According To Interpol – Transnational Organized Crime Funds Terrorism
Any crime which results in a profit can be used to finance terrorism. This means that a country may face terrorism finance risks even if the risk of a terrorist attack is low.
Transnational organized crime and terrorism can often intersect and engage in illicit activities for various purposes, including financial gain. In fact, many transnational organized crime gangs are actually part of terrorist organizations, or even state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran & North Korea.
While it is important to note that not all transnational organized crime groups fund terrorism, there have been instances where criminal organizations have provided financial support to terrorist groups.
Here are some ways in which transnational organized crime can fund terrorism:
- Money Laundering: Transnational organized crime groups often engage in money laundering to legitimize their illicit proceeds. They manipulate funds through complex networks of legal and illegal businesses, shell companies, and offshore accounts, making it difficult for authorities to trace the origin of the money. In some cases, criminal organizations may channel a portion of their laundered funds to support terrorist activities.
- Drug Trafficking: The drug trade is a significant source of revenue for both transnational organized crime and terrorist groups. Criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking, such as cartels or syndicates, may collaborate with or provide financial support to terrorist organizations in exchange for protection, safe passage, or logistical assistance in the drug trade. Terrorist groups may also engage in drug production or trafficking independently to generate funds for their operations.
- Arms Trafficking: Transnational organized crime networks involved in illicit arms trafficking may supply weapons to terrorist organizations. These arms can be sold at inflated prices, providing a source of revenue for both criminals and terrorists. The proceeds from arms sales can then be used to finance terrorist activities, including recruitment, training, and the acquisition of additional weaponry.
- Extortion and Kidnapping – Including Human Trafficking: Criminal groups often engage in extortion and kidnapping for ransom as lucrative sources of income. In some cases, terrorist organizations may collaborate with or directly engage in these activities, leveraging their ideological motivations to coerce or extort funds from individuals, businesses, or governments. The funds obtained through extortion or ransom payments can then be used to support terrorist operations.
- Fraud and Counterfeiting: Transnational organized crime groups are adept at various forms of fraud and counterfeiting, including identity theft, credit card fraud, relationship scams, CEO/BEC scams, Phishing scams, Malware & Ransomware, counterfeit currency, and counterfeit goods. The profits from these illegal activities can be used to finance terrorist activities. Additionally, criminal organizations may collaborate with terrorist groups to produce and distribute counterfeit documents or currencies, enabling terrorists to move funds more discreetly.
It is worth noting that the relationship between transnational organized crime and terrorism can be complex and multifaceted. While some criminal organizations may actively support terrorism, others may engage in opportunistic alliances or incidental cooperation. Combating the financing of terrorism requires comprehensive efforts from law enforcement agencies, intelligence services, and international cooperation to disrupt the financial networks that sustain both transnational organized crime and terrorism.
Victims Caught In The Fraud Terrorism Trap
Scam victims can be deceived by scams and financial fraud. While this is not their fault, the decisions they make after they discover the crime can have serious consequences. Failing to report these crimes only supports the criminals and denies law enforcement potentially important information.
Scam victims that never report their crimes can face serious consequences if the money they provided is traced to terrorist organizations. In most countries providing funding to terrorists is a crime in and of itself, especially in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. It makes it very hard to claim innocence when a victim willfully hides the crime from law enforcement.
Accodring to Interpol
Disrupting the flow of terrorist funding is critical to curtailing their activities.
Sources of terrorist funding include, but are not limited to:
- low-level fraud
- kidnapping for ransom
- the misuse of non-profit organizations
- the illicit trade in commodities (such as oil, charcoal, diamonds, gold and the narcotic “captagon”)
- human trafficking
- arms & weapons
- and digital currencies.
By disrupting the flow of terrorist funding and by understanding the funding of previous attacks, we can help prevent attacks in the future.
Interpol maintains relationships with a number of bodies to help drive high-level policies and cooperation to counter terrorist financing:
- the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), an intergovernmental body that develops international standards to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism;
FATF-style regional bodies, that disseminate best practices in their respective region;
The Egmont Group, is a network of 159 financial intelligence units from around the world.
On a hands-on level, Interpol seeks to encourage better cooperation between financial intelligence units (FIUs) and police in its member countries, to encourage the sharing of intelligence and analysis.
A key part of this is promoting the extension of I-24/7, its secure global police communications system, to FIUs across the world. In addition, they are championing the systematic inclusion of financial information in INTERPOL alerts related to terrorist subjects of interest.
Interpol also advises its member countries on specific cases, connecting investigators across borders and continents, ensuring that all INTERPOL’s capabilities are used when appropriate.
The example below shows how our global network of countries, alerts and specialized support can lead to fast and concrete results in investigations.
One of Interpol’s member countries in Europe requested assistance with a live terrorist financing investigation in which the suspect had financed the travel of family members and others to conflict zones by transferring funds valued circa EUR 18,000.
Their specialized officers offered advice in order to streamline the investigation and liaised with four other member countries from Africa, Americas and the Middle East where funds had been transferred.
At the request of the investigating country, INTERPOL published a Red Notice for the suspect who was subsequently arrested in another, previously unconnected, member country and extradited for prosecution.