What is Terrorist Financing?

What is Terrorist Financing? 

What is terrorist financing? According to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), terrorist financing is the ‘financing of terrorist acts, and of terrorists and terrorist organizations’. It also includes the facilitation of terrorist acts using other assets or stores of value (such as oil and natural resources, property, legal documents, financial instruments, and so forth). Another indirect method for terrorist financing is to store the value in various non-financial tangible/intangible assets. The United Nations defines terrorism as: “[c]riminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”

What is terrorist financing? Terrorist attacks cause danger to life, serious injury, loss of property, and build a climate of fear, compromising the safety and security of citizens. The frequency of terrorist attacks has increased and can be undertaken by individuals, in collaboration, and on a large or small scale. The reach of terrorist activity can be assisted by online sources planned at radicalization and home-grown violent extremism, which has culminated in terror attacks involving improvised explosive devices, firearms, knives, and vehicles. There has been a compelling rise in radical ideology in the political arena of many countries including Muslim countries. This shows a threat with regard to their eagerness to execute terrorist attacks. Moreover, extreme nationalistic movements may also speak for a possible threat to lives and the stability of democratic nations. These terrorist groups, which intend to enact terrorist acts, require funding to fulfill their purposes.

How do terrorists get funding? Terrorists and terrorist organizations are dependent on money to sustain themselves and execute terrorist acts. Terrorism funding is acquired from a variety of sources. While terrorists aren’t too bothered with hiding the original source of their funding, they are, however, concerned with hiding its target/use and the reason why the funding was collected. Therefore, they use techniques for terrorism funding that are similar to those used by money launderers to hide their money.

The Importance of Combating Terrorism Funding

What is terrorist financing? How do terrorists get funding? Terrorists need the money not just to buy weapons, but also for their travel, training, and accommodation, in order to plan terrorist attacks and develop as a terrorist group. By disrupting or preventing these terrorism-related financial flows, law enforcement can put an end to terrorism. This would result in further avoidance of future attacks by spoiling their material support, as well as the imprints of their criminal purchases, withdrawals, and other illegal financial transactions, which can also give law enforcements and agencies working with the govt. valuable information for any ongoing investigations.

The reason behind countering terrorist financing is not just because it’s a financial crime, such as money laundering, but also as it is an essential part of the global fight to eradicate further terror threats. While terrorists and their groups continue to grow and raise money with different methods, countries have no option but to make it a priority to understand the risks of terrorist financing and develop policies as a response to them.

How do Terrorists Get Funding? 

What is terrorist financing? How do terrorists obtain funding? Terrorist groups need to have the necessary skills to obtain, move, store, and, ultimately, use their finances according to what their aim is. If any harm befalls their organization’s long-term financial health, this can majorly impact their operation negatively, slowing its speed, the terror group’s reach, and the strength of its campaign for violence, which is a way to prevent their harmful methods. Thus the financial management of terrorists requires detailed planning and accounting for all of their illegal resources and assets, along with their liabilities.

Funding terrorism sources and methods: An analysis of publicly-available financial documents from different terrorist groups shows that financial management practices, like documenting revenue levels/sources, expenditure reporting, accounting, and so forth, are critically important for the functioning of terrorist groups with advanced capabilities, particularly those that are territorially based. Any large terrorist organization cannot do without terrorist financial managers to accumulate their revenue, establish their financial shelters – such as bank accounts, front and holding entities, etc. – and oversee their financial disbursements. Their job is also to include provisioning funds to the group’s leading members or operators and further consider the opportunity to invest in any excess capital.

Terror groups such as ISIL have always actively recruited accountants and other finance professionals, to monitor the activities of financial entities within their territories of control, so that they can better manage revenues and minimize losses. This management function can also exist in smaller terrorist groups, but it may be less formal and would involve a lower number of cell members to exercise multiple organizational roles simultaneously and efficiently.

How do terrorists get funding? Here are some typical sources of financial support for terrorism funding:

(i) donations made directly by individuals and organizations

(ii) using charities or NGOs

(iii) through criminal activity

Direct Donations: Direct donations for financial support can be sourced primarily through legitimate funds, in large or small amounts, which have been donated by individuals, legal entities, NGOs, companies, or, in some cases, even foreign countries. These sources can be in the form of salaries or wages, welfare benefits, personal donations, or profits made by businesses. Any donations from individuals can be from their personal or family’s source of income. They can do this by conducting fundraising appeals in their local communities on a small scale (neighborhood, place of worship, etc.), or by using broader appeals through the internet, such as on their social media or by using crowdfunding sites. The person donating doesn’t necessarily need to know the ultimate purpose for which their funds have been applied and will be used, in case the funds are traced back to them.

