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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

UN Sanction for Ivory Coast Extended

The Ivory Coast is not at Peace

  • in 2004 the UN Sanctioned the Ivory Coast becasue they violated a 2003 cease-fire between the government and the New Forces rebels
  • In 2005 they added an embargo on diamonds mined in Ivory Coast
-technial evidance suggests New Forces Guerillas are still involved in Diamond and arms markets to support theri forces

-Shimron

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council renewed arms and diamond sanctions against Ivory Coast on Monday in a bid to make the West African country stick to the terms of a peace process following a civil war.

A resolution passed unanimously by the 15-member council extended the sanctions for a further year but promised to review them during that period, in which general elections are supposed to be held in the world's biggest cocoa exporter.

Ivory Coast has made stuttering progress towards reunification since a March peace deal signed in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou by President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro, now his prime minister.

The Security Council slapped an arms embargo on Ivory Coast in 2004 over the violation of a 2003 cease-fire between the government and the New Forces rebels who control the country's North. An embargo on buying rough diamonds mined in Ivory Coast followed in 2005.
Monday's resolution renewed the sanctions until Oct. 31, 2008.

But the council promised to review them after the peace deal is fully implemented and after free presidential and legislative elections, or in any case by April 30.

During a speech to the U.N. General Assembly last month, Gbagbo asked the council to ease the sanctions.

"We think that all the aspects of the Ouagadougou agreement have not yet been put into effect, notably on disarmament problems. So we think it's necessary to keep the pressure up," French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert told reporters.

"We think it's necessary to keep the pressure up so that the electoral calendar is respected."

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Le Mouvement des Nigeriens pour la Justice (MNJ), Threatens Areva's Uranium Mining Operation

NIAMEY, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Tuareg-led rebels in Niger accused French uranium miner Areva on Monday of financing a government offensive and warned of "grave consequences" for its staff and installations.

The French government-controlled company has been caught in the middle of a rebellion launched in February by nomadic tribesmen in the Saharan north of Niger where it mines uranium.

Areva was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

In July Niger's government barred the head of Areva's operations in Niger from the country, accusing the company of backing rebels. French President Nicolas Sarkozy intervened to calm the dispute and shortly afterwards Areva made an advance payment of more than $30 million to the Niger government.

But in a posting on its Web site www.m-n-j.blogspot.com on Monday, the rebel Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) accused Areva of helping fund the government's war effort and of failing to hire enough local people from the desert regions where it operates.

"We inform Areva that from now on all its operations are regarded as illegal," the group said, adding that Areva "is exposing its staff as well as its installations to grave consequences."
It said that by continuing to sign deals with the Niger government, Areva was contributing financial means which "contribute to the war effort".

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Gedi Resigns: Will it be Better or Worse?

NAIROBI, Oct 30 (Reuters) - The United Nations welcomed on Tuesday the peaceful conclusion of a long-running feud between the Somali government's two most powerful men, which ended with Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi's resignation this week.

But analysts and diplomats warned that President Abdullahi Yusuf would have to please the Hawiye clan, from which Gedi hails, if he wanted to boost unity behind the government and cool an insurgency in Mogadishu.

Gedi's political and personal differences with Yusuf had frustrated Western backers and split the administration as it faced the raging insurgency this year.

The premier stepped down on Monday in a speech to parliament and was temporarily replaced by his deputy, Salim Aliyow Ibrow, while Yusuf seeks a new prime minister within a month.

With no clear candidate, analysts are split as to whether the resignation will help unify the interim government -- the 14th attempt at restoring central rule to Somalia since 1991 -- or merely herald a new round of wrangling.

The U.N. special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, urged officials to continue settling differences in accordance with the charter under which the government was set up in late 2004 in neighbouring Kenya.

He "welcomes the peaceful conclusion of the crisis within the Transitional Federal Government" and "particularly acknowledges the conciliatory tone and spirit of the statements issued by both" men, a statement from his Nairobi office said.

"He calls on the TFG to continue to seek peaceful solutions to its internal differences," it added.
Somali parliamentarians said Gedi had paid the price of failing to press ahead with key matters like creating a federal state and writing a new constitution.

"We hope the upcoming premier will succeed in all the work failed by his predecessor," said one, Ibrahim Isak Yarow.

"WILL BE WORSE"

Some diplomats who follow Somalia said they feared Yusuf might again make the mistake of not assenting to the demands of Mogadishu's powerful Hawiye clan, one of Somalia's biggest.

Although a Hawiye, Gedi was never backed by Hawiye outside his sub-clan because he was not their choice for the clan's top job in government.

Yusuf comes from the rival Darod clan.

"I think you can be very sure it will be worse. For now you can forget about sensible changes. It will never happen," said a Western diplomat who declined to be named.

The diplomat said some maneouvring was afoot to put up Hawiye warlords like Mohamed Qanyare Afrah or current Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed Dheere up for the job.

A Somalia expert from the Hawiye clan with close ties to the government said he expected the clan would get no quarter from Yusuf.

"The Hawiye are now defeated because Yusuf cannot change course. Gedi was at least able to maintain the government. Yusuf is consolidating power and won't give it up," the expert said.
Mogadishu was at last quiet on Tuesday after three days of fighting that have killed up to 20 people. Somali government forces, backed by Ethiopian military allies, have been clashing with rebels since the weekend in the worst fighting for week.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa
NAIROBI, Oct 30 (Reuters) - The crew of a foreign cargo ship seized by Somali pirates on Tuesday overpowered their hijackers and retook control of the vessel, a maritime official said.
"I hear the crew on the ship overpowered the gunmen. The crew were 22 while the gunmen were eight," Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sheikh Abdallah Saleh Kamel

Saudi Arabia \ Commercial Banks \ Al Jazira Bank \ Deputy Chaiman of Al Jazira Bank


Sheikh Abdallah Saleh Kamel
City of Birth
Saudi Arabia
Address

P.O.Box 430,
Jeddah 21411
Tel 6673316
Fax 6717056

Al Jazira Bank :Deputy Chaiman of Al Jazira Bank
Dallah Al-Baraka Group :Chief Executive of Dallah Al-Baraka Group
Al Baraka Investment and Development Company :Board Member of Al Baraka Investment and Development Company
Savola Group :Board Member of Savola
Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry :Member of Board of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Saudi Research and Marketing Group :Member of the Board, SPRC

The Following Banks Are Facing Possible US Sanctions:

Agricultural Bank of Iran (Bank-e Keshavarzi), Teheran;
ANZ Grindlays Bank, TeheranBanca di Roma, Teheran;
Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Teheran;
Banco Central Hispanoamericano, Teheran;
Bank Agricultural, Teheran;Bank Center Iran, Teheran;
Bank Commerce, Teheran;Bank e Sanat o Madan, Teheran;
Bank French Paysbas, Teheran;Bank Fuji, Teheran;
Bank Iran Mashhad, Teheran;
Bank Markazi Jomhouri Islam, Teheran;
Bank Maskan, Teheran;
Bank Mellat, Teheran;
Bank Melli Iran, Teheran;
Bank of Industry and Mine (trading facility),Teheran;
Bank of Tokyo,Teheran;Bank Ostan, Teheran;
Bank Refah Kargaran, Teheran;
Bank Saderat, Teheran;
Bank Sepah, Teheran;
Bank Sumitomo, Teheran;
Bank Tejarat, Teheran;
Bank Tokai, Teheran;
Berliner Bank, Teheran;
Credit Lyonnaise, Teheran;
Deutsche-Iranische Handelsbank, Teheran;
Deutsche Bank, Teheran;Dresdner Bank, Teheran;
Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank,
Teheran Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI), Teheran;
ING Bank, Teheran;
Kredietbank, Teheran;
Lloyds Bank, Teheran;
Mitsubishi Bank, Teheran;
Pamok Bank, Teheran;
Swiss Bank Corporation, Teheran;
Representative office: Banca Commerciale Italiana, Teheran;
Commerzbank , Teheran

Source: Internet Anthropologist

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Algerian Operation Kills 15 Islamists

Algerian forces kill 15 Islamic militants

Sat 27 Oct 2007, 9:43 GMT
ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian government forces, stepping up attacks on al Qaeda-aligned armed groups, killed 15 militants and captured seven in the past two days near the Tunisian border, newspapers reported on Saturday.

