Unfunding Terror

Unfunding Terror

The Legal Response to the Financing of Global Terrorism

Jimmy Gurulé

The book begins with a discussion of how shutting down the pipelines of funding is as important as dismantling the terrorist cells themselves. Next, the book covers the various means and methods used by terrorist groups to raise money, and examines how money is transferred globally to finance their lethal activities. The principal components of the legal strategy to disrupt the financing of terrorism are then discussed and evaluated. Unfortunately, the author concludes that the legal regime has met with mixed results, and finds that the sense of urgency to deprive terrorists of funding that existed following 9/11 has since dissipated. As a result, international efforts to freeze terrorist assets have dramatically declined. Moreover, the US Department of Justice has suffered several embarrassing and disappointing legal defeats in prosecuting major terrorist financiers. The author provides numerous recommendations to Congress, the Executive Branch, and the UN Security Council for strengthening the legal regime to deny terrorists the money needed to wage global jihad, acquire weapons of mass destruction, and launch another terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11.

Chapter 1: The Evolution of the Legal Framework to Deprive al Qaeda of Funding

Jimmy Gurulé

Subjects: law - academic, corruption and economic crime, finance and banking law, politics and public policy, terrorism and security


[T]he number and seriousness of acts of international terrorism depend on the financing that terrorists may obtain. . . . [E]xisting multilateral legal instruments do not expressly address such financing.1 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, December 9, 1999 THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that took the lives of 2,973 innocent civilians required as much as $500,000 to stage.2 Money was needed to pay for recruitment, flight training, transportation, communications, and other related expenses. The FBI estimates that in 2001 al Qaeda, the jihadi terrorist organization responsible for the mass killings, was operating on an annual budget between $30 and 50 million.3 At the organizational level, al Qaeda needs money to bribe government officials and acquire a safe haven, to pay for training camps, weapons, travel, false identification documents, and the printing and distribution of propaganda materials, and also to finance the terrorist activities of like-minded jihadi terrorist groups. Simply stated, the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon could not have occurred without substantial funding. However, despite the obvious fact that terrorists need money to terrorize, prior to 9/11 preventing the financing of terrorism was not a priority for the United States or the international community.4 A comprehensive legal framework to combat terrorist financing had not been developed. There were no serious financial interdiction efforts against al Qaeda, the Taliban and affiliated terrorist organizations. Criminal enforcement actions against deep-pocket donors...

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