Journal of Law and Policy


Over the past decade, there has been a greater appreciation of how “following the money trail” directly contributes to the fight against terrorism, crime, and corruption around the world. Money serves as the oxygen for any activity, licit or illicit; it is the critical enabler for any organization, from international crime syndicates like the Mexican cartels to terrorist groups like the FARC, ISIS, and Hezbollah. Financial intelligence has helped governments to better understand, detect, disrupt, and counter criminal and terrorist networks and expose political corruption. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, . . . [nations] have strengthened their ability to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and consciously incorporated the financial instrument of national power into their national security strategies. But trying to starve the terrorists of money is like trying to catch one kind of fish by draining the ocean. A better strategy has evolved . . . as [governments] learned more about how [Al Qaida] raises, moves, and spends money. Terrorists are selling fakes to fund attacks—attacks in our cities that try to make victims of all of us. You wouldn’t buy a live scorpion, because there’s a chance that it would sting you on the way home, but would you still buy a fake handbag if you knew the profits would enable someone to buy bullets that would kill you and other innocent people six months later? Maybe not.