US slaps sanctions on alleged new Daesh financiers

A sign marks the US Treasury Department in Washington, U.S., August 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 15 April 2019
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US slaps sanctions on alleged new Daesh financiers

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on financiers with bases in Belgium, Kenya and Turkey on charges they funneled money internationally for the Daesh extremist group.
The Treasury Department said it had pinpointed successors to Fawaz Muhammad Jubayr Al-Rawi, who was killed in a US-led coalition air strike in Syria in 2017 after allegedly sending millions of dollars earmarked for the jihadists.
The United States imposed sanctions on seven people including Mushtaq Talib Zughayr Al-Rawi, who as of late 2018 was living with his family in Belgium, according to the Treasury Department.
Forces seized evidence during a raid on the Daesh group last year that showed Mushtaq was helping fund them by exploiting the Iraqi government’s electronic payment machines designed to distribute payments to public employees and retirees, the Treasury Department said.
“Treasury is dedicated to ensuring the enduring defeat of Daesh by cutting off all remaining sources of their terror funding around the globe,” said Sigal Mandelker, the department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Rawi’s network dates from the 1990s in Iraq, when it used the region’s hawala system, the informal network of money transfers conducted through face-to-face guarantees, to evade biting international sanctions on the country then ruled by Saddam Hussein.
The Treasury Department also sanctioned a money exchange company, Al-Ard Al-Jadidah, said to connect Iraq’s hawalas with the northern Turkish city of Samsun.
An Daesh member in Iraq allegedly received $1 million through the exchange last year, it said.
Also targeted in the latest sanctions was Kenya-based Halima Adan Ali, who the Treasury Department said was part of a network that moved more than $150,000 through the hawala system to Daesh fighters in Syria, Libya and central Africa.
She has been arrested twice by Kenyan authorities and also served as a recruiter for Somalia’s Al-Shabab militants, according to the Treasury Department.
With the announcement, the United States will seize any assets it finds which belong to the sanctioned individuals and bar any Americans from financial dealings with them.


Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

Updated 21 May 2019
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Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

  • Madrasas to be absorbed by Ministry of Education in wake of Easter Sunday attacks
  • More than 100 arrests have been made following the rioting. A curfew has been lifted and life is returning to normal

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday refused permission for a planned $10 million (SR37.5 million) Shariah university in one of the country’s main cities.

And in the wake of the deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks on hotels and churches, the premier also announced that all madrasas would be brought under the umbrella of Sri Lanka’s Education Ministry.

The latest moves by the Sri Lankan government follow widespread unrest on the island, with anti-Muslim riots having caused damage running into millions of dollars.

Wickremesinghe’s orders came after a fact-finding report into the university compiled by MP Ashu Marasinghe. He recommended that the institution, being constructed at Batticaloa, in the Eastern Province, should be privately operated and titled Batticaloa Technology University. The new education complex is located close to the township of Kattankudy where suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings, Zahran Hashim, lived and preached his messages of hate and violence.

The Sri Lankan government analyst’s department said on Tuesday that DNA tests proved Hashim died in the attack at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

President’s Counsel, Ali Sabry, a prominent lawyer and political analyst, told Arab News on Tuesday that the premier’s announcement was welcome.

“We don’t need a Shariah university at this juncture when there is a lot of suspicions on various Islamic topics that need to be clarified by Islamic theologians following the suicide attacks by Muslim extremists,” Sabry said. He stressed that the country’s main focus should be on strengthening ways to ensure peaceful coexistence among all communities.

The Sri Lankan University Grants Commission had a set of guidelines to license new universities, and Wickremesinghe’s latest recommendations would also be included among the requirements for a new university, Sabry added.

The prime minister’s ruling on madrasas (Islamic seminaries) would provide more transparency on the activities of the institutions, he said. “Their curriculum and their co-curricular activities should maintain a common standard and these madrasas should prepare the students to make them fit into society instead of just learning Arabic and Islam only.”

M.R.M. Malik, director of the Muslim Affairs Ministry in Colombo, told Arab News that currently all madrasas function under his ministry. “There are 317 madrasas throughout the island with an estimated 25,000 students. In addition to the local teachers, there are 38 Arabic teachers and 85 foreign students,” he said.

Most of the teachers are from Egypt, Pakistan and India, while many of the overseas students studying at the madrasas are from Libya, Pakistan, Jordan and India.

Sri Lanka Muslim Council President N.M. Ameen told Arab News that the local community had never wanted a Shariah university. However, he said the proposed curriculum for the madrasas should be constructed in consultation with Islamic scholars and the Muslim community.

Meanwhile, Western Province Gov. Azath Salley, revealed that damage caused by anti-Muslim riots had reached nearly Rs900 million (SR19.2 million). The governor was speaking to Arab News following a visit to some of the worst-affected villages on the island.

“Speaking to the families of the vandalized properties, it’s clear that an organized gang had attacked these earmarked properties owned by Muslims,” said Salley. “One child, whose father was killed in his presence, is still in a state of utter shock and dismay.” He added that turpentine oil had been poured on the face of the dead carpenter by his killers and set on fire.

The governor urged the authorities to bring the attackers to justice. He added that the government would provide compensation to victims of wrecked properties.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasakera said that more than 100 arrests had been made following the rioting, and that a curfew had been lifted and life was returning to normal.