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Thursday 27 April 2017

Opinion

Halal Certification And Terrorism Links

Paul Zanetti Sunday 27 September 2015



THE limitations of our security and crime authorities were on public show the past week when they admitted they’ve found no direct links between halal certification and terrorism.

There’s a difference between ‘found’ no evidence - and ruling it out. 

The authorities haven’t rule out the links, because they can’t. They are limited by lack of jurisdiction between countries without powers to investigate overseas bank accounts.

Plenty of crimes are committed every day, which go unsolved. Plenty of crooks have walked from the courts because of a lack of evidence.

That doesn’t mean crimes are not committed. It means the crooks have cleverly covered their tracks - using methods to avoid detection.

Both the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), Australia’s anti-money laundering intelligence agency, gave evidence at the public hearing on Thursday.

National manager of compliance at AUSTRAC Angela Jamieson told the inquiry:

"Of the information identified from this monitoring of reported financial transactions, none of these have been assessed as related to funding of terrorism with regard to halal certification fees."

Halal certifiers do not directly donate money to ISIS, Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood (all proscribed terrorist organisations globally), which is why the authorities use the considered terminology, 'no direct link'. But links there are. A giant web of global links out of the reach of our authorites.

Certifiers donate to Islamic charities publicly known to have direct links to terrorist organisations. These links have been found all around the world.

It’s a stretch to imagine the same charities’ Australian affiliates are the only squeaky clean branches, or funds raised from the Australian charities’ branches are isolated from the rest of the dirty pool.

Once those charities move the funds offshore it’s impossible for AUSTRAC and the ACC to track the money. 

The funds are moved from one account to another to find their way to the intended end recipient, out of the limited reach of Australian authorities.

Don’t believe me?

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has found that smaller, local, community-based charities, especially informal ethnic and faith-based charities (i.e. Islamic) often fall outside the watchful regulatory eye of our government agencies and are especially likely to be used for financing terrorism.

AIC says terror funding is undertaken by exploiting legitimate charities where funds raised for charitable purposes are diverted to individuals or groups associated with terrorism.

Sham charities are common.

In a number of cases, the charity collects funds intended for humanitarian aid or welfare relief, but a percentage is specifically intended for the financing of terrorists.

Many of the implicated charities form part of a complex web, moving funds between multiple accounts held by various charities, sister charities, companies (both legitimate and fictitious) and individuals.

Multiple conduits are used in the country of money origin and transferred across different jurisdictions, before eventually being transmitted to the intended recipient(s) – terrorists.

Funds are first deposited into the bank accounts of charities, or of individuals associated with charities, before being transferred, using cash deposits, wire transfers or other remittance schemes.

AUSTRAC admits that “financial contributions through formal charitable donations” as one of the three most common methods by which terrorism funds are raised in Australia.

AUSTRAC states in its most recent report -

TERRORISM FINANCING IN AUSTRALIA 2014

Legitimate and 'front' businesses

Both legitimate and 'front' businesses are exploited by larger and better organised terrorist groups, particularly those with an international presence. Similar to the way charities and NPOs can be misused, these groups have set up business accounts in several jurisdictions and used them as a cover to send or receive funds through mainstream financial channels (such as the banking sector). Very large amounts of money can be transferred internationally, disguised as 'business' transactions.

The report also says,

AUSTRAC has identified three key features of the Australian terrorism financing environment:

  • Terrorism financing is largely motivated by international tensions and conflicts. Communal and sectarian links between groups overseas and individuals in Australia drives Australian involvement in terrorism financing.

  • Use of conduit countries. In recent cases, those sending funds out of Australia for terrorism financing tend to use conduit countries rather than send the funds directly to high-risk jurisdictions. This makes it more difficult for financial institutions to link the international funds transfers directly to terrorism financing. Conduit countries may also be used in an attempt to evade United Nations Security Council sanctions and Australian autonomous sanctions.

  • Commingling legitimate funds with funds collected for terrorist groups. This is especially the case for donations collected through charities and NPOs. Commingling can disguise funds raised for terrorism financing among legitimate donations. It can also add to the total pool of funds directed towards a terrorist group.

So there you have it in AUSTRAC’s own words.

