Posts Tagged ‘zakat’

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Philippine jihad relies on Saudi zakat

April 18, 2014

The terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf Group relies mostly on kidnapping for ransom for its revenues. ASG also collects money from extortion and from the collection of zakat according to a March 2014 report from Thomson Reuters. The key point of origin of the zakat for the jihadist group is Saudi Arabia. An excerpt from the report follows:

…The ASG has also maintained the collection of Zakat, one of its traditional sources of funding, though not as profitable as its criminal activities. Zakat, which prescribes Muslims to donate 2.5% of their net revenue to charity, is legitimate under Shariah law. The ASG which claims to struggle for the establishment of an independent Islamic state in Mindanao, benefits from Zakat collected locally and abroad. Locals and those abroad who believe that militant groups are in pursuit of jihad donate substantially to support their operations and upkeep. Some donors however, are not aware that their donations end up in the treasury of militant groups.

Crucial to the collection of Zakat in the Middle East are a small number of sympathetic Filipino workers who help source donors and channel funds to the militant groups through the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) remittance system. The Philippines is one of the major exporters of labor to Saudi Arabia with more than a million Filipino workers in that country. Annual remittances amounting to more than a billion pesos have literally kept the Philippine economy afloat. Lack of regulations or monitoring of these remittances allows the flow of funds from supporters abroad to militant groups like the ASG. The ASG has not established a stable support group in any other country except for Saudi Arabia. They depend only on a few core supporters, mostly relatives and friends, both locally and abroad. In the past they collected donations during Friday congregational prayers and used the proceeds for the procurement of ammunition, medicines, and military supplies. It is estimated that from 1992 to 2007, the ASG collected almost ₱20 million from Zakat.

Propaganda is critical for the continuity of Zakat. There is no recent evidence that the ASG is publicly engaged in propaganda which suggests less reliance in Zakat. Previously, the ASG organized lectures and seminars to encourage people to take part in jihad by sharing their wealth through Zakat. The ASG is also known to compile video footages of militant training and actual combat operations. In October 2007, the ASG had appealed for funds and recruits on You Tube by featuring a video of two slain ASG leaders…

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Accounting for Kuwaiti cash among Syrian rebels

February 23, 2014

How Kuwait came to be such a major regional player in the financing of radical rebels in Syria is the subject of a recent interview with Elizabeth Dickens of the Brookings Institute conducted by Syria Deeply, a website run by journalists. Dickens chalks Kuwait’s ascendance as a financier up to:

  • Lax regulation (ie, the failure of Kuwait to criminalize terrorist financing until recently)
  • Business ties between Kuwait and Syria
  • Numerous, experienced NGOs operate in Kuwait

Here’s an excerpt of the interview, with thanks to Arye Leonid Glozman for sending over a link:

Syria Deeply: Why has Kuwait emerged as a financing and organizational hub for charities and individuals supporting Syria’s rebel groups?

Elizabeth Dickinson: It’s a perfect storm. Kuwait has all the things that one would need to set up such a financing hub. The most important thing it has, or that it had until very recently, was extremely lax regulation. So after Sept. 11, most of the Gulf states had these really strict counterterrorism financing laws that gave them the ability to stop any suspicious transactions very swiftly, and they were cooperating with Western intelligence to build their capacity to find any suspicious transactions in the banking system.

Kuwait, however, did not do that, and its counterterror financing law basically said nothing about terrorist financing being illegal. And its central bank just didn’t have any investigative capacity  so even if they did want to stop something from going on, they wouldn’t really have the ability to investigate and figure out how to stop it.

Factor number two is extremely deep ties between Kuwait and Syria. Before the conflict started, Kuwaiti investors were among the single largest direct foreign investor in Syria, so there’s a lot of really longstanding business ties. You have a lot of Kuwaitis with homes and businesses in Syria, with Syrian wives. So there’s a really close personal connection there. There’s also 120,000 Syrian expats in Kuwait, which is a lot considering the population of Kuwait is only 3 million people.

Then you have all the factors that have made the Gulf a hub for financing  you have a lot of money, and a lot of people who are personally affected by what’s going on in Syria. I’ve had lots of people start crying in meetings there. They had the willpower to start getting involved.