Using Charities and Non-Profit Organizations (NGOs): Most of the charities are legitimate and contribute to doing important work, but FATF has realized that they are still vulnerable to misuse by terrorist groups for purposes related to terrorist financing. The charities, NGOs, and similar appeals, all of which are based on supporting those in need, are a particular attraction for terrorist actors for many reasons. The terrorist financiers will be successful in taking funds from these potential donors who are part of the general public. Indeed, the donors have an inherent tendency to assist those who are vulnerable or suffering, along with the fact that many governments encourage the public to donate to charities by allowing taxpayers to deduct the value or a percentage of their donations. If the charities take the money in cash, it’s all the more difficult to trace the funding, their movement, and how the funds are being used. There are some charities that have a global presence and work with access to other groups located near conflict zones where terrorist organizations operate. This makes it easier for terrorists to target these charities, such as Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) founded by UN listed terrorist Hafiz Saeed.

Criminal Activity: There are some terrorist organizations that have a separate criminal network to collect the funds. This network includes drug trafficking, fraud, cybercrime, and white-collar crimes, all of which are common illicit activities when it comes to committing terrorist financing. For individuals such as foreign fighters or home-grown violent extremists, the abuse from public assistance or benefit programs, plus the creation of fictitious refunds, are identified typologies. Further on, these criminally-derived proceeds would likely be laundered before they are directed for the purposes of terrorist financing. The terrorist organizations covering larger grounds may seize the state-owned financial assets and natural resources within their territory. Those that are non-cash assets or resources, such as antiquities, crude oil, natural gas, minerals, precious metals, stones, etc., must be monetized through black market sales. These funds will further be used for the terrorist organization’s daily use and activities. The black markets that are considered for selling may operate largely outside of the territories or countries from the terrorist’s location.

Funding Terrorism Sources and Methods

What is terrorist financing? Funding terrorism sources and methods:

Storing

There are various means to store the funds, such as:

  • Use of bank or other accounts
  • Use of prepaid cards
  • Using bulk cash storage
  • Selling high-value commodities, such as oil, art/antiquities, precious metals, gemstones, and second-hand vehicles
  • Using cryptocurrencies

Moving 

There are well-known mechanisms to move around the values:

  • Through banking and the financial sector
  • Through the remittance sector (licensed Money Service Business (MSB))
  • Using informal value transfer systems (hawala) and foreign exchange houses
  • Using bulk cash smuggling
  • Smuggling of high-valued commodities
  • Using cryptocurrency

Using 

For use of terrorism funding, there are many options:

  • Within terrorist organizations: for weapons and material, administrative purposes, overheads, media or messaging, recruitment, training, financial support for the family, communications equipment, transportation, bribing, and mission preparation to perform terrorist acts.
  • Foreign fighters: for traveling services, passport and visa costs, outdoor equipment, purchasing of weapons, and preparing for combat training
  • Lone actors and small terrorist cells: for weapons and material, vehicles, the bare minimum for food and shelter, communication devices, transport, and any procurement requirements for terrorist plots. There’s a chance that many of these expenses are for day-to-day use, which are difficult to identify as being terrorism-related.

Read More: Which countries are present in the FATF Grey Countries List?

Read More: What is the role of MLROs in FIs?

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The 2019 edition of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Regulatory Compliance Conference is a few more days away. Organized by the Washington, D.C.-based trade association, the conference is touted...

Tookitaki AMLS Wins SBR Technology Excellence Award 2019

Tookitaki’s Anti-Money Laundering Suite (AMLS), an end-to-end machine learning-powered transaction monitoring and names screening solution, has bagged the inaugural Singapore Business Review Tec...

Watchdogs Grow Optimistic about AI Prospects at Banks

Proper regulation of banking operations is important as any failure in the banking system would affect the wider economy. Therefore, banking is one of the most regulated industries across the globe. F...

Pitfall of Black Box AI at Banks: Explaining Your Models to Regulators

The use cases of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in front-office, middle-office and back-office activities at banks are growing slowly but steadily. The major areas of AI play includ...

AI for Regulatory Compliance at Banks: 4 Assessments Before You Okay the Solution Proposal

Banking is one of the industries where artificial intelligence and machine learning find their applications at a rapid pace. Regulatory compliance within banking is an area which has become a costly a...

