Press Releases

Examining Terrorist Groups and Their Means of Financing Illicit Activity


Washington, September 7, 2018 -

The Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance met today to examine the various methods used by major terror groups to generate and move funds to support their activities and organizations. As the threat of terrorism continually evolves, it is increasingly important to monitor terrorist threats and methods of terror financing.

“Terrorist organizations cannot function without financial resources to organize and carry out their violent actions. Today, I was pleased to hear from experts on the current landscape of global terrorism and how they are funding their operations during a hearing within the Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee. It is imperative that Congress understand the nature of these threats that are currently facing the nation and the world, in order to do all they can to put an end to these illicit acts,” said Subcommittee Chairman Steve Pearce (R-NM).

Key Takeaways

  • The threat of terrorism is continually evolving with an increasing number of groups around the world threatening the United States.
  • Efforts to combat the financing of terrorism are a central pillar to combating all forms of terrorist activity.
  • The threat from terrorism and terrorist financing requires constant vigilance and adaptation by law enforcement, financial institutions, and regulators.

Topline Quotes from Witnesses

“There is no doubt that IS has represented a unique terrorist financing challenge. However, its ability to take territory was a function not of its particular financial prowess prior, but the breakdown of rule of law in parts of Syria and northwestern Iraq... Nonetheless, these trends necessitate efforts to understand how terrorist organizations continue to adapt their financial structures and design of increasingly sophisticated measures to counter them.” – Katherine Bauer, Blumenstein-Katz Family Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

“Traditional counterterrorism financing tools must be used to continue to keep ISIS isolated from external patrons and state sponsors of terrorism… Many terrorist groups attempt to avoid the formal financial system… their transactions could potentially intersect with various touch points, including correspondent banks in the region. Therefore, bank regulators and financial intelligence units of partner nations must be intimately involved in monitoring and identifying suspicious transactions.” – Colin P. Clarke, Senior Political Scientist, RAND Corporation

“Terrorists use these wars to boost their resources in several ways… there is a common factor linking these groups, including the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) as well as every al-Qaeda franchise. That factor is the narrative of bin Ladenism. We must dedicate ourselves to destroying that narrative. Only when we do so will we finally defeat them.” – Ali H. Soufan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Soufan Center

“Terrorist groups regularly adapt their methods to their available resources, skill levels, and the opportunities presented in their target areas of operations. This is as true for financing as it is for plotting attacks. Terrorist organizations have a long history of exploiting banks and other traditional financial institutions, as well as semi-formal means of transferring funds, such as the hawala exchange system. But emerging financial technologies offer new channels to raise and move funds.” – Yaya Fanusie, Director of Analysis, Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, Foundation for Defense Democracies

“Seventeen years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, we very much hope that these hearings—and any that come after them—will acknowledge and highlight the extraordinary, successful efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to prevent and deter terrorism on our shores. But police and counterterrorism officials do not work in a vacuum; they cannot do their job without community relationships, cooperation, trust, and a shared sense of responsibility for public safety.” – Oren Segal, Director, Center on Extremism, Anti-Defamation League

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