U.S. Arrests 19 Yr-Old Jihadist Convert – This Time We Got Lucky

Qassim al RimiBY CLARE LOPEZ:

A Jacksonville, Florida teen named Shelton Thomas Bell was indicted July 18 on charges of conspiracy and attempt to provide material support to terrorists. Only 19 years old at the time of his arrest, Bell was a convert to Islam who previously had attended the N.E. Florida Islamic Center in Jacksonville before departing in late 2012 on an overseas journey to join the “jihad.”

Somehow, somewhere, Bell seemed to have gotten the idea that jihad was violent armed fighting, and he wanted to link up with a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula (AQAP) called Ansar al-Shariah (AAS), which is based in Yemen.

The primary objective of both AQAP and its AAS spin-off is the imposition and enforcement of Islamic (sharia) law. Both AQAP and AAS are on the list of U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations , which makes it a crime to provide them material support.

Unfortunately for Bell, his late September 2012 journey to the Middle East began with a stopover in Israel, who promptly refused him entry and put him on a return flight to his previous stopover, in Warsaw, Poland. There, Bell bought a ticket to Amman, Jordan, where things seemed to come apart for him.

According to the indictment, Bell intended to travel to Oman before making his way overland to join Islamic fighters in Yemen; he even bought a plane ticket to Oman. Whether it was an Israeli entry refusal stamp in his passport, or simply Jordanian officials talking with their Israeli counterparts, Bell’s journey to jihad went no further than Amman and he returned to the U.S.

As Randy McDaniels noted in a July 22 WatchDogWire article about the case, Bell was only 17 years old when attended the N.E. Florida Islamic Center; and yet, even at that young age, according to Parvez Ahmed, a Board member and official spokesman for the Islamic Center, Bell already stood out for his “very traditional Islamic clothing,” an obvious signal to his developing Islamic devotion.

The district court indictment further notes that, during 2012, Bell had drawn attention to himself by trying to persuade at least one other Jacksonville juvenile to join him in his journey to jihad. That unnamed juvenile participated in physical fitness and firearms training with Bell and even conducted a practice run with him one night in July 2012 when they “caused significant damage to religious statues at the Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens Cemetery.”

Inept as Bell’s attempts to fight jihad with AAS/AQAP may have been, the key issues here, as McDaniels points out, center rather on who were the influential individuals in Bell’s life that led him to convert to Islam in the first place and then so deeply indoctrinated him with Islamic precepts on jihad that he took such concrete, indictable steps towards joining forces that are implacably hostile to U.S. national security interests.

Did Bell fall under the influence of individuals at the N.E. Florida Islamic Center? Did any of such influences point him in the direction of online internet contacts in the world of jihadist chat rooms?

Read more at The Clarion Project

Money Jihad: How Islamists Finance Their Operations

by: Ryan Mauro

The author of the Money Jihad blogwishes to remain anonymous. The daily blog documents how Islamists finance their operations. The author previously served in military-intelligence and has been blogging about terrorism financing for three years.

The following is RadicalIslam.or’s Security Analyst Ryan Mauro’s interview with the author of the Money Jihad blog about how the Islamist terrorism continues to be lavishly funded 11 years after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Ryan Mauro: What legal loopholes are the Islamists using to finance their operations worldwide?

Money Jihad: Saudi Arabia’s approach to terror finance is a giant loophole in and of itself.  The Islamic zakat tax, what some call “Islamic charity,” is a massive source of jihadist revenues.  The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency is supposed to approve charitable zakat transfers overseas, but it’s a fig leaf; the Saudis still fund the spread of radical Wahhabism abroad.  Also, it took Saudi Arabia’s Senior Ulema Council nine years after 9/11 to criminalize the financing of terrorism.  Whenever the Council comments on terror finance, it vigorously defends zakat in the same breath.  The Council won’t even define terrorism to include suicide bomb attacks against Israel.

In the U.S., we need a totally different approach to regulating hawala, the traditional Islamic system money transfer system that has helped fund terrorists.  But on balance I would say that most of the terror finance shortcomings in the West involve inadequate enforcement of existing laws rather than a lack of laws.

Ryan Mauro: What laws aren’t being enforced and why?