The last part of this perfect storm is that Kuwait has the longest history in the Gulf of charitable and humanitarian work. Because of its relatively open political system, people living in Kuwait are allowed to start NGOs, there are private charities that are private, not semi-state organizations like they would be in Saudi Arabia. The Kuwaitis have a lot of experience doing project finance, going into a country and building mosques, wells and schools. The infrastructure of charitable giving is really strong there, and it has allowed a lot of people with expertise to move into sectors of aid that are more geared towards the military side.

There’s a lot of overlap  sheikhs will do a fundraiser for the mujahideen and their weapons … and hospitals.

Kuwait’s ability to be a hub was recognized early in the conflict by other Gulf citizens who were interested in getting financially involved in Syria. If I’m a Saudi and I want to give money to the rebels in Syria, I’m probably aware that my government is not going to look favorably upon that, so individuals elsewhere in the Gulf rely on bundlers in Kuwait to accept their donations on their behalf, and then the donations go from Kuwait to Syria, rather than directly from Saudi to Syria.

SD: What’s the breakdown of where the money from Kuwait is going?

ED: We have rough ideas of how much it is and where it’s going. Among the pro-rebel groups, the vast majority of the money is going to groups that are in the Islamic Front, like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam. There’s evidence that funds are going to Jabhat al-Nusra…

Read the rest here.  Previous Money Jihad coverage of Kuwaiti financing of Syrian militants can be found here, here, and here.

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Al Qaeda extorts businessmen in Iraq

February 4, 2014

Al Qaeda shakes down businessmen as a form of zakat, the traditional Islamic tax on wealth.  Other jihadist groups, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have taken the same tack.  Years ago, Osama Bin Laden admonished businessmen to give their money to jihad, and Ayman al-Zawahiri has continued making similar statements since he took over Al Qaeda.  They use the money to pay salaries and to buy explosive devices.

Under classical sharia jurisprudence, zakat is not optional or voluntary in the sense of Western charity or alms.  Zakat is enforceable by the caliph under penalty of death, and Abu Bakr waged Islam’s first war against Muslims who refused to pay zakat.

It is little wonder then that Al Qaeda and the Taliban feel justified in taking money by force from Muslims for the furtherance of Islam.

Thanks to El Grillo for sending this in about Al Qaeda’s extortion of businessmen in Nineveh, Iraq, from Al-Shorfa on Jan. 27:

Al-Qaeda financiers arrested in Ninawa

Police have arrested four members of an armed group involved in collecting money for al-Qaeda by way of threats and extortion, Iraqi police in Ninawa province said Monday (January 27th).

“The police arrested four al-Qaeda-affiliated gunmen involved in collecting money for al-Qaeda by threatening citizens, so they could use it to finance terrorist operations,” Ninawa police spokesman Col. Khalid al-Hamdani told Al-Shorfa.

“The police arrested the group in an ambush set up in al-Sahel al-Aysar, southern Mosul, as they tried to extort a businessman, threatening him with death in order to take money from him,” he said.

“The gunmen admitted to belonging to al-Qaeda during the investigation, after being confronted with evidence collected by police,” al-Hamdani said. “They confirmed that the money was collected for al-Qaeda to buy cars and rig them with explosives.”

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Financial mischief: recommended reading

August 28, 2013
  • Yemen admits that, left to their own devices, donors’ zakat will fund terrorismmore>>
  • Financial crime expert Kenneth Rijock affirms the decision by Barclays to stop doing wiring money to Somalia… more>>
  • After Goldman Sachs, GoDaddy, and NASDAQ snafus, maybe it’s time to acknowledge the threat of economic warfaremore>>
  • Will bitcoin be embraced beyond the anarchist fringe? Laundreymen author Jeffrey Robinson has his doubts… more>>
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Audit reveals ISNA funded militants

August 5, 2013

The Canadian affiliate of the Islamic Society of North America has come under the scrutiny of Canada Revenue Agency for violating rules governing ISNA’s tax-exempt status by failing to demonstrate that its overseas philanthropy is genuine.  The CRA found that ISNA’s only “evidence” to justify how its money was spent in Kashmir is a doctored photograph.

