DoD’s Crucial Role in Counterterrorism Financing

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The United States reacted immediately and decisively to the terrorist episodes of September 11, 2001. Terrorist financing was, and persists to be, an integral component of the counter-terrorism strategy. A core essential for a successful terrorist organization is funding. Disrupting the discharge of funds between the source and allocation points reduces the ability of these groups to thrive. This was one of the most significant lessons learned following the 9/11 terrorist aggression. In the aftermath of 9/11, terrorist financing became a substantial focus in the U.S. government’s fight against terrorism.

Before 2004, the Department of Defense (DoD) had a narrow role in terrorist financing and only partook passively in the Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) for Terrorist Financing. It did not have ambitions or operations specifically concentrated on terrorist financing. Nevertheless, DoD intelligence branches did support the FBI, CIA and other rule enforcement and intelligence terrorist financing procedures. For example, when Iraq was overrun, FBI agents were selectively implanted with military intelligence to collect details on al-Qa`ida. This included agents from the FBI-made Terrorist Financing Operations Section (TFOS), who blended forwarding financial intelligence to TFOS for research. 

Thereafter, TFOS and IRS representatives were deployed to Iraq and performed with DoD conducting financial analyses and intelligence collection. In addition, TFOS deployed units of agents on a rotating basis to Guantanamo Bay to recognise detainees believed to be familiar with terrorist financing. With DoD support, TFOS conducted multiple interviews and developed valuable lead information.

In August 2004, CENTCOM demonstrated the Threat Finance Exploitation Unit (TFEU). The TFEU had small companies in Iraq and Afghanistan. They went above terrorist financing and identified the underlying situation more broadly in the context of danger finance. DoD considered the situation two-fold. There was terrorist financing, and in the wider context, there was threat financing, which contained weapons of mass destruction grants, narco-trafficking, organized crime and human trafficking. The primary focus of the TFEU in Iraq was on the insurgency, while in Afghanistan the greatest priority was narco-trafficking. In developing the operating concept, DoD desired to capitalize on its military resources in theatre. By capitalizing on these aids, the TFEU has functioned as a practical financial intelligence collection mechanism. This tool can be utilised to identify and destroy enemy threat targets. It also functions as a mechanism to communicate information with the interagency. The Treasury has played a very active position in working with the TFEU, and DoD believes the Treasury is the lead agency in this area.

There has been a combination of media reports regarding threat finance successes in Iraq. The development of threat finance within DoD started at the grassroots level and moved at a slow pace. The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) commits to leading the DoD global war on terrorism. By 2006, all geographic authorities were putting together threat finance partitions. In addition, SOCOM has reliable resources to work in convergence and coordinate with the interagency congregation in Washington.

DoD is perfectly placed with its global presence, reach and resources to more thoroughly engage in threat finance and the accumulation of financial intelligence in backing of its military objectives and the interagency terrorist financing assignment. DoD was employed in several productive endeavours with the interagency. Treasury, for example, continues to operate closely with the TFEU in Iraq. DoJ has started a targeted initiative with the TFEU in Iraq, and DoD has appointed an officer to coordinate this project at DoJ. DoD and the FBI are operating in conjunction with each other in some cases.

The interagency plan was to use the full weight of government powers to fight terrorist financing. This included collaborative diplomatic actions, designation and sanctions, law enforcement and intelligence examinations. Since 2004, the DoD has recreated an increasingly significant role in the government-wide terrorist and threat financing endeavour. Adding military effort to the arsenal of diplomacy, sanctions, law enforcement and intelligence delivers the government with its most powerful terrorist and threat financing capability.

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