Money Jihad:  First, the Patriot Act prohibits providing material support to terrorism such as transferring money to Hamas.  The Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial revealed that Islamic organizations such as the North American Islamic Trust and the Islamic Society of North America worked closely with HLF.  The Bush administration never intended HLF to be their final prosecution, but they ran out of time to pursue HLF’s associates.  Especially now that HLF’s final appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, this would be a great time to enforce the material support provisions of the Patriot Act against HLF’s unindicted co-conspirators.

Second, the Foreign Agents Registration Act isn’t being enforced with respect to CAIR which engages in political activities in the U.S. but is funded from abroad.

Third, the nonprofit provisions of the Internal Revenue code are being abused by Islamic organizations that claim to be charities but are actually engaged in business activities.  For example, Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) is a certifier of halal foods.  It gets most of its revenues from inspecting food manufacturers that seek a halal certification label, but IFANCA claims tax-exempt status on the false basis of receiving revenues from charitable donations and grants, which is discredited by a simple review of their tax forms.  Canada does a better job than the U.S. of stripping bogus charity fronts of their tax-exempt status.

Fourth, Bank Secrecy Act and Treasury regulations require money services businesses, including hawala dealers, to register their business with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. One study showed that about 85 percent of hawala businesses simply ignore the requirement.

As to why these laws aren’t being enforced, I think it’s political.

Ryan Mauro: What methods are the Islamists using today to raise money, besides soliciting wealthy donors?

Money Jihad: Well, it’s not just about zakat from wealthy donors.  Folks like Amina Farah Ali in Minnesota, Shabaaz Hussain in London, and Irfan Naseer in Birmingham have fundraised for relatively small donations from individual Muslims to support jihad overseas.  A few thousand dollars from the West goes a long way to fund a holy warrior on the ground in Somalia.

But apart from zakat donations, there are a whole host of other Islamic taxes that receive less attention but are huge revenue stream for jihad.  Western reporters call it extortion, but the mujahideen don’t look at it that way.

Take for example two terrorist organizations with a ground game:  Al-Shabaab and the Taliban.  They have fighters on the ground and control definite territory.  Organizations like that rely to a great extent on levying Islamic taxes on the people under their jurisdiction.  The Taliban still gets money from ushr, the Islamic tax on harvests, which includes poppy yields.  Al Shabaab imposes harbor taxes, checkpoint taxes (a practice from the early days of Islam up through Ottoman times), and a zakat on the lucrative Somali charcoal trade.

Ransoms, which are also permitted against infidels by the Koran, are a major revenue source for organizations like AQIM and Abu Sayyaf.  For Hezbollah, the West focuses on their drug money, but they get a lot of money from khums, the Shia Muslim tax on individual profit.

Counterfeiting, Sharia finance, street crimes, welfare fraud — those are all being used as well in different parts of the world to fund terrorism, individual Islamists or both.

Read more at Radical Islam

Ryan Mauro is RadicalIslam.org’s National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.

Guantanamo detainee who served bin Laden returns to Sudan

By Rebecca Ruiz, msnbc.com

Ibrahim al Qosi, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, has been released from Guantanamo and returned to Sudan, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

In July 2010, al Qosi pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism and conspiracy. He had been detained at Guantanamo following his capture at the Pakistani border in December 2001 and was released according to a plea agreement with the U.S.

Al Qosi, who was born in Sudan around 1960, left in 1996 to join Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, where he provided services to bin Laden and other al-Qaida members as a driver, bodyguard and cook. In the early 1990s, he trained with jihadists and worked as an accountant for a company affiliated with Osama bin Laden, according to DOD documents released by WikiLeaks.

Al Qosi had been sentenced to a 14-year term for crimes committed between 1996 to 2001, but served two years in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors. The U.S. had agreed to return al Qosi to Sudan upon completing two years of his sentence.

“Although the United States had the legal authority to continue holding al Qosi under the [Authorization for the Use of Military Force], we coordinated with the Government of Sudan on appropriate security measures to mitigate any threat he continues to pose,” said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale in a statement to msnbc.com.

Paul Reichler, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who represented al Qosi pro bono for the past seven years, said his client will participate in a re-entry program designed by the Sudanese government for former detainees.

According to a document published by the government in 2010, nine Sudanese nationals had been returned from Guantanamo and been subject to the re-entry program. At that time, none were known to “have engaged in hostilities against the United States, its interests or its allies since their return to Sudan.”

Read more at MSNBC