Twitter and email info

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Islamic Charities and Extremist Causes

Link: List of Suspect Islamic Charities

When I was a child, living in military housing in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, I remember hearing the news broadcasts about terrorist attacks in Europe and the Near East.  In fact, hijackings were the rage amongst the bad guys, with their Palestinian scarves and AK-47s.  I can recall my mother being particularly concerned with the German-based Baader-Meinhof gang because of their declared willingness to attack U.S. military targets.  Sadly, since the days of my youth, we have never really moved out of the age of terrorism.  From the outside looking in, it should not be surprising that terrorists have supporters, who argue that terrorism is the only way to give a voice to the oppressed.  Islamic fundamentalist terrorists are always able to depend on the financial support of wealthy Muslims.  For those working in the anti-terrorist community, it is vital to target and disrupt extremist support networks.  Not surprisingly, funding for terrorism isn't conducted with the teller at the lobby of the local Chase Bank.  Normally, funds being transferred on behalf of terrorist groups will usually have a "cover client".  Law enforcement with an international reach, like the FBI and Interpol, are constantly monitoring the deposit, transfer and withdrawal of large sums of money.  In the past, this job was much easier because the suspect transactions usually involved one of a group of suspect countries.  The issue has since become much more complicated.

Terrorist groups need money.  In the past, some of the most spectacular terrorist attacks have been conducted by relatively small groups.  Smaller groups do not require as much financial support.  But the reach of international terrorism has grown so much over the past few decades, that it has become necessary for the bad guys to find new methods of providing financial assistance to their operatives.  One method of smuggling funds in and out of countries is to hide the money in places which are the least suspicious.  Islamic extremists have been able to utilize numerous Islamic Charities in order to hide, launder, and deliver money.  Interestingly enough, a number of the charities also raise funds for extremist activities.  The FBI has identified and disrupted a number of Islamic charities (and educational foundations, for that matter) who were raising money in the United States to support terrorist groups.  To be fair, its not only an issue of religion.  In 1999, various wealthy Albanian-Americans were active in raising money for the Kosovo Liberation Army.  And I'm sure the greatest donations to the Irish Republican Army originated in the United States (just a hypothesis).  

In recent years, Qatar and Kuwait have come under scrutiny because of the suspected fund-raising activities of charities that are close to the royal families.  Organizations who regularly function as a charity "during the day", but operate differently when attention is focused elsewhere, can be found throughout Europe, the United States, and the Near East.  As the financial world becomes more and more connected and accessible, the easier it will be for these groups to raise and deliver funds in whatever direction they choose.  At this point, its still necessary to have a decent "cover client".  Some of the more well-known charities that have come under scrutiny include the Saudi Al-Haramain Foundation, the Benevolence International Foundation, the Global Relief Foundation, Islamic International Relief Organization, and Muslim Aid.  Both the Global Relief Foundation and the Benevolence International Foundation, were located in the United States.  Muslim Aid, located in London, was suspected of recruiting and providing support for extremist operations in Bosnia and Bangladesh. 

International law enforcement has been successful in tracking the flow of money as it makes its way from terrorist supporters to the actual operatives.  Court cases involving suspect charities are on the docket at this moment.  Unfortunately, as law enforcement wraps up one group, another takes its place.  And the bad guys are just as good as we are when it comes to maneuvering their way around the world of international finance.

No comments:

Post a Comment