Posts Tagged ‘Western Union’


Feds foil 6 Bosnians funding ISIS from U.S.

February 9, 2015

Ramiz Zijad Hodzic collected $8,000 in Missouri. Then he used the U.S. postal service, Western Union, and PayPal to send $10,000 worth of cash and military gear to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria through intermediaries in Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Ramiz had at least five co-conspirators that we’re aware of. Their cause is not Bosnian political reform. They are not trying to send a signal to Serbia or Russia. They are answering the siren call of the caliphate. Their cause is jihad.

From USA Today:

U.S. accuses 6 immigrants of helping Islamic State

An indictment has been unsealed charging Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis County. Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, N.Y., Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34, of Schiller Park, Ill., and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Ill., were also named in the indictment.

The United States attorney’s office says all six suspects are natives of Bosnia who immigrated to the United States and are either naturalized citizens or have refugee or legal resident status.

Federal investigators were working for two years between 2013 and 2014 to track the suspects. They say Ramiz and Sedina Hodzic were the point people for funneling money, guns and military equipment to Islamic State fighters in the Middle East. The husband and wife made their initial appearance in federal court Friday evening.

On Saturday, Salkicevic appeared in federal court in Chicago, speaking only to confirm she understood the charges against her.

Investigators say Ramiz set up an account in St. Louis to collect close to $8,000. He used his own money and got cash from the other suspects and third parties. Then, the feds say, Ramiz bought more than $2,400 in military equipment from St. Louis businesses. He bought military uniforms, combat boots, tactical gear and firearms accessories then shipped them through the U.S. Postal Service to Turkey.

Ramiz wired more than $7,700 cash between 2013 and 2014 through Western Union to Islamic State fighters, funneling it through Turkey, Bosnia and Saudi Arabia.

Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Nihad Rosic are charged with conspiring to kill and maim persons in a foreign country…


Biggest prior terrorist attack on France funded by Algerian from London

January 8, 2015

Before the Charlie Hebdo massacre yesterday, the last major terrorist attacks on French soil were the Paris transit bombings of 1995. Those attacks, which killed eight and injured 150, were carried out by the Groupe Islamique Arme (GIA), an Algerian jihadist group. The mastermind of the GIA bombings was Rachid Ramda, an Algerian living in the U.K. at the time who the British then detained but refused to extradite to France until 10 years later. The delay in Ramda’s extradition was allegedly because of Great Britain’s “Londonistan” policy of not wanting to offend Muslim investors and immigrants even to the point of jeopardizing public safety. Ramda was eventually convicted on several charges over the Paris bombings, including the financing of the attacks which involved a wire transfer from Ramda to onsite bomber Ait Ali Belkacem. Here’s a look back at coverage of Ramda’s conviction by Reuters from 2007:

French court convicts Algerian of Paris bombings

A French court jailed Algerian Rachid Ramda for life on Friday for his role in financing a spate of bomb attacks on the Paris underground rail network that killed eight people and wounded 200 others in 1995.

Paris Assizes Court ordered that Ramda should serve a minimum 22 years behind bars for his role in the attacks, the worst bombings on mainland France since World War Two.

Court president Didier Wacogne, sitting with six professional assessors, said Ramda was “guilty of complicity to murder and attempted murder” as well as an array of explosives and other offences.

Around 70 relatives and friends of victims of the attacks were present for the verdict which was met in silence.

Ramda, 38, who denied the charges, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2006 for terrorist conspiracy linked to the same bombing campaign.

His lawyer Sebastien Bonot protested during the case that Ramda was being tried a second time for the same crime, and said after Friday’s verdict that his client would appeal.

“This decision is certainly not a surprise but we feel that justice and the law have not been done,” he told reporters.

The prosecution said Ramda was a key figure in Algeria’s radical Armed Islamic Group (GIA), and added that phone taps showed he was in regular contact with Ali Touchent and Boualem Bensaid, the GIA’s coordinators in France.

A police search of Ramda’s London address produced a Western Union payment slip bearing his fingerprints which showed he had sent 5,000 pounds ($10,250) to the Paris bombers

The source of the Charlie Hebdo attackers’ weapons and money are not yet known.


Banker supports taxes for jihad

June 30, 2013

The former chairman of Islami Bank Bangladesh, Limited (IBBL), Shah Abdul Hannan, explained his support for collecting taxes beyond zakat for the purposes of waging jihad in an article posted online around 2003 (available here and here).  Hannan based this argument on the writings of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the notorious Muslim Brotherhood leader, Hamas charity front financier, and sharia finance proponent.