Hizbul Mujahideen, a terrorist group in Kashmir and the recipient of ISNA’s largesse, has a wide-ranging revenue strategy including zakat and hawala from Pakistan, animal skin smuggling, and counterfeiting.  Its ability to access Western relief money through North American charities suggests an even broader international reach than previously understood.

ISNA’s U.S. affiliate was previously named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial against the Holy Land Foundation for funding Hamas.  ISNA-USA claims that it is a legally separate entity from ISNA Canada despite maintaining an ISNA-Canada representative, Dr. Mohamed Bekkari, on its executive council.

Thanks to Gisele for sending in links on the subject including this article from The Star, which serves as yet another example of zakat-financed terrorism:

Star Investigation: Federal audit raises concern that Canadian charity funded terror

Ottawa fears several thousands of dollars went to supporting the Hizbul Mujahideen — a militant group that seeks the secession of Kashmir from India.

By: Jesse McLean Investigative News reporter, Published on Thu Jul 25 2013

Money raised by an Islamic charity created to help Canada’s poor and needy instead went overseas, potentially into the hands of violent militants, a government audit has found.

The federal charity watchdog is now threatening to revoke the charity status of Mississauga’s ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) Development Foundation.

A Canada Revenue Agency audit revealed the foundation shipped more than $280,000 to a Pakistan-based agency, cash the government fears went to supporting the Hizbul Mujahideen — a militant group that seeks the secession of Kashmir from India.

The foundation “facilitated the transfer of resources that may have been used to support the efforts of a political organization . . . and its armed wing,” the CRA said in a letter to the charity outlining its findings, obtained by the Star.

“Canada’s commitment to combating terrorism extends to preventing organizations with ties to terrorism from benefiting from the tax advantages of charitable registration,” the CRA letter said…

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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.

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Covert finance: recommended reading

June 20, 2013
  • Egyptian imam says that zakat is being used to fund fightersmore>>
  • With prepaid cards and fraud, the sky’s the limit… more>>
  • Sick of drug money funding terrorism? Plant science has developed to the point where we could eradicate the coca shrub and opium poppy, if we really wanted to… more>>
  • Sanctions violation:  the president of Panama’s private trading company is shipping 20 containers a month to Iranmore>>
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Hamas defines ‘Jihad with Money’

June 5, 2013

And it’s exactly what we’ve always told you…

From IDF Blog on May 23 (h/t Justice4Israel):

Last week, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, published an article on their website entitled ‘Jihad with Money’ (link in Arabic).

The term ‘Jihad with Money’ has two different meanings, the article’s author suggests.

“The general meaning [of the term] is to give money to charitable causes for the pleasure of God Almighty: to help the poor and needy, construct hospitals, mosques, schools, colleges and universities, [to assist] orphans and students, and help the unemployed.”

That sounds like a respectable concept – until you read on for the ‘special’ meaning.

“The special meaning: to make money for combat, such as the purchase of weapons, gear and clothing, and to develop the means to build factories for weapons and to support the families of the Mujahideen [terror fighters] and their families.”

For Hamas, charity and Jihad are one and the same. Hamas built their power base and gained the support of ordinary Gazans thanks to their extensive charity network. They also collect money around the world, ostensibly for the benefit of the Gazan people. But much of that money never gets to the people for whom Hamas claims it is intended.

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ website calls on its readers to give ‘zakat’, or charity, generously, and suggests that the Hamas government spends that money on a wide range of charity projects, in addition to its military activities. By associating its military activities with its charity work, Hamas attempts to justify its spending. But do not be fooled: Hamas’ priority number one is terror – and helping ordinary Gazans in need comes a distant second…

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Front group finance: recommended reading

