Terrorist Financing Threat Requires More Effective Response

The current approach to terrorist financing is one-dimensional, overly simplistic and outdated, says a new paper from RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies.

RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies (CFCS) has published a new occasional paper calling for a reassessment of the current approach to tackling terrorist financing.

“After 9/11 George W Bush vowed to starve the terrorists of funding, triggering an enduring and global effort to counter terrorist financing,” says CFCS founding director Tom Keatinge.

“Yet nearly twenty years later, that global effort has not achieved its objective and terrorist groups have turned out to be a patchwork of operators employing varying different forms of fundraising methods.”

According to Keatinge, globalisation, social media, new technologies and fintech provide new ways for terrorist groups to raise money, just as they provide opportunities for individuals to raise and move money around the world.

“A balance must be struck in promoting the societal benefits such innovations can bring and the new risks they facilitate,” the paper says.

It examines the ways in which terrorist financing has evolved over the last twenty years, seeking to determine how it should best be approached in the context of modern-day funding methods.

The paper argues that greater emphasis should be placed on financial intelligence, public-private partnerships, and cross-border collaboration and information sharing – a departure from today’s approach of policymakers simply calling for banks and other actors to cut off the financing of terrorism.

“Money will always find a way to flow, and disrupting this flow is an important objective, but should never be the sole pillar on which the response to terrorist financing is built.”

Today’s approach to terrorist financing is one-dimensional, overly simplistic and outdated, the paper says, calling for greater emphasis to be placed on ‘following the money’ to learn about the financial habits of terrorists and the networks they employ.

The full paper is available here.

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