80 nations attend terror financing conference in Paris

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Updated 25 April 2018
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80 nations attend terror financing conference in Paris

  • Terror attacks have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001
  • While the Daesh group faces imminent defeat on the battlefield in Syria where the last pockets of its fighters are holding out, experts warn that its ideology will live on

PARIS: Ministers from 80 countries and nearly 500 experts gather in Paris from Wednesday for a conference on combating the financing of terror groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda, French officials said.
Attacks have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001, particularly in recent years when followers of Daesh have used vehicles and guns as their main weapon of choice.
But French authorities remain concerned about a huge war-chest amassed by Daesh between 2014 and 2016 when it ruled over large swathes of oil-rich territory in Iraq and Syria.
A French presidential official briefing journalists on Tuesday said that Daesh income was estimated at about $1 billion (820 million euros) a year.
“It has been moved since, at least in part. It’s probably somewhere,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “These groups are very skilful in using sophisticated techniques to move financial resources around.”
The idea of the two-day conference, which will close with a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday afternoon, is to share expertise and good practice that can be implemented internationally.
The Daesh group faces imminent defeat on the battlefield in Syria where the last pockets of its fighters are holding out, but experts warn that its ideology will live on.
Some terror experts, including Peter Neumann from King’s College in London, have argued recently that the fight against the financing of terror groups has been ineffective since 2001.
In a report last year entitled “Don’t follow the money,” he argued that low-cost terror attacks were easy to mount and jihadist groups could transfer money easily without using the international banking system.
He will make a speech at the start of the second day of the conference on Thursday which will take place at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris.


Investigators identify Russian military unit in downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Updated 52 min 4 sec ago
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Investigators identify Russian military unit in downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

BUNNIK, Netherlands: Prosecutors investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 said on Thursday they had identified the missile used to shoot down the plane as coming from a Russian military unit.
The airliner was hit by a Russian-made missile on July 17, 2014, with 298 people on board, two-thirds of them Dutch, over territory held by pro-Russian separatists. All aboard died.
Wilbert Paulissen, head of the crime squad of the Netherlands’ national police, said the missile had been fired from a carrier belonging to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade.
“All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces,” he told a televised news conference.
Russia has denied involvement in the incident. There was no immediate comment from Moscow on the investigative development.
In an interim update on their investigation, prosecutors said they had trimmed their list of possible suspects from more than a hundred to several dozen.
“We have a lot of proof and a lot of evidence, but we are not finished,” said chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke. “There is still a lot of work to do.”
He said investigators were not yet ready to identify individual suspects publicly or to issue indictments. The question of whether members of the 53rd Brigade were actively involved in the downing of the plane remains under investigation, he said.
Westerbeke called on witnesses, including members of the public, to help identify members of the crew that was operating the missile system. He also asked for tip-offs in determining what their orders were and in identifying the officials in charge of the brigade.
A Joint Investigation Team, drawn from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, is gathering evidence for a criminal prosecution in the downing of the plane.
The Dutch Safety Board concluded in an October 2015 report that the Boeing 777 was struck by a Russian-made Buk missile.
Dutch prosecutors said in September 2016 that 100 “persons of interest” had been identified in the investigation, while Australian and Malaysian officials had initially expressed hope that suspects’ names would be made public in 2017.
Eventual suspects are likely to be tried in absentia in the Netherlands after Russia used its veto to block a UN Security Council resolution seeking to create an international tribunal to oversee criminal complaints stemming from the incident.