Posts tagged ALEJANDRO LAVALLE ESPINOZA

PRISON TIME MOUNTING FOR PONGPAT AS COURT ADDS ANOTHER 15 YEARS

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Former CIB chief Pongpat Chayapan

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Prison-time-mounting-for-Pongpat-as-court-adds-ano-30254934.html

FORMER CENTRAL Investigation Bureau (CIB) chief Pol Lt-General Pongpat Chayaphan will serve almost 32 years behind bars, after the Criminal Court yesterday found him guilty in two more bribe-taking cases that landed him 15 more years in prison.

The 59-year-old Pongpat had already been given 16 years and nine months behind bars for three previous crimes relating to a gambling den, Burmese rosewood plank possession and money laundering.

He and five other disgraced police officers were brought to Bangkok’s Ratchadapisek Criminal Court yesterday to hear the ruling on the two bribe-taking cases.

In the first case, Pongpat, former CIB deputy commissioner Maj-General Kowit Wongrungroj, 59, and former marine police commander Maj-General Boonsueb Praituen, 55, were found guilty of taking Bt147.4 million in bribes from oil smugglers in the South from February 2012 to July 2014.

Pongpat and Kowit had their initial 10-year sentence reduced by half due to their useful confessions while Boonsueb – who also faced a lese majeste charge in this case – was given a 15-year jail term that was also halved.

In the second case, Pongpat, Kowit,

Colonel Wuthichart Luensukhon, 46, Sergeant Surasak Chan-ngao, 50, and Sergeant Chakrin Laothong, 48, were accused of conspiring to demand between Bt3 million and Bt5 million from several police officers in exchange for getting them promoted to key positions in the CIB.

They were also reportedly required to pay monthly instalments of between Bt10,000 and Bt2 million to stay in the positions, with the bribes taking place from October 1, 2010 to November 11, 2014.

Pongpat and Kowit were given a 20-year sentence while the three subordinates got 12 years each.

The sentences were halved due to their useful confessions and their previous police merits.

ISIS HAT 46,000 TWITTER ACCOUNTS!

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DIE UNHEIMLICHE SOCIAL-MEDIA-MACHT DER TERRORISTEN
Die mittelalterlichen ISIS-Barbaren sind sehr aktiv bei Twitter. Die Social-Media-Plattform ist die effektivste Propagandamaschine der Miliz

Die mittelalterlichen ISIS-Barbaren sind sehr aktiv bei Twitter. Die Social-Media-Plattform ist die effektivste Propagandamaschine der Miliz Foto: Reuters, dpa


http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/isis/terrormiliz-hat-46000-twitter-accounts–39832904.bild.html

Die grausame Ideologie der ISIS-Terroristen ist mittelalterlich – doch in den sozialen Medien rekrutieren sie mit hochmodernen Mitteln.

Eine neue Studie zeigt: Twitter ist das Lieblingsnetzwerk der Terrormiliz. Auf 140 Zeichen und mit Hashtags versehen verbreiten sie dort ihre Propaganda – auf über 46 000 Konten!

Das Weiße Haus hat diese Woche zu einem Anti-Terror-Kongress geladen und mit Fachleuten diskutiert, wie Regierungen und Unternehmen gegen die Extremismus-Welle im Netz vorgehen können, berichtet Yahoo-News.

Besonders an der Plattform Twitter wird Kritik laut. Das Unternehmen gehe nicht scharf genug gegen die Hass-Propaganda vor, so die Kritik auch von der US-Regierung.

Die Social-Media-Strategie der Terroristen sei die effektivste Terror-Propagandamaschine aller Zeiten, urteilen Experten.

Mit einer eigenen Twitter-Einheit, die in der inoffizielle ISIS-Hauptstadt Rakka (Syrien) sitzt, steuert die Miliz ihren Twitter-Terror. Sie kapern populäre Hashtags wie #Worldcup oder #AmericanIdol, um darunter ihre Horror-Fotos und Enthauptungs-Videos zu verbreiten und rekrutieren junge Sympathisanten für den Kampf.

