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Monday, December 29, 2003

Al Qaeda's Ca$h

by columnist Peter Brookes, in the NY Post
Want to start your day by becoming discouraged early on? That way, nothing that happens later can get you down because you'll already be there. Just read this column in the NY Post.

According to Brookes, "terrorist operations can be cheap." He cites the bombing in Bali at $35,000 and the USS Cole at $50,000. This is not reassuring, nor is the fact that terrorist-supporters operate a huge global financial empire. The numbers are staggering:
Two weeks ago, six Arabs with suspected al Qaeda links were arrested in Syria carrying $23 million in cash, according to administration officials. (Syria has not confirmed this report.) If true, this is believed to be the largest netting of terrorist bulk cash since the War on Terror began over two years ago.

The good news is that Syria pickpocketed al Qaeda of $23 million. (Not that having $23 million in the hands of the terror-backing Syrians is a comfort either.) The bad news is that al Qaeda couriers were running around with $23 million in cash to some yet unknown destination.
As fast as we can freeze their cash, they can move it:
Perhaps most disturbing: A suspected, major al Qaeda financier is still doing business in Europe, according to a new U.N. report.

The al Taqwa financial empire operates in the Middle East, Europe and the Caribbean; it has reportedly funneled tens of millions of dollars to al Qaeda, Hamas and other terror groups via Muslim charities and informal (unregulated) remittance networks, known as hawalas. . .

In response [to UN resolutions to freeze their assests], terror backers liquidate their fronts, then reopen under new names - sometimes in different countries. That's how al Taqwa still operates businesses in Europe. Last week, the United States imposed sanctions on Liechtenstein-based Hochburg AG, the new name of the al Taqwa conglomerate.

Terrorist-associated charities, such as the infamous al Haramain Islamic Foundation, are often shuttering one set of offices to open another in a different town in the same country to avoid detection. Al Haramain recently did this in Bosnia, reappearing under the name of Vazir. (Washington imposed sanctions on it last week, too.)
Does Howard Dean know about this?