We Believe in Innovation, the Key to Survival and Growth

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” -Steve Jobs What comes on the top of your screen when you google the meaning of the word innovation is – the introduction of somet...

Compliance Functions in Need of a Technological Overhaul. Can Machine Learning be the Game-Changer?

McKinsey in its latest compliance benchmarking survey found that compliance function at financial institutions has reached “an inflection point” and current compliance standards are in an “incho...

Tookitaki Raises US$7.5 mn Series A from Global VCs to Transform Regulatory Compliance

Tookitaki, a regulatory technology company that aims to enable financial institutions to develop sustainable compliance programs, has raised US$7.5 million in Series A round. The round was co-led by L...

From Wachovia to Danske Bank: Biggest Money Laundering Cases in Recent Times

Money laundering – the criminal activity of processing criminal proceeds to disguise their origin – is one of the gravest problems faced by the global economy, and its size is growing rapidly. It ...

A Modern Approach to Address the Reconciliation Challenges of Financial Services

Reconciliation of transactions is deemed critical for the smooth running of every financial institution. The speed and accuracy of data reconciliation can distinguish a successful institution from its...

Busting a Myth: Compliance Officer’s Job is All About Risk

Regulatory compliance has become a dreadful task for banks after regulators across the globe set stricter norms in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis in an effort to prevent financial crimes s...

SocGen Goes Next-Gen with Tookitaki Reconciliation Suite

Société Générale leveraged Tookitaki’s Reconciliation Suite to automate the bank’s existing break reconciliation system. Key Challenges Addressed The bank’s finance department was unable to ...

Attending ACAMS Conference in Singapore? Tookitaki Awaits You with Its Disruptive AML Solution

“In today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to re-invent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it.”- Jeff Bezos Singapore is hosting ACAMS’...

MAS’ Stress on Transaction Monitoring for Effective AML/CFT Compliance and Machine Learning is the Answer

Singapore is known for its top-notch AML/CFT regime created through up-to-date legislation, stringent policy and uncompromising supervision to safeguard against the abuse of the city state’s financi...

Mifid II and the Pressing Need for a New Reconciliation Approach

The financial services industry in the EU has been confused with the introduction of a revamped version of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (Mifid II). The ambitious regulatory reforms t...

Is Automated Reconciliation Next to Impossible in Today’s Complex Financial World?

The 2008 global financial crisis and fairly new regulatory requirements like Basel III asked financial institutions (FIs) to cut operating costs and adopt a lean operations structure, pushing FIs to r...

Modern Tech to Reshape US AML Compliance with Regulators’ Recent Handshake

George Bernard Shaw once said: “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” The past week has seen a significant change of mind from financial regulators in the US in their ardent...

Skills Development: We Have Talents and We Strive to Multiply Them

“Mastery lies on an infinite continuum, and as a result, we will never reach the end. We can, however, see to it that we are as far along that continuum as our circumstance allows.” ― Chris Mat...

It’s Our Fourth Founding Day; Taking a Pause to Cherish Our Simple but Awesome Journey

Today, as we step into our 4th year of foundation, I feel proud and honored to be leading Tookitaki that has been successful in creating added value to all its stakeholders. I was never a CEO and Took...

Tookitaki Expands into the US with New Office in Charlotte

SINGAPORE, Sept. 24, 2018: Tookitaki Holding Pte Ltd, a leading regulatory technology company, is pleased to announce the official opening of its North American office in Charlotte, NC, in the Unite...

We Tame Machines but We Unleash Human Spirits

We are well aware of the fact that our progress as an organization is in the hands of our employees. The more energy, time and attention we invest in them, the more yield we receive. So, we always mak...

5 Methods That Modern Money Launderers Use To Beat Detection

Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it. DID YOU KNOW? Every year, an estimated amount in the range of US$800 billion-US$2 trillion (2-5% of global GDP) is being laundered globally Regulat...

Risk Management Conference: Positive Vibes from All Corners

The Risk Management Association’s (RMA) premier annual event, the Risk Management Conference, came to an end on 6 November, and Tookitaki had the privilege to attend the event which we believe was ...

Singapore Fintech Festival: Tookitaki to showcase advanced machine learning solutions in financial services

Singapore is assured of the Fintech world’s unwavering attention next week, as the city state, is hosting this year’s Fintech Festival during 12-16 November. Touted as the world’s largest platfo...

The RMA Clarion Call to Address Risks and the Tookitaki Way

Risk officers, doing your best today is good while preparing hard for tomorrow is extraordinary. Risk management at banks has become difficult due to operational and regulatory changes. The Risk Manag...