The terror finance wars

Christian Science Monitor:

For years the three Saudi men had worked as a loosely organized team, according to US intelligence. They'd funneled thousands of dollars in cash – and non-monetary help such as Al Qaeda training manuals – to Islamist militants in the Philippines.

At one point they'd even paid $18,000 for an operation to blow up the US or Australian embassies in Manila, allege US officials. But Philippine authorities disrupted the plot before it could be realized.

So this fall the US government took action against the trio: Abdul Rahim al-Talhi, Muhammad Abdallah Salih Sughayr, and Fahd Muhammad Abd al-Aziz al-Khashiban. On Oct. 10, the Treasury Department designated them as terrorist financiers – freezing their assets and forbidding American citizens from doing business with them.

The move did not draw much notice at the time. But small actions such as this are a crucial part of what may be one of the most successful parts of the struggle against terrorism: the effort to curtail its financiers.

"All our evidence is, this is successful and actually a very important part of the war on terror," said John B. Taylor, former Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, at a Council on Foreign Relations seminar earlier this year.

It's also an effort that has some controversial aspects. Among them is whether the US government has too much power to punish alleged terrorist paymasters and funding groups via simple administrative actions.

...

I am not sure why the author thinks it is controversial to stop terror financing although he does raise questions about the Holy Land Foundation case that will be retried after a hung jury. Tying up funding and resources an be an effective tool for impeding those who engage in mass murder of noncombatants. As Martha Stewart might say, that is a good thing.

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