Charities are used to disguise funds to terrorists.

So why did AUSTRAC tell the Senate inquiry they’ve found no links between halal certification and terrorism?

AUSTRAC was asked what happens when funds leave, say an Australian charity and reaches an account, for example, in London?

AUSTRAC admitted they have no further jurisdiction - so the investigation ends before London.

Brilliant investigation, eh? Very conclusive.

The other questions related to AUSTRAC’s authority.

AUSTRAC is set up for illegal money trafficking and laundering.

Donations to charities are not considered illegal, even though such activity is recognised as a conduit for terrorist funding. No red flags are in fact raised so they don’t look.

Sponsorship of events by charities are further removed from AUSTRAC’s radars.

It's publicly reported one private Australian halal certifier sponsors a concert event by the Australian arm of an international Islamic charity, linked to global terrorism.

Concert sponsorships aren’t investigated. They’re not illegal activities.

When asked if the reason AUSTRAC had no evidence of terrorist links, was because they were not looking at halal certifiers Craig Robertson, AUSTRAC's acting national manager of intelligence, said,

"We're not looking specifically at the use of those funds on the basis that I guess a third party outside of AUSTRAC hasn't been able to refer us information that provides evidence to look at it, and our own detection and monitoring systems of what we know about how terrorism financing occurs has not surfaced that information."

In other words, we need to be led by the nose by a complainant and the evidence needs to be served to us on a plate.

Unless it's all packaged like a halal certified Christmas turkey, they don't look. 

Music to the terrorists’ ears, laughing all the way to the multiple undetectable global bank accounts. 

The following are Islamic charities that are proven to have links to terrorism. In alphabetical order:

Afghan Support Committee
Al-Aramain Foundation
Al Kifah Refugee Centre
Al Wafa al Igatha al Islamia
Benevolence International Foundation
Bosanska Idealna Futura
Global Relief Foundation
Health Education project International
Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
Human Appeal International
Interpal
Internationale Humanitare Hilforsaginsation e.V.
Jamaat Al Dawaa al Quran
Jamat al Tabligh
Maktab al-Khidamat
Muslim Aid
Society Of the Revival Of Islamic Heritage
Sanabal Charitable Committee
Tamals Rehabilitation Organisation

Hamish Hansford from the Australian Crime Commission told the inquiry,

"We have found links between money laundering, terrorism and serious and organised crime but we haven't found any direct links between halal certification and the funding of terrorism."

"Since this issue has been highlighted in the press, we've been on a heightened lookout for any links between halal certification in our intelligence holdings and to date we have not found any direct linkages."

So, we know the authorities are not looking at the donations and sponsorships by halal certifiers to Islamic charities with known links to terrorism.

And we know they don’t look at the funds after they’ve left Australia because this is out of their jurisdiction.

And we know they have no way of searching all the giant web of bank accounts from Australia to London, from London to Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine etc.

It’s all just too hard.

Impossible, in fact.

So when you spend you money on your halal certified grocery item, how can you really be sure your hard earned does not end up in funding terrorism?

You can’t.

The only way to guarantee you aren’t funding terror at the checkout is for the Australian government to remove halal certification from private certifiers and from Islamic organisations and administer the certification scheme (necessary for exports) through a federal government department - as recommended by the 1983 Woodward Royal Commission into red meat exports.

In the meantime, the Chair of the Senate Committee into the certification inquiry is Senator Sam Dastyari.

Senator Dastyari is Iranian born to parents who were Muslim activists involved in the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the imposition of sharia law.

 Halal is part of sharia. 


Senator Dastyari posted this tweet last Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, the evening before the inquiry.

Sam Dastyari    @samdastyari

I'm fed up with all the racist dog whistling about Halal certification. So I took Ch7 to Sydney's best butcher!

Apart from the Senator's confusion between religion and race, this extraordinary smearing of the inquiry from the Chair should be grounds for removal.

A judge or magistrate suspected of prejudice or blatant bias, let alone condemning a hearing over which he is presiding, has to stand down.

Senator Dastyari’s findings are now predicable - "Nothing to see here, folks, move along. Never mind the evidence."

The publicity seeking, social media addict Senator has shot from the twitter finger and aimed squarely at his own foot.