returned its verdict Monday after the two-month trial of Hafiz Khan. The 77-year-old imam at a Miami mosque was found guilty of two conspiracy counts and two counts of providing material support to terrorists.

Each charge carries a potential 15-year prison sentence.

Prosecutors built their case largely around hundreds of FBI recordings of conversations in which Khan expressed support for Taliban attacks and discussed sending about $50,000 to Pakistan.

Khan testified the money was for family, charity and business reasons. Khan also said he lied to an FBI informant about Taliban support in hopes of obtaining $1 million from him.

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Taliban doles out Rs 150 million in funding

February 18, 2013

Freelance journalist Syed Shoaib Hasan reports that the Muraqaba shura, a council of regional Taliban and Al Qaeda faction leaders, routinely distributes millions of rupees to affiliated terrorist tribal organizations at two to six week intervals.  In an example from May of 2012, the shura disbursed 70 million to the Pakistani Taliban, Rs 50 million to another Taliban faction, between RS 30 and 40 to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and smaller amounts to Harkat ul-Mujahideen and Jaish Mohammad.

In his piece, Hasan also analyzes the history of financing militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11.  He argues that forcing front charities to register with the government actually worsened matters by giving terrorists the patina of legitimacy and access to the international financial system.

Complicating the fight against terrorist financing is the militants’ new tendency to steer donations to small trusts affiliated with mosques rather than madrassas, which is more difficult to track.  Hasan reveals that one in three mosques in Karachi admits to funding militants.

Hat tip to Sal and Colby Adams for sending this over via Twitter.  From Money Matters magazine:

The militant economy

The slush funds accumulated by the militants were fed into the global financial system and were fed into the global financial system and were used to buy legimate businesses involved in construction, shipping and transport. Revenues from these concerns are now fuelling the insurgency

By Syed Shoaib Hasan

On a bright May afternoon in 2012, five men with assault rifles strode into a two-storeyed building near the bazaar in Miramshah. All wore their hair long and oiled under their Chitrali hats but the rangy frame, the narrow, aquiline nose and deep-set eyes instantly betrayed Zulfiqar alias Hakimullah Mehsud, ameer of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. An hour later the coterie emerged, with a staggering Rs70 million in cash.

The money was Mehsud’s share from a fund administered by the Taliban’s Shura-e-Muraqibat (Council of Common Interest), ostensibly an oversight committee that handles matters related to various militant groups headquartered in the tribal areas. (While some western news agencies have described it as an Al Qaeda-formed and managed entity, the shura is clearly of Taliban origin and character.) But managing and distributing funds from the Afghan Taliban structure – ‘the emirate’, as it is referred to in militant circles – is one of its primary functions.

Disbursed at two- to six-week intervals, these funds comprise the largest chunk of revenues for all militant groups in the tribal region – barring the Arab Al Qaeda – and, for some, are the only source. That May, other than the TTP, the Taliban factions headed by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir got Rs50 million each while the former Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, now known as the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, got between Rs30 million and Rs40 million. Other recipients of these stipends from the emirate include the Taliban faction of Omar Khalid as well as splinter factions of the Harkatul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Takfeeri Group of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. (Some analysts believe that the TTP also funnels money from its share to the Punjabi Taliban.)

The money is to cover the operational costs of militancy. The bulk of it is, of course, spent on arms and ammo. The rest is distributed over transport costs; communications equipment (including satellite and cellular phones as well as walkie talkies) and – in an interesting sign of the times – media cells. (The Afghan Taliban themselves, for example, have a 100-plus dedicated media cell staff that operates a website available in five languages and manages high-tech studios with editing facilities.) Besides this, small amounts are also made available for the ‘shuhuda fund’, which enables payments between Rs5,000 to Rs10,000 for the families of the successful suicide bombers.

The 9/11 shift

The role of the emirate in funding is relatively new. Before 9/11, most militant groups operating in the Af-Pak region drew funds from two main sources: the Pakistani and Middle Eastern Islamic states and large and small private donors. From the times of the Afghan war till about the nineties, say militants, the size of this pie was around $6 billion. Historically, as much as two-thirds came from the states, with Saudi Arabia leading with contributions that went up to 50 percent of total funding. Close on the kingdom’s heels were Iraq and the Gulf Arab states.

Post 9/11, the situation changed. The US-led crackdown on militant groups began with the now-famous ‘follow the money’ directive and the US Patriot Act of 2001. As a result, funds from state sources all but dried up. As the world and Pakistan woke up to the abuse of hundi and hawala – the traditional trust-based system of money transfer in vogue for money transfer to militant organisations as well as conventional Islamic charities – private donations also disappeared.

Over the next 18 months, the flow of money to militant groups ebbed to an all-time low. The period coincided with the time militant operations were at decade-long nadir and many in Pakistan were quick to call it the ‘end of jihad’ in the region. That could well have happened – without funding, the militants could not have continued undermining the US-dubbed ‘War on Terror’. But a loophole emerged – inadvertently provided by the Pakistani authorities themselves, as they looked to close down all non-formal avenues for money transfer.

A better mousetrap

In their bid to screen all ‘suspicious’ transactions, the authorities hit many Islamic charities and some individuals suspected of transferring funds for militant operations. While a few were involved – the Al Akhtar Trust, for example – most were simply what they said they were: welfare organizations and people working primarily among the urban and rural poor. Accordingly, after a thorough examination of their sources of funding, these groups and individuals were allowed to continue their activities.

However, in order to distinguish them from the militant groups, the charities were required to register themselves and maintain bank accounts for financial transactions. This ensured that only those who had valid ID cards issued by the then newly instituted National Database Authority (Nadra) could open bank accounts. Further, the move also ensured that even where occasional hawala transactions were used, the monies did eventually cross banking lanes and were thus documented. The final salvo was the provision of a list of proscribed organizations – the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi and Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan, among others – to the State Bank of Pakistan, which was to make sure their accounts were frozen.

At the time, this may have seemed a leak-proof system, especially to western observers. But in a corrupt third world bureaucracy, there were more holes in this ‘fool-proof’ mechanism than Swiss cheese.

Step up and identify yourself

For starters, the basis of the system – the newly introduced CNIC – could easily be subverted. Read the rest of this entry ?