Terrorism Finance: Mixed Reviews

Douglas Farah notes that yesterday’s report by the 9-11 Commission gives an “A-minus” to American efforts to staunch the flow of money to terrorists. He thinks there’s some grade inflation here:

[A]cross the civilian and military terrain, I have not talked to anyone who really believes that we now have a handle on terror finance issues, especially the Zarqawi network, or that we have any real metrics for measuring true progress. It is true that there is broad lip service now paid across the Gulf region to the need to deal with terror finance issues, but charities continue to opereate, designated individuals continue to sit on the boards of the charities, offshore structures continue to function unimpeded. While there appear to have been some cash flow problems for the traditional al Qaeda structure, it does not seem those problems represented anything more than a temporary glitch.

Of course, to put things into perspective, we’ve being trying to regulate the flow of money into American political campaigns since 1974 with virtually no success. This task is almost infinitely more difficult.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Burgess says:

    There are two, further compounding factors here.

    First, much of the Middle East is still a cash-based society. People actually do go out and buy houses or cars with shopping bags full of cash, dinar, riyals, pounds, whatever.

    Second, much of the really large cash customers don’t keep their cash in local banks. Instead, it is held off-shore, for better or worse.

    Well, third… the rich Gulf States don’t have anything like income tax and therefore have no way of knowing how much anyone is making, earning, giving away, investing, or otherwise doing with it.