|Money is the “fuel” for the activities of terrorist organizations. Terrorist organizations need money in order to finance a vast variety of activities: the operational activity, which requires just small amounts of money, but represents the crowning climax of their activity; the “terror-envelope” activity – such as assisting prisoners and their families, wounded activists and families of “shahids” – “which requires some larger amounts of money; and the civilian-“humanitarian” activities, requiring the lion share of the “budgets” of terrorist organizations which operate such social infrastructures. These “humanitarian” activities are commonly known as “Daa’wa”, and they constitute the source of public support for those organizations.An important financial resource for terrorist organizations worldwide, especially the Islamic ones, are Islamic charity funds, many of them based in the Persian Gulf region, mainly Saudia Arabia. Terrorist organizations also recruit funds via criminal activity (such as drug trafficking and smuggling of commodities) and “economic crimes” (such as counterfeiting money) and commercial activity (“legitimate” and “illegitimate”). In addition, some terrorist organizations are financially supported – directly or indirectly – by terror-sponsoring states (like Iran). Terrorist organizations deliver (and deposit) their funds using the global banking system, as well as using financial institutions which are less supervised, such as money changers; another way is using “underground” channels – Hawala and money couriers.Until the beginning of the decade just a few around the world paid attention to the necessity to attack the financial infrastructures of terrorist organizations. The 9/11 attacks were the watershed which led to the beginning of the “global war against terrorism financing”, based on laws and treaties issued by international bodies, such as the UN (and the EU), under whose authority international organizations, dealing with the prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing, such as the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the FATF (Financial Action Task Force), operate.
Important lessons can be learnt from the International and the American fight against terrorism financing, as well as from the Israeli experience, both domestically (in Israel and the Palestinian Authority) and internationally. Similar to the US, also Israel boosted its efforts in this field in the last decade, taking legal, economic, military, intelligence and diplomatic measures that had a real influence.
The seminar’s objective is to deliver useful and detailed knowledge on how terrorist organizations finance themselves and how to prevent it. This seminar is even more relevant and important to the official, financial and voluntary sectors in South-east Asian countries which are prone to be a financial arena for terrorist organizations (such as al-Qaeda affiliated groups) due to unique geographical and economic conditions.