U.S. Seems Set to Brand Militant Group as ‘Terrorist’

September 1, 2012

The New York Times on August 31, 2012 released the following:

“By ERIC SCHMITT

WASHINGTON — Risking a new breach in relations with Pakistan, the Obama administration is leaning toward designating the Haqqani network, the insurgent group responsible for some of the most spectacular assaults on American bases in Afghanistan in recent years, as a terrorist organization.

With a Congressional reporting deadline looming, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and top military officials are said to favor placing sanctions on the network, which operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to half a dozen current and former administration officials.

A designation as a terrorist organization would help dry up the group’s fund-raising activities in countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, press Pakistan to carry out long-promised military action against the insurgents, and sharpen the administration’s focus on devising policies and operations to weaken the group, advocates say.

But no final decision has been made. A spirited internal debate has American officials, including several at the White House, worried about the consequences of such a designation not only for relations with Pakistan, but also for peace talks with the Taliban and the fate of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier known to be held by the militants.

Perhaps the most important consideration, administration and Congressional officials say, is whether the designation would make any difference in the group’s ability to raise money or stage more assaults as the American-led NATO force draws down in Afghanistan. Several Haqqani leaders have already been designated individually as “global terrorists,” so the issue now is what would be gained by designating the entire organization.

An administration official involved in the debate, who declined to speak on the record because of the continuing decision-making process, said, “The optics of designating look great, and the chest-thumping is an understandable expression of sentiment, but everyone has to calm down and say, ‘What does it actually do?’ ”

Mrs. Clinton, in the Cook Islands at the start of a trip to Asia, declined to discuss the internal debate but said she would meet the Congressional deadline in September. “I’d like to underscore that we are putting steady pressure on the Haqqanis,” she said. “That is part of what our military does every day.”

A National Security Council spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, would not comment on the administration’s internal deliberations, but hinted in an e-mail on Friday at the White House’s preferences for using other means to pressure the group. “We’ve taken steps to degrade the Haqqani Taliban network’s ability to carry out attacks, including drying up their resources, targeting them with our military and intelligence resources, and pressing Pakistan to take action,” the e-mail said.

Critics also contend that a designation by the Treasury Department or the United Nations, or under an existing executive order, could achieve the same result as adding the network to the much more prominent State Department list, with far fewer consequences.

The internal debate has been so divisive that the United States intelligence community has been assigned to prepare classified analyses on the possible repercussions of a designation on Pakistan. “The whole thing is absurd,” said one senior American official who has long favored designating the group, expressing frustration with the delay.

The administration has debated the designation for more than a year, with senior military officers like Gen. John R. Allen, commander of American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, and many top counterterrorism officials arguing for it.

This year, bipartisan pressure in Congress to add the group to the terrorist list has grown. “It is well past time to designate this network as a terrorist group,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, said in July.

With virtually unanimous backing, Congress approved legislation that President Obama signed into law on Aug. 10 giving Mrs. Clinton 30 days to determine whether the Haqqani network is a terrorist group. If she says it is not, she must explain her reasoning in a report to lawmakers by Sept. 9.

On one level, the decision seems clear-cut. Since 2008, Haqqani suicide attackers in Afghanistan have struck the Indian Embassy, hotels and restaurants and the headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the American Embassy.

A recent report by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point described how the Haqqani network had evolved into a “sophisticated, diverse and transnational crime network.”

In a paper for the Heritage Foundation, Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the foundation and a former C.I.A. analyst on South Asia, said, “The U.S. should stand by its counterterrorism principles and identify this deadly terrorist organization for what it is.”

American officials confirmed this week that a senior member of the Haqqani family leadership, Badruddin Haqqani, the network’s operational commander, was killed last week in a drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Opponents cite several reasons that designating the Haqqani network a terrorist organization could further complicate relations between the United States and Pakistan, just as relations are getting back on track after months of grueling negotiations that finally reopened NATO supply routes through Pakistan.

One reason, officials said, is that such a move would seem to bring Pakistan a step closer to being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. American officials say the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate is covertly aiding the insurgents. Pakistani officials have said that the agency maintains regular contact with the Haqqanis, but deny that it provides operational support. They contend that the Obama administration is trying to deflect attention from its own failings in Afghanistan.

In his meetings at the Central Intelligence Agency in early August, Pakistan’s new spy chief, Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam, told the C.I.A. director, David H. Petraeus, that his country would not protest the designation, if it was given. Two other Pakistani officials said this week that the decision was “an internal American issue.” American analysts believe Pakistan would be reluctant to publicly protest the designation because to do so would substantiate American beliefs that Pakistan supports the Haqqanis.

Critics also voice concern that designating the Haqqani network could undermine peace talks with the Taliban and complicate efforts to win the release of Sergeant Bergdahl.