They also seized large quantities of ammunition and destroyed several hideouts in the operation in Tebessa province, 630 km (400 miles) east of the capital Algiers, the government-owned El Moudjahid said, citing a security source.

One army officer was killed in the offensive, which was launched by a combined force of the army, police and municipal guards, based on information provided by a rebel who had surrendered, the independent newspaper Liberte said.

The rebel group may have had links to a failed assassination attempt on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Batna town in September, said the independent daily El Watan.

The Al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb claimed the attempt in Batna by a suicide bomber, in which 22 people were killed, as well as three other suicide bombings this year.

The armed movement, previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), has switched to high-profile urban bombings.

Seventy-five people were killed in political violence last month including 60 in suicide blasts, according to a Reuters account based on newspaper reports.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

MNJ Aledges 12 Niger Soldiers Killed

Niger rebels say they kill 12 soldiers in ambush
Sat 27 Oct 2007, 17:37 GMT

NIAMEY, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Niger's Tuareg-led rebels said on Saturday they had killed at least 12 soldiers and destroyed two army vehicles in the desert north of the central African country, but the military denied this.

The Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), which has already killed more than 45 soldiers during an eight-month uprising, said on its Web site it carried out the ambush at dawn on Thursday near Touara, in the region of Agadez.

The MNJ has not staged any attacks since the start of the Muslim fast of Ramadan last month, during which it had declared a truce.

The deputy head of Niger's army, Colonel Garba Maikido, told national radio that only a few soldiers had been lightly injured after a vehicle ran over a mine near the Algerian border.
Maikido was speaking at the presentation of a seizure of 1.1 tonnes of cannabis resin, worth an estimated 7 billion CFA francs ($15.33 million), captured by an army patrol in the northern region of Air.

Soldiers also seized arms, munitions and aircraft fuel.
President Mamadou Tandja's government has refused to recognise the MNJ, blaming the violence in northern Niger on bandits and smugglers of arms and drugs.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Chad Rebels Hold Steve Godbold

Wed 24 Oct 2007, 15:48 GMT

By Nick Tattersall

DAKAR, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Chadian rebels holding hostage a U.S. missionary said on Wednesday they suspected he was a Chadian government spy but intended to free him soon.
The missionary, identified by local evangelical church colleagues as Steve Godbold, was seized in the northern Tibesti mountains near the Libyan border more than a week ago by the rebel Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT).

"He entered our territory without authorisation. He was contacted by the regime in (the Chadian capital) N'Djamena to find out information ... and to create divisions within our movement," MDJT leader Aboubakar Choua Dazi told Reuters.

"Our group took him to find out why he has come ... In two or three days we will conclude and then we'll see what preparations we can make to free him," Choua Dazi said by phone from southern Libya. Godbold is being well treated, he said.

U.S. officials have said Godbold was working as a sub-contractor on a U.S. government-financed development project to drill water wells in the Tibesti region.

GSPC MEMBERS STILL CAPTIVE

Believed to have a wealth of information on Islamist activities, Saifi was handed to Libya after protracted negotiations before being taken into custody in Algeria.

Choua Dazi said the MDJT was still holding two other GSPC figures, an Algerian who was Saifi's deputy and a Malian, both captured with Saifi after fleeing neighbouring countries.

"Because they are Africans, we would prefer to release them back to their home countries than anywhere else," he said.

"But our position has always been clear. If the United States shows interest in contacting us, we are ready. But until now we have had no direct contact, just through intermediaries."

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Areva Aquires Central African Republic Uranium Mine

Mon 22 Oct 2007, 15:09 GMT

By Paul-Marin Ngoupana

BANGUI, Oct 22 (Reuters) - A uranium mine in Central African Republic was acquired by France's Areva group without the consent of the CAR government, which is seeking a negotiated settlement with the company, President Francois Bozize said.

In an interview published on Sunday in the latest edition of Jeune Afrique magazine, Bozize said his country would take the matter to the courts if it did not reach an agreement with the French nuclear technology giant over the Bakouma mine.

In July, Areva, a French state-owned group whose activities range from uranium mining to nuclear reactors and waste recycling, said it had taken control of Canadian-listed miner UraMin whose assets included an exploration contract for Bakouma.

But the Central African Republic is contesting Areva's takeover of the Bakouma contract as "irregular", arguing the terms of the deal previously signed with UraMin required the CAR government's consent for any change.

"Areva went on to acquire UraMin without our consent. So that's where the blockage is," Bozize told Jeune Afrique.

"It's out of the question for our national patrimony to be bandied about in a game between capitalists on the London Stock Exchange. This is beyond the comprehension of the people of Central African Republic," he added.

Bozize indicated his country expected Areva to offer improved terms or some kind of additional payment for taking over the Bakouma contract.

"Well, we're negotiating with Areva ... if that doesn't reach a conclusion, we'll look to our lawyers, but I don't think that is in the group's interests," he told Jeune Afrique.

Bozize said other African countries like Niger and Namibia had obtained newly negotiated deals from the French company, which has said that deposits identified by UraMin in South Africa, Namibia and the Central African Republic will increase Areva's uranium output by around 7,000 tons annually after 2012.

Fresh comment from Areva on Monday was not immediately available.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Spain Arrests Six North African Al Qaeda Recruiters

Spain arrests six for recruiting Iraq fighters

Wed 24 Oct 2007, 7:53 GMT

MADRID, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Spanish police have arrested six people linked to an Islamist militant cell that recruited guerrillas through the Internet to fight in Iraq, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

Police are searching six homes and a butcher's shop operated by members of the cell and have taken away documents and computers for examination, the Ministry said in a statement.

The arrests, in the northern province of Burgos, came a week before the verdict is due to be announced in the trial of 28 men accused of killing 191 people in train bomb attacks in Madrid in March 2004.

The cell was led by an Algerian and a Moroccan, the Ministry said. Police carried out the investigation with the help of intelligence from other countries including Sweden, the United States and Denmark.

Since the Madrid train bombings, Spanish security forces have regularly arrested Islamist militants suspected of plotting attacks in Spain or abroad.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Friday, October 19, 2007

Published: 19-OCT-06
Bangui - President Francois Bozize of the Central African Republic (CAR) has opened the country's first major uranium mining concern, run by the South African firm UraMin, state radio reported Wednesday.

The site, which officially opened on Tuesday is in the Bakouma basin, about 100 kilometres north of the northwestern town of Bangassou. In a speech there Bozize said that previously the mineral resources of CAR "have been exploited in an informal and chaotic fashion".

"If everybody does their job properly, there will be benefits for the state and for the population of Bakouma ... by way of roads that are being built, the electricity that will be supplied, schools and hospitals that will be constructed," he said, according to the radio.

On its website, UraMin said that the South African company "has agreed to acquire a 90 percent interest in a mineral exploitation licence over the project area for an investment of $27mn", which also covers a 12-month exploration period.

The remaining 10 percent stake is held by the CAR state.

Opening the facility and speaking in the Sango national language, Bozize chastised politicians whom he said had "begun to whisper ... and spread lies about the UraMin company."

When parliament legislated late in August for the exploitation and export of radioactive minerals, opposition deputies objected that there were insufficient environmental guarantees in the UraMin project and sought in vain to obtain publication of the convention signed by the state and the company.

Some members of parliament asked for details of the sums paid to the CAR by UraMin, while the local press published reports of unexplained payments into foreign bank accounts.

Minister of Mines Sylvain Ndoutingai said that when the mining deal was signed, UraMin paid one billion CFA francs ($1.9mn) to the state.

The presence of uranium at Bakouma was first brought to light in 1947, when the CAR was under French colonial rule. Deposits were exploited to a limited extent in the 1960s and 1970s, but never on a substantial commercial scale.

The Rest @ Business Africa

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Biote replaces Dabo as Entrior Minister in Guinea-Bissau shake up

BISSAU, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira, who faces international pressure to crack down on drug-trafficking gangs in his small, impoverished West African country, has replaced his interior minister.

