Islamic State (ISIS) militants are taking in more than $3m (£1.8m) a day through oil smuggling, extortion, theft and human trafficking, say intelligence officials and experts.
Aid workers, researchers and intelligence agents say that as the group has taken over sections of Iraq and Syria it now controls as many as 11 oil fields in both countries. It is using generations-old smuggling networks to bring in the trade from oil and other goods. It is also making money from extorting cash from people in the areas they have seized, kidnapping for ransom and from human trafficking.
"There's a lot of money to be made," said Denise Natali speaking about the oil trade. Natali is an American aid official who worked in Kurdistan and is now a senior research fellow at National Defense University. "The Kurds say they have made an attempt to close it down, but you pay off a border guard you pay off somebody else and you get stuff through" she told the Associated Press.
The price of Islamic State smuggled oil is discounted — $25 to $60 for a barrel of oil that normally sells for more than $100.But its total profits from oil are exceeding $3 million a day said Luay al-Khatteeb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center in Qatar.
ISIS terrorists shoot dead soldiers
Another expert, an American intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity said the militant group's resources exceed that "of any other terrorist group in history,"
The Obama administration is pressing the governments in Kurdish controlled northern Iraq, Turkey and Jordan to do more to crack down on the activity.
As well as selling oil the group has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from smuggling antiquities out of Iraq to be sold in Turkey, al-Khatteeb said, and they are making more from human trafficking by selling women and children as sex slaves.
"Its cash-raising activities resemble those of a mafia-like organization," another US intelligence official said. "They are well-organized, systematic and enforced through intimidation and violence."
Before taking over the town Mosul in northern Iraq in late June the group was “taxing” local economic activity and threatening people who would not pay them. Once it had taken control of Mosul, the group stole millions in cash from banks.
Another source of income comes from kidnapping and ransom. Earlier this year four French and two Spanish journalists held hostage by Islamic State extremists were freed after their governments paid multimillion-dollar ransoms through intermediaries.
The Islamic State group were originally funded by wealthy donors in the Gulf states but this stream of funding has diminished since the group's violent tactics have drawn worldwide attention.
American officials say that that the group’s reliance on oil as their main source income could be disrupted by airstrikes, but no decision has made to target Iraqi or Syrian oil infrastructure, which is manned by civilian workers who might have been conscripted. [...]
In the midst of a natural calamity of a humongous proportion that has affected lakhs of people in Jammu & Kashmir, separatist leaders in the valley have shown their ugly face yet again by leaving no stone unturned in order to create physical hurdles in the ongoing relief and rescue efforts carried out by the armed forces in the state.
On September 13, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, led a gang of unscrupulous elements and tried to derail the rescue and relief process launched by the Indian Army, under Operation Megh Rahat, for the flood-hit regions of Jammu & Kashmir.
According to sources from the army's Northern Command, Malik and his supporters forced ailing lady patients to get off an Army relief boat despite strong criticism of the shocking move by women in the area. Malik told the Army patrol to leave the patients and withdraw from the area.
Also, in spite of unprovoked stone pelting resorted to by a gang of hoodlums, the Army did not open fire in retaliation, preferring to disengage and relocate to a nearby area till the crowd dispersed.
When the Army patrol boat returned, the JKLF chief appeared told the boat patrol to get the patients off and leave. He claimed the Kashmiris do not want the Army rescue efforts to continue. Women in the boat and in the vicinity protested loudly at this insane act by a bunch of goons even as Mir, an aide of Yasin Malik, shouted at the ladies in Kashmiri and forced them to be silent.
In a second instance,hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani appealed to Pakistan (Pakistan army) to come to the aid of the Kashmiri people. The fact, however, remains that his wishes are aimed at creating problems for the forces involved in the relief and rescue operations.
The Indian Armed Forces and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has earned appreciation internationally for carrying out with its humanitarian tasks. This in spite of reports of personal losses suffered by the Army. [...]
