Terrorists around the world, whether in large groups or small, in underground networks or on television chanting threats, need cash to finance their violent acts and to achieve their overall goals. They are similar to other criminals, such as drug cartels and organized crime, who also exploit weaknesses in our financial system.
The best example is ISIS, which became known not only for its ruthless attacks, but for its methods of generating funds which includes raiding oil fields and plundering other economic assets, such as bank robbery. It is estimated that ISIS has access to nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of financing. As with most terrorist organizations, their violent acts are relatively low-cost compared to the damage they inflict. Still, the cost of running this organization is significant. Cash serves as the oxygen, or an enabler, for these dangerous groups.
To understand how to cut off that supply of oxygen, government agencies and private groups need to understand how terrorist organizations use many sophisticated methods, both legal and illegal, to raise and “clean” their money. It is estimated that 60 percent of terrorism operations are funded through illegal activities such as drug trafficking and fraud. Some groups even use charitable organizations or legitimate businesses as fronts for their operations. These groups have become adept in eluding authorities through the use of cash and complex money laundering operations. Regardless of how they raise their funding, they attempt to disguise their activities by exploiting global financial institutions.
During the past decade, “follow the money” has become the mantra in aiding the fight against terrorism and other crime around the globe. Money fuels everything from the Mexican cartels to foreign terrorist organizations like the FARC, ISIS and Hezbollah. Financial intelligence has helped governments to better understand, detect, disrupt and counter criminal and terrorist networks and expose one of their end goals, political corruption. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States and its Latin American partners have strengthened their ability to combat money laundering and terrorist financing by incorporating the financial instrument of national power into their national security strategies. “Following the money trail,” counterterrorism, and drug kingpin sanctions including asset forfeiture, have become particularly important to attack narco-terrorism as a way to stop the political corruption it helps to fund.
Additionally, the U.S. Treasury Department initiated the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) to identify, track, and pursue terrorists – such as Al-Qaida – and their networks. The U.S. Treasury Department is uniquely positioned to track terrorist money flows and assist in broader U.S. Government efforts to uncover terrorist cells and map terrorist networks at home and around the world.
Detecting red flags in terrorist financing and reporting them is the most effective way to stop the flow of funds to terrorists. Law enforcement is doing just that through more advanced investigative tools and tighter money laundering regulations. Government agencies are just one prong in the war on terror. Currency Tracking Technologies (CTT) will become a valued partner in helping to fight terrorism. CTT is developing proprietary software applications and systems for recording and managing information on U.S. currency to help detect and solve crimes such as terrorism.
In the past, criminals, including terrorists, took advantage when law enforcement agencies failed to exchange information with each other. These terrorists can no longer count on that disconnect because CTT’s powerful applications and secure network for tracking cash will allow inter-agency sharing and cross-matching of data to increase law enforcement’s ability to detect and solve crime.
CTT’s software, secure network and national index of currency information can be a critical investigative tool in solving certain crimes because they are providing a major step toward standardizing the processing of currency and the centralization of data.
Created for law enforcement professionals, CTT’s applications can be customized and integrated with existing local, state, regional and federal crime information networks. CTT’s services will include real-time data searches as well as analytics and reporting capabilities, with features that provide a user-friendly interface, secure access controls, cloud-based storage, block chain technology and advanced encryption.
Together, CTT and agencies such as the FBI are working to keep Americans safe from terrorism.