Baciro Dabo, who had served only six months in the post, was substituted by Certorio Biote as internal administration minister, according to a presidential decree issued late on Tuesday and published by local media on Wednesday.

Dabo, seen as one of the few close allies of Vieira in the government formed in April after weeks of political crisis, was appointed an adviser to the president.

No reason was given for the change but Vieira had recently faced intense political pressure from within the ruling government coalition to replace Dabo.

The Social Renewal Party (PRS), which with the United Social Democratic Party (PUSD) and the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) had formed the April government, insisted that by rights it should be given the interior ministry post as part of a power-sharing agreement.

The new minister Biote is a leading PRS member.

Although observers attributed the change to internal politics, the interior ministry job is seen as crucial to efforts to fight drug-smuggling by Latin American cartels using Guinea-Bissau as a staging post for trafficking.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Somalia Islamists receiving UN Food Distribution? - Somaliland Battle Continues

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Up to 60 Somali intelligence officers stormed a U.N. compound in Mogadishu on Wednesday and seized the World Food Programme's local chief of operations at gunpoint, prompting WFP to immediately stop aid distribution.

Riding in two "technicals" -- pickup trucks with mounted with heavy guns -- armed security officers forced their way into U.N. offices before taking the Somali head of WFP operations in Mogadishu to a cell at intelligence headquarters.

A police spokesman confirmed Idris Osman's detention, but declined to say why he had been taken. Another government officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said the order to arrest him came from the head of the national security service.
WFP said it received no explanation as to why Osman had been taken away, and called for his immediate release.

In a statement the food agency said Somalia's national security services had violated international law by storming the compound, close to Mogadishu's airport.

"In the light of Mr. Osman's detention and in view of WFP's duty to safeguard its staff, WFP is forced immediately to suspend these distributions," it said.
That halts the agency's first distribution of food since June in Mogadishu, which aimed to help 75,000 people.

A relative of Osman, who demanded anonymity for fear of reprisal, said an earlier quarrel with government officers sparked his arrest.

"Some government officers wanted to supply and monitor his work themselves. He objected to that and as a result the national security arrested him on the pretext of linking him to terrorists," the relative said......


  • .......Meanwhile, in northern Somalia, officials from the semi-autonomous Puntland region said 1,800 soldiers and volunteers had arrived in its capital on Wednesday.
  • Puntland's president has vowed to take back the disputed village of Las Anod, which the breakaway republic of Somaliland claims for its own and captured during a battle on Monday.
  • Somaliland has warned that any counter-attack will be met with further incursion into Puntland. Its troops are about 45 km from the administrative capital Garowe.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The World Diamond Council

The World Diamond Council represents over 50 industry organizations - from mining companies and trade associations to manufacturers and retailers - worldwide. Member organizations include:
ABN Amro Bank International Division
Alrosa Company
American Gem Society
Antwerpse Diamantbank
Ascorp
Association of Diamond Manufacturers of Russia
Belgian Federation of Diamond Bourses
BHP Diamonds & Industrial Metals
Canadian Diamond Consultants Inc.
Cartier
Centre for Expertise
Valuation and Certification (Democratic Republic of Congo);
CIBJO; Codiam
Damas
De Beers
De Beers LV
Debswana Diamond Co.
Diamond Chamber of Russia
Diamond Dealers Club New York
Diamond Federation of Hong Kong
Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association
Diamond Trading Company
Dubai Multi Commodities Centre
EGL USA
Eurostar Diamonds Ltd.
Gem and Jewelry Export and Promotion;
Harry Winston, Inc.
International Diamond Manufacturers Association
International Gemological Institute
Israel Diamond Exchange
Israel Diamond Institute
Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association
Jewelers of America
Jewelers Vigilance Committee
Leviev Group of Companies
London Diamond Bourse
Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America
Ministry of Mines (Namibia)
Namdeb Diamond Corporation
Rapaport Corporation
Rio Tinto Diamonds
Rosy Blue
Shanghai Diamond Exchange Co. Ltd.
South African Diamond Board
Signet Group plc/Sterling Jewelers Inc.
Tacy Diamond Consultants; Tiffany & Co.
Union Bank of Israel
United Association of South Africa
World Federation of Diamond Bourses
Zale Corporation

UK Africa Conflict Prevention in Liberia shows Solidarity with Liberian Military

The British Ambassador accredited to Liberia at the head of a high power delegation, yesterday paid a courtesy call on the Minister of National Defense, Brownie Samukai at his Benson Street offices.

The discussion between Minister Samaukai and the British envoy was aimed at discussing security related issues and how the British government would work with the Ministry to strengthen the security sector of the country.

Ambassador Sarah McIntosh and Minister Samukai discussed the challenges facing the Ministry of National Defense and the role that could be played by the British government in building the technical capacity of the new Liberian army.

Welcoming the British Ambassador and delegation to his office, Minister Samukai said the Ministry is pleased that the British government has been engaged with the Ministry in the formation of the new Liberian army. Minister Samukai said that the Ministry believes that the role of the British government to train the security sector of the country has been very healthy.

He also complimented the efforts of the United States government and other nations that have been assisting in the training of the security sector of the nation. Minister Samukai added that the Ministry of National Defense looks forward to more engagements, cooperation and supports in the building process of the new Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

Ambassador McIntosh told reporters following the meeting with Minister Samukai that their tête-à-tête was productive.
  • She said during the meeting, Minister Samukai briefed the delegation on the progress being made thus far in the training process of the new army and the challenges facing the process.
  • She added that during the meeting, Minister Samukai gave his Ministry's detail plan relating to how the challenges facing the Ministry can be addressed as well as the challenges that lie ahead in training the new army and the security sector of the nation.
  • Ambassador McIntosh further stated that her country would contemplate on how it would begin to assist by providing support to the process.
  • The British envoy disclosed t hat her country has been providing technical assistance to the new Liberian army and other security-related projects through its "Africa Conflict Prevention" program.
  • She disclosed plans by her country to dispatch a British national that would assist in working with the Security Sector program of the country.

During the meeting, the British Envoy was accompanied to the Ministry of National Defense by British Attaché, Mark Ravnkillda, Assistant British Defense Attaché, Mark Armstrong, Col Ross Anderson and Andrew Mace.

The Rest @ Sierra Eye

Friday, October 12, 2007

Libya Brokered Chad Peace Deal shaken...

N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - Chad's Defence Minister Mahamat Nour called for calm on Friday after a group of former rebel fighters loyal to him deserted their positions and moved to the border with Sudan's Darfur region.

Speaking on Radio France International (RFI), Nour said a force of ex-members of the former rebel group FUC (United Front for Democratic Change) which he once led had pulled out of the eastern town of Guereda late on Wednesday.

"They're unhappy," Nour said. RFI cited some of his aides as saying the armed group numbered 1,000 men and that they had abandoned their positions because they believed other members of Chad's national army were planning to disarm them by force.

But Chadian officials played down the incident and said the situation was calm. "The FUC men who withdrew towards the frontier have begun to come back to Abeche and Guereda," a Chadian presidency official, who asked not to be named, said.

In ethnically mixed east Chad where clan rivalries run deep, Nour's Tama fighters have clashed in the past with militiamen of the Zaghawa clan to which President Idriss Deby belongs.

But the apparent desertions raised the prospect of fresh splits inside Chad's fractious armed forces at a time when Deby's government is trying to push through a peace deal with eastern rebel groups in the oil producing African state.

It also coincides with an explosion of renewed violence over the border in Sudan's Darfur region, where rebels, militias and African Union peacekeepers have tangled in recent clashes ahead of planned Darfur peace talks in Tripoli this month.

A European Union peacekeeping force is due to deploy in eastern Chad in the coming weeks to complement a even bigger United Nations/African Union force planned for Darfur.

Nour, who was named defence minister in March after signing a Libyan-brokered peace deal with Deby, told RFI the ex-FUC deserters were at Birak close to the Sudanese border.

"I ask those who have deserted to listen to us, to be patient until we can find an amicable solution," he said.

"To those who are still with us (on the government side), I ask them to remain calm, to hold their positions and to continue to serve the Chadian national army as soldiers," Nour added.