Islamic State militants have released footage claiming to show the beheading of British hostage David Haines.
The aid worker, 44, was captured by ISIS in Syria in March 2013.
The plight of the dad-of-two was revealed when he appeared at the end of a video showing the beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff earlier this month.
ISIS had threatened to kill Mr Haines if world leaders do not bow to their demands.
Tonight, the extremists posted a new video lasting 2minutes and 30 seconds which appears to show the beheading of David Haines.
It begins with a news clip of David Cameron talking about Britain's policy towards "this appalling organisation".
This fades out before text appears which reads: "A message to the allies of America".
The video then shows a man, believed to be David Haines, on his knees in an orange jumpsuit with his hands handcuffed behind his back.
An Islamic militant - believed to be the infamous Jihadi John - stands behind him holding a knife.
The man believed to be David Haines speaks first, saying: "My name is David Cawthorne Haines. I would like to declare that I hold you David Cameron entirely responsible for my execution.
"You entered voluntarily into a coalition with the United States against the Islamic State just as your predecessor Tony Blair did following a trend amongst our British Prime Minsters who can't find the courage to say no to the Americans'
"Unfortunately it is we the British public who will pay the price for our parliament's selfish decisions."
The man believed to be Jihadi John then says: "This British man has to the pay the price for your promise Cameron to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State ironically he has spent a decade of his life serving under the same Royal Air Force that is responsible for delivering those arms.
"Your evil alliance with America which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the haditha dam will only accelerate your destruction and playing the role of the obedient lapdog Cameron will only drag you and your people into another bloody and un-winable war.
The footage then shows what is believed to be the dead body of Mr Haines.
Another British hostage is then paraded to the camera.
Jihadi John says: "If you, Cameron, persist in fighting the Islamic State then you like your master Obama, will have the blood of your people on your hands."
Before tonight's video, ISIS militants had not responded to attempts made by David Haines' family to make contact.
Mr Haines was born in East Yorkshire but raised in Perthshire, and before his capture was living in Croatia with his second wife Dragana.
He has a 17-year-old daughter with his first wife Louise, and a four-year-old daughter with Dragana who described him as a "fantastic man and father".
Mr Haines was taken while working for ACTED, having previously helped people in Libya and South Sudan.
Militants from IS have beheaded two American journalists, Jim Foley and Sotloff, posting the evidence online in gruesome videos featuring a masked jihadist with a British accent.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said the FCO will be doing "everything" they could to protect Mr Haines.
Educated at Perth Academy secondary school, he has worked for aid agencies in some of the world's worst trouble spots, including Libya and South Sudan.
He was in Libya during its civil war in 2011, working as head of mission for Handicap International, which helps disabled people in poverty and conflict zones around the world.
For the last few days, the state government has been publicising some helpline numbers, assuring people that rescue teams are readily available. But the ground situation belies that claim, with official rescue teams missing and residents being the only source of help for those who are stranded.
Even as the water level of the Jhelum crossed the danger mark, there was no warning from the government. Early on Sunday morning, the river breached the embankment, flooding Residency Road, which is the city’s lifeline, parts of Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Gogji Bagh and Wazir Bagh areas of Srinagar.
Many tourists have been stranded at Rajbagh, which houses many hotels. From the third storey of a guesthouse in Rajbagh, some of them could be seen crying for help. About 10 metres away, some residents were trying to rescue them, but they were helpless without any boats or lifesaving equipment.
“Please help us, take us out of here,” the group of tourists shouted from the guesthouse. “This (guesthouse) is sinking, please take us out,” they cried.
“What can we do with our bare hands? Let the government give us a few boats, we will rescue the people. But there are no officials anywhere,” said Abdul Rashid, a resident. “We are here to give them hope. We are telling them that help will come soon,” he said.
An official at Srinagar’s flood control room said they have been receiving hundreds of distress calls from across the city. “We are just conveying the message to the nearest police station, and they try to rescue the people. Even we are uncertain how to deal with this situation.”