The main American effort to open negotiations with the Taliban remains centered on the talks in Qatar, where Taliban representatives are supposed to be opening an office. But those talks were suspended by the insurgents in March, largely over a delayed prisoner swap for Sergeant Bergdahl, held by the Haqqani network since 2009. The United States would have released five insurgents from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to win his release.

“A designation makes negotiating with the Taliban harder, and would add another layer of things to do to build confidence in order to restart negotiations,” said Shamila N. Chaudhary, a South Asia analyst at the Eurasia Group who was the director for Pakistan and Afghanistan at the National Security Council.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Nigeria: The Case Against FTO Designation for Boko Haram – Scholars

August 27, 2012

AllAfrica.com on August 26, 2012 released the following:

“BY JIDE AJANI

DOCUMENT

Below is the academic proposition by some scholars in the United States of America to Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The letter was copied to Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Their argument, put forward in strong terms, is that the Jamaatu Ahlil Sunna Lidawati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, should not be slammed with the designation of a FOREIGN TERROR ORGANISATION, FTO.

Dated Monday, May 21, 2012, the position of the scholars is frowned at by the leaders of Nigeria’s Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN. Yet, their forceful case against the designation appears to have cut ice with the State Department.

Now, whether the present State Department’s position on Boko Haram is dictated by the prevailing political circumstances in America – the presidential election holds in November and no right-thinking American President would want to create a needless baggage for himself by offending any ethno-religious or social group (the same reason why Syrian opposition elements should not expect the Americans to fully jump into and demonstrate support for them – or not would be seen in the coming months after the election.

Curiously, the scholars throw in the bait of ‘persuasion’ as opposed to the long-held American position of -non-negotiation’ with terrorists: “Should Boko Haram be designated an FTO through this regime, it would be illegal for non-governmental organizations to interact with members of Boko Haram – even if the purpose of such contact was to persuade them to renounce violence”, the letter said. The letter inter alia:

“As scholars with a special interest in Nigeria and broad expertise on African politics, we are writing to urge that you do not designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). We are acutely aware of the horrific violence perpetrated by Boko Haram, including attacks on both Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, whether government officials or civilian targets. We share your concerns about the impact of extremist violence on Nigeria’s democratic progress and security in general.

However an FTO designation would internationalize Boko Haram, legitimize abuses by Nigeria’s security services, limit the State Department’s latitude in shaping a long term strategy, and undermine the U.S. Government’s ability to receive effective independent analysis from the region.

An FTO designation would internationalize Boko Haram’s standing and enhance its status among radical organizations elsewhere. Boko Haram’s recent tactics, including the use of suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices, raise questions about their foreign links.

The network’s focus has been overwhelmingly domestic, despite an August 2011 attack on the United Nations office in Abuja. Rhetorically, some of Boko Haram’s critique of northern underdevelopment and elite corruption is within the realm of mainstream political discourse. But there are clear indications that their tactics and targets have turned most Nigerians against them, including local populations in the North.

An FTO designation would potentially shift the organization’s posture towards the US and validate the more radical factions’ analysis of outsider influence in Nigeria. It would also undermine the Nigerian government’s ability to address the problem through law enforcement and thereby improve rule of law.

An FTO designation would give disproportionate attention to counter-terrorism in our bilateral relations, and increase the risk that the US becomes linked – whether in reality or perception – to abuses by the security services. An FTO designation would effectively endorse excessive use of force at a time when the rule of law in Nigeria hangs in the balance. There is already evidence that abuses by Nigeria’s security services have facilitated radical recruitment.

This was made unequivocally clear in 2009 following the extrajudicial murder of Mohammed Yusuf, which was broadcast across the internet.

That incident was immediately followed by Boko Haram’s radicalization, splintering, and increased propensity for large scale violence. Moreover, the routine use of the military for domestic law enforcement is a cause for alarm in a country with a deep history of military rule, and where formal declarations of states of emergency have historically led to broader political instability.

In publicizing this letter, it is also our hope that the Department of Defense and other concerned agencies will reaffirm the limitations of their roles: informing or implementing policy rather than making it.

Accurately understanding and properly addressing the issue of Boko Haram will require a diplomatic, developmental, and demilitarized framework. The State Department and its civilian developmental partners must be in the lead.

The FTO list system has its origins in Executive Order 12947 in 1995, which was designed to prohibit transactions with organizations that interfere in the Middle East peace process.

Congressional legislation the following year codified a process for making such decisions under the Effective Death Penalty and Anti-Terrorism Act. Once the State Department makes an FTO designation and that entity is added to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list managed by the Treasury Department, it is illegal for U.S. citizens to have any interactions with that entity unless they apply for a license. At least 1.1 million individuals and entities are also on secret lists, according to an audit by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Inspector General. Lack of information about the criteria for being listed makes it impossible to be removed and encourages selective enforcement.

This cumbersome and arbitrary process has made it impossible for some humanitarian organizations to operate in the neediest areas of Africa. If economic development is to play a role in alleviating tensions in northern Nigeria, we should not hamper access by USAID or private NGOs in providing aid and assistance in the region.