"This country needs peace," he added. Nour spoke to RFI from an unidentified country outside Chad but said he would soon return to N'Djamena.
Nour, who said he was recovering from an illness, said he maintained good relations with Deby, who has ruled since he took power through an eastern revolt in 1990.

"But I don't have good relations with all the men who are around the president," Nour said.

Deby's government, which has been shaken by splits and military desertions over the last two years, signed a peace deal in Libya last week with four rebel groups.

The accord initialled in Tripoli promises the rebels government posts in return for a ceasefire, but some rebel leaders have said differences remain over disarmament.

Nour signed his own peace deal with Deby in December, eight months after his FUC rebels raided Chad's capital N'Djamena.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa.com

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What is Islamic Finance?

This is an excerpt from a great Washington Times article posted on October 8th by Rachel Ehrenfeld & Alyssa A. Lappen.

They write a great summary of why we should be concerned about Islamic Finance, which is spreading across the world. They explore the relationships between the Islamic Development Bank ( IDB ), Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), Saleh Kamel, the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Saudi Dallah Al-Baraka Group, and the International Commission for Zakat

-Shimron

What is “Islamic” finance? Islamic, or Shariah-based finance, is the 1920s invention of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. He ordered the Muslim Brothers to create an independent Islamic financial system to supercede the Western economy, facilitating the spread of Islam worldwide. He set the theories and practices and his contemporaries and successors developed Shariah-based terminology for “Islamic economics,” finance and banking.

Attempts by Muslim Brotherhood members in the early 1930s to establish Islamic banking in India failed. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser shut down the second attempt in 1964, after only one year, later arresting and expelling the Muslim Brothers for attempts to kill him.

Saudi Arabia welcomed them and adopted their ideas.In 1969, soon after a mentally deranged Australian Christian fundamentalist, Michael Dennis Rohan, tried to set fire to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Saudis convened the Conference for the Islamic Organizations (OIC) to unify the “struggle for Islam,” and have been its major sponsor ever since.

The 56 OIC members include Iran, Sudan and Syria.Based in Jeddah, “pending the liberation of Jerusalem,” the OIC mandates and coordinates actions to “support the Palestinian people, assist them in recovering their rights and liberating their occupied territories.” The OIC’s first international undertaking was the 1975 establishment of the Islamic Development Bank “in accordance with the principles of the Shariah,” marking the beginning of the fast-growing, petrodollar-based Islamic financing market.

From 1975 to 2005, the bank approved more than $46 billion in funding to Muslim countries. Since 2000, it has transferred hundreds of millions of dollars raised especially to support the Palestinian intifada and suicide bombers’ families ˜ and has channeled United Nations funds to Hamas.

Yet the bank received U.N. observer status in 2007.Overseeing Shariah finance are the 1991-Bahrain-registered and -based Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), which laid the groundwork for the global Islamic financial network and the “de facto Islamic Central Bank”˜ the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), established in 2002 in Kuala Lumpur “to absorb the 11 September shock and reinforce the stability of Islamic finance.” Chairing the meeting, then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir stated: “A universal Islamic banking system is a jihad worth pursuing to abolish this slavery [to the West].”

According to Saleh Kamel, president of the Saudi Dallah Al-Baraka Group and the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), more than 400 Islamic financial institutions currently operate in 75 countries. They now hold more than $800 billion in assets ˜ growing at a rate of 15 percent annually.

All investments with Islamic financial institutions are subject to the minimum zakat (Islamic charitable wealth tax). On April 30, the OIC, the organization that initiated global Muslim riots after the Danish cartoon publications, established the clerical International Commission for Zakat, replacing more than 20,000 organizations that previously collected the money. Islamic clerics’ “expert committee” in Malaysia now supervises and distributes those funds.

The new committee will shortly distribute to Muslim charities roughly $2 billion collected during Ramadan.But not all charities are equal. In 1999, Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi decreed: “Declaring holy war [and] fighting for such purposes is the way of Allah for which zakat must be spent.”

If past zakat distribution is any indication, all Muslim jihadist-terror organizations (including Palestinian Hamas, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and the many al Qaeda offspring) will benefit.

Shortly after September 11, Osama bin Laden called upon Muslims “to concentrate on hitting the U.S. economy through all possible means. Look for the key pillars of the U.S. economy. Strike the key pillars of the enemy again and again and they will fall as one.”

The Rest @ The Washington Times

Rachel Ehrenfeld is director of the American Center of Democracy and a board member at the Committee for the Present Danger. Alyssa A. Lappen is a senior fellow at the American Center of Democracy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ramadan Zakat Distributions

--tis the season for Ramadan Zakat Collection and distribution. Many legitimate alms projects are begun during this time. It is also the season to watch for the resupply of Jihadist organizations.

Zakat Collectors employed by Jihadist organization from Ivory Coast, Algeria, Morocco, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, and now Etritria are lined up with appointments throughout the Middle East as Corporate Zakata distributions are being made.

The collectors may not say they represent Al Qaeda in Magharebia, Shabaab, Al Qaeda in Iraq, but an authorized use of Zakat under Sharia is to pay the "Expenses" of Jihadis, and those collecting Zakat.

We can bet arms dealers, explosive material suppliers and simple arms dealers are standing by from Bosnia to Bulgaria to the Barakaa arms markt in Somalia, just waiting for that Zakat to come in.....

and don't forget the Brotherhood collectors who are funind those Salafist Youth radicalization projects in Ghana, Benin, Liberia, Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Egypt, Angola....

See the article below from the Islamic Voice, complaining about the hectic schedule...

-Shimron


Ramadan sets the agenda for those who want to give Zakat and those who want to collect Zakat. Majority of Muslims consider it as auspicious to disburse Zakat during the Ramadan.

Looking at the entire system of Zakat collection and Zakat disbursement, it is torturous for both Zakat payers and Zakat recipients.

  • For the entire month, those who want to pay Zakat, face the painful onslaught of people who want their share of Zakat.
  • Those who deserve Zakat, compete with those who launch and manage mega and micro projects.
  • In the process, those who pay Zakat, many times neglect their own poor relatives. In fact poor relatives should have the first right over the Zakat.
  • The plight of the Zakat collectors who collect Zakat on behalf of Islamic organizations, non government organizations and Madrasas is pitiable as they have to struggle for the appointment and also wait endlessly to get their share.

The Rest @ Islamic Voice

AQIM - Sofiane Abu Fasila Shot and Killed in Tzizi Ouzou

ALGIERS (Reuters) - The deputy chief of al Qaeda's North Africa wing, believed to be the group's operational leader, was killed along with two other rebels in a gun battle with Algerian troops, local newspapers said on Tuesday.

Hareg Zoheir, also known as Sofiane Abu Fasila, was said to be the second-in-command of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and suspected of being behind planning most of the suicide bombings in Algeria in the recent months.

He was shot dead on Sunday at a check point in the eastern region of Tzizi Ouzou, the country's leading dailies reported.

"Sofiane is a big, big fish. In a way, he was the real boss of the organization in Algeria," Eshorouk's editor and security specialist Anis Rahmani told Reuters, adding that " he was a man of action not a man of religion."

Two other rebels were also killed alongside him during a clash with government troops at the check point, El Watan and Eshorouk newspapers added.

Both were also suspected to be involved in preparing suicide attacks, said the newspapers.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Monday, October 08, 2007

ALGIERS, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Algeria has announced the surrender of the founder of the country's largest rebel group in a bid to hit the morale of the al Qaeda-linked insurgency, but analysts fear it will do little to slow the pace of attacks.

During a visit to France last week, Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni disclosed that Hassan Hattab, founder of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), had given himself up to try to benefit from an amnesty.

"He gave himself up on Sept. 22. We view him as a repentant person," he said, adding Hattab still faced potential investigations into some alleged past offences.

Analysts noted Hattab, 40, inactive as a fighter even before he was sacked as leader in 2003, has been in negotiations with the army over his surrender for years.

Officials have said Hattab has been in a "special location" known to the security services -- remarks interpreted by some analysts as acknowledgement that he has been in effect under some form of protective detention during the talks.