Officials said there are nearly 15,000 tourists in the city. “Our Tourism Minister himself is trapped. We could not rescue him,” said an official.
“When I heard the sound of gushing water, I rushed out of my house,” said Firdous Ahmad, another resident. “Within five minutes, my house was under water. We didn’t even get time to take out our important documents.”
Mushtaq Ahmed, whose family has been trapped since Saturday night inside their three-storey house at Rajbagh, said, “I called many officials and the control room in Srinagar but no one has came to rescue us. My 80-year-old mother is trapped here and we couldn’t move her outside.”
“The government should have warned us that the water level would rise,” said a businessman at Lal Chowk, also called Mushtaq Ahmad. “Instead, throughout the day they assured us that the weather would improve and the water level would decrease. The weather has improved but the water level is only increasing,” he said.
Other areas of the city that have been flooded are Badami Bagh Cantonment, Indira Nagar, Shivpora, Sonawar, Hari Singh High Street, Qamarwari, Shaheed Gunj, Zainakote, Kakasarai and the roads leading to the Civil Secretariat, fire and emergency services and the police control room. The Valley’s lone children’s hospital and the Tourist Reception Centre are also under water.
Chief engineer (flood control and irrigation, Kashmir) Javed Jafer put the onus on the Army: “It is the Army that has to rescue people. The state administration is trying its best. The water level has been maintained in Srinagar, though the whole city is submerged.”
State officials said they don’t have enough boats to rescue people. [...]
Riyaz with his family in Jammu’s Belicharna. Source: Arun Sharma
Mohammad Riyaz, 35, is bedridden, now in a neighbour’s house, with multiple fractures in his leg, while his eight-year-old nephew Waseem walks the banks of river Tawi looking for any possible trace of his uncle’s house which was washed away along with nearly three dozen others.
“There is now water all over the area which once was a colony with pucca houses,” says Waseem, who was rescued along with his family by his elder brother Mohammad Saleem and brother-in-law Khalid. “After reaching this safer place, I looked back but there was no trace of my house.”
Riyaz, who sustained the fractures in a road accident three months ago, and his family are now in a small room provided by a neighbour, Mohammad Azam. “We hadn’t the time to bring anything with us,” his wife Yasmeen says. Even the clothes they are wearing have been provided by neighbours.
Relatives have brought rations. “No one from the government has visited us yet,” she says.
Riyaz, a welder, had shifted to Jammu from Surankote area of Poonch when militancy peaked there and young men his then age were being forcibly recruited. Once he settled in Jammu, he married Yasmeen and they have had two daughters followed by two sons, the four now aged 13 to 5. “Our school bags too have been washed away,” says Shabana, 12.
Waseem’s brother Saleem says, “After Saturday’s morning namaz at a mosque, I saw the swollen Tawi and immediately went on my scooter to Beli Charana, fearing the floodwaters may have entered Riyaz’s s house as it was in a low lying area.” Khalid, who followed him, says, “Riyaz and his family were still in the house and initially reluctant to leave. We brought them out forcibly and had hardly reached a higher, open space when a strong wave came and swept away their house and others.”
Riyaz had bought land some eight years ago and built the house. “Now we have no option but to move back to a rented house,” he says.
Over two dozen others including government officials have seen their houses washed away. All of them had settled in the area in the last eight to 15 years after buying the land from Gurjjars already settled there.
The area was initially part of the riverbed, then separated with the construction of a protection bund over the last few years. “The bund was raised with stones crates but was washed away like a sand wall in the floods,” says Mohammad Rafi, an MA student in Jammu University, who too lost his house.
Feroz Din, 50, spent the Saturday night in a government school at Satwari. He returned to Belicharana with his family on Sunday morning but found no trace of their home. [...]
Umama Burza had got married at Hotel Heritage at Srinagar’s Shivpura Saturday. It was 4 am Sunday when the 120 guests and hosts, who had partied all night, realised that their beds were surrounded by water. Within minutes, they were on the rooftop.
