The threats posed by Middle Eastern terrorist organizations are worldwide in scope, and it is necessary to be watchful of any developments which might indicate that Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organizations are expanding into new areas or regions. It is especially important to guard against new terrorist financing operations.
The open arms policies, of the republics of the Eastern Caribbean, regarding who they sell their lucrative Citizenship by Investment passports to, have resulted in a number of candidates being approved that the global financial community regards as high risk, or even career criminals, not deserving of such camouflage for their dark activities.
It may now get worse; a review of recent media indicates that a new high-risk, and potentially lethal, class of CBI applicants may have the opportunity to disguise themselves in sheep's clothing; Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization, whose bloody, radical Islamist history has earned it the SDGT designation in the United States, as well as in other Western countries.
Consider these recent new items:
(1) Mohammed Asaria, the Vice Chairman of Range Developments*, the Dubai-based builder of luxury projects in the East Caribbean, funded in part through CBI applicants, in a recent interview stated openly that he has given priority to Palestinians, as CBI investors, due to the fact that many of them do not hold Jordanian passports, but only travel documents. Range's Black Bay project, in St. Lucia, has become its latest major undertaking; St. Lucia's new CBI program was only launched last year, and the country is anxious for it to succeed as a major source of cash flow for its economy. A prominent Dubai-based financial advisory firm, specializing in expats, has purchased a private bank facility there, possibly in anticipation of the flow of Middle Eastern capital into the new CBI jurisdiction.
(2) A recent visit to St. Vincent, of a Palestinian contingent from a financial investment firm, openly expressed interest in what would be a CBI-funded construction project on the island, with the investors reportedly receiving Vincentian passports.
Anyone familiar with individual wealth profiles from the Palestinian Territories knows that, with rare exceptions, the vast majority of the millionaires who live there, reside in Gaza. Those individuals, who became affluent due to their membership in Hamas, reportedly earned their money through multiple illicit activities that render their assets criminal proceeds: drug trafficking, diversion of international aid money. illegal taxation of the civilian population, and receipt of funds from State Sponsors of Terrorism, to name a few.
Therefore, not only is their money unacceptable in any East Caribbean CBI program, their newfound CBI passports could be used to facilitate the movement of terrorist financing, placing the jurisdiction squarely in the cross-hairs of American counter-terrorism investigations, as well as close US monitoring of international financial transactions, for seizure purposes.
Also, any suspected presence of known Hamas agents in the region could invite a major American response, and attach credibility to the persistent rumors of the existence of a hidden Hamas training facility in St. Lucia. The Global War on Terrorism is seldom gentle in its application of force.
Given the abysmal history of regional due diligence, in examining CBI applicants, and the pervasive influence of corruption in EC governments, we could see terrorists holding those prized CBI passports, after payment of bribes and kickbacks. Additionally, given the imprecise transliteration of names, from Arabic to English, one should expect new, completely clean names on those passports, making proper identification impossible.
It is up to the leadership of those countries, and their CBI programs, to act as gatekeepers, to see that no affluent terrorists obtain those precious identity documents. Will they keep out Hamas ?
We cannot say, but we will be watching.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant