What is Terrorist Financing?

Blog / What is Terrorist Financing?

Terrorism financing is the act of providing funds to terrorists or terrorist organizations in order for them to carry out terrorist acts or to benefit any terrorist or terrorist organization.

While money may come from illegal actions, it can also come from legal sources like salaries, profits from legal businesses, or gifts, including those made through non-profit organizations.

Similar to money laundering, terrorism financing often involves three steps: raising, moving, and using funds. Despite the various steps, financing terrorism is done in a manner similar to, and in some instances may be identical to, that of money laundering. In each instance, the offender aims to use the financial or non-financial sectors for improper ends.


History of Counter-Terrorism Financing

Terrorist financing has been a pervasive financial crime for over a decade, and authorities are eager to stamp it out. With the terrorist attacks on September 11th in the United States, it became a significant political issue, and individuals working in the financial industry have been concerned by it ever since.

The term "counter-terrorist financing"  (CTF) refers to the plethora of laws and rules that have been passed to prevent the funding of terrorist activity.

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Congress passed the United States Patriot Act, which grants the US government the authority to monitor financial institutions for money laundering. The United States also partnered with the UN and other countries to develop the Terrorist Financing Tracking Program.

The USA PATRIOT Act has given rise to a number of initiatives, including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which focuses on money laundering and financial crimes. In 2009, the USA PATRIOT Act aided in the banning of approximately $20 million, as well as another $280 million from State Sponsors of Terrorism. Most financial institutions must adhere to a number of severe standards set forth in these regulations, including monitoring transactions and activity, doing appropriate customer due diligence, and keeping accurate records.


What differentiates terrorist financing from money laundering?

The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 (as amended) (CJA 2010) deals with anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) preventative measures simultaneously. However, it's crucial to remember that the two offenses have different characteristics.

  • The funds involved in money laundering must be the proceeds of illicit activity.
  • The source of the money is unimportant for terrorist financing to take place; that is, the money may come from an honest or dishonest source.

Examining the intended use or destination of the funds rather than their source is the most important factor to take into account when taking action to avoid terrorist financing.

In both instances, the actor uses the financial industry in an inappropriate manner. The methods used to finance terrorist acts and launder money are frequently interchangeable and strikingly similar. The prevention, detection and punishment of illegal funds entering the financial system and the funding of terrorist individuals, groups, and/or activities are, therefore, two risk issues that must be addressed by an anti-money laundering/counter-financing of terrorism framework in order to be effective. Furthermore, AML and CFT techniques overlap; they try to combat criminal or terrorist organizations through their financial activities and use the financial trail to locate individual members of their networks. This entails implementing systems for reading all financial transactions and identifying shady money transfers.


Organizations in the payment industry create AML programs to protect themselves from financial crime threats.


How to Counter The Financing of Terrorism?

Investigating, analyzing, blocking, and deterring sources of funding for actions intended to commit violence against or threaten to commit violence against civilians are all part of the fight against terrorism financing. Law enforcement might be able to stop some terrorist operations by figuring out where the money to support those actions comes from.

Fighting terrorism financing and money laundering together is essential. In fact, it has been unequivocally proven that the illicit funds used to support criminal groups (OGC) are also utilized to finance terrorism. When money laundering activities are discovered and stopped, it frequently also stops such funds from being used to finance terrorism.

AML/CFT must therefore involve a large number of actors, both public and private. Only by conducting a thorough analysis that takes into account the tight ties that exist between the financing of terrorism and criminal behavior connected to organized crime will the problems of terrorist financing and money laundering be effectively addressed.

The effectiveness of AML/CFT strategies solely depends on coordinated efforts and fluid communication between all actors of the financial investigation and penal chain, including public bodies (regulatory authorities, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, and specialized asset recovery bodies), civil society actors, media, and the private sector.

Therefore, the successful containment of money laundering and terrorist financing depends on all these stakeholders cooperating and accurately assessing the global impact of crime.


What Steps are Being Taken to Stop the Financing of Terrorism?

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), whose recommendations are acknowledged as the global AML/CFT "gold standard," has played a significant role in shaping the battle against money laundering and the funding of terrorism. Along with nine Special Guidelines, the 40 FATF Money Laundering Recommendations form the fundamental legislative foundation for preventing, identifying, and combating money laundering and terrorist funding. They offer a thorough and uniform framework of AML/CFT procedures that nations must put into place.

Various players are working to combat money laundering and terrorist funding on a global scale, including the FATF, FATF Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs), the Egmont Group, Moneyval, and the Carin network. The European Commission is a member of the FATF. These organizations foster and improve cross-border AML/CFT collaboration.

Several governments have passed legislation and taken other actions at the national level to improve the institutional structures in place to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

Unfortunately, these networks are still insecure, and many nations still struggle to stop the financing of terrorism and money laundering. Weak or insufficient legal and institutional frameworks, limited understanding of AML/CFT issues, and a lack of communication and coordination among important actors and institutions are all issues. As it discourages criminals from targeting that financial system, it is crucial for a nation to be viewed as having a strong AML regulatory framework with financial businesses successfully implementing AML systems and controls. 

Although following these requirements might seem difficult, doing so is now a lot simpler due to AML solutions.

Solutions from Sanction Scanner make it easier for businesses to comply with AML regulations. With the use of our Sanctions, PEP, and Adverse Media Screening tools, you can safeguard both your customers and your financial operations. You can guarantee openness in your firm by routinely checking the PEP and Sanction lists. You can request a demo now.


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