Across the city, people were on the rooftops of several houses and hotels as the water flooded up to two storeys, having started entering the buildings at 2.30 am. It entered even the houses of about 150 rescuers of the Army at Badami Baug Cantonment.
With cellphone networks down, what brought the wedding party on the Army’s rescue radar was a tragedy. “We received a call from Delhi that a retired general officer had passed away of a heart attack when he learnt that his son, who was in the marriage party, was stranded in the flood,” said Sir Colonel Arun Awasthy, commanding officer of 7 Rashtriya Rifles. The rescue team brought the Delhi youth along with the 120 others to the relief camp, but has not told him of his father’s death.
At least seven boats travelled the waters 10 to 20 feet deep, evacuating children, women, the elderly and the ill. From the rooftops, people whistled and shouted to attract their attention and showed the faces of crying children and the ailing elderly. The boats travelled at the level of treetops and at places got entangled in electric cables.
“We will rescue you soon. You are fine. We are going to those who need immediate help,” the Army teams kept telling the crowds, while coming across one poignant tale after another.
Rano Ratan, 85, wife of a late colonel, was in her house Saturday when her domestic staff told her to move to the upper floor. On Sunday, the Army recovered Ratan’s swollen body. “When she refused to move, the staff left the house. She was old and asthmatic,” said Meena Khanna, a neighbour who stood alongside her weeping daughter-in-law.
The Army brought about at least one reunion. Vandana Shah, 65, of Mumbai was in a Srinagar hotel. “I got into a boat and got separated from my husband. I kept telling the Army that my husband has been left behind,” she said, unsure if the Army would find the time to go back and bring him back. Hours later, the boats did go back and one of them brought back the elderly Rashmikant Shah to his tearful wife. [...]
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is set to look up from Monday. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has not issued any warning for the state for the next two days, which means heavy rainfall is unlikely. The IMD said at least one of the two formations of western disturbances, which have been the reason for the heavy rainfall in the state, is moving away.
“The western disturbance as an upper air trough in mid and upper tropospheric westerlies over eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir is moving away east-northeastward. The other western disturbance as an upper air trough in mid-level westerlies… persists,” it said.
The strong interaction of these western disturbances — rain-bearing winds travelling from the Mediterranean Sea — with the southwest monsoon has been blamed for the unprecedented rainfall that Jammu and Kashmir has received in the last few days. Satellite pictures also show weak clouds over the state, indicating that the rainfall activity was likely to decrease. However, the IMD, in its daily report on Saturday, had said that the state was likely to continue getting rains at least till the first half of the coming week.
For the second successive day, Katra received more than 20 cm rainfall in 24 hours, getting 21 cm between the mornings of Saturday and Sunday. Jammu received 8 cm and Banihal 5 cm.
In the last one week, Jammu and Kashmir has received more than 50 per cent excess rainfall. A bulk of this rainfall has happened in a concentrated area of five to six districts, including Jammu and Srinagar. [...]
BJP President Amit Shah waves during a rally in Kolkata on Sunday. (Source: PTI)
Hitting out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the Saradha Ponzi scam, BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday alleged associates of Banerjee are involved in the scam and steps will be taken to put them behind bars.
“You (Mamata) are not protesting against duping of 17 lakh investors in the Saradha scam and coming down on the streets, because your own associates and stooges are involved. We need an answer to who took away the Saradha scam money.
“We are not afraid of anyone because our workers are not involved in any scam. Whether it’s Saradha or anything else, we will do the work of arresting and putting the culprits behind bars,” Shah told a rally in central Kolkata.
“You have to rein in your workers and associates who are involved in corruption and scam. If you can’t do that then please step down. The BJP will provide good governance in Bengal. The countdown has already started and the people of Bengal will show you the way out in the 2016 Assembly polls,” he said.
“More than 2,000 farmers had lost their land in Nandigram and Singur and you had gone on fast protesting against that injustice. But in this Saradha scam more than 17 lakh people of Bengal have lost their deposits.
