Recently, Politico had an insightful article called “The Threat of Small Dollar Terrorism”.  It highlights that some of the deadliest terror attacks by ISIS in the past few years probably cost less than$10,000.  While governments have developed effective strategies to combat ISIS revenue sources, they have less experience ‘disrupting the financing of attacks that cost only a few thousand dollars.’  In the past year, ISIS has lost control of most of its territory and income sources, and thus the future of its attacks seem to be heading in the direction of ‘low cost, high impact’ attacks outside of its territory.

The success of governments in disrupting ISIS terror financing manifests itself through various cases that have come to light in the past year where we have been witness to use of roundabout ways to transfer money from ISIS officials to terrorists in the field.  There was a case of an attempt to transfer money through eBay, another case of wiring money through Western Union, and one case where an Irish business was being used to fund terror. The fact that normal avenues of money transfers from one person to another are not being used is a tribute to the obstacles that governments have put in place for those looking to fund terror.

Author of the article, Peter Harrel, offers three major ways that the financial fight against ISIS can be waged more effectively against low-cost terror attacks.

  1. Financial institutions need to be on the lookout for the type of transactions that should raise red flags. Governments, utilizing its many resources, can usually provide this information.
  2. Banks need to invest in analytic capability that can identify the types of transactions used by ISIS fighters. While not all small dollar transactions are funding terror, there are certain patterns that may fit the behavior of ISIS fighters.
  3. The U.S. government should follow the U.K.’s lead in adopting new protocols to improve sharing of financial information between the government and private sector.


Click here to read the full article.