The Journal of Jonathan van Helsing

The thoughts and observations of author Jonathan van Helsing

Monday, June 05, 2006

Financing Osama bin Laden’s War

Employing Old KGB Romance Scam Techniques, Osama bin Laden Now Fights a New Secret Economic War Against America and the West

Recently, I co-authored a book with Anna Alden-Tirrill titled, Cyber Love’s Illusions, which exposed the world to the trickery and deceit of West African scammers. These scammers, applying techniques initially designed by the KGB (the Russian Secret Service from 1954 to 1986), allowed perpetrators to seduce their victims to the point that they fall in love with their perpetrators. Once this happens, they can often get that victim to do things that they would normally not do. In fact, many of the West’s secrets fell into the hands of the KGB because the diplomats carrying those secrets actually fell in love with a KGB agent (John Barron’s book KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents has a chapter dedicated to their employment of these tactics).

When many of the secrets of the KGB started to become public knowledge at the “end of the cold war,” intelligence analysts learned that the KGB had taught many of their techniques to terrorist organizations around the world. Some of the recipients of that training were the many Islamic terror organizations that we read about or listen to in the news today. A couple of those recipients of that training were the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the now Iranian supported Hezbollah, based in Southern Lebanon. These organizations, at the behest of Osama bin Laden, infiltrated Nigeria and proceeded to support and train the localized terror organizations already located in that country.

When these terror organizations came into Nigeria, their marching orders were to carry out the economic destruction of the West. Consider the often forgotten words of Osama bin Laden on a VCR tape played by al Jezeera television on December 27, 2001 in setting policy for his troops:

“It is very important to concentrate on striking the American economy with every possible means. Hit the American economy at its heart and its core.”

Maybe the reason we have not seen any terror attacks in the USA since September 11, 2001, is because we are not considering the entire context of what Mr. bin Laden said in this message. He wanted to destroy the American economy, not its infrastructure. That is why we have seen attacks in Spain and Great Britain, but not the United States.

What we have seen instead, is a deluge of Nigerian scam attempts. By 2003, Osama bin Laden made it clear in another tape that he was interested in Nigeria. Most western analysts wrongly thought that Nigeria was to become a target for terrorist attacks. Instead, what Osama wanted was the money being generated by the scammers to finance his own operations. Being a strict Islamic fundamentalist, he knew that by controlling Nigeria, he could force the Scamming Syndicates to his will and then impose a tax on the “infidels” and their moneymaking operations.

Unlike the English, French and German colonialists who inhabited the area in the last generation, Osama and his Saudi Arabian supporters decided to invest something in the Nigerian Scamming Syndicates with the hope that they could get a better return. Their investment came in the form of asset investment and training. They bought a considerable amount of computer equipment, supplies and other materials to develop “forgery factories” to create the fake checks, money orders and other items needed for their work.

Osama’s training came in the form of reworked KGB manuals. They began to realize that they could carry out the KGB methods of “seduction for control” to get people to send them money. It did not take them long to teach the scammers how to apply the KGB principles to computer communications.

Using dating sites as their point of attack, the scammers develop highly attractive profiles and use those profiles to contact other members of the dating sites. While many daters do not respond to their advances, many do, much to the detriment of their victims. Unlike the old “419 scams” used by the scammers in the late 20th Century, the Romance Scams work on people who are normally not susceptible to scams. Undoubtedly, Osama and his “Saudi Arabian investors” are elated. Clearly, a large portion of the billions of dollars collected by the scammers has ended up in the terrorist’s bank accounts. (Our book, Cyber Love’s Illusions goes into considerable detail about this.)

While the terrorists appreciate all the additional funding (doing this makes more sense than asking their clerics to go begging for contributions from the faithful), what they appreciate most is the damage their “forgery factories” is doing to our economy. The fake Commercial Paper (personal checks, business checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, traveler’s checks, etc.) generated by their “forgery factories” has damaged our economy. Osama and his terrorists quickly learned how to exploit the tactical weakness in the American economy.

After World War II, banks realized that the key to avoiding another Great Depression was to imbed themselves into the American economy. They did that by getting people to open checking and savings accounts, purchase Certificates of Deposit and get loans to buy what they wanted. Soon, checks and other Commercial Paper began to replace cash as the financial commodity of choice. By the end of the 20th Century, most banks had also added credit cards to their portfolio. When the 21st Century opened, people were more likely to use Commercial Paper and credit cards than they were to use cash.

The tactical weakness in our banker’s Commercial Paper-credit card system was that their instruments were easier to counterfeit than our cash was. When the Nigerian “forgery factories” started up, they did not counterfeit cash, but Commercial Paper. Once they created this fake Commercial Paper, it was no problem for the average Nigerian line scammer to foist this paper off on their victims.
The end result of these activities should be apparent to most economists: the creation and acceptance of fake Commercial Paper into our economy is no different than if someone had developed fake plates, printed up a bunch of counterfeit money, and passed it into our economy. Couple that with the Nigerian’s ability to counterfeit credit card numbers, then buy merchandise online, have it sent to a scam victim, and then have the victim send it on to them in Nigeria. When the credit card turns up fake, the company does not get paid, so they have added goods and services to the economy without receiving payment for their costs.

The resultant inflation that comes from the above activities cannot be overlooked. When the supply of currency increases and the demand for goods and services remains constant, the value of the currency must drop. People who work for a living suddenly cannot make enough to pay their bills. Companies that do not receive payment for what goods and services they sell will not stay in business very long. Whole books have been written for centuries about the damage inflation does to an economy.

While it would be easy at this point to “blame it on the government” and demand that they do something, the real problem is the American people. Even though some of the media has begun to wake up concerning this issue, most media corporations simply do not realize that this has become a major economic problem in this country. Yet, they are the ones that need to come to the forefront and warn people about these scammers. Since this problem is an international one, local, county and state police can do little for the scam victims. While the FBI, the Secret Service, and other federal organizations are trying their best, they are limited in what they can do.
People need to learn the truth about this issue and become informed. They need to be informed, not only for themselves, but for their family, friends and neighbors. Remember, every person who gets scammed and loses their life savings becomes a burden on their families and on our welfare system. What their life savings should have done, has to be replaced by the welfare system. When the welfare system has to intervene in these cases, the costs they incur will be passed onto the taxpayer in higher and higher taxes.

At some point in time, the dating sites that allow scammers to use their facilities to connect with victims will be called into account. While it would be nice to legislate these dating sites into some kind of compliance, the Information Technology (IT) world changes way too rapidly for most legislation to be very effective. Instead, the dating sites will either have to develop their own standards, allow the government to create an administrative agency to develop standards and police the dating sites, or wait for the courts to decide the matter. Dating sites better realize now that the courts are not going to be very sympathetic when people are in their courtrooms screaming about the money they lost to scammers working their dating site.

Internet dating will continue to be a thriving industry, but only if it takes effective measures to either police themselves or allow some kind of government-created regulatory agency to do the policing. Otherwise, the Industry will initially lose its reputation. Later on, the Industry may come to a crashing halt when the lawyers start winning lawsuits and insisting that the courts permit them to dismantle the companies to pay the assessed damages. The days of fast money, wine and roses have come to an end. The quicker the Internet Dating Industry understands this, the easier it will be for them.

Respectfully submitted,

Jonathan van Helsing