“Why don’t you (Mamata) feel like sitting on a fast against this scam? Why aren’t you coming down on the roads for those who lost their savings?” Shah asked.
The BJP president’s comment comes at a time when the CBI and the ED were tightening their grip in the multi-crore Saradha Ponzi scam probe.
Shah alleged that Bangladeshi infiltration has gone up by five times in the Trinamool regime as Mamata Banerjee was only pursuing politics rather than developing the state.
“Bangladeshi infiltration has gone up by five times in the TMC regime. If one Bangladeshi infiltrator comes here, then he takes away the job of a Bengali youth and education of a youth. But Mamata is more interested in politics than development of Bengal. She has to stop infiltration and rising crimes in the state,” he said [...]
Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday alleged that “BJP may conspire large-scale communal violence in Uttar Pradesh for political gains,” and said “there was an intelligence input in this regard”.
“As per intelligence reports the state government has received, BJP may conspire large scale communal violence in Uttar Pradesh for political reasons. He was also told about it,” Yadav said.
“The state government is vigilant to meet any such situation and will not allow any one to disturb the communal harmony of the state,” Yadav further said.
He was addressing series of election meetings in favour of party candidate Tej Pratap Yadav for the Mainpuri Loksabha bypoll.
He alleged that BJP, which succeeded in forming the government at the Centre, has failed to fulfil its promises and “achche din (good days)” remains elusive for the people.
“It has failed to check inflation, corruption and to protect the boundaries of our country. Pakistan has intruded in our territory several times, but the government could not check it effectively,” he alleged.
The SP supremo said the Narendra Modi government promised to bring back the black money stashed away in foreign banks, but it failed to do so yet.
“BJP has a mastery in speaking lies and spreading rumours,” he alleged.
Justifying his decision to vacate his traditional Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat the SP supremo, who also won from Azamgarh, said that it was done under political compulsions.
“I have to vacate Mainpuri seat due to certain political compulsions,” he said.
He appealed to voters to ensure victory of the party candidate with more votes than even he had received. [...]
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday wrote to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif offering assistance in the efforts to provide relief to the victims of the devastation caused by the record rains, resulting in flooding.
PM Modi, who was on a day-long visit to the flood-affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, said while reviewing the situation in the state that he was told the damage to life and property was equally, if not more, severe in areas across the Line of Control (LoC).
“My heart goes out to the affected people and my deepest sympathies are with them and their families. In this hour of need, I offer any assistance that you may need in the relief efforts that will be undertaken by the Government of Pakistan. Our resources are at your disposal wherever you need them,” said the letter which was delivered by the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad.
Saying it a was “matter of great distress” Modi noted that the “devastation caused by the record rains and the consequent flooding is unprecedented”, said an MEA spokesperson.
Earlier, PM Modi, who flew to Jammu and Kashmir and reviewed the flood situation, said like in the state, the people in PoK region too were bearing losses due to the floods. This is a humanitarian work and India will never be behind in doing such work, he said. [...]
There will be no cross LoC travel between India and Pakistan on the Poonch Rawalakote road as a vital bridge enrote at Chakkan Da Bagh was washed away in flash floods.
The bridge, according to sources, was washed away on Friday.
While the custodian LoC Trade on Poonch-Rawalakote road was not available, police confirmed that both cross LoC bus and trade have been suspended from tomorrow.
Significantly, the passenger bus service and trade had been taking place through this cross LoC point during the current week even when state was in the grip of worst flood fury. At present, while passenger bus from both sides ply on the road only on Monday, trade takes place between two sides four daysba week beginning Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the state government has extended vacations ordering closure of all schools and collages till Thursday. This has been done as many areas of the state were still inundated under water, sources said, adding the the Jamu Unversity has also suspended its exams scheduled to be held on the campus on Monday. [...]