Referring to Qaradawi’s Fiqh al Zakah, Hannan wrote:

…Allah has made it obligatory to carry out Jihad (defence of Islam and Islamic territory and to put an end to oppression anywhere in this world) through employing one’s life and wealth. This is a duty beyond Zakat. To carry out a major Jihad in this age, if needed, there is no other way but to raise resources through taxes…

Hannan has also condemned peaceful Shahbag dissidents who are calling for justice against war criminals in Bangladesh.  Hannan calls the student demonstrators fascists.  Well, Mr. Hannan—it takes one to know one.

Money Jihad has been documenting the terrorist financing activities of IBBL, one of the biggest banks in Bangladesh and its largest sharia financial institution, ever since Bangladeshi authorities revealed in 2011 that Islami Bank has been diverting eight percent of its corporate zakat to jihadi militants.  A member of IBBL’s sharia advisory board was also detained and questioned for possible involvement in an attack against police.

IBBL fell under international scrutiny in 2012 after the U.S. Senate reported that HSBC continued to maintain a business relationship with IBBL despite evidence of its role in funding terrorism.

More recently, U.S. garment importers including Wal-mart and J.C. Penny have severed ties with IBBL due to the Islamic bank’s role in supporting militants.  Nonetheless, Western Union continues to do business with IBBL.


Turkish national convicted of funding jihad

April 4, 2013

Cartoon from the Orange County Weekly

Oytun Ayse Mihalik made three separate money transfers to Pakistan to finance terrorism.  The former CVS pharmacy employee could have been prosecuted on three separate counts of material support for terrorism on that basis.

However, the transfers were lumped into one charge for which Mihalik pleaded guilty, and rather than receiving the maximum 15-year sentence, or the 12-year sentence sought by prosecutors, she was only sentenced to five years in prison.

She’ll be back on the streets before we know it.  From the Los Angeles Times (with a tip of the hat to Dr. Hayat Alvi for tweeting out a separate news link on the sentencing)

O.C. woman sentenced to five years for sending funds to terrorists

By Victoria Kim

March 29, 2013

An Orange County pharmacist who admitted to wiring $2,050 to Pakistan to be used to fund terrorist activities was sentenced Friday to five years in federal prison.

Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 40, a Turkish national and permanent U.S. resident, pleaded guilty in August to one count of providing material support to terrorists after sending three money orders over a month in late 2010 and early 2011.

Mihalik used a false name, “Cindy Palmer,” to send the funds, according to authorities.

Federal prosecutors had asked for a 12-year sentence for the woman, alleging she provided the money to a man she met through a website, believing it was going to be used to harm U.S. troops.

She was motivated by a “desire to participate in jihad” and knew the sum was “more than enough to finance an entire operation against the United States military forces,” they wrote, citing her email communications with the man.

They also noted that she had created a “favorite” tab for “The Al Qaeda Manual” on her laptop and had searched the terms “true jihad” and “Jihad in Afghanistan” on her Web browser in “privacy” mode.

Her defense attorneys argued she had been manipulated in a time of vulnerability when her marriage was falling apart after a miscarriage. She accessed the website out of worry for her brother, who was going on a pilgrimage to Pakistan, they contended in court filings. They asked for a 24-month sentence.

The woman appears to have come to authorities’ attention after her husband called Immigration and Customs Enforcement, alleging she had married him under “false pretenses” after she moved out of their home for a trial separation. She became radicalized after a monthlong trip to Turkey two years into their marriage, he alleged.

“I go, ‘Listen, did you marry just me for my citizenship and do you want to harm someone here?’ And she looked at me blank and she said, ‘If I have to kill people for Allah, I will,'” the husband said in his initial report, according to a transcript filed with court papers.

See previous Money Jihad coverage of Oytun Ayse Mihalik and her use of Western Union here.


Western Union’s sharia shipwreck

June 13, 2012

Money transfer giant partners with fishy sharia bank

Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd and global remittance leader get close

Western Union and IBBL officials join together

A major partnership has been reported between Western Union and Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL) to provide remittance services to Bangladeshi expatriates.

