Terrorist financing, the Financial War on Terrorism and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant

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In a new article in the Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Professor Nicholas Ryder critically considers the effectiveness of the ‘Financial War on Terrorism’ on the funding streams of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

In this article, Professor Ryder concludes that terrorists are able to gain access to finance from a plethora of sources and secondly, there has been a steady increase in ‘cheap’ or ‘inexpensive’ acts of terrorism.  In relation to the this finding, terrorists have previously relied on financial sponsorship from a small number of nation states, which often involve national governments providing financial support.

The article concludes that there has been a steady decline in the availability of this particular terrorist funding stream.  There are two factors that have contributed towards the decline in state sponsored terrorism.  Firstly, there are fewer nation states engaged in sponsoring terrorist groups. Secondly, terrorist groups have adapted to the reduction in state sponsored terrorism and have developed a global and sophisticated network of financial supporters and increased engagement with illegal activity to obtain finances.

The next section of the article highlights how the international community concentrated on tackling money laundering prior to the terrorist attacks in September 2001 and how this policy dramatically altered. In particular, this section concentrates on the development of and definition of the ‘Financial War on Terrorism’. The final part of the article seeks to determine if the ‘Financial War on Terrorism’ is able to tackle the funding streams of ISIL.

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