"I doubt that Hattab's surrender will have any impact on the GSPC. He was not 'in business' since 1999," security specialist and editor Mounir Boudjema told Reuters. "But on the political level, it shows that Bouteflika's peace offer is a success."......

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

.....ending with

Top selling daily El Khabar reported on Sunday that 25 rebels and six soldiers had been killed in the past few days in clashes around the country, Africa's second largest.

Sudan: Government and Militia Assaulting before the Peace Keepers Arrive

Sudan appears to have come to a strategy to respond to the imposition of a peace keeping force:

Try to finish the genocide before the New UN troops arrive.
  • Was it really government supported militia that destroyed the peacekeepers at Haskanita? The rebels appear too confused about who did it, and no one really gets any advantage.....except Khartoum
  • Before any investigation could occur, what remained of Haskanita was burned down in the night.
  • And Now, Sudanese government troops and allied militia on Monday attacked a town belonging to the only Darfur rebel faction to sign a 2006 peace deal. "Half of Muhajiriya is burnt down."

China, Libya - are you watching?

-Shimron Issachar

Saturday, October 06, 2007

We cannot verify this source as reliable. It claimes to be based on channel four news somewhere, but his post hit the web on 5 October, 2007. I corraborates earlier reports about Ginnea Bissau, and gives specific locations.

-Shimron

Friday 5 October 2007, 7.35pmColombian drugs traffickers have taken advantage of one of the world's poorest countries and turned it into the main transit point for hundreds of tons of cocaine smuggled into Europe every year.
article continues below...

Unreported World reports from Guinea Bissau in West Africa, and reveals the astonishing extent to which Colombian drugs traffickers have taken advantage of one of the world's poorest countries and turned it into the main transit point for hundreds of tons of cocaine smuggled into Europe every year.

With chronic poverty, rampant corruption and almost no police or customs, the Colombians have virtually "bought" the country, flooding it with drugs money and creating Africa's first "narco-state".Reporter Kate Seelye and Producer Edward Watts begin their journey in the country's run-down capital, Bissau.

  • Traveling at night and trying to avoid the ubiquitous armed security guards, the team is shown several mansions owned by Colombian drug dealers who are using Guinea Bissau as a warehouse - storing the drugs until they are distributed to various destinations in Europe.
  • Much of the cocaine is flown into the Bijagos islands - just off the coast - and the team travel to one island in particular, Bubaque, which has an old, Portuguese-built airfield which they've been told regularly receives flights from Colombia carrying massive amounts of cocaine.
  • The last journalist who tried to film the airfield was arrested and beaten, so Seelye and Watts have to stay undercover, posing as game fishers.
  • They find the runway, which is several kilometers long.
  • One local tells them that many villagers are involved in the operations, helping to unload the drugs to earn money.
  • He also claims that the police are protecting the operation and that government officials often turn up to collect crates of cocaine.
  • Back in Bissau, the team meets a local human rights activist in hiding after he received death threats when he accused the authorities of cooperating with the traffickers.
  • Mario claims that he has information proving that the authorities are cooperating with the traffickers and tells Seelye that for foreigners to come in with hundreds of kilos of cocaine, buy large mansions and move freely around the city they must be receiving some kind of official protection.
  • To check out his claims, the team makes contact with someone inside the secret services. He tells Unreported World that because of the poverty of the country, everyone is involved in drug trafficking - from businessmen through to government ministers, the military and the police.
  • He says that with so much money at stake, different branches of the military are likely to fight over the spoils...and an already failed state could fracture even further.
  • The team arranges an interview with Prime Minister Martinho Ndafa Cabi - who tells them that fighting drugs is a priority, but that as a fragile country with no resources, it needs help from the international community to fight this growing problem.
  • However, Unreported World shows that while the anti-drugs chief struggles to work without any usable vehicles, many government officials are traveling around in the latest Mercedes limousines.
  • As the team leaves West Africa, it's clear that without intervention Guinea Bissau faces a future as a state effectively run by the narco-traffickers and Europe will be flooded with ever more cocaine.

The Rest @ Unreported World

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bahrain is an Islamic Bank Boomtown

Bahrain and Malaysia are fast becoming the Twin Islamic Finance Centers of the World. They have seen enormous growth in the last 30 years. Though Some Islamic Banks have been significant players in financing pre and post 9-11 activities, Islamic Banking and other Islamic Finance systems are not Terrorist Activities.

However, terrorists are using Islamic Financial systems to fund their operations. Therefore, we need to understand how the systems operate, and where the centers of operation are.

Note that some institutions listed in the article that follows have been named in terrorist watch agency lists,( see the right margin for their many links)

-Shimron


Note
During the last 30 years Islamic banking and finance has developed, evolved and thrived across the world to become a major global industry.

Bahrain is recognised as having one of the pre-eminent financial services centres in the Middle East, across a range of asset classes such as:
  • private banking,
  • fund management
  • insurance and capital markets
  • and is noted as a pioneer in Islamic banking and finance.

Before Dubai became the darling of the Middle East the only place to do business in the Gulf was Bahrain.

The small island state remains home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf.

  • Petroleum production and refining account for over 60 per cent of Bahrain's export receipts, over 70 per cent of government revenues, and 11 per cent of gross domestic product, underpinning Bahrain's strong economic growth in recent years.
  • There are currently 27 Islamic financial institutions, 24 Islamic banks and three banking related institutions operating in Bahrain, which is the largest concentration of Islamic financial institutions in the Middle East.

Many institutions have their Islamic banking business headquartered in Bahrain, including:

Bahrain is one of the world's most proactive and energetic centres for Sukuk issuance with a Sukuk being launched on an almost weekly basis.

The Bahraini government was the first country to issue sovereign Sukuk and one of its most popular issues is Ijarah Sukuk.

The popularity of Bahraini Ijarah has attracted international interest from conventional banks.

Success in developing Sukuk has led to other GCC countries looking to Bahrain to manage their Sukuk programmes.


The private sector has also enthusiastically entered the Sukuk game. One of the most notable recent issues was Gulf Finance HouseGulf Finance House's (GFHGFH) $1 billion Sukuk last month.

The Sukuk was issued, as Peter Panayiotou, deputy chief executive of GFHGFH
commented, "To finance the bank's strategic investment portfolio, comprising its 70 per cent state in Khaleeji Commercial BankKhaleeji Commercial Bank in Bahrain and its 15 per cent stake in QINVEST, Qatar's first Islamic investment bank."


Manama can also lay claim to being the capital of the world's Takaful industry. Although other centres around the world are trying to wrest control of this potentially massive business from Bahrain, it still retains a steely grip on the Takaful industry.

Bahrain's leading Takaful companies include

From an already strong foundation Takaful is growing into a major force in Bahrain, with its leading Takaful companies enjoying growth at more than double the level of conventional companies. Premiums for Takaful have been growing phenomenally, showing an increase of 174 per cent between 2004 and 2005, the last period for which full figures were available.

A case study that illustrates the growth of Takaful in Bahrain is Solidarity. Founded in 2004 it has grown to become one of the world's largest Takaful companies by assets. Solidarity has started to forage further afield opening operations in Qatar and Saudi Arabia and has applied for a licence to operate in Malaysia in 2006.

The government is planning to reinforce Bahrain's position as a hub for the Takaful market, to protect and develop this fledgling and potentially lucrative industry.

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has been working to establish an International Takaful Association in Bahrain and make it the headquarters of the industry.
This would seem a logical step for the industry as there are so many Islamic finance bodies already in Bahrain, such as the:

If Takaful is to grow to the predicted $14 billion by 2015, and the government secures Bahrain as a hub, this sector of the financial industry could be a massive income generator for the country.

Bahrain has an extensive heritage and a progressive approach to Islamic finance. Its evolution into an international centre for Islamic banking came, in part, from a recommendation made in 1978 at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, an inter-governmental organisation of 56 states that collaborates to ensure progress and well-being for the global Muslim community.

There was discussion at the conference about the need for Muslims to have specific economic and financial products and services to adhere to their religious beliefs and principles. The Muslim community, both in the Middle East and worldwide needed financial products and services that mirrored their faith in a way that conventional banking could not.