May 23, 2013
  • Are tea party groups subjected to greater scrutiny than Islamic charities? A nonprofit consultant says yes (h/t creeping)… more>>
  • How Saudi charitable fronts pump millions of dollars via hawala into Kashmir to transform it into a valley of Wahhabism… more>>
  • Islamic charities have exploited America to fund Chechen jihadists since 9/11… more>>
  • No longer confined to the blogosphere, the Associated Press reports on the legal battle between a Christian publisher and a terror-linked Muslim syndicate… more>>
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Omer Abdi Mohamed gets 12 years in prison

May 21, 2013

Terror recruiter and financier sentenced in Minneapolis

Al-Shabaab has been able to wreak havoc in Somalia because of its combustible mix of money and jihadist ideology.  Unfortunately, some of al-Shabaab’s revenues originated from donations bundled together by terrorist supporters in Minnesota such as Amina Farah Ali and Omer Abdi Mohamed.

Here’s the latest from Minneapolis:

Four men in Minnesota sentenced to prison for aiding Somali rebel group

MINNEAPOLIS | Tue May 14, 2013

(Reuters) – A federal judge sentenced four men to prison on Tuesday for helping recruit young men in Minnesota to travel to Somalia and fight for the militant group al Shabaab.

Investigators believe about 20 young, ethnic Somali men left Minnesota from 2007 to 2009 to go to Somalia to fight for al Shabaab, which the United States designated a terrorist organization.

Three men who cooperated with investigators were each sentenced to three years and a fourth man was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

“These defendants, by providing material support to a designated terrorist organization, broke both the law and the hearts of family members across the Twin Cities,” U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said in a statement.

Eighteen men were charged after a four-year investigation. Eight were convicted and the rest are thought to be fugitives or to have been killed in Somalia while fighting for al Shabaab.

On Tuesday, Omer Abdi Mohamed, 28, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty in July 2011 to one count of conspiring to provide material support to co-conspirators who intended to murder, kidnap, or maim Ethiopian and Somali government troops.

Mohamed, of Minneapolis, admitted that he helped recruits get plane tickets and helped to raise money for them to travel to Somalia to fight with al Shabaab in 2007.

Three men who cooperated with investigators were each sentenced to three years in prison by Chief Judge Michael Davis in Minneapolis federal court…

How exactly did Mohamed raise the money for the recruits?  From the trial brief:

…The defendant and his conspirators went to local malls and apartment buildings to ask for money, claiming it would be used to build a mosque or to assist with relief efforts in Somalia. In fact, the money was to pay for the airfare and travel expenses of the group of men to join in the conspiracy…

If these Somali fellows had to do all this legwork to finance their travel to Somalia, it makes one wonder how Tamerlan Tsarnaev secured funding to travel to Dagestan.  Public benefits and proceeds from casual drug sales may have been insufficient, and Tsarnaev didn’t have access to community donations in the same way the Minnesota Somalis have had.  Did Tsarnaev’s in-laws unwittingly pay for his trip?

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Ibn al-Khattab: the bin Laden of Chechnya

April 21, 2013

Well-to-do Saudi served as Chechen commander and jihadist financier

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1952053.stm

Deceased Chechen commander Ibn al-Khattab

In Money Jihad’s earlier post on the history of terror finance in Chechnya, one name came up again and again:  Ibn al-Khattab.  The terrorist leader was an early disciple of Osama bin Laden, and would benefit from bin Laden’s encouragement and financial support for years until al-Khattab’s death in 2002.

But al-Khattab was also a force unto himself, managing the flow of jihadist recruits and financing their operations in the Chechen guerrilla war against Russia.  One of the better descriptions of al-Khattab’s activities comes from the book Chechen Jihad by Yossef Bodansky.  Here’s an excerpt:

The Chechen jihadists received another injection of strength at this time with the arrival of an organized group of hardened Arab mujahedin from the Gulf states, including Saudis and Kuwaities, and the Maghreb region of north Africa, including Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian, and other troops.  These fighters were commanded by one Ibn al-Khattab, often referred to as Emir Khattab or simply Khattab.  Khattab, whose real name was Samir bin Salakh al-Suwailim, was a Bedouin from the Suwailim tribe of northwest Saudi Arabia and southern Jordan; over the years he has identified himself with both nations, depending on the circumstances.  Born in 1970 to a fairly wealthy and well-educated family, Khattab received both Western and Muslim education, including learning English.  In 1987 he was accepted to a college in the United States, but before continuing with his education, he decided to visit Afghanistan and briefly participate in the jihad.

