IPOB, Bandits Funding Terrorism Through Crowdfunding, Betting Platforms – NFIU

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has uncovered evidence suggesting the financing of terrorist activities in Nigeria by groups such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), bandits, and other terror organizations through global crowdfunding and sports betting platforms. According to the NFIU, IPOB has allegedly received funds from affiliates in 22 countries, with at least 27 entities registered under the group’s name.

Of these registrations, seven were reported in the United States, while six were identified in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the NFIU revealed that IPOB managed to raise over $160,000 through crowdfunding, which was subsequently channeled to transmission, media, and broadcasting companies located in Bulgaria, South Africa, and the UK. These findings shed light on the international scope of financial support received by such groups, highlighting the need for coordinated efforts to disrupt their funding networks.

The revelation underscores the urgency of addressing the issue of terrorist financing, which poses a significant threat to national security and stability. By exploiting global crowdfunding platforms and sports betting channels, these groups are able to access funds from various sources, facilitating their nefarious activities within Nigeria and beyond. The NFIU’s investigation serves as a crucial step towards disrupting these illicit financial flows and dismantling the infrastructure that sustains terrorist operations.

Efforts to combat terrorist financing require close collaboration between law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, and international partners. By sharing intelligence, implementing robust regulatory frameworks, and enhancing transparency measures, authorities can effectively identify and disrupt the flow of funds to terrorist organizations. Additionally, raising awareness among the public about the risks associated with crowdfunding and ensuring compliance with anti-money laundering regulations are essential in preventing the misuse of financial platforms for illicit purposes.

The NFIU’s findings underscore the importance of strengthening financial intelligence capabilities and implementing proactive measures to combat terrorist financing. By targeting the financial networks that sustain terrorist activities, authorities can disrupt their operations, weaken their influence, and enhance national security. However, sustained efforts and international cooperation are crucial to effectively address the complex challenge of terrorist financing and safeguard communities from the threat of extremism and violence.

It added that “The analysis further indicates that the group (IPOB) has several bank accounts in different countries where funds are being received from various contributors with the narrations ‘monthly dues, services and for ESN,’ among others, then later disbursed for various operations.”

Details of the development were revealed in a newsletter by the NFIU’s Counter-Financing of Terrorism Department obtained by our correspondent on Tuesday.

It added, “The analysis profiled the leader of the group, his addresses and mobile numbers abroad, with other 53 other individuals associated with the dissident group. The report was forwarded to law enforcement for further investigation.”

The NFIU further revealed that a betting platform simply identified as ‘XC’, filed a suspicious transaction report on a 24-year Nigerian customer from North-Central, Nigeria.

“This 24-year-old from Nigeria’s North-Central region received over N350,000 in his betting wallet, believed to be ransom money from a kidnapping,” the NFIU said.

In another case, the financial intelligence unit exposed a terrorist attempting to evade being detected; it noted that the individual made structured cash withdrawals from different Automated Teller Machines and purchased flight tickets to high-risk areas using credit cards.

The NFIU explained that whenever the individual exceeded his withdrawal limit, he would adopt alternative methods of travel.

“The terrorist then attempted suspicious transfers exceeding €1,000 to a local charity with potential links to terrorism. These transactions, along with others for luxury goods and escort services, raised red flags,” the newsletter stated

The NFIU further urged law enforcement agencies to investigate transactions by individuals linked to known terrorists or financiers; unauthorised tax collection or forced donations in terrorism-prone areas, and Bureau de Change operators facilitating transfers within suspected networks.

Other areas the unit wants security agencies to beam their searchlights are multiple cash deposits in bank accounts; Point of Sale operators receiving large deposits followed by cash withdrawals; money transfers from Nigeria to high-risk countries; recruitment of individuals to open multiple bank accounts; and financial transfers to charities linked to terrorism.