IBBL is the largest and oldest sharia-compliant bank in Bangladesh.  The Islami Bank Foundation is its charitable wing.  Money Jihad has previously reported that:

  • In January 2011, the government of Bangladesh said there were “strong evidences of militant financing by the Bank and the Foundation.”
  • Bangladesh’s home ministry announced in March 2011 that 8 percent of IBBL’s profits are diverted as zakat to support militant jihad.
  • Abu Bakr Rafique, one of the advisors on IBBL’s sharia board, was arrested and interrogated in September 2011 for his suspected involvement in an Islamist attack that left three police officers seriously injured.

IBBL also played a historical role in facilitating transactions and handling accounts for the Saudi Wahhabi-based Muslim World League (Rabita al-Alam al-Islami).

More than any other entity, IBBL provides the clearest example of the connection between sharia banking and terror finance.

But Western Union doesn’t seem to mind.

From The Financial Express yesterday:

Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd (IBBL) Tuesday launched inward remittance transfer services linking millions of expatriates, living and working in over 200 countries and territories, to the bank’s 269 branches across the country.

Teaming up with world class cross-border money transfer platform-Western Union, IBBL enabled the Bangladeshi expatriates to send their hard-earned money to the beneficiaries at home within a few minutes.

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The fastest way to send money (& kill infidels)

December 24, 2011

The amounts may not seem large to us.  Muslim Somali women in Minnesota send a few thousand to al-Shabaab.  Muslim used car dealers in Ohio send a few thousand to Hezbollah.  Major Nidal Hassan wired money to Lashkar-e-Taiba before he opened fire at U.S. troops at Ft. Hood.  A Muslim lady in California sends a few thousand through Western Union (whose slogan used to be “the fastest way to send money”) to Pakistan to target U.S. personnel in this latest case.

The small amounts reduce the chance that a money service business (MSB) such as Western Union would file a suspicious transaction report on the customer.  MSBs are subject to the same compliance standards as banks including know-your-customer requirements, so Western Union presumably inspected the California Muslim woman’s ID at the time she sent the wires.  She used an alias twice, which suggests that in addition to supporting terrorism, she possessed a fake ID.

The problem isn’t just Saudi millionaires writing huge donation checks–it’s little businessmen, charity workers, grocery clerks, and pharmacists like this throughout the U.S., Latin America, and Europe, sending their zakat and sadaqa overseas in thousand dollar increments for the cause of Allah.  It adds up…

From Complinet:

Los Angeles-area pharmacist wired funds to Pakistan to finance ‘terrorist’ attacks, prosecutors say

Dec 22 2011 Brett Wolf recommended

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles on Wednesday indicted a Turkish national on terrorism-support charges for allegedly wiring money to Pakistan to help fund attacks against American military personnel. Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 39, of La Palma, California, a permanent resident of the United States, used Western Union to wire more than $2,000 from a grocery store in Buena Park to a person in Pakistan, prosecutors say. They also say she knew that the money “would be used to prepare for and carry out attacks that would kill United States military personnel and other persons overseas.”

Court documents state that Mihalik, a pharmacist who worked at CVS, made three wire transfers – $750, $600, and $700 – to Pakistan in December 2010 and January 2011. They add that the first wire was made in her name, but the latter two were made using the alias “Cindy Palmer.” Names and numbers While Mihalik printed the name “Cindy Palmer” as the sender of the final two wires, Western Union receipts reveal.

Oh, and any chance that Pakistani authorities will arrest the recipient of the transfers?  Heh.  If California prosecutors know that she intended to harm U.S. personnel by funding a Pakistani group, that means her money was probably intended for the Haqqani network, which exists under Pakistani protection and largesse.


Are Western Union’s controls enough?

November 27, 2009

As the one-year anniversary of the 26/11 terrorist attacks against Mumbai passed yesterday, many questions in India remain unanswered.  Government officials are still prosecuting and arresting those involved, and are still trying to figure out what steps to take to prevent terrorist attacks in the future.

The role of Western Union money wires has come under special scrutiny in India, which receives $50 billion a year in remittances from Indians living in other countries.  Reportedly, Western Union has taken additional steps to verify the identity of those involved on both sides of the transaction.  The Economic Times offers this report:

MUMBAI: The person at the Western Union counter has a delicate job these days. When a burkha-clad lady steps into the agency, likely to collect the money her husband sends on the first Friday of every month from Muscat, she is politely asked to lift her veil just for a second — a standard operating procedure to make sure that the lady behind the veil is the same person whose photo appears on the ID.

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