Im Einsatz seien zudem „Bots“, computergesteuerte Twitter-Profile, die hochprofessionell und extrem schnell automatisierte Nachrichten posten, um die ISIS-Propaganda bei Suchergebnissen weit oben anzuzeigen.

Twitter reagiert verhalten auf die Vorwürfe

Man untersuche nicht pro-aktiv, was User posten, sondern reagiere auf Beschwerden, erklärte ein Twitter-Sprecher. Außerdem dürfe nicht vergessen werden, dass es im Kampf gegen ISIS-Konten eine Zusammenarbeit mit den Sicherheitsbehörden gebe.

Der mutmaßlich einflussreichste Propagandist der Terrormiliz ISIS (Islamischer Staat) auf Twitter ist offenbar enttarnt!

Der US-Repräsentantenhaus-Abgeordnete Ted Poe warnte eindringlich vor der Terror-Rekrutierung im Netz und forderte härtere Regeln. Bei obszönen Fotos oder Inhalten sei die Plattform schließlich sehr rigoros und erfolgreich, sagt Poe.

Gemeinsam mit anderen Kongressmitgliedern will er einen Brief an Twitter-Chef Dick Costolo schicken: „Wir wollen, dass es (ISIS-Propaganda) so behandelt wird wie Kinderpornografie“, sagt Poe zu Yahoo News.

Kritiker warnen jedoch, dass das FBI einige ISIS-Profile beobachte, um Informationen über die Aktivitäten der Terrormiliz abzugreifen. Es habe mehrere Fälle gegeben, in denen das FBI explizit darum gebeten habe, verschiedene Accounts nicht zu sperren, weil es deren Kommunikation untersuchen wollte.

Auch der Autor der neuen Studie, J.M. Berger, sieht diese Vorteile: „So erhält man sich einen wichtigen Anteil offener Quellen für geheimdienstliche Überwachung.“

Regierungsvertreter widersprechen: „Ich glaube schon, dass wir sie von der Plattform kicken können, aber das wird das Problem nicht lösen“, sagt Quintan Wiktorowicz, ehemaliger Sicherheitsberater von US-Präsident Barack Obama.

Es sei ein Kampf gegen Windmühlen, da die ISIS-Profile sich immer wieder mit leicht veränderten Namen neu anmelden würden. Die einzige langfristig wirksame Strategie laut Wiktorowicz: Regierungen und Social-Media-Unternehmen müssen gezielt mit eigenen Tweets und Botschaften dagegen steuern.

Erste Schritte gegen Hamas-Hetze bei Facebook

Die Facebook-Fanpage der antisemitischen „Shehab-Nachrichtenagentur“ wurde nach Beschwerden von israelischen Studenten diese Woche gelöscht. Ein Jahr lang kämpfte die Studentenvereinigung dafür, dass die mit der Terrororganisation Hamas verbundene Seite endlich vom Netz genommen wird.

Jeden Tag hatten die Betreiber von „Shehab“ judenfeindliche Zeichnungen, Hamas-Propaganda, und Mordaufrufe gegen Israelis gepostet. Nach Attentaten glorifizierten sie die Täter als Helden. 2,7 Millionen Abonnenten folgten der Hamas-Hetze bei Facebook.

Ein Sprecher des Außenministeriums zu der israelischen Nachrichtenseite Ynet: „Das ist ein wichtiger Schritt, weil das Internet und insbesondere Social Media die zentrale Plattform für die Verbreitung von Antisemitismus und Gewaltaufrufen gegen Juden ist. Wir hoffen, dass andere Medien (…) nachziehen werden.“

NUEVOS ANGULOS EN LA PESQUISA FEDERAL A DORAL BANK

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Sale a relucir que se recurrió a servicios de supuesto santero para sacar a flote el banco.