Arriving in Pakistan in the fall of 1987, Khattab met some of the key leaders of the Arab “Afghans,” including Sheikh Abdallah Azzam, Sheikh Tamim Adnani, and Osama bin Laden.  Captivated by their call for jihad, he committed his life to the jihad.  Khattab ccompleted his training in the international camp in Jalalabad, under Hassan al-Sarehi, the commander of the 1987 Lion’s Den operation in Jaji.  Impressed with the zeal and skills of his young trainee, Sarehi invited Khattab to join his forces in Jaji.  Between 1988 and 1993, Khattab participated in all the major operations in the Afghan jihad, including the capture of Jalalabad, Khowst, and Kabul.  He also spent time expanding his knowledge of Islam and his military skills, while becoming conversant in both Pashto and Russian.

Khattab would later claim that he decided to join the Chechen jihad after seeing televised footage of Islamist mujahedin reciting takbirs (Koranic verses) before going into battle.  But his status as a commander also played a role.  By the early 1990s, Khattab had emerged as one of the most fierce and competent commanders, popular with both the Afghan and the Arab “Afghan” mujahedin.  He also became one of bin Laden’s key protégés.  Khattab spent the years between early 1993 and early 1995 commanding a small Arab elite force in support of the Tajik Islamist mujahedin, particularly in the Fergana Valley.  He returned to Afghanistan to train and lead one of the first elite forces to go to Chechnya.

When bin Laden and the Islamist-Jihadist leadership decided to escalate the jihad in the Caucasus, they summoned Khattab back from Tajikistan and dispatched him to Chechnya.  Ali Hammad, a senior al Qaeda commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the mid-1990s, knew Khattab as a senior commander under bin Laden and considered him “one of the more important personalities in Al Qaeda.”  Ali Hammad confirmed that Khattab went to Chechnya on bin Laden’s orders, and that he and bin Laden personally managed the subsequent flow of jihadist volunteers into the area.

Khattab arrived in Chechnya in the spring of 1995 with eight veteran Arab “Afghan” commanders, followed by a few dozen combat veterans.  He soon became one of the most important commanders in Chechnya, quickly forming a close relationship with Shamil Basayev.  One of Basayev’s closest personal friends, Chechnya’s onetime foreign minister Shamil Beno, reported that Basayev underwent a profound change in 1995 under Khattab’s influence.  Basayev “started moving from freedom for Chechnya to freedom for the whole Arab world,” Beno said.  “He changed from a Chechen patriot into an Islamic globalist.”

But al-Khattab didn’t only receive funds from the Middle East and Al Qaeda.  He was the recipient of zakat donations from U.S. Muslims.  Benevolence International Foundation, a Saudi-created Islamic charity which relocated to Chicago in 1993, was shut down by the Bush administration after 9/11 for its role in financing jihad in Bosnia and Chechnya.  The racketeering trial against BIF’s leader revealed that “[Al-Khattab] did have ties to Saudi Arabia: a fund-raising website listed the Benevolence International Foundation—originally a Saudi-based charity—as a vehicle for contributions.”

The Obama administration and its allies would later criticize George W. Bush for creating a “chilling effect” on Muslim charitable giving by closing down organizations such as BIF, and Pres. Obama personally promised to make it easier for American Muslims to donate zakat.

In addition to receiving money from BIF, al-Khattab secured funding from Osama bin Laden in 1999 to fund Chechen operations.  The website History Commons has noted that Osama bin Laden and Ibn al-Khattab also shared the same wealthy Arab donor network.  By October 2001, Khattab had an enough of a financial war chest to offer to pay salaries and death benefits to jihadists who went to fight in Afghanistan against the impending American and coalition invasion.

It’s a mistake to think that any single terrorist operation only cost the price of materials used to carry out the operation.  It takes a lot of money to create a culture of indoctrination, training, and media messaging.  A single attack is the result of sizable investments over a long period of time by men such as Ibn al-Khattab.

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