Key Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Ajaz Sheikh, who was arrested by Delhi Police in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, revealed during police interrogation that the terror outfit was planning a strike in the national capital during the upcoming festival season.
According to a senior police official, 27-year-old Sheikh, who was the logistics man and hawala router of the banned terror organisation, had fled to Nepal after the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal last year and had been hiding there since then.
“He was recently asked by his Pakistan-based handlers Riyaz Bhatkal and Mohsin Chowdhary to reach Delhi. He was specifically asked to do break journeys and not directly go to Delhi to avoid being traced. He was instructed to reach the national capital via Lucknow, Moradabad and Saharanpur. He was supposed to get further orders after reaching Delhi,” the official said.
Although Sheikh has claimed that the person(s) he was supposed to meet and activities he was supposed to carry out after reaching Delhi was to be revealed to him only at the last moment, investigators believe that given his role in IM, he was supposed to provide money to some sleeper cell operatives of IM through the hawala route.
That money could have been used to plan a terror strike in the national capital.
Police are now trying to find out who the people are whom Sheikh met while journeying through Lucknow and Moradabad. It is also being investigated where he stayed in these cities and for how long.
“It is also being investigated who his contacts were in Saharanpur and Delhi whom he was supposed to meet,” the official said.
Sheikh has revealed that his main role was to provide funds to IM operatives which he used to get through foreign money transfers using fake identity cards made by him. In the past, he has provided bulk cash to people like Yasin Bhatkal, Tehsin Akhtar, Assadullah Akhtar alias Haddi and Waqas (all arrested).
One of the first tasks entrusted to Sheikh by his Pakistan-based handlers was to assist Yasin Bhatkal in the execution of the German Bakery blasts of February, 2010.
For that strike, Sheikh had arranged for the mobile handset, SIM card, explosives and the rented accommodation near Bharti Vidyapeeth, Pune, used by Yasin Bhatkal to fabricate the improvised explosive devices (IED) and execute the blasts.
“A week before the blast, he got a call from Mohsin Chowdhary who told him that he will get a call on a mobile phone which was with Yasin Bhatkal and asked him to do as told over the phone.
“An hour later, he got a call from a PCO and was asked to come to a hotel where he was given a heavy bag.
“He came back to their base and handed over the phone and the bag to Bhatkal. This bag contained the explosives which were used in the German Bakery blast,” the official said.
Ajaz has also told his interrogators that he had met Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu earlier this year and twice gave him sums of Rs 1 lakh. He also met Waqas twice, first in Mumbai and then in Kolhapur, and also supplied him money.
“He also met Assadullah Akhtar alias Haddi in Pune and gave him Rs 1 lakh. All this money was routed through hawala (channels) and was used for everyday spending, travelling and logistics,” the official said.
Sheikh (27) was arrested following a specific tip-off on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday from outside Saharanpur railway station in western Uttar Pradesh by a team of Delhi Police’s Special Cell.
A resident of Pune in Maharashtra, Sheikh was the ‘silent’ India-based techie, logistics man and hawala router of the banned terrorist organisation.
He was also the “mystery man” who sent anonymous mails to media houses claiming responsibility after the Jama Masjid and Varanasi blasts in 2010.
Sheikh also used to prepare the fake identities required by them for procuring mobile SIM cards, collecting foreign money transfers, obtaining rooms on rent and to get enrolled in professional educational institutions as a cover, police said. [...]
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah opposed any delay in holding the Assembly polls in the state citing floods and said there would be no difficulty in holding the elections on time.
“It (delay in polls on the plea of flood situation) should not happen. If you want to delay it, the life of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly will expire,” he told reporters here in reply to a query.
“If you do not conduct elections till November-December then some of the areas of our state will get cut off,” Omar said.
The Chief Minister said, “Then it will not be possible to hold elections till March-April. Then you will say that there should be Governor rule for 3-4 months that is not good for any state.”
“We will control the situation, which is bad. I feel that the election can be held at its own time. We feel that there would be no difficulty of holding the election,” he added. [...]
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