Islamic banking was the solution to this requirement. Bahrain was already emerging as a prime location for financial services in the Gulf region and was identified as the natural location to develop Islamic banking and finance. The Bahrain Monetary Agency, which has now become the CBB played a fundamental role in the adoption of Islamic banking in Bahrain, establishing the necessary supervisory and regulatory framework to enable this sector to flourish.

There is much more @ Zawya


Article originally published by Banker Middle East 03-Aug-07

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Halawa and the Halawadar 101

This is an overview of a book about Hawala, and how it is used for Terrorisam. It was first written in 2001 but was updated in 2005. This is not to say that all Hawala actity is driven by criminal and terrorist rings. However, It is clear that the structure and informal networks in which the Halawadar (Halawa business or money changing person) operates make money Laundering possible, as defined by Post 9-11 USA Laws .

-Shimron

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the USA, attention was drawn to the age-old, secretive, and globe-spanning banking system developed in Asia and known as "Hawala" (to change, in Arabic). It is based on a short term, discountable, negotiable, promissory note (or bill of exchange) called "Hundi". While not limited to Moslems, it has come to be identified with "Islamic Banking".

Islamic Law (Sharia'a) regulates commerce and finance in the Fiqh Al Mua'malat, (transactions amongst people). Modern Islamic banks are overseen by the Shari'a Supervisory Board of Islamic Banks and Institutions ("The Shari'a Committee").

The Shi'a "Islamic Laws according to the Fatawa of Ayatullah al Uzama Syed Ali al-Husaini Seestani" has this to say about Hawala banking:

"2298. If a debtor directs his creditor to collect his debt from the third person, and the creditor accepts the arrangement, the third person will, on completion of all the conditions to be explained later, become the debtor. Thereafter, the creditor cannot demand his debt from the first debtor."

The prophet Muhammad (a cross border trader of goods and commodities by profession) encouraged the free movement of goods and the development of markets. Numerous Moslem scholars railed against hoarding and harmful speculation (market cornering and manipulation known as "Gharar").

Moslems were the first to use promissory notes and assignment, or transfer of debts via bills of exchange ("Hawala"). Among modern banking instruments, only floating and, therefore, uncertain, interest payments ("Riba" and "Jahala"), futures contracts, and forfeiting are frowned upon. But agile Moslem traders easily and often circumvent these religious restrictions by creating "synthetic Murabaha (contracts)" identical to Western forward and futures contracts. Actually, the only allowed transfer or trading of debts (as distinct from the underlying commodities or goods) is under the Hawala.

"Hawala" consists of transferring money (usually across borders and in order to avoid taxes or the need to bribe officials) without physical or electronic transfer of funds.

  1. Money changers ("Hawaladar") receive cash in one country, no questions asked.
  2. Correspondent hawaladars in another country dispense an identical amount (minus minimal fees and commissions) to a recipient or, less often, to a bank account.
  3. E-mail, or letter ("Hundi") carrying couriers are used to convey the necessary information (the amount of money, the date it has to be paid on) between Hawaladars.
  4. The sender provides the recipient with code words (or numbers, for instance the serial numbers of currency notes), a digital encrypted message, or agreed signals (like handshakes), to be used to retrieve the money.
  5. Big Hawaladars use a chain of middlemen in cities around the globe.
    But most Hawaladars are small businesses. Their Hawala activity is a sideline or moonlighting operation. "Chits" (verbal agreements) substitute for certain written records.
  6. In bigger operations there are human "memorizers" who serve as arbiters in case of dispute.
  7. The Hawala system requires unbounded trust. Hawaladars are often members of the same family, village, clan, or ethnic group. It is a system older than the West.
  8. The ancient Chinese had their own "Hawala" - "fei qian" (or "flying money"). Arab traders used it to avoid being robbed on the Silk Road. Cheating is punished by effective ex-communication and "loss of honour" - the equivalent of an economic death sentence.
  9. Physical violence is rarer but not unheard of. Violence sometimes also erupts between money recipients and robbers who are after the huge quantities of physical cash sloshing about the system. But these, too, are rare events, as rare as bank robberies.
  10. One result of this effective social regulation is that commodity traders in Asia shift hundreds of millions of US dollars per trade based solely on trust and the verbal commitment of their counterparts.
  11. Hawala arrangements are used to avoid customs duties consumption taxes, and other trade-related levies.
  12. Suppliers provide importers with lower prices on their invoices, and get paid the difference via Hawala.
  13. Legitimate transactions and tax evasion constitute the bulk of Hawala operations.
  14. Modern Hawala networks emerged in the 1960's and 1970's to circumvent official bans on gold imports in Southeast Asia and to facilitate the transfer of hard earned wages of expatriates to their families ("home remittances") and their conversion at rates more favourable (often double) than the government's.
  15. Hawala provides a cheap (it costs c. 1% of the amount transferred), efficient, and frictionless alternative to morbid and corrupt domestic financial institutions.

It is Western Union without the hi-tech gear and the exorbitant transfer fees.

Unfortunately, these networks have been hijacked and compromised by drug traffickers (mainly in Afganistan and Pakistan), corrupt officials, secret services, money launderers, organized crime, and terrorists.

  • Pakistani Hawala networks alone move up to 5 billion US dollars annually according to estimates by Pakistan's Minister of Finance, Shaukut Aziz.
  • In 1999, Institutional Investor Magazine identified 1100 money brokers in Pakistan and transactions that ran as high as 10 million US dollars apiece.
  • As opposed to stereotypes, most Hawala networks are not controlled by Arabs, but by Indian and Pakistani expatriates and immigrants in the Gulf.
  • The Hawala network in India has been brutally and ruthlessly demolished by Indira Ghandi (during the emergency regime imposed in 1975), but Indian nationals still play a big part in international Hawala networks.
  • Similar networks in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Bangladesh have also been eradicated.

The OECD's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) says that:
"Hawala remains a significant method for large numbers of businesses of all sizes and individuals to repatriate funds and purchase gold.... It is favoured because it usually costs less than moving funds through the banking system, it operates 24 hours per day and every day of the year, it is virtually completely reliable, and there is minimal paperwork required."

(Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), "Report on Money Laundering Typologies 1999-2000," Financial Action Task Force,

  • Hawala networks closely feed into Islamic banks throughout the world and to commodity trading in South Asia.
  • There are more than 200 Islamic banks in the USA alone and many thousands in Europe, North and South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states (especially in the free zone of Dubai and in Bahrain),
  • Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other South East Asian countries. By the end of 1998, the overt (read: tip of the iceberg) liabilities of these financial institutions amounted to 148 billion US dollars.

They dabbled in:

  • equipment leasing
  • real estate leasing and development
  • corporate equity, and trade
  • structured trade and commodities financing (usually in consortia called "Mudaraba").

While previously confined to the Arab peninsula and to south and east Asia, this mode of traditional banking became truly international in the 1970's, following the unprecedented flow of wealth to many Moslem nations due to the oil shocks and the emergence of the Asian tigers.

Islamic banks joined forces with corporations, multinationals, and banks in the West to finance oil exploration and drilling, mining, and agribusiness. Many leading law firms in the West (such as Norton Rose, Freshfields, Clyde and Co. and Clifford Chance) have "Islamic Finance" teams which are familiar with Islam-compatible commercial contracts.

II. HAWALA AND TERRORISM

Recent anti-terrorist legislation in the US and the UK allows government agencies to regularly supervise and inspect businesses that are suspected of being a front for the ''Hawala'' banking system, makes it a crime to smuggle more than $10,000 in cash across USA borders, and empowers the Treasury secretary (and its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network - FinCEN) to tighten record-keeping and reporting rules for banks and financial institutions based in the USA.

A new inter-agency Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Center (FTAT) was set up. A 1993 moribund proposed law requiring US-based Halawadar to register and to report suspicious transactions may be revived.

These relatively radical measures reflect the belief that the al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden uses the Hawala system to raise and move funds across national borders.

A Hawaladar in Pakistan (Dihab Shill) was identified as the financier in the attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.


But the USA is not the only country to face terrorism financed by Hawala networks.


In mid-2001, the Delhi police, the Indian government's Enforcement Directorate (ED), and the Military Intelligence (MI) arrested six Jammu Kashmir Islamic Front (JKIF) terrorists.

