Fact Sheet: Combating the Financing of Terrorism, Disrupting Terrorism at its Core
Terrorist organizations rely on financing and support networks to sustain operations and launch attacks. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) has developed a sophisticated and comprehensive approach – including intelligence analysis, sanctions administration and enforcement, financial regulatory action, policy expertise, and outreach to the international community and financial sector – to aggressively identify, disrupt and deter the funding networks of terrorist organizations. The U.S. Treasury Department is the only finance ministry in the world to develop such an office, and TFI continues to play a leading role within the United States Government and the international community in combating terrorist financing.
Playing a Critical Role in U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts
Since 9/11, efforts to counter terrorist financing have played an increasingly critical role in our broader counterterrorism strategy. The establishment and growth of TFI since 2004 has strengthened and integrated various authorities, resources and expertise crucial to pursuing a comprehensive approach to countering terrorist financing. Treasury is devoted to mapping and taking action against terrorist financing networks as part of our responsibility to protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system. We have effectively used financial intelligence to identify terrorist networks and disrupt and deter their funding mechanisms. Indeed, this piece of our counterterrorism strategy has been particularly successful: we now see that al-Qa’ida is under significant financial strain and is struggling to secure steady financing to plan and execute terrorist attacks against the U.S. homeland and Western interests.
Ø Intelligence analysis: Established in 2004, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) remains the only full-fledged intelligence office in any finance ministry in the world. OIA serves Treasury’s specialized intelligence needs, providing a robust line of analytic products carefully tailored to TFI’s mission and Treasury’s authorities. OIA makes intelligence actionable by supporting designations of terrorists, weapons proliferators, and drug traffickers and by providing information to support Treasury’s outreach to foreign partners. OIA also serves as a unique and valuable source of information to the Intelligence Community (IC), providing economic analysis, intelligence analysis, and Treasury intelligence information reports to support the IC’s needs.
Ø Targeted actions: Treasury has numerous and powerful authorities to take targeted action against terrorists, weapons proliferators, narcotics traffickers and their supporters, and isolate them from the U.S. financial and commercial systems. These domestic authorities include Executive Order 13224 (terrorism), Executive Order 13382 (proliferators) and the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (narcotics traffickers), among others.
Ø Bilateral engagement: Treasury continues to engage with key foreign governments to disrupt and dismantle external funding sources to extremists, including through information sharing and coordinated enforcement actions. Enhanced bilateral engagement with Saudi Arabia and other partners in the region, along with comprehensive private sector outreach has yielded real action, including arrests and prosecutions of terrorist financiers and facilitators and more robust controls on funding streams emanating from those countries to extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Ø Attacking the finances of terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan: Denying the Taliban and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan access to funds has long been a priority within TFI. Treasury has intensified its efforts in this arena over the past year as part of the President’s enhanced strategic focus in this critical region. Our approach is grounded in efforts to disrupt and dismantle illicit financial networks and to build domestic capacities within Afghanistan, all designed to undermine the financial networks of illicit actors and safeguard the nascent, but growing Afghan financial sector. Treasury staff in Washington and on the ground in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Gulf are working with others to aggressively attack the finances of the Taliban, al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups operating in the region.
Ø Threat Finance Cells: Treasury has helped pioneer a novel approach to attacking illicit financial networks – the Threat Finance Cell – by providing threat finance expertise and actionable intelligence to U.S. civilian and military leaders. First developed in Iraq under Treasury and Defense Department co-leadership, the Afghan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC) seeks to identify and disrupt financial networks related to terrorism, the Taliban, narcotics trafficking and corruption. Led by the Drug Enforcement Agency with Treasury serving as co-deputy, nearly 60 ATFC personnel are embedded with military commands across Afghanistan to improve the targeting of the insurgents’ financial structure. Specially-vetted Afghan authorities have also partnered with the ATFC on raids of hawalas suspected of illicit financial activities, including insurgent finance, narcotics trafficking and corruption. This cooperation has resulted in the collection of tens of thousands of financial documents.
Ø Expanded Treasury footprint in key regions: Since 2005, we have established Treasury Attaché offices in Abu Dhabi, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Islamabad and Kabul.
Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Illicit Finance
Ø Enhancing transparency in the financial system: TFI oversees the administration of regulations requiring financial services providers to collect, maintain and report information that supports law enforcement investigations and helps to deter the financing of terrorism and other illicit activities. Treasury’s efforts, including at the 36 member Financial Action Task Force, promote international standards that enhance the transparency of the international financial system so that illicit financing networks are more susceptible to detection and disruption.
Ø Developing and applying targeted economic and financial measures: TFI works in collaboration with other federal agencies and the international community to develop and apply a range of targeted economic sanctions and financial measures to identify and disrupt financing networks of organizations including al-Qa’ida core, al-Qa’ida affiliates, the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.
Ø Fostering a global approach to combat terrorist financing: Bilateral and multilateral engagement amplifies Treasury’s efforts by ensuring a collaborative and cooperative approach in achieving two key objectives: combating the sources of terrorist financing and building the systemic capacities of countries around the world to protect against illicit finance.
Ø Engaging in comprehensive private sector outreach: The private sector is a powerful ally in combating terrorist financing. TFI’s outreach aims to help facilitate a better understanding of terrorist financing activities and risks, promote the development and implementation of terrorist financing risk mitigation and enhance financial institutions’ compliance with efforts to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Ø Interagency coordination: Implementing an effective counterterrorist financing strategy requires the involvement of different USG agencies, each of which brings a unique and specific expertise to the effort. Agencies involved include those charged with collecting information, analyzing information, engaging with foreign counterparts, developing international standards, and implementing financial sanctions against targets unique to each agency’s national security role. The USG has a strong infrastructure in place to coordinate these efforts, with a variety of mechanisms to coordinate U.S. counterterrorism financing initiatives.
Snapshot: Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP): In 2001 Treasury initiated the TFTP to identify, track and pursue terrorists and their networks. The TFTP has since provided thousands of valuable leads to U.S. agencies and other governments that have aided in the prevention or investigation of many of the most visible and violent terrorist attacks and attempted attacks of the past decade. For example, TFTP-derived information has played an important role in the investigation of the October 2010 Nigerian Independence Day car bombings in Abuja, Nigeria. The TFTP has provided crucial information that has been used to identify persons linked to these attacks.