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Hasta finales del año pasado, Doral Bank se encontraba “significativamente subcapitalizado”, según indicó su matriz bancaria Doral Financial Corp. (NYSE:DRL). (GFR Media)
http://www.elnuevodia.com/negocios/finanzas/nota/nuevosangulosenlapesquisafederaladoralbank-2012008/Annelise I. Figueroa
ABOVE –  Annelise I. Figueroa
BELOW – Rolando Rivera Solís

Los dos arrestos realizados esta semana por un supuesto fraude contra Doral Bank son parte de una amplia pesquisa que realiza el Negociado Federal de Investigaciones (FBI) a esa institución la cual está en incumplimiento con la Corporación Federal de Seguros de Depósitos (FDIC, por sus siglas en inglés).“Los arrestos son parte de una investigación que el FBI está llevando a cabo”, confirmó Moises Quiñones, portavoz de prensa del FBI en Puerto Rico. “Porque se arrestaron unas personas no significa que la investigación haya concluido”, indicó.

La exvicepresidenta de propiedad de Doral Bank,  Annelise I. Figueroa,  fue arrestada el lunes junto al vicepresidente de San Juan Tropical Maintenance Services (SJ Tropical),  Rolando Rivera Solís, por supuestamente defraudar al banco por $2.3 millones.

“Esta investigación que se está llevando a cabo es por fraude”, precisó el portavoz de prensa del FBI.

El dúo está acusado de fraude financiero y electrónico, uso indebido de fondos bancarios y lavado de dinero. La pesquisa federal apunta a que Doral y SJ Tropical mantenían un contrato verbal, en el que Figueroa aumentaba la cuantía de los pagos que recibía SJ Tropical. Rivera Solís es vicepresidente de tal empresa.

La relación contractual se formalizó en octubre de  2008 y según el pliego acusatorio Figueroa, sin tener autorización para ello, continuó el supuesto esquema, aumentando la cuantía de los pagos y la frecuencia de estos, de mensual a semanal.

Figueroa saldría hoy miércoles en libertad luego de que un allegado, que rehusó identificarse, pagó la fianza de $100,000 que le impuso la magistrada  Sylvia Carreño. La libertad está condicionada al uso de un grillete.

El abogado Eric A. Vos, quien fue asignado por el tribunal para defender a Figueroa, dado que no puede pagar su defensa, presentó una moción en la que intentó sin éxito que la mujer fuera dejada en libertad.

Mientras, Rivera Solís continuará en prisión hasta la vista de fianza programada para el jueves.

La fiscalía federal argumentó que al momento del arresto, Rivera Solís, absuelto de un cargo por asesinato en la Florida en 1993,  tenía diez armas de fuego una de las cuales no está registrada.

Confiscadas las armas

El superintendente de la Policía, José Caldero, explicó a  El Nuevo Día que las armas de fuego fueron confiscadas. “Con el pliego acusatorio, se confiscan las armas y se le cancela la licencia”, indicó Caldero.

Explicó que si Rivera Solís resultara inocente, tiene derecho a solicitar una  vista para que se restituya su licencia y se  devuelvan las armas. Si en efecto una de las armas no está registrada, se presentarían cargos con ese delito.

El ardid entre Figueroa y Rivera Solís habría servido para defraudar a Doral Bank en unos $2.3 millones.

Santería financiera

Sin embargo, fuentes de El Nuevo Día aseguran que Figueroa no actuó sola sino que recibió instrucciones para contratar SJ Tropical.

Según las fuentes, el contrato a Rivera Solís se otorgó “en agradecimiento” al hombre por haber hecho trabajos de santería para el banco y ciertos ejecutivos de alto nivel.

A preguntas de El Nuevo Día acerca de estos supuestos eventos, el FBI declinó hacer comentarios.

“De parte de la empresa no hay comentarios a estos asuntos. Sí es pertinente reiterar que en Doral hemos cooperado y continuaremos cooperando con las autoridades y todas sus investigaciones”, indicó el banco a este rotativo.

De acuerdo con personas cercanas a Doral, los trabajos del supuesto santero habrían comenzado en el año 2007. Entonces, Doral necesitaba recapitalizarse y se recurrió a los servicios del supuesto santero para sacar a Doral a flote.

