2nd June 2019
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: FRAUDULENT IMMIGRATION STAMPS SOLD TO VENEZUELANS
On 1st June, the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian reported that Tobago police are tracking the origin of fraudulent immigration extension stamps sold to some Venezuelans recently. Several Venezuelans in Tobago have been charged and appeared in court for having the fraudulent extension stamps on their passports.
IRAN’S MISSILE SYSTEM: THE PRINCIPAL MEANS OF DETERRENCE
In the April edition of Strategic Assessment from the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, this paper looks at the background and development of Iran’s missile programme since 1980. This was originally in relation to the perceived and real threat from Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but the Gulf Wars brought about a significant change in the strategic balance of power with respect to Iran. At the time of the outbreak of the Iraq-Iran War, not only did Iran not have a missile arsenal, it did not have the infrastructure or capability to produce missiles. Iran decided to build up a large arsenal of missiles, it also decided to develop domestic production capability, though during the first years of this programme, Iran received help mainly from China, North Korea, and Russia. The paper says that in the current situation, there is no genuine external limitation on Iran’s missile programme, and Iran continues to carry out tests with various kinds of missiles.
ACHIEVEMENTS ACCORDING TO THE BDS MOVEMENT: TRENDS AND IMPLICATIONS
Another paper in the April edition of Strategic Assessment from the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University looks at the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), which was founded in 2005, and today encompasses hundreds of organisations all over the world that with no unified hierarchy or directive promote campaigns to boycott Israel, withdraw investments from it, and impose sanctions on it and associated elements. It says that the main challenge posed by the BDS movement is at the cognitive level, in other words, its aim to instil negative attitudes toward Israel and blacken the country’s image.
PROLIFERATION FINANCE: CRITICAL ISSUES AND PRIORITIES FOR THE US CONGRESS
On 30th May, the Center for a New American Security published a briefing which says that efforts to target the financing of WMD proliferation remain limited and underdeveloped. State actors and transnational terrorist networks alike can exploit legal vulnerabilities in the global financial framework for preventing proliferation. It goes on to say that WMD proliferation networks employ sophisticated financial tactics and Congress has an important role to play in adopting measures that would strengthen America’s efforts to counter this threat. The briefing discusses the steps that Congress should take to more effectively address the international challenges associated with proliferation finance. It sets out to describe the complicated nature of illicit finance networks used for the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, especially by states like North Korea, and the variety of tools these actors use to financially support WMD proliferation. The recommendations made include –
- Passing legislation requiring the reporting to law enforcement of the ultimate beneficial ownership of corporate entities created in the US;
- Considering the advancement of a financial requirement that would mandate the declaration of all cross-border payments; and
- Using Congressional oversight power to ensure that the Administration implements and enforces existing measures designed to prevent suspicious financial transactions.
See also the CNAS report from 24th January –
FINANCIAL NETWORKS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
This says that –
- The lack of effective and universal financial controls to prevent WMD proliferation is a gaping security vulnerability for the international community;
- Illicit actors, including those acting on behalf of countries such as Iran and North Korea, have exploited, are exploiting, and will continue to exploit these vulnerabilities; and
- The US has unique power and responsibility to combine domestic legislative and regulatory reforms with international leadership in order to strengthen the countering proliferation finance regime. Doing so will require overcoming significant political will obstacles.
MYANMAR RISKS RETURN TO MONEY LAUNDERING WATCH LIST
The Myanmar Times on 2nd June reported that Myanmar has a high chance of falling back into the category of “high-risk” country on the FATF “grey list” because of its failure so far to impose and enforce adequate safeguards, according to officials and experts. An evaluation report from the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) late last year identified many weaknesses, particularly concerning implementation, saying financial institutions and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBP) lack understanding of high-risk issues, and few banks had moved to a risk-based approach. The FATF observation period ends this October and it will decide next February whether to categorise Myanmar as high-risk. It says that the IMF has also cautioned that the country needs to make significant progress by the end of this year to avoid returning to the grey list. It is said that Myanmar has an action plan to address the various deficiencies and the authorities are setting in motion efforts to work to the plan with the support from UNODC, the IMF and others.
CRIME LORDS OF THE MIDLANDS – THE RISE AND FALL OF CITY GANGSTERS WHO RULED THE STREETS
On 2nd June, Birmingham Live carried a feature about criminal gangs that caused mayhem on Midland streets, and how the leaders ended up in prison. One was arrested in Northern Cyprus and returned to the UK in March 2013. Another moved between Spain, Brazil, Holland and Portugal in an attempt to avoid the law and lived a life of extreme luxury. Another is described as an Albanian “crime lord”. A search of another’s house loaded found weapons including a Uzi sub-machine gun fitted with a silencer, a Walther PPK .22 calibre pistol, a Smith and Wesson .38 calibre revolver and a stun gun disguised as a firearm.
NORTHAMPTON SUPERMARKET HAS LICENCE REVOKED FOR ALLEGED LINK TO ORGANISED CRIME
The Northampton Chronicle & Echo on 31st May reported that a Northampton supermarket suspected by police of a connection with organised crime (smuggled cigarettes and tobacco being seized) has had its licence revoked – but 2 other premises it alleges were set up with the proceeds have avoided a similar outcome.
EUROPEAN PROPOSAL FOR AN INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL TO PROSECUTE ISIS FIGHTERS IS GAINING MOMENTUM
The European Council on Foreign Relations on 31st May published a Commentary saying that the goal of establishing an international tribunal to prosecute ISIS fighters is gaining momentum in European capitals, however, whether this aspiration can be translated into a credible policy remains to be seen. It is said that the Kurd-led Syrian Democratic Forces holds an estimated 800 European ISIS fighters in makeshift prisons, as well as a larger number of related women and children in refugee camps, in north-eastern Syria. It says that an international tribunal could only prosecute members of ISIS for international crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. These are certainly the most serious crimes that ISIS forces committed, but it is unclear how easily their responsibility for such offences could be proved in court. A hybrid Iraqi-international tribunal could prosecute some crimes under Iraqi law, perhaps including mere membership of ISIS, but this would create additional challenges. It concludes that, for the moment, Europe’s newfound enthusiasm for an international tribunal remains more a political aspiration than a well-developed and credible policy.