Report: Money still no problem for Al Qaida

Friday, July 3, 2004

Al Qaida and other Islamic insurgency groups in Iraq have succeeded in attracting sufficient funding to maintain attacks on the U.S.-led coalition.

A report by the Washington Institute asserted that Al Qaida and aligned groups have established cooperation to ensure funding to like-minded insurgents who operate in Iraq. The report said the groups help each other with logistics and the flow of money for operations.

"Money has not been a constraint on the activities of Al Qaida, Palestinian terrorist groups, or the jihadists and Ba'athists fighting coalition forces in Iraq," the report, authored by counter-terrorism expert Matthew Levitt, said. "This will continue to be the case until more serious action is taken toward restricting the financing of terrorism. Acting against terrorist financing is one of the best ways to advance the war on terror, the Roadmap to Israeli-Palestinian peace, and the stabilization of Iraq."

The report, said the principal terrorist threat today stems from what he termed the web of shadowy relationships between loosely affiliated groups.

The sponsors of such groups, whether countries or other organizations, do not preside over a network with an organizational or command structure. But he said the funding of many of these groups might be traced to a network of Saudi-sponsored charities based in Herndon, Va.

Al Qaida operations commander Abu Musab Al Zarqawi was cited as a prime example of the roving international Islamic insurgent. Al Zarqawi has links to a range of groups for which he performs services. They include Hizbullah, Usbat Al Ansar and Palestinian insurgents. The report said Al Zarqawi received more than $35,000 in 2001 for providing expertise and components for suicide strikes, including a ways to infiltrate suicide bombers into Israel and provide training on explosives, poisons, and remote-controlled devices.

Another example was Mohammed Ali Hasan Al Moayad, a representative of the Hamas-aligned Al Aqsa International Foundation. Al Moayad, who was Al Aqsa's representative in Yemen, was accused of providing funds to Hamas as well as as money, arms, communication gear, and recruits to Al Qaida.

"Militant Islamist organizations from Al Qaida to Hamas interact and support one another in an international matrix of logistical, financial, and sometimes operational terrorist activity," the report, based on Levitt's testimony to U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on Oct. 22, said. "Unfortunately, two years into the war on terror, these and other groups, along with a variety of Middle Eastern state sponsors, still receive inconsistent attention despite a sharp rise in their activity. Inattention to any one part of the web of militant Islamist terrorism undermines the effectiveness of measures taken against other parts of that web."

In London, British authorities arrested Farid Hilali suspected of links to the Madrid Al Qaida cell. Hilali, 35, also known as "Shakur" is suspected of being involved in the train bombings which killed 191 people on March 11, 2004 in Madrid and of placing a call to the Madrid cell before the September 11 attacks in the U.S., the Times of London said Wednesday. In a tapped phone call on Aug. 27, 2001, Hilali allegedly said that he "had entered into the field of aviation" and "cut the throat of the eagle." Hilali also said that he would do something in about one month to show the Spain-based terrorist leader.

In Riyad, Saudi security forces killed Al Qaida's spiritual guide Abdullah Mohammed Rashid Al Rashud in a shootout Wednesday. A police officer and a second insurgent were also killed in the clash.

In Sanaa, Yemeni security forces killed Zaid ibn Ali Moslah Al Houthi, the deputy commander of "The Believing Youth" insurgency group. Al Houthi was killed in a raid on a mountain hideout near the northern town of Saada.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell authorized an increase in the reward from $10 million to $25 million for leading Al Qaida operative Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi. On early Thursday, 7 Iraqis were killed during a U.S.-led military strike on a suspected safe house of Al Zarqawi in Fallujah. Later, two Iraqis were killed in a bomb blast in Baghdad.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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