Las fuentes que pidieron anonimato por temor a represalias, aseguran que Rivera Solís llevó a cabo un ritual en la sala de juntas del banco la noche antes de que los directivos aprobaran una transacción que daría unos $610 millones de capital a la institución.

En el ritual, alegan las fuentes, se utilizó un caimán, lo que fue objeto de múltiples rumores de pasillo por parte de los empleados. Los eventos se dieron para mayo de 2007.

Según las fuentes, Rivera Solís habría recibido el contrato tras el éxito de la recapitalización.

No es arquitecta

Por otra parte, el Colegio de Arquitectos y Arquitectos Paisajistas aclaró ayer que Figueroa no es arquitecta ni ha revalidado como tal, aun cuando puede poseer un bachillerato  en esa profesión, según el perfil profesional que ella posee en LinkedIn.

CORRUPT CHINESE OFFICIALS SOUGHT ASSASSINATION PLOTS TO STOP ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN OF CHINA PRESIDENT XI

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Xi Jinping delivers a speech in Beijing on Sept. 21, 2014 to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. (Photo/Xinhua)

President Xi Jinping of China and his top graft-buster Wang Qishan may be targeted by assassination attempts from corrupt officials who have been allegedly buying high-powered sniper rifles from the United States, reports Boxun News, a US-based citizen journalism outlet with a reputation for releasing unsubstantiated “insider” reports on Chinese politics.

According to a Boxun reporter in Hong Kong, recent raids on the homes of more than one corrupt official unveiled evidence of a revenge plot to assassinate Xi and Wang with American sniper rifles.

Xi, who launched on ongoing campaign to take down all corrupt officials — regardless of whether they are lowly “flies” or high-flying “tigers” — back at the start of 2013, has reportedly been bolstering his security detail over the last six months after the conspiracy came to light, Boxun said. Safety measures at outdoor appearances have also been upgraded, with even vice-ministerial-level officials needing to pass security checks, Boxun said.


Zhou Yongkang

This is not the first time Xi’s life has been at risk, said Boxun, which previously published unconfirmed claims that fallen tiger Zhou Yongkang had twice tried to take Xi’s life back in 2013, shortly after the Communist Party chief ordered Wang, chief of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, to look into the rumors of corruption that have long plagued China’s former oil and security tsar.

The two assassination attempts were said to have taken place around the time of the annual Beidaihe leadership conference in north China’s Hebei province. The first involved a time bomb hidden in a meeting room, while the second was a poison needle during a health check at Beijing’s 301 Military Hospital, Boxun said.

Xi was able to evade death on both occasions, and as a result the 72-year-old Zhou, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, was expelled from the party in December and will become the highest-ranked Communist Party official since the Cultural Revolution to be prosecuted for corruption.

ARE EARLY ISIS ELEMENTS NOW FIGHTING RUSSIAN SEPARATISTS IN UKRAINE?

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https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/26/midst-war-ukraine-becomes-gateway-europe-jihad/

 

“OUR BROTHERS ARE there,” Khalid said when he heard I was going to Ukraine. “Buy a local SIM card when you get there, send me the number and then wait for someone to call you.”

Khalid, who uses a pseudonym, leads the Islamic State’s underground branch in Istanbul. He came from Syria to help control the flood of volunteers arriving in Turkey from all over the world, wanting to join the global jihad. Now, he wanted to put me in touch with Rizvan, a “brother” fighting with Muslims in Ukraine.

The “brothers” are members of ISIS and other underground Islamic organizations, men who have abandoned their own countries and cities. Often using pseudonyms and fake identities, they are working and fighting in the Middle East, Africa and the Caucasus, slipping across borders without visas. Some are fighting to create a new Caliphate — heaven on earth.  Others — like Chechens, Kurds and Dagestanis — say they are fighting for freedom, independence and self-determination. They are on every continent, and in almost every country, and now they are in Ukraine, too.

