Just like TV

There will be a discussion soon enough whether TV gave the idea to fund extremism and terrorism. I am referring to Blacklist, an episode from season 3 called “Arioch Cain“. In this episode someone decides to use crowdsourcing to get the main character Elizabeth Keen assassinated and soon enough, through crowdsourcing a price of over $700,000 is on her head. That amount tends to attract all kinds of enthusiasts, especially as hardware relying on ammunition in the US is dirt cheap.

This gets us to two articles in the independent ‘British far-right extremists being funded by international networks, report reveals‘ less than an hour ago (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/far-right-extremism-terrorism-tommy-robinson-funding-international-a8937116.html), as well as ‘How crowd funding helps far-right extremism spread round the world‘ also less than an hour ago, but the same writer no less (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/far-right-extremism-crowdfunding-tommy-robinson-a8937311.html). The entire setting is not unexpected. I foresaw this to some extent in 2013 when I reported a certain stage where Facebook games had their own chat rooms and some chat rooms started to change languages. Now, I have no idea what was discussed, or even that anything nefarious was discussed, but the fact that some of these chat groups were private and the fact that they were close to 99% certain not monitored would give certain kind of people options, the fact that one could fund another through pay pal was a second stage in all this. The consideration that the episode was aired almost 4 years ago is also a factor, in 4 years people try alternatives and both the extremist as well as the terrorist population are always willing to try something that cannot really be monitored, so there.

The first article gives us: “Analysts at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) found that despite an increase in extreme right-wing attacks, efforts to disrupt terrorist financing were still focused on Islamists.

A report said a lack of work to find the source of money flows and stop them had allowed prolific extremists and groups to build huge platforms in the UK, US and Europe” as well as “the funds gathered allowed fringe groups to expand their reach with potentially deadly effect” cannot be ignored, and here we have the intersection. although let’s be clear I was looking at one source for very different reasons, I am now quoting: “I have had to clean up the mess of others for well over a decade and now it is time to give those people the exposure they deserve (my findings regarding Credit Agricole will have to wait for a few more days)“, Which I wrote in ‘The Scott Pilgrim of Technology‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/05/23/the-scott-pilgrim-of-technology/), it is indirectly linked as Rusi (at https://rusi.org/sites/default/files/201606_whr_3_16_countering_proliferation_finance_v2_0.pdf) gives us “Several other banks have faced smaller fines by US regulators for similar offences, ranging in the hundreds of millions of dollars; they include HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, Barclays and Crédit Agricole.

I was looking deeper into Omani credit notes which were handed to Iran for goods, but at the current oil prices (the price then) the numbers were not adding up, it was like looking at 10 tankers being paid forward, or someone sold oil at $230 a barrel, which seems even less likely and at trade prices there is no tanker large enough to facilitate the oil. As I was aware and familiar with bills of lading, parts did not add up and I decided to dig deeper, only to find that I had forgotten to save the links and that virtual location was suddenly gone the next morning (that will teach ME being stupid). Somehow one of the links seemingly implied Credit Agricole (a non verifiable number) and that is where I was last week, now I see the Rusi paper and I wonder what their servers could teach me. It was by the way not a new issue for me, I looked into parts of this in June 2018 when I wrote: ‘The Iranian funds play‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/06/07/the-iranian-funds-play/).

The paper also gives us on page 13: “Financial institutions rely on governments to be explicit about their expectations and to provide guidance on how best to meet these expectations“, which is not really realistic when they rely on ambiguity, but the setting is fair and as such we also see the failed setting to deal with extreme right players. I personally believe that when we consider: “FIs are thus faced with a dilemma, in that many wish to meet US expectations in order to avoid penalties, but do not enjoy advice or assistance from their home governments to enable them to direct their efforts appropriately. Most are largely left to determine on their own how to address risks associated with CPF or related sanctions, other than simply screening against UN sanctions lists“, I believe that some of the players considered the benefit of using players like Oman to set the stage of both deniability and facilitation via a fourth person (as the bank was the third piggie in the middle), they get none of the heat and all of the bonus that way. I believed that some French players found an optional resolution to keep their vineyards safe and well-funded. It works for me; I would love to retire in the Cognac area making my own grape juice ambrosia (aka: Jus de raisin maison). The fact that this is all about billions in the other setting, my 1% slice would look super dandy. In case of the Lizzie Dearden articles, we see that the anonymity allows those who shun the limelight to make an ‘effort’ to keep imbalance through extremism, or what some call the Tommy Robinson political resolution, The article gives us: “white nationalists Generation Identity and neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action among the British actors profiting from “international connectivity”“, do you really think that it is limited to that group? All those white collar board members who cannot be seen with their fingers in the cookie jar have no qualms about buying a bakery, so that they can have the jar at any given moment. At that point yesterday’s article also gets another dimension, when big players need to rely on consultants with a given for fear mongering, how did the media ignore that? Examples are abound, for example articles that rely on ‘should’ 9 times and “The primary danger is the repeat of the fears that many investors had to face in 2018” and the entire paragraph is in the article twice. It is ways like that fear is brought and reinforced, when this is done, there is no trail, no conversation and in the end the crowdsourcing methods are the best to keep it all anonymous. It matters, because the intelligent extreme right player works not through shouting, but through reinforcement of the argument, they aren’t all stupid!

