MI6 is certain that the Islamabad Marriott Hotel atrocity that killed 53 and injured 250 in October, was bank rolled by a centuries-old money transfer system in the Muslim world, which leaves no paper trail.
The system, known as “Hawala”, has since 9/11 provided a continuous flow of funds from every Muslim who has answered Bin Laden’s call to support jihad. The London bombings, the Bali massacre, the Madrid train bombings – every major terrorist outrage was backed by Hawala finance to prepare suicide bombers and acquire the explosives like the thousand pounds in weight used in the hotel attack.
It is calculated by the CIA that since 9/11 Bin Laden has used Hawala money, which has not only led to thousands of deaths, but several hundred million dollars of destruction.
Originally created by Arab silk traders stretching from China to Europe, at its centre are the hawaldars. Every Muslim community in Britain has its number of these unique brokers. They range from corner-shop owners to taxi drivers, undertakers and even imams who operate from back rooms in their mosques. All are sworn to secrecy and no one can be admitted into the hawaladar’s closed circle until he has been vouched for by another hawaladar.
In Britain alone, MI5 believe there are over 500 of them. Worldwide they number at least ten thousand. Between them they handle several billion dollars a day. Hundreds of experts recruited by MI6 and other intelligence services are moving urgently along the Hawala global money trail which has led to the discovery “of a fund-raising machine whose operations extend into every place where there are Muslim communities”, former FBI director Robert Mueller warned on a recent visit to discuss Hawala with MI6 chief John Scarlett and MI5 director Jonathan Evans.
Richard Clarke, who was President George W Bush’s intelligence czar, said Hawala is “at the heart of Bin Laden’s operations. He has collected billions of dollars since 9/11. But it is only recently that we have come to learn the sheer scope of its activities. Its secrecy makes Swiss banks an ‘open sesame’ by comparison”.
But its secrecy has been traced by MI6, thanks to its own penetration of the Muslim communities in Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines and northern provinces of China and Muslim communities living in South America.
“Some run legitimate corporations, others are criminals dealing in human trafficking and drugs. Several are controlled Muslim charities and non-governmental organisations. All have one common link: they have either received a personal visit from an al-Qaeda fundraiser or have been reached by phone or fax. No political organisation in the West can match such a global money-gathering set up”, said Clarke.
MI5 chief Jonathan Evans, Britain’s intelligence expert on Bin Laden, asked his staff–experts in money laundering–to provide a report for the Security Service’s surveillance teams working within Muslim communities in Britain. The document reveals:
“Any transaction, which would end in the coffers of al-Qaeda, begins with the person wishing to make it visiting a hawaladar. He hands over the sum he wishes to donate and gives the name and location of the recipient. The hawaldar adds his fee, usually no more than 0.5 percent of the sum to be transferred. He then contacts a hawaladar in the destination country by either phone or fax using his personal code, which allows him to operate within the system. No money or paper trail leaves the hawaladar. The system operates on such a high level of trust, no formal banking system can equal it”.
So huge are the sums of currency al-Qaeda has acquired, MI6 believes the terror organisation has used the global banking system to its advantage by investing the Hawala money in stocks around the world.
On his visit to London, FBI former director Mueller told British intelligence chiefs the Hawala money was routed through financial houses in Cairo, Damascus, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Rangoon, Tokyo, Minsk, Leningrad and Bucharest.
It was then invested in Wall Street stocks that would provide high profits on reselling. Brian McAdam, an expert on terrorist funding, said: “It is a very sophisticated form of money laundering. There is no way of any company knowing where the money that buys shares comes from.
But any major company is a tempting target for terrorists. Al-Qaeda invests, takes its profits and uses them to create the kind of massacre we saw in the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad last weekend”.
So great is the problem that Britain’s intelligence services have been told by financial analysts that al-Qaeda “almost certainly” has its own financial experts, “rogue bankers who have been bribed or coerced to weave and loop vast sums of money and make sure their electronic transfer ‘signature’ remains untraceable”.
A US Treasury bank security official explained: “A rogue banker would have devised special codes for all the transfers in the names of dozens, if not hundreds, of front companies, possibly even a thousand. Some of the codes would be active for no longer than the hours a bank opens for business on one side of the world. The particular code would authorise the transfer of a deposit minutes before close of business to some other front company in another part of the world that is about to open up for a day’s trading.
While it is possible to track electronic transfers through CHIPS, a banking system linked to thirty-six countries, it does not operate in countries in the former Soviet Union or Saudi Arabia. There is also every possibility that to further hide the Hawala money, al-Qaeda will have made deals with the Russian Mafia, Colombia drug cartels, Chinese Triads and the Japanese Yakuz. All have front companies around the world”.
America’s Department of Homeland Security, in a report to the White House, calculated that over 3,000 companies in the US have been penetrated since 9/11 by al-Qaeda through its investments. “The prime targets are top technology and defence corporations and major software traders like Microsoft and Siemens”, concluded the report.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, told the International Money Fund Conference in Washington four years ago: “The financial threat al-Qaeda poses is one of the utmost seriousness. It is of prime importance to root out their financial penetration of the financial world”, he warned banking chiefs.
Gordon Thomas is the author of a new edition of Gideon’s Spies: The Inside Story of Israel’s Legendary Secret Service, The Mossad, by JR Books of London and available on Amazon Books.
(C) G-2 Bulletin, Washington D.C., USA, and Gordon Thomas.
(WMR) — WMR’s Asian intelligence sources have provided additional information on the wave of terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Under pressure from Washington, this past May Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani cut a secret deal with the United States and India to turn over to Delhi a number of residents of Pakistan wanted by India for terrorism. One of those included in the deal was the CIA’s erstwhile asset, Mumbai-born Dawood Ibrahim, a veteran of CIA operations in Afghanistan during the mujahedin war against the Soviets.
Ibrahim, according to our sources, has been under the protection of Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) intelligence agency since June. He is being protected in Quetta, near the Waziristan tribal region. The CIA is fearful that if Ibrahim is deported to India, RAW and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will obtain the entire dossier on the CIA’s sponsorship of criminal activities and terrorist attacks. ISI would prefer Ibrahim to move to the United Arab Emirates, perhaps Dubai, where he has extensive financial interests. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is a business rival of Ibrahim and the ISI would like Ibrahim to be at a distance from Pakistan’s president and “settle scores” with his old “allies” and new enemies in Langley from outside Pakistani territory.
Ibrahim is reportedly using his gangland “muscle” in India to send a clear message to Delhi and Washington that he is a force to be reckoned with. The son of a Bombay (Mumbai) police constable who, himself, dabbled in organized criminal activity, Ibrahim has his informants and agents peppered throughout the Indian police, India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and Pakistan’s ISI. Ibrahim also knows a great deal about the CIA’s operations on the subcontinent, including having the “goods” on the CIA’s “Afghanist” agents, as well as agency veterans of Kathmandu who dabbled in personal loans from Ibrahim to pay off gambling debts, personal favors for the CIA, highly sought after prostitutes, and drugs. Many of these veterans of Nepal are now senior analysts and operational personnel at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
The CIA has every reason to blame the Mumbai attacks on a coterie of “Islamist” groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, “Al Qaeda,” and a new group called “Deccan Mujahedin.” If the media takes a closer look at Ibrahim they will find links to Langley and that is something neither the CIA nor Pakistan or India wants to see happen lest other “dirty laundry” also comes to the forefront. Ibrahim’s joint casino interests with the CIA in Kathmandu apparently involves money laundering for top Indian politicians in New Delhi, as well as some of India’s more well-known “Bollywood” actors.
Indian police are now reporting they have seven small boats in their custody that were used by the Mumbai terrorists to sail from Pakistan to the Indian coast. WMR has learned the boats in question are inflatables used by Ibrahim’s commandos who landed on the Mumbai seafront from Karachi with AK-47s and walked down the sidewalk into the lobbies of 5-star hotels and simply opened fire. Part of Ibrahim’s motive is not only to send a message to Washington, London, and Delhi that he will not be traded in a double-cross engineered by the CIA but also to send a warning to the extremist Hindu Shiv Sena terrorist gang that he is not ceding Mumbai’s gangland turf to Shiv Sena without a fight.
Ibrahim also sent a warning message to Israel by seizing Chabad House in Mumbai, reportedly a haven for right-wing Jewish Orthodox groups and Israeli military “trainers” who pose as backpackers on holiday in Kashmir during their reconnaissance missions.
Apparently, the Israelis’ uncouth behavior toward Kashmiri locals, including cheating taxi drivers and lodges, became known to Ibrahim who figured he could also take advantage of his assault on Mumbai to teach the Israelis a couple of lessons. The Israelis are in Kashmir to train Indians on their side of the India-Pakistan Kashmiri Line of Control. The Israelis maintain a military training facility, known as the Ibex Center, outside of Leh, the capital of Ladakh. There, the Israelis train Tibetan exiles and local Buddhist soldiers who serve in the Ladakh Scouts, the mountain commandos who patrol the Indian side of the Line of Control and the Siachen Glacier. Also trained by the Israelis is the “Tibetan Army,” the Indian Army unit also known as the Special Frontier Force. The training takes place at the Mussorie parajump base in northern India. Kashmiri separatists claim Israeli trainers have served with Tibetan commandos in putting down insurgencies in Assam and Manipur in northeastern India.
The Israelis began operating out of Chabad House after receiving a contract in 1996, a year after a group of Western tourists were captured by militants in Kashmir. A Norwegian was beheaded in the incident. The attack was condemned by every mujahedin group in Kashmir and Pakistan. Some blamed Israelis for the kidnapping of the Westerners in exchange for the security contract and the use of Indian Air Force bases in Jammu, part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Jammu bases are within a 20-minute striking range of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities and missile bases. Pakistani ISI alleges that Israeli fighter bombers at the Jammu bases are disguised with false Indian markings and are armed with nuclear weapons.
WMR’s Asian intelligence sources report that Chabad Houses are fronts for Israeli military intelligence and Mafia activities in other Asian cities. In Bangkok, Israeli military pilots and drivers who stay at the Chabad House there train Thai Army commandos, divers, and pilots who are fighting a Muslim secessionist movement along the southern border with Malaysia. Bangkok police have long suspected Chabad House as a center for the Israeli Mafia, which runs its Ecstasy and Ice trade from Bangkok for all of Southeast and East Asia. The Israeli Mafia also reportedly runs heroin labs in Myanmar, where an Israeli military officer serves in Myanmar’s feared military counter-intelligence agency.
By torching the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai, Ibrahim has also earned a few extra points with Pakistan’s government. The Taj Mahal is owned by the Taj Group, an enterprise of the multi-billionaire Tata family of India. Tata stands to make a fortune from the U.S.-India nuclear technology sharing pact as a defense supplier for India’s future modernized nuclear arsenal. The targeting of the Tata-owned hotel was a stark warning, via Ibrahim’s gang, that America will pay dearly for backing India’s expanded nuclear ambitions. And for that, Islamabad obviously looked the other way as Ibrahim’s men deployed to Mumbai by sea from Karachi.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).
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