In the West, most look at the war in Ukraine as simply a battle between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government. But the truth on the ground is now far more complex, particularly when it comes to the volunteer battalions fighting on the side of Ukraine. Ostensibly state-sanctioned, but not necessarily state-controlled, some have been supported by Ukrainian oligarchs, and others by private citizens. Less talked about, however, is the Dudayev battalion, named after the first president of Chechnya, Dzhokhar Dudayev, and founded by Isa Munayev, a Chechen commander who fought in two wars against Russia.

Ukraine is now becoming an important stop-off point for the brothers, like Rizvan. In Ukraine, you can buy a passport and a new identity. For $15,000, a fighter receives a new name and a legal document attesting to Ukrainian citizenship. Ukraine doesn’t belong to the European Union, but it’s an easy pathway for immigration to the West. Ukrainians have few difficulties obtaining visas to neighboring Poland, where they can work on construction sites and in restaurants, filling the gap left by the millions of Poles who have left in search of work in the United Kingdom and Germany.

You can also do business in Ukraine that’s not quite legal. You can earn easy money for the brothers fighting in the Caucasus, Syria and Afghanistan. You can “legally” acquire unregistered weapons to fight the Russian-backed separatists, and then export them by bribing corrupt Ukrainian customs officers.

“Our goal here is to get weapons, which will be sent to the Caucasus,” Rizvan, the brother who meets me first in Kiev, admits without hesitation.

WITH HIS WHITE hair and beard, Rizvan is still physically fit, even at 57. He’s been a fighter his entire adult life. Born in a small mountain village in the Caucasus, on the border between Dagestan and Chechnya, Rizvan belongs to an ethnic minority known as the Lak, who are predominantly Sunni Muslim.

The world that Rizvan inhabits — the world of the brothers — is something new. When he first became a fighter, there wasn’t any Internet or cell phones, or cameras on the street, or drones. Rizvan joined the brothers when the Soviet Union collapsed, and he went to fight for a better world, first against the Russians in Chechnya and Dagestan during the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s. He then moved to Azerbaijan, where he was eventually arrested in 2004 on suspicion of maintaining contact with al Qaeda.

Even though Rizvan admits to fighting with Islamic organizations, he claims the actual basis for the arrest in Azerbaijan — illegal possession of weapons — was false. Authorities couldn’t find anything suspicious where he was living (Rizvan was staying at the time with his “brothers” in the jihad movement) but in his wife’s home they found a single hand grenade. Rizvan was charged with illegal weapons possession and sent to prison for several years.

In prison, he says he was tortured and deliberately housed in a cell with prisoners infected with tuberculosis. Rizvan took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, accusing the authorities in Azerbaijan of depriving him of due process. The court eventually agreed, and asked the Azerbaijani government to pay Rizvan 2,400 euros in compensation, plus another 1,000 euros for court costs.

But when Rizvan was released from prison, he didn’t want to stay in Azerbaijan, fearing he would be rearrested, or even framed for a crime and again accused of terrorism. “Some of our people disappear and are never found,” he says. “There was one brother [who disappeared], and when he was brought for burial, a card was found showing that he was one of 30 people held in detention in Russia.”

In Russia, a warrant was issued for Rizvan’s arrest. Returning to his small mountain village was out of the question. If he goes back, his family will end up paying for what he does, anyhow. “They get to us through our families,” he says. He condemns those who refused to leave their own country and fight the infidels. This was the choice: either stay, or go abroad where “you can breathe freedom.”

“Man is born free,” Rizvan says. “We are slaves of God and not the slaves of people, especially those who are against their own people, and break the laws of God. There is only one law: the law of God.”

After his release from prison in Azerbaijan, Rizvan became the eternal wanderer, a rebel — and one of the brothers now in Ukraine. He came because Munayev, now head of the Dudayev battalion, decided the brothers should fight in Ukraine. “I am here today because my brother, Isa, called us and said, ‘It’s time to repay your debt,’” Rizvan says. “There was a time when the brothers from Ukraine came [to Chechnya] and fought against the common enemy, the aggressor, the occupier.”

