Thursday, June 11, 2009

Combating the Financing of Transnational Threats by Michael Jacobson

As the NEFA Foundation reported, Shaykh Mustafa abu al-Yazid (aka Shaykh Saeed), the former Al Qaeda finance chief and current head of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, recently released a statement again lamenting the poor state of his organization's finances. He explained how the lack of financing is affecting their ability to carry out operations and to run the organization, and proclaimed that contributing money to the jihad is a religious obligation.

Shaykh Saeed's statement highlights what has been one of the more effective aspects of the international counterterrorism efforts over the past eight years -- combating terrorist financing. In fact, targeting the finances of illicit actors has proven effective in other contexts as well, particularly Iran.

While ultimately no one tool will deter, disrupt or prevent the illicit activities of terrorists, proliferators, insurgents, or other transnational threats, combating the financing of transnational threats has shown particular promise, especially when used in concert with other policy tools.

My colleague Matt Levitt and I just completed a new study on this subject, which was published by the Emirati Center for Strategic Studies and Research. To read the study, click here.

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