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.