US blocks Western Union transfers to Muslims
I have one question for the paranoid gestapo that poses as our government, WHY haven't we heard anything about the companies who made tons of money trading options in the weeks before 9/11?
Money transfer agencies like Western Union have delayed or blocked thousands of cash deliveries on suspicion of terrorist connections simply because senders or recipients have names like Mohammed or Ahmed, company officials said.
In one example, an Indian driver here said Western Union prevented him from sending US$120 (euro96) to a friend at home this month because the recipient's name was Mohammed.
"Western Union told me that if I send money to Sahir Mohammed, the money will be blocked because of his name," said 36-year-old Abdul Rahman Maruthayil, who later sent the money through UAE Exchange, a Dubai-based money transfer service.
In a similar case, Pakistani Qadir Khan said Western Union blocked his attempt this month to wire money to his brother, Mohammed, for a cataract operation.
"Every Mohammed is a terrorist now?" Khan asked.
Western Union Financial Services, Inc., an American company based in Colorado, said its clerks simply are following U.S. Treasury Department guidelines that aim to scrutinize cash flows for terrorist links. Most of the flagged transactions are delayed a few hours. Some are blocked entirely.
In many cases, would-be customers like Maruthayil simply find another way to send the funds — often through informal exchanges with less stringent monitoring.
But critics of the program say it is far too broad. The number of people inconvenienced in the Emirates alone, which closely cooperates with U.S. counterterror operations, is thought to be significant. One Western Union clerk said about 300 money transfers from a single Dubai franchise were blocked or delayed each day — none of which ever turned up a terrorist link.
In Washington, U.S. Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said foreign banks have used the department's list of terrorist names to freeze US$150 million (euro117 million) in assets since it was released after Sept. 11. Millerwise didn't know the value of money transfers blocked using the list, but she said frustrations endured by those with certain names were regrettable but necessary.
"We have an obligation to do all we can to keep money out of the hands of terrorists," Millerwise said.
The list of names, available on the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control Web site, contains hundreds of Mohammeds.
Western Union's caution is perhaps understandable. Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta sent money from two Western Union agencies in Maryland before boarding a plane he helped crash into New York's World Trade Center.
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[The] United Arab Emirates, where Dubai is one of seven city-states, is especially susceptible to the Treasury's restrictions because it is home to more than a million foreign laborers who sent home a collective US$14 billion (euro11 billion) last year, according to a government report.Most, if not all of these laborers are in Dubai SOLELY to earn money to send home to their impoverished families and now they're not allowed to do it through traditional channels. How f*cked up is that?
The U.S. Treasury Department has worked with the Emirati government in tightening oversight after a 2004 U.S. investigation found that most of the US$400,000 (euro313,000) spent on the Sept. 11 attacks passed through bank accounts in the Emirates, a Mideast banking hub.$400,000? What about the MILLIONS made before 9/11?
Between September 6 and 7, the Chicago Board Options Exchange saw purchases of 4,744 put options on United Airlines, but only 396 call options. Assuming that 4,000 of the options were bought by people with advance knowledge of the imminent attacks, these "insiders" would have profited by almost $5 million.Inquiring minds want to know.
On September 10, 4,516 put options on American Airlines were bought on the Chicago exchange, compared to only 748 calls. Again, there was no news at that point to justify this imbalance; Again, assuming that 4,000 of these options trades represent "insiders", they would represent a gain of about $4 million.