Should Boko Haram be designated an FTO through this regime, it would be illegal for non-governmental organizations to interact with members of Boko Haram – even if the purpose of such contact was to persuade them to renounce violence. The US Supreme Court upheld these restrictions in 2010, declaring that such contact would constitute providing “material support” to terrorist groups. Commenting on the threat this poses to the Carter Center, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said this legal restriction “threatens our work and the work of many other peacemaking organizations that must interact directly with groups that have engaged in violence.” It would therefore be illegal for third party intermediaries to play a role in some future peace process or in the confidence building measures required to get there.

Less attention has been brought to the damage that this system does to academic inquiry more generally. An FTO designation would prevent independent scholarly inquiry about Boko Haram, and increase suspicion in the future about researchers with no governmental ties. Public policy benefits from dialogue with public scholars, and an FTO designation would effectively criminalize broad categories of research”.

During a visit to Nigeria in February, former president Bill Clinton commented on the security crisis there by concluding that “it is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence with violence.” A lasting solution to Boko Haram will require robust political and developmental components initiated by the Nigerian government and broadly endorsed by the Nigerian people through democratic processes that enhance the rule of law. We believe that an FTO designation for Boko Haram would limit American policy options to those least likely to work, and would undermine the domestic political conditions necessary in Nigeria for an enduring solution.

We thank you for taking our views into consideration. Our affiliations are listed for

identification purposes only and do not constitute an institutional endorsement:”

Authors of letter to Clinton

* A. Carl LeVan Peter M. Lewis, (American University) Johns Hopkins University * Jean Herskovits Daniel J. Smith – Purchase Brown University * Adrienne LeBas, R. Kiki Edozie (American University) Michigan State University * Brandon Kendhammer Susan Shepler (American University) Ohio University* John Campbell, David Dwyer, Council on Foreign Relations, Michigan State University * Paul Lubeck, Pearl Robinson University of California – Santa Cruz Tufts University * Darren Kew, Clarence Lusane (American University)University of Massachusetts

– Boston * Laura Thaut, Nicolas van de Walle, University of Minnesota – Minneapolis Cornell Uni versity * Judith Byfield Susan, M. O’Brien Cornell University, University of Florida * John Paden Deborah, Brautigam George Mason University, Johns Hopkins University

*Michael Watts, University of California – Berkeley

Additional names added since May 21:

*David Laitin, David Wiley Stanford University, Michigan State University

*Shobana Shankar, Sandra T. Barnes Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

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OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

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U.S. Seizes $150 Million in Alleged Hezbollah-Linked Cash

August 21, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on August 20, 2012 released the following:

“By Samuel Rubenfeld

U.S. officials said Monday they seized $150 million connected to a scheme in which entities linked to Hezbollah allegedly used the U.S. financial system to launder money through West Africa and back to the group’s base of Lebanon.

The seizure stems from a civil lawsuit filed last year by federal prosecutors in Manhattan against defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank, or LCB, and two Lebanese exchange houses seeking more than $480 million in funds allegedly derived from drug trafficking and other criminal activity passing through the U.S. financial system.

The seizure was reported by The Wall Street Journal, and there’s more here.

Hezbollah is a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. The group’s leadership has denied engaging in money laundering to finance its activity.

Prosecutors said Monday they seized $150 million from a New York correspondent account of Lebanon’s Banque Libano Francaise SAL, or BLF. Société Générale de Banque au Liban, which bought LCB in September 2011 for $580 million, paid for part of the transaction through BLF. The seized funds are substitutes for the money in the LCB account in escrow at BLF, prosecutors said.

The warrants to seize the funds were issued August 15, but made public Monday. Neither BLF nor Société Générale de Banque au Liban were accused of wrongdoing, prosecutors said.

“Money is the lifeblood of terrorist and narcotics organizations, and while banks which launder money for terrorists and narco-traffickers may be located abroad, today’s announcement demonstrates that those banks and their assets are not beyond our reach,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

A lawyer for LCB declined to comment to the Journal.

The U.S. Treasury Department designated LCB as a “primary money-laundering concern” under the Patriot Act in February 2011, accusing it at the time of facilitating money laundering by a network of drug traffickers spanning South America, Europe, the Middle East and West Africa.

Société Générale de Banque au Liban acquired LCB’s assets and liabilities following the Treasury’s finding.

According to the civil complaint filed last year, the alleged scheme involved cash sent from Lebanon to the U.S. between January 2007 and early 2011 to buy used cars that were later sold in West Africa for cash.

The money from from the car sales was then allegedly transferred back to Lebanon with proceeds from narcotics trafficking and other crimes, prosecutors said in the complaint.

Correction: The seized funds came from the New York correspondent account of Lebanon’s Banque Libano Francaise SAL, not from a U.S. account at Société Générale de Banque au Liban.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

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