The arrests led to the exposure of an enormous web of Hawala institutions in Delhi, aided and abetted, some say, by the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence, Pakistan's security services).

The Hawala network was used to funnel money to terrorist groups in the disputed Kashmir Valley.

Luckily, the common perception that Hawala financing is paperless is wrong. The transfer of information regarding the funds often leaves digital (though heavily encrypted) trails.

Couriers and "contract memorizers", gold dealers, commodity merchants, transporters, and moneylenders can be apprehended and interrogated. Written, physical, letters are still the favourite mode of communication among small and medium Hawaladars, who also invariably resort to extremely detailed single entry bookkeeping. And the sudden appearance and disappearance of funds in bank accounts still have to be explained.

Moreover, the sheer scale of the amounts involved entails the collaboration of off shore banks and more established financial institutions in the West. Such flows of funds affect the local money markets in Asia and are instantaneously reflected in interest rates charged to frequent borrowers, such as wholesalers. Spending and consumption patterns change discernibly after such influxes.

Most of the money ends up in prime world banks behind flimsy business facades. Hackers in Germany claimed (without providing proof) to have infiltrated Hawala-related bank accounts.

The problem is that banks and financial institutions - and not only in dodgy offshore havens ("black holes" in the lingo) - clam up and refuse to divulge information about their clients. Banking is largely a matter of fragile trust between bank and customer and tight secrecy. Bankers are reluctant to undermine either. Banks use mainframe computers which can rarely be hacked through cyberspace and can be compromised only physically in close co-operation with insiders. The shadier the bank - the more formidable its digital defenses.

The use of numbered accounts (outlawed in Austria, for instance, only recently) and pseudonyms (still possible in Lichtenstein) complicates matters. Bin Laden's accounts are unlikely to bear his name. He has collaborators.
Hawala networks are often used to launder money, or to evade taxes. Even when employed for legitimate purposes, to diversify the risk involved in the transfer of large sums, Hawaladars apply techniques borrowed from money laundering.

Deposits are fragmented and wired to hundreds of banks the world over ("starburst"). Sometimes, the money ends up in the account of origin ("boomerang").

Hence the focus on payment clearing and settlement systems. Most countries have only one such system, the repository of data regarding all banking (and most non-banking) transactions in the country. Yet, even this is a partial solution. Most national systems maintain records for 6-12 months, private settlement and clearing systems for even less.

Yet, the crux of the problem is not the Hawala or the Hawaladars. The corrupt and inept governments of Asia are to blame for not regulating their banking systems, for over-regulating everything else, for not fostering competition, for throwing public money at bad debts and at worse borrowers, for over-taxing, for robbing people of their life savings through capital controls, for tearing at the delicate fabric of trust between customer and bank (Pakistan, for instance, froze all foreign exchange accounts two years ago). Perhaps if Asia had reasonably expedient, reasonably priced, reasonably regulated, user-friendly banks - Osama bin Laden would have found it impossible to finance his mischief so invisibly

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Battle for Haskanita

EL FASHER, Sudan --

The 1,000 Darfur rebels waited until sunset, the end of the Ramadan fast, to begin their assault. Some of the outgunned African peacekeepers, caught by surprise, fought back. Others fled into the scrublands, and at the end 10 of them were dead.

The rebels overran the African Union peacekeeping outpost, seized six armored vehicles and fled Sunday morning when the Sudanese army arrived at the base on the outskirts of the town of Haskanita in North Darfur where 157 peacekeepers and support staff were stationed.

"We were just preparing for dinner when the first rocket hit us," one peacekeeper, a stocky man in his 20s with a sharp nose, told an Associated Press reporter who arrived at the base hours after the attack.

Another soldier, fighting back tears, said: "The fighting was terrible. I can't even describe it."

The peacekeepers repelled the first rebel attack after dusk, but the rebels returned and a fresh battle raged for hours. Survivors said the rebels used several armored vehicles and rocket-propelled grenades - an indication they possess heavier weapons than previously believed.

The rebels finally stormed the camp around 4 a.m. Sunday at a time when some of the peacekeepers ran out of ammunition. The peacekeepers took refuge in a ditch in one corner of the camp where dozens of empty shell casings from AK-47s were strewn in the sandy soil. More casings littered the ground near the entrance to the base.

"Once we ran out of ammunition, we all laid down in that ditch," said Abu Bakr, one of the peacekeepers.........

The Rest @ Sacbee

Gandlof- China is being Irresponsible in Africa

HELSINKI (Reuters) - China is behaving irresponsibly in its trade relations with Africa and should better adhere to international standards, rights activist and Irish rocker Bob Geldof said on Tuesday.
  • The anti-poverty campaigner told a corporate aid event in Finland China's philosophy was mercantilist -- based entirely on money without regard for political stability or the welfare of African people.
  • "They are everywhere, they invest huge amounts of money -- it's very positive for some of the countries, but negative for others," he said.
  • "There is a danger because that's naive and it's disingenuous. They're now a major power and they must behave to international standards."
    China is Africa's third-largest trading partner, exporting $16.4 billion (8 billion pounds) worth of goods and services in the first six months of 2007, up 49 percent from a year earlier, China's Commerce Ministry said in August.
  • China's direct outbound investment in Africa reached $480 million in the same period.
  • Geldof said China was exacerbating some of the continent's most difficult problems, including Darfur and Zimbabwe.
  • "The Chinese want the oil, they don't want anything interfering with the Khartoum government, so they give free guns to the Sudanese army," he said, adding 6 percent of Chinese oil was coming from Sudan, which makes up 60 percent of the country's production.
  • Geldof said money and resources were also the driving force behind China's support of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, criticised by analysts for driving a once thriving economy into the ground and frightening off foreign investment.Deepali Khanna, East and Southern Africa regional director of grassroots organisation Plan International, said China could help stabilise the situation in Africa if it wanted to, especially in Sudan.
  • "China could be playing a much more pivotal role -- China wants whatever is convenient for them and lets the rest of the world keep fighting over Darfur," she said.
  • "But the investment that's coming from China -- they could pull that out; they could be getting the equilibrium right, but they are not. They're making the government much more arrogant in wanting to do things they have been doing so far."

Geldof and Khanna spoke at a seminar challenging the corporate sector to get more involved in the continent.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Two stories over how Ninteen Tuaregs Killed

By Abdoulaye Massalatchi

NIAMEY, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Niger's army said on Tuesday it had killed 19 Tuareg "bandits" when it intercepted a drug-smuggling convoy near the border with Algeria, but a Tuareg rebel Web site accused soldiers of killing 12 unarmed civilians.

Army officers said the clash took place on Monday east of Assamakka in the Toussasset area of the northern Agadez region, where authorities have declared a state of alert since late August to counter a rebellion by light-skinned Tuareg fighters.

The Tuareg-led rebel Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), which the government dismisses as drug-trafficking bandits, launched an uprising in the uranium-mining north of the impoverished Sahel country in February. Since then, it has killed at least 45 government soldiers and taken dozens more captive.

"Our forces on patrol came across armed MNJ bandits travelling in several heavily armed vehicles and in the clashes, 19 bandits were killed and two of their vehicles knocked out," one army officer, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

"We seized arms and drugs," the officer added.
On its Web site, www.m-n-j.blogspot.com, the MNJ accused the army of "massacring" 12 Tuareg civilians on the Algerian frontier, although it did not specify the exact location.

The group said army soldiers halted five passenger vehicles, ordered their occupants out, separated light-skinned Tuaregs from darker-skinned passengers and then killed the former.

There was no independent confirmation of the incidents reported by the army and the MNJ.

Niger's authorities have imposed a media blackout on coverage of the northern unrest and have tried to prevent reporters from travelling to the Agadez region.
The MNJ, which announced last month it was halting offensive operations during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, says it wants the northern Tuareg region to have greater autonomy from Niger's black-dominated government ruling far to the south.

The group is also demanding the region be given a greater share of the mineral wealth it produces.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

MAOC-N Formed, FARC OPerating in Africa?

