TERRORIST MONEY LAUNDRY: DUBAI?
TERRORIST MONEY LAUNDRY: DUBAI?
The C.I.A. recently estimated in a classified report that Taliban leaders and their associates had received $106 million in the past year from donors outside Afghanistan, a figure first reported last month by The Washington Post. Private citizens from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and some Persian Gulf nations are the largest individual contributors, an American counterterrorism official said.
Top American intelligence officials and diplomats say there is no evidence so far that the governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or other Persian Gulf states are providing direct aid to the Afghan insurgency.
KABUL -- A blizzard of bank notes is flying out ofAfghanistan -- often in full view of customs officers at the Kabul airport -- as part of a cash exodus that is confounding U.S. officials and raising concerns about the money's origin.
"All this money magically appears from nowhere," said a U.S. official who monitors Afghanistan's growing role as a hub for cash transfers to Dubai, which has six flights a day to and from Kabul.
In the meantime, the money continues to flow. Cash declaration forms filed at Kabul International Airport and reviewed by The Washington Post show that Afghan passengers took more than $180 million to Dubai during a two-month period starting in July. If that rate held for the entire year, the amount of cash that left Afghanistan in 2009 would have far exceeded the country's annual tax and other domestic revenue of about $875 million.
The total volume of departing cash is almost certainly much higher than the declared amount. A Chinese man, for instance, was arrested recently at the Kabul airport carrying 800,000 undeclared euros (about $1.1 million).
Cash also can be moved easily through a VIP section at the airport, from which Afghan officials generally leave without being searched. American officials said that they have repeatedly raised the issue of special treatment for VIPs at the Kabul airport with the Afghan government but that they have made no headway.
One U.S. official said he had been told by a senior Dubai police officer that an Afghan diplomat flew into the emirate's airport last year with more than $2 million worth of euros in undeclared cash.
The cash flown out of Kabul includes a wide range of foreign currencies. Most is in U.S. dollars, euros and -- to the bafflement of officials -- Saudi Arabian riyals, a currency not widely used in Afghanistan.
Last month, a well-dressed Afghan man en route to Dubai was found carrying three briefcases stuffed with $3 million in U.S. currency and $2 million in Saudi currency, according to an American official who was present when the notes were counted. A few days later, the same man was back at the Kabul airport, en route to Dubai again, with about $5 million in U.S. and Saudi bank notes.
Efforts to figure out just how much money is leaving Afghanistan and why have been hampered by a lack of cooperation from Dubai, complained Afghan and U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Dubai's financial problems, said a U.S. official, had left the emirate eager for foreign cash, and "they don't seem to care where it comes from." Dubai authorities declined to comment.
Labels: TERRORIST MONEY LAUNDRY: DUBAI?