That debt is to Ukrainians like Oleksandr Muzychko, who became one of the brothers, even though he never converted to Islam. Muzyczko, along with other Ukrainian volunteers, joined Chechen fighters and took part in the first Chechen war against Russia. He commanded a branch of Ukrainian volunteers, called “Viking,” which fought under famed Chechen militant leader Shamil Basayev. Muzychko died last year in Ukraine under mysterious circumstances.

Rizvan has been in Ukraine for almost a year, and hasn’t seen his family since he arrived. Their last separation lasted almost seven years. He’s never had time to raise children, or even really to get to know them. Although he’s a grandfather, he only has one son — a small family by Caucasian standards, but better for him, since a smaller family costs less. His wife calls often and asks for money, but Rizvan rarely has any to give her.

I N THE 17th century, the area to the east of the Dnieper River was known as the “wilderness,” an ungoverned territory that attracted refugees, criminals and peasants — a place beyond the reach of the Russian empire. Today, this part of Ukraine plays a similar role, this time for Muslim brothers. In eastern Ukraine, the green flag of jihad flies over some of the private battalions’ bases.

For many Muslims, like Rizvan, the war in Ukraine’s Donbass region is just the next stage in the fight against the Russian empire. It doesn’t matter to them whether their ultimate goal is a Caliphate in the Middle East, or simply to have the Caucuses free of Russian influence — the brothers are united not by nation, but by a sense of community and solidarity.

But the brothers barely have the financial means for fighting or living. They are poor, and very rarely receive grants from the so-called Islamic humanitarian organizations. They must earn money for themselves, and this is usually done by force. Amber is one of the ideas Rizvan has for financing the “company of brothers” fighting in eastern Ukraine — the Dudayev battalion, which includes Muslims from several nations, Ukrainians, Georgians, and even a few Russians.

The brothers had hoped the Ukrainian authorities would appreciate their dedication and willingness to give their lives in defense of Ukrainian sovereignty, but they miscalculated. Like other branches of fighters — Aidar, Azov and Donbass — the government, for the most part, ignores them. They’re armed volunteers outside the control of Kiev, and Ukraine’s politicians also fear that one day, instead of fighting Russians in the east, the volunteers will turn on the government in Kiev. So ordinary people help the volunteers, but it’s not enough. The fighters associated with the Ukrainian nationalist Right Sector get money, cars and houses from the rich oligarchs.

Rizvan has a different plan. He’s afraid that if they begin stealing from the rich, the Ukrainian government will quickly declare their armed branch illegal. He’s decided to work in the underground economy — uncontrolled by the state — which the brothers know best.

Back in the ’90s, the amber mines in the vast forests surrounding the city of Rivne were state-owned and badly run, so residents began illegally mining; it was a chance at easy money. Soon, however, the mafia took over. For the right daily fee, miners could work and sell amber to the mafia at a fixed price: $100 per kilogram. The mafia conspired with local militia, prosecutors and the governor. That was the way business worked.

As a result, although Ukraine officially produces 3 tons of amber annually, more than 15 tons are illegally exported to Poland each year. There, the ore is processed and sold at a substantial profit. The Rivne mines operate 24 hours a day. Hundreds of people with shovels in hand search the forest; they pay less to the mafia, but they extract less amber and earn less. The better off are those who have a water pump. Those people pump water at high pressure into the earth between the trees, until a cavity 2 to 3 meters deep forms. Amber, which is lighter than water, rises to the surface.

At one point, Rizvan disappeared in Rivne for several weeks. When he returned, he was disappointed; he’d failed to convince the local mafia to cooperate with the brothers’ fight for an independent Ukraine. But now, he has other arguments to persuade them. His men are holding up the mines, by not allowing anyone into the forest. Either the local gangsters share their profits, or no one will get paid.

Rizvan doesn’t like this job. He knows it won’t bring him any glory, and could land him in prison. He would have preferred to be among the fighters at the front lines, where everything is clear and clean. He says he can still fight, but he’s already too old to really endure the rigors of battle, even if he doesn’t want to admit it. He may still be physically fit, but fighters don’t usually last longer than a few years. Then they lose their strength and will to fight.

He has other orders from Munayev: he’s supposed to organize a “direct response group” in Kiev. The group will be a sort of rear echelon unit that take care of problems, like if someone tries to discredit the Dudayev battalion. It will also collect debts or scare off competition. There’s no doubt the new branch will work behind the lines, where there isn’t war, but there is money — as long as you know where to get it. If need be, the direct response group volunteers will watch over the mines in Rivne, or “will acquire” money from illegal casinos, which operate by the hundreds in Kiev.

Rizvan sends me photos of the group’s criminal exploits: they came into the casinos with weapons, and broke into the safes and slot machines. They disappeared quickly, and were never punished. The money went to food, uniforms, boots, tactical vests and other equipment necessary for the fighters. The mafia knows they can’t beat them at this game. The brothers are too good, because they are armed and  experienced in battle. The police aren’t interested in getting involved either. In the end, it’s illegal gambling.

I told Rizvan that it’s a dangerous game. He laughed.

“It’s child’s play,” he says. “We used to do this in Dagestan. No one will lift a finger. Don’t worry.”

RIZVAN FINALLY DROVE me to see his “older brother,” to Isa Munayev, and his secret base located many miles west of Donetsk.

Riding in an old Chrysler that Rizvan bought in Poland, we drove for several hours, on potholed and snowy roads. Rizvan had glued to the car one of the emblems of Ukraine’s ATO, the so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation, which includes both soldiers and volunteers in the fight against separatists.

The bumper sticker allows him to drive through police traffic stops without being held up — or if he is stopped, they won’t demand bribes as they do from other drivers. The ATO sticker, Rizvan’s camouflage uniform, and a gun in his belt are enough to settle matters. Policemen salute him and wish him good luck.

He drives fast, not wanting to rest, sleep or even drink coffee. If he stops, it’s to check the compass on his belt to check the direction of Mecca. When it’s time to pray, he stops the car, turns off the engine, places his scarf in the snow and bows down to Allah.

Asked whether — after so many hardships, after so many years, and at his age, almost 60 now — he would finally like to rest, he answered indignantly, “How could I feel tired?”

There’s much more work to do, according to Rizvan. “There’s been a small result, but we will rest only when we’ve reached our goals,” he says. “I’m carrying out orders, written in the Holy Quran. ‘Listen to God, the Prophet.’ And I listen to him and do what I’m told.”

On the way into the city of Kryvyi Rih, we met with Dima, a young businessman — under 40 — but already worth some $5 million. He’s recently lost nearly $3 million from his business in Donetsk, which has been hit hard by the war. Dima worked for Igor Kolomoisky, one of the oligarchs who had been funding Ukraine’s volunteer battalions. Dima and Rizvan have only known each other for a short time. Rizvan claimed Dima owed him a lot of money, although it’s unclear from what. Rizvan kept bothering him, threatening to blackmail him. Finally, he got $20,000 from Dima.

That’s not nearly enough to support the Dudayev battalion. But Rizvan had something bigger to offer Dima: amber. Now, Dima was ready to talk. He came up with the idea to find buyers in the Persian Gulf, including wealthy sheikhs. They would like to sell an entire house of amber: furniture, stairs, floors, and inlaid stones. It only takes contacts, and Rizvan has them. The brothers from Saudi Arabia like to help the jihad in the Caucasus and the Middle East.

The next day, Rizvan was behind the wheel again. The old Chrysler barely moved, its engine overheated. A mechanic with an engineering degree and experience working in Soviet arms factories connected a plastic bottle filled with dirty water to the radiator using a rubber hose.

“I don’t know how long I’ll last,” Rizvan says suddenly. “It depends on God. I’ll probably die on this road. But I don’t have any other road to take.”