Terrorism Evolution (Laundering Terrorism Book 2)

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A business model is a plan detailing how an organization generates revenue and how it incurs cost. Terrorist organizations must continuously generate funds to cover expenses in order to sustain their operations.

Much like a corporation, a terrorist organization must establish funding streams that adequately meet and ideally exceed the cost structure. The organizational cost structure will include: the cost of business operations; cost of governance; cost of terrorist operations, public relations and financial facilitation; and overhead costs. What does the organization aspire to be?

This requires the desired infrastructure which will be contingent upon funding requirements and funding sources. Once funding requirements and funding sources align with revenue streams and cost structure, their mission statement can be focused to meet realistic aspirations. The last requirement of the business plan is to identify and exploit the funding mechanisms necessary to supply the required funds that meet or exceed operational expenses.

From the perspective of individual terrorist operatives, the role of the operative within or on behalf of the organization must be identified. The role or responsibilities an individual operative has will determine their financial requirements and the capacity in which they could interact with a financial institution. Individual operatives will include leaders, fundraisers, facilitators, recruiters, fighters, or homegrown violent extremists and others who play support roles.

Each terrorist actor will have different and somewhat unique funding requirements from other actors.

5AMLD - Introduction

Thus, it is important to identify the role each terrorist actor is responsible for within or on behalf of the organization. Likewise, it is important to determine if individual operatives are inspired, enabled or directed by the organization. If they are members of the organization, they will most likely be directed by the organization. If they are acting on behalf of the organization, it is possible they are being directed, but more likely, they are enabled, or most likely, they are inspired by the organization.

Those inspired by terrorist propaganda can be empowered to act in support or on behalf of an organization in a leaderless fashion. These individuals will most likely be self-funded. Those enabled to act are usually provided with guidance on operational planning or targets. These individuals will be self- or terrorist-group-funded. Those directed are more likely to be group members. These individuals will be terrorist-group-funded and in some instances, self-funded. The terrorist funding cycle is to raise, move, store and spend money.

Money laundering is a three-step process consisting of placement, layering and integration. Simplify the process as much as possible. This can be quite challenging in view of the many variations one may be confronted with.


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A good gauge is to assess the funding flow in two steps. The first step is to visualize and compare the terrorist funding cycle with the money laundering process. The second step is to visualize and assess the funding flow through each of the four elements of the terrorist funding cycle in a progressive and detailed manner. Placing the terrorist funding cycle in conjunction with the process of money laundering is the first step in visualizing funding flows.

Raising and moving money represents placement, where funding is placed into the financial system. Moving and storing money, and possibly continuing to move and store money, represents layering. The more the money is moved and stored in the financial system, the more obscured and seemingly legitimate it becomes.

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From storing to spending, the money represents integration. This is where the funds are accessed and distributed to support terrorist activities. The second step is to visualize each element of the terrorist-funding cycle raise, move, store and spend step-by-step from the source of funds to the distribution of funds, as follows:. Financing poses a stark contrast for terrorists. On one hand, finance is the lifeblood of a terrorist organization.

On the other hand, finance is one of the biggest vulnerabilities confronting terrorists. The more that can be done to disrupt the flow of funds, the more that can be done to prevent terrorism.

Transparency – Corporates, Trusts, Bank Accounts, and Real Estate

There are three primary terrorist funding streams: funding to an organization; funding from an organization to support an operation; funding from the operation to operatives. The challenge AML professionals face is that there are an infinite number of variations in the three primary funding streams. To succeed in disrupting terrorist financing, visualize the flow of funds from the point of origin to the point of distribution.

The pace and the volume of the funding flow can be overwhelming.

Financing Terror Bit by Bit – Combating Terrorism Center at West Point

What is needed is to simplify and slow the pace and process of visualization down. Much like the sports analogy of an inexperienced athlete, especially an NFL quarterback slowing the speed of the game down to read the opposing defense, AML professionals should slow the pace of the funding flow down by visualizing the funding stream and being situationally aware of the threat environment and who they are dealing with, organizations or individuals.

When it comes to terrorist financing, like criminal money laundering, financial institutions serve as either a facilitation tool or a detection mechanism. AML professionals must do all they can to minimize facilitation and maximize detection, especially in the quest to disrupt terrorist financing.

Understanding the threat environment, recognizing who is being dealt with and visualizing the flow of funds will enhance detection. This will enable AML professionals to exploit the financial vulnerability of terrorists instead of them exploiting the financial system. Dennis M. You must be logged in to post a comment.

Skip to content. Organizational or Individual Funding Funding needed to support a terrorist organization and funding for individuals are distinctly different. The more the money is moved and stored in the financial system, the more obscured and seemingly legitimate it becomes Likewise, it is important to determine if individual operatives are inspired, enabled or directed by the organization.

Funding Flows The terrorist funding cycle is to raise, move, store and spend money.

Legitimate funding sources include private donations and legitimate commercial enterprises. Illicit funding sources include the full gamut of criminal activities ranging from theft, trade, drug trafficking, kidnapping, taxation or extortion, and state sponsors, most notably Iran.

Terrorists will use both systems to ensure there is a consistent flow of funds to sustain their ability to function. All of these mechanisms serve as facilitation tools. A critically important consideration is that financial institutions serve as facilitation tools or detection mechanisms. This is where AML compliance professionals find themselves on the front line in the fight to disrupt terrorist financing.

AML professionals must do all they can to advance and enhance detection and diminish facilitation through financial institutions. The problem and challenge is there can be many variations to the three primary funding streams. The key for terrorists is having direct access to funds at select intervals between points of origin and points of distribution. Coupling the differing types of terrorist actors with the multiple variations of the three primary funding streams can become a daunting challenge. This is where it is extremely important to differentiate between funding supporting organizations and funding supporting individuals.

It is important to try to simplify the funding flow as much as possible back to the point of origin and forward to the point of distribution. The first funding stream is funding that flows to a terrorist organization.

IMF and the Fight Against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism

This requires considerable bandwidth. It takes considerable financing to sustain a terrorist organization. The second funding stream is from an organization to support an operation. The first priority of the Government of Canada is to protect Canada and the safety and security of Canadians at home and abroad. Building Resilience Against Terrorism, Canada's first Counter-terrorism Strategy, assesses the nature and scale of the threat, and sets out basic principles and elements that underpin the Government's counter-terrorism activities.

Together, these principles and elements serve as a means of prioritizing and evaluating the Government's efforts against terrorism. The overarching goal of the Strategy is: to counter domestic and international terrorism in order to protect Canada, Canadians and Canadian interests.

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Violent Islamist extremism is the leading threat to Canada's national security.