When Rusi looks at Tommy Robinson (Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) we get that: “he had profited from both significant support from foreign donors and crowdfunding from individual donors around the world” this does not come through shouting, it comes from enforcing fears and give examples that are current, does that sound familiar?

Do you think that a Philadelphia-based think tank spends £48,000 on silly shouters? Do you think that the quote: “Robinson was also a beneficiary of a “fellowship” from US tech billionaire Robert Shillman that bolstered his salary from Canadian website Rebel Media, where he worked from early 2017 until February last year” is unique? People like Robert Shillman are rich enough not to care, they are too rich and their view is often accepted because they are super wealthy, so they are regarded as successful, but there are dozens who still fear the limelight and crowdsourcing is a solution to fund many others (far right or far left) with an optional handle on extremism, Lizzie Dearden gives a good view on it. There is one part I do not agree with, even as nothing Keatinge writes is wrong. When I see: “crowdfunding allows extremists to build international platforms that spread hate to wider audiences“. I can tell that he is not wrong, but overlooks the optional larger issue. It is not spreading hate, it is illuminating through half-baked examples that the current solutions are not working. It is not the hate part, but the ‘your kid does not have a job, because an immigrant was overly happy to accept that job at minimum pay‘ that is what sells the larger imbalance. Ignoring the truth that every boss tries to cut costs any way they can, as they are misaligning the cost of doing business, we see that an entire generation is pushed to minimum income, even those with good degrees, add to that age discrimination and we suddenly see a shift that is much larger, it is not promoting hate, but caressing the frustrations of the working class that is much stronger and a larger growth concern. Most do not react to hate, but we will respond to the frustrations that they are hit with every day, that is the part Rusi missed (or so it seems).

There is also an issue with: “Crowdfunding is a vulnerability in the system, it’s a way the internet presents funding opportunities that have not previously been conceived” the issue is not that it is an option, it is that this ‘solution’ has been around for 20 years and no one took a hard look at the options that crowdfunding offered until it was too late. Even as we all seem to focus on Star Citizen (2015) that raised $77 million, the fact that the idea goes back to Auguste Comte (1850) gives rise to more issues. The internet might have made the idea global, but there was a larger issue for the longest of time and the fact that we see a project 4 years ago amass $77 million gives rise to larger concerns. Especially in light of lone wolf dangers that have been around a decade earlier. so even as we see the recognition through: “Senior law enforcement practitioners have suggested that non-violent extremism is often the first step in a process of radicalisation that ends in terrorism, which is why financial analysis into nonviolent extremism should not be overlooked“, the very notion of the text in the Rusi paper on page 17: “The only indicator that appears to be specific to proliferation financing risks relates to whether shipped goods are incompatible with the technical capabilities of the destination country. This highlights a third problem, which is that in order to be able to gain this understanding, an FI would need to: understand the precise technical nature of the item and its potential applications (information that may not be available with sufficient specificity); assess the industrial state of the destination country, including its possible nearterm expansion“, you might recognise two problems. The first is that ‘shipped goods‘ becomes a larger issue when they are spare parts. Consider that some caterpillar crane parts are strong and massive enough to create a stable multi scud launcher, more so when assembly and disassembly could be achieved in under an hour. What is Israel going to do? Bomb a crane? When you realise that the issue grows tenfold with electronics, some might see on how far crowdsourcing could finance a network in Europe and as this danger has been largely accepted since as early as 2012, the entire lack of activity in this realm of non-monitoring makes even less sense. The second part is ‘potential application‘, how many people look at a Caterpillar of Hitachi Crawler crane and considers the spare parts to be the foundation of an optional Scud launching solution? Let’s face it there is no flag that would be raised regarding a construction firm receiving spare parts for their crane.

Now we understand that Rusi made a paper that focusses on the issue, and there is nothing wrong with the paper, it is actually excellent. My issue remains and on page 20 we get the good stuff: “All FIs interviewed for this study said their institutions employed sanctions-screening software to check incoming and outgoing transactions against UN-designated entities, and all were doing so prior to the advent of FATF Recommendation 7.” when we get the ‘UN-designated entities‘ and not the check of facilitators, we see a large delay (in case issues are found), and we get a problem when the situation is not the designations, but the fact that both sides have a middleman and these people talk to the match makers, so we now have a party of five with a Chinese wall in place and the stage where more likely than not, the three in the middle are not on any list, especially the matchmaker, who uses a range of ‘middle man’ for each idea with each transaction, when the transactions become fragmented the chance of not revealed becomes a lot more likely than not and crowdsourcing enables this to a much larger degree, add to this the dark web and bitcoin and we get a mess we cannot decipher. If the facilitators go to the tax office and give them ‘I had a one off consultancy job for a year‘ and pay their taxation on time, it all goes into the IT revenue taxed and not one pig will be squealing, not even as it gets roasted whilst the ‘consultant’ brought home the bacon.

They merely need to consider the office location so that it aligns with: ‘due to the lack of legislation in some jurisdictions to allow an institution to support an asset freeze‘ and the solution is there. And that is when the amount is large enough, when it is smaller, almost never ever true action will be taken, the extremists, political or other can use that system any way it jingles to the beat they needed to hear.

It is a case of musical chairs where the rewards for some really stack up, just like on TV.

 

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