Pakistan/United States – US banking regulators ordered Pakistan's Habib Bank to shutter its New York office after nearly 40 years, for repeatedly failing to heed concerns over possible terrorist financing and money laundering, officials said on the 7 Sep 17. Habib, Pakistan's largest private bank, neglected to watch for compliance problems and red flags on transactions that potentially could have promoted terrorism, money laundering or other illicit ends, New York banking officials said. The state's Department of Financial Services, which regulates foreign banks, also slapped a $225 million fine on the bank, although that is much smaller than the $629.6 million penalty initially proposed. Habib has operated in the United States since 1978, and in 2006 was ordered to tighten its oversight of potentially illegal transactions but failed to comply. New York regulators said Habib facilitated billions of dollars of transactions with Saudi private bank, Al Rajhi Bank, which reportedly has links to al Qaeda, and failed to do enough to ensure that the funds were not laundered or used for terrorism. "DFS will not tolerate inadequate risk and compliance functions that open the door to the financing of terrorist activities that pose a grave threat to the people of this State and the financial system as a whole," DFS Superintendent Maria Vullo said in a news release. "The bank has repeatedly been given more than sufficient opportunity to correct its glaring deficiencies, yet it has failed to do so." Habib permitted at least 13,000 transactions that were not sufficiently screened to ensure they did not involve sanctioned countries, the agency said. And the bank improperly used a "good guy" list to rubber stamp at least $250 million in transactions, including those by an identified terrorist and an international arms dealer, regulators said. In an August letter to the Pakistan Stock Exchange, Habib company secretary Nausheen Ahmad called the proposed fine of $629.6 million "outrageous" and "capricious" and said the bank had decided to close its New York operations "in an orderly manner." But DFS said Habib will have to surrender its license after it meets the agency's requirements. "DFS will not stand by and let Habib Bank sneak out of the United States," Vullo said.
Philippines/Da’esh – The Islamic State, after losing ground in Syria and Iraq, is switching its attention to a different battleground: the Philippines it was reported on the 12 Sep 17. ISIS's media arm has released a seven-minute video in English that uses militants already in the southern part of the Philippines to encourage would-be fighters to join them as they fight government troops near Marawi, a city of 200,000 people. Since May, Philippine soldiers have been trying to get ISIS-linked militants out of the city, and more than 60 troops have been killed and 200 wounded in clashes. In the video, a fighter calls on Muslims, specifically those in Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia, to come to the Philippines to help the fight in Marawi, joining militants from three ISIS-aligned groups: Maute, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and Abu Sayyaf, a onetime offshoot of al Qaeda. Asia is ISIS's new focus, U.S. intelligence officials and private analysts told NBC News, partly because Muslim insurgents have been active in the Philippines' southern islands for decades now, and ISIS sees it as the best place for them to get support and launch attacks. "ISIS wants to be seen as global and the Philippines provides them with an opportunity," a U.S. official said. While intelligence officials were afraid that ISIS losses in the Middle East would translate to a rush of militants returning to their homelands, there has yet to be a mass exodus, officials told NBC News, and it's believed they will likely stay in Iraq and Syria and fight as insurgents.