Over the last ten years, the way terrorist organizations have been funding their operations has been increasingly evolving. Part of the reason for this, is because law enforcement has greater tools in going after these groups. What has been happening is a host of different governments around the world have been giving them: increased powers to conduct surveillance and other covert activities against these organizations. A good example of this can be seen with the passage of: the Terrorism Act (in the UK) and the Patriot Act (in the United States). In both of these laws, investigators are given greater authority to: conduct electronic surveillance and arrest those individuals suspected of supporting terrorism. (Yogev 2008) This is important, because this kind of shift has meant that many traditional sources of financing have been facing increased amounts of surveillance and monitoring.
Furthermore, Levitt (2008) found that, "Until the September 11, 2001 attacks, combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) was not a strategic priority for the U.S. government. In the wake of these events, the United States dramatically increased its focus on combating terrorist financing, designating and freezing the assets of numerous terrorist financiers and support networks, prosecuting individuals and entities for providing material support, as well as increasing its focus on following the money as a means of collecting financial intelligence. The U.S. government also made a variety of structural and organizational changes designed to enable it to better address this key threat." While at the same time, he observed that, "The European Union (EU) established terrorist blacklists, among other actions, and a number of the Persian Gulf countries put regulatory regimes in place to govern this arena. The private sector's role -- and its importance -- in the global efforts to combat terrorist financing also increased. While the United States led the international charge on these issues, two international organizations -- the United Nations (UN) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) -- also deserve credit for the scale of the global response since September 11th." (Levitt 2008) This is significant, because it is showing how the overall way that law enforcement is going after terrorist organizations have changed. As a result, this has meant that many of these groups have been forced to: shift their tactics in how they are conducting their operations and funding various activities. To fully understand this change requires looking at: the technology and strategies that are being used to finance these groups. Once this takes place, it will provide the greatest insights as to how terrorists are using various forms of technology to conduct a number of fundraising pursuits.
Examine the Use of the Technology for Terrorist Fundraising Activities
Traditional Financing Activities
The traditional use of financing of terrorist operations has mainly occurred through different charities. This is when they would utilize a nonprofit organization to collect funds directly from local communities. In most cases, these groups will represent themselves as entities that are supporting equality and human rights. Yet, beneath the surface they are directly funneling the money that they are receiving to terrorist groups. As, these activities were controlled by a central command and control structure that was often directly linked to the organization itself. Where, the higher echelons of the group will have the power over the message and kind of fundraising activities that they are involved in. Prior to the September 11th attacks, this was the most common way that many of these terrorist organizations were funding their operations.
However, since that time many different groups have been seeing law enforcement directly target these charities. As, they have been able to shut down a number of operations and disrupt the financing activities to a variety of cells. A good example of this can be seen with the 2009 arrest of Faisal Mustafa (the head of the Green Crescent Charity) by authorities in Bangladesh. On the surface, it appeared as if he was running a series of religious schools throughout the country. However, in reality he was conducting financing operations for Al Queda to purchase weapons and ammunition. This is important, because it shows how this avenue has been facing increased amounts of monitoring, which means that many of these organizations have been changing how they are financing their operations. (Bangladesh Arrests British Charity Chief 2009)
At the same time, many terrorist groups have received funding directly from governments that are known to be sponsors of these activities (such as Iran). This is because many weaker nations, (that are hostile to the West) will often support these activities to directly challenge their interests. At the same time, this is used to create panic and fear about remaining in a particular area. Once this occurs, it can cause economic activity and the political stability of select regions to be brought into question. This is problematic, because the direct funding of these activities means that more groups; can be able to conduct a variety of terrorist operations around the world. This will increase the amounts chaos in many areas that are of strategic importance to the global economy.
Evidence of this can be seen with comments from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who said, "Iran has been the country that has been in many ways a kind of central banker for terrorism in important regions like Lebanon through Hezbollah in the Middle East, in the Palestinian Territories, and we have deep concerns about what Iran is doing in the south of Iraq." (Bruno 2008) This is significant, because it shows how this is continuing to be utilized as a way to finance various terrorist activities.
However, this form of financing has been facing increased amounts of scrutiny from law enforcement. This is because; the laws that were enacted after the September 11th terrorist attacks are allowing governments to: directly target and take action to disrupt these activities. To include: having a ban on selling arms to countries that sponsor terrorism, diplomatic immunity to allow to victims to sue these government in civil court, a prohibition on businesses conducting activities with these nations and serve restrictions on the assets of these governments. This is significant, because it shows how this form of financing has been facing increased amount of focus. (Overview of State Sponsored Terrorism 2008)
As a result, the traditional forms of financing for terrorist activities have been continually shifting. This is because; these groups want to avoid having their activities detected. As, this can contribute to: major disruptions for terrorist operations around the globe and it can have an impact on their ability to conduct an attack. Once this takes place, it makes it more challenging for these individuals and their leaders to operate. To address these issues, many groups have begun to diversify how they are financing their organizations by: using other ways to avoid detection and provide continuing assistance to various cells around the world.
The Changing Tactics of Terrorist Organizations
The increased amounts of focus on traditional sources of financing; have meant that many terrorist groups have begun to use technology as part of their fundraising strategies. This is because technology can be augmented, with other activities to increase the overall reach of these different organizations. Over the course of time, this has meant that many groups will often focus: on using online and offline tools to achieve this objective. Where, they can utilize them in conjunction with various forms of technology to: improve the effectiveness of their activities. As a result, all of these groups have been using these different tactics to address the challenges that they are facing to include: the use of popular support, entrepreneurial and cyber financing. These elements are important, because they are highlighting how the overall nature of terrorism financing has changed. As, the groups are increasingly using technology to: improve their fundraising capabilities. (Jayasekara 2011)
Public support is when terrorist groups will receive financing from: individuals and entities that share a similar philosophy. Where, they agree with the causes behind their struggle and will provide direct or indirect assistance to these groups. In some cases, the kinds of alliances will often be based on geo-political concerns. Evidence of this can be seen by looking no further than the kind of support that Osama Bin Laden was receiving directly from the United States, during the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan. As, both the U.S. And Bin Laden, had a common interest in defeating the Russians, so that they could advance their interests. Once they (the Soviets) began to withdraw is when a shift took place, as this was no longer an alliance of strategic convenience. Instead, it became a conflict of interest of former allies that were directly in contradiction with one another. Where, Bin Laden wanted to impose a radical Islamic state, while the U.S. wanted to see stable democracies. This is significant, because it is showing how the popular support for terrorist activities can be based upon mutually shared strategic interests.…