By Axel Bugge
LISBON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Seven west European countries on Sunday launched an agency to tackle the ever-changing routes whereby South American cocaine finds its way onto European streets, particularly via West Africa.

The Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre - Narcotics (MAOC-N) will help national authorities work together to catch cocaine shipments, often through high stakes operations on the open seas.
  • Cocaine use has tripled in Europe in the past decade to become the second most used drug in Europe after cannabis and the vast majority of it passes into the EU through Iberia -- Spain and Portugal.
  • "We are the Atlantic border of Europe," Portuguese Justice Minister Alberto Costa said during a ceremony to inaugurate the agency. It was signed by Portugal, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Britain and the Netherlands.
  • About 70 tonnes of cocaine was seized by Spain and Portugal in 2006 out of about 100 tonnes seized in the whole of Europe.
  • The decision to establish the agency was in large part a reaction to the growing use of West Africa by South American drug runners as a staging post to Europe.
  • "Concern about the growing importance of the African western coast in this trade is one of the raisons d'etre of this centre," said Costa.
  • Law enforcement authorities in Portugal have pointed to Nigeria and especially Guinea Bissau as countries South American cocaine passes through on its way to Europe.


COLOMBIANS IN GUINEA BISSAU

  • Arrests of Colombians in Guinea-Bissau have prompted concerns that the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) left-wing guerrilla group has established itself there in order to extend drug financing of its operations at home.
  • "Whether they are FARC members of not I couldn't say for sure, but clearly we know there are Colombians down there (in West Africa)," said Tim Manhire, the executive director of the new agency. Manhire said this was one angle the agency would pursue with U.S. authorities that are more familiar in dealing with Colombian militants in their use of the drug trade to finance conflict. The U.S. has observer status at the agency.
  • "Clearly we will be looking to work with our American colleagues at trying to intervene in that environment," Manhire said.
  • The price of cocaine has fallen sharply in Europe in recent years, suggesting more of it is reaching Europe, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addicition, which is also based in Lisbon.
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The following is an excerpt from the Testimony before the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs on 2 October, 2007 by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer. She was speaking on the State of Ethipoian Democray....

-Shimron

THE SITUATION IN THE OGADEN, Ethiopia

"In a reflection of the challenges encountered throughout Ethiopia, the conflict in the Ogaden region is complex. In early September, I had the opportunity to visit Gode, a bleak and desolate area of the Ogaden, to see first hand the problems and what more needs to be done to bring relief to this region."


"The GOE is facing a genuine security concern in the Ogaden region and has an obligation to respond. An increasingly violent insurgency is operating from the Ogaden, where Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), the United Western Somalia Liberation Front (UWSLF), extremists affiliated with the Ogaden faction of al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI), and terrorists affiliated with the extremist al Shabaab militia and remnants of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) are stepping up their attacks against government targets."

"While this is not a new conflict, in fact it dates back to before the Meles government took office, in the last year the ONLF has become more aggressive and violent. In April 2007, the ONLF conducted an attack that killed nine Chinese oil workers and 77 Ethiopians, many of whom were civilians."

"Regrettably the actions of rebel groups, extremists, and government troops alike have all taken a damaging humanitarian toll on the local civilian population. The challenge for the GOE and international partners is to mitigate the civilian impacts of these events."

"The current situation in the Ogaden reflects the combined result of continued humanitarian crisis and years of conflict driven by a violent insurgency and fighting between government and rebel forces, as well as government restrictions on commercial trade and on mobility of civilians and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), recurrent drought and flooding, and general insecurity."


"Ethiopia’s Somali Region, which includes the Ogaden, has a population of approximately 4.5 million people, of which approximately 1.8 million live in five zones (Degehabur, Fik, Gode, Korehe and Warder) with severe humanitarian needs. Unfortunately, three of these zones – Degehabur, Korahe and Warder – are also where the insurgent activities are the most prevalent."


In May 2007, in response to the increase in ONLF attacks, the Ethiopian military initiated a new counter-insurgency campaign. The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) conducted military operations, restricted humanitarian food aid and commercial traffic to certain areas, and restricted movement of rural communities. The ONLF has also planted landmines throughout roads, impeding large scale movements and disrupting the commercial trade in food and humanitarian assistance. On July 29, three aid workers were killed when their vehicle struck a landmine, which was placed by the ONLF. "


"The United States has seen allegations of human rights abuses conducted by all parties, including reports of burned villages and population displacements. While we cannot confirm these incidents, it is clear that the local population is suffering from the insurgency and counter-insurgency campaigns."

"The United States has raised our strong concerns in this regard with the leaders of the GOE, including Prime Minister Meles. The GOE is working with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in the Ogaden. The United Nations has also recommended that an independent probe be undertaken into alleged human rights violations in the region."

Civil War in the East covering International Conflict Diamond Activity in the West?

I have not commented in detail to date about DR Congo's current Civil war, because it is not clear to me yet the real objectives of the war. The government does not seem to have any real solutions except the status-quo. The rebels seem to not have any real idea about what they want to do or accomplish.

So the usually suspects are likely to be supplying the arms and logistics to both sides.

-I suspect the real story in the Congos is what is going on in the diamond mines...

  • Who is mining, them?
  • where are they going to get "Kimberly-ized"?
  • Are they just being sold to an emerging non-DeBeers diamond trade being run by the Russians?
I suspect the conflict is really covering other activities meant to arm and resupply other international groups for upcoming conflicts....

so, back to the Civil War....

-Shimron

BULENGO, Congo, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Civilians in Congo's conflict-torn North Kivu province are bearing the brunt of instability there as warring factions step up forced recruitment and a humanitarian crisis deepens.

Jean-Paul Kakuti was attending his village school when he was kidnapped by fighters loyal to renegade Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda, who are battling Democratic Republic of Congo's army in the lawless eastern province.

"When they took me, I was with about 30 others. They took lots of school children and teachers," Kakuti said as he waited in a U.N. refugee agency tent in Bulengo, just west of the provincial capital, Goma. "They wanted us to fight alongside them, to become rebels like them."

A tense stalemate reigns in North Kivu after an informal U.N.-brokered ceasefire helped end heavy fighting last month. Intermittent skirmishes continue between Nkunda's fighters, government forces, local militia, and Rwandan rebels.

With no concrete efforts under way to negotiate a settlement to the current situation, North Kivu's civilian population is suffering an intensifying humanitarian crisis.

More than 90,000 people were displaced by last month's fighting and there are worrying signs the situation could soon worsen.

The Congolese army, considered by human rights groups as the country's worst human rights abuser, has poured thousands of extra troops into the province to battle Nkunda.

Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission accuses Nkunda, local militia, and Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels of forcibly recruiting fighters, in some cases minors. The indications point towards preparations for the next round of fighting.

"It's really an explosive situation that can change overnight," said Philippe Havet, a doctor at a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in the isolated town of Masisi. "We don't know what will happen tomorrow. That much is completely clear."

HUMANITARIAN WOES

Even before the latest round of fighting, more than 270,000 civilians had fled fighting in North Kivu since the beginning of the year. Few dare return home, causing camps to balloon and placing a strain on local communities that have welcomed them.

Uncounted thousands more have been cut off from assistance, as transport routes have been transformed into frontlines.

"Access to people has become a real challenge. North Kivu is divided," said Aya Shneerson, the U.N. World Food Programme's director in North Kivu. "No one is going home, because the situation is unclear. There are places where people urgently need help that we can't get to."

At the hospital in Masisi, one of the few operating in the area, a team from the Belgian chapter of MSF carries out an average of 1,000 consultations per week. The 73-bed facility currently houses 130 patients and medical supplies must be flown in by helicopter to avoid ambushes on the road from Goma.

"They come walking sometimes from 20 km (12 miles) away," Havet told Reuters by phone from Masisi. "There are some who have to wait two days to be treated."

Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission has been pushing for negotiations to end the crisis and former colonial ruler Belgium is calling for the appointment of a special outside mediator for North Kivu.

"It's clear that a political solution is needed, and quickly. The humanitarian consequences of drawn-out instability in North Kivu are pretty dire, maybe a million displaced by the end of the year," said one western diplomat.
"There seems to be a lack of political will from both sides to have meaningful talks.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa