Organised crime and terror financing

The global criminal economy is one route that state-sponsored terrorism takes

Dan Darling calls it one of the best articles he has seen on the subject in the US press. David Kaplan’s well-researched article describes how jihadi groups worldwide are using tactics and proceeds from the world of organised crime to finance their operations.

But the story of terror financing is not complete without a consideration of the covert role of the world’s intelligence agencies. Pakistan’s ISI, for example, used the proceeds from drug smuggling, money laundering and CD piracy to fund jihadi groups. One of the most under-investigated angles of the 9/11 investigation are the links between the ISI’s Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmad and the Mohammed Atta — it was the ISI chief who wired funds into Atta’s account in the days preceding the attacks on America.

Terrorists are using the same underground infrastructure used by organised-crime syndicates to finance their operations. But they need not do so — like in the case of BCCI, they are capable of using legitimate channels to move funds around. So while targeting underground financial networks does help disrupt terrorist operations, it is incorrect to conclude, as Kaplan does, that al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups simply cannot exist in the absence of the global criminal economy. As long as the states that sponsor terrorism continue to do so, al-Qaeda and its ilk will continue to exist. Confronting states that sponsor terrorism is much easier than cleaning out the plumbing of the international financial system. For that reason it may deliver better and faster results.

4 thoughts on “Organised crime and terror financing”

  1. There is a saying, “Salvation lies within”. Similarly, any dubious scheme contains the seeds of its own exposure and destruction. In this case, the very fact of financing and laundering can be used to actually trace the perpetrators and the supporters.

    It is another matter completely if the relevant people have the will and guts to pursue an angle that they know exist. And, I think the onus is not on the states that sponsor terrorism to stop doing so. Rather it is on the international banking and financial system that the countries that have stakes in the banking and financial system to ignore political expediences (US-Pak, for example) and stem the rot.

    However, you know as well as I do, that the chances of this happening are – zilch.

  2. The problem is that sometimes confronting those states, specifically Pakistan and Iran, looks almost scarier than the thugs they support; especially when one seems barely held together and has nukes and the other is lead by crazy people and will soon have nukes.

  3. Confronting specific states is way easier than confronting the entire crime industry. Its hard enough for countries/governments to unite for one cause – it will be harder enough if they’re told to unite against crime everywhere – more so, since quite a fe of those governments will/do have ties to crime/criminals!!

    The sensible thing will be to go for those states’ jugulars – but no one wants to do that. Not even the victims of such states actions(or lack thereof).

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