On March 4, our head of
Counterterrorism operations, Gary Bald, testified before the Senate Caucus on
International Narcotics Control on the FBI’s 2-year-old Terrorist Financing
Operations Section (TFOS) — and its coordinated efforts with other agencies
to use the money trails of terrorists against them.
the great interest in money trails? Because that’s one of the most reliable
ways to identify and disrupt these groups. Today’s extremist terrorist groups
are global…they’re secretive… they're tightly bound by culture
and religion…and they sure aren’t going to talk freely to anyone outside
their immediate cell. But money — money is different. Money fuels their
operations. They have to use it and spend it to communicate, to buy supplies,
to fund their plans of destruction. And that leaves a trail we can follow.
where does the money take us? In fact, it’s not just a matter of
identifying and tracking the money trails of known terrorist groups, Mr. Bald
said, though that’s important. Even more, it’s following all
related transactions, no matter how byzantine, to identify the terrorist cells
we don’t know about — and to get out ahead of their
plans to launch terrorist attacks.
for coordinating plans and sharing information with other agencies, Mr.
Bald cited in general terms a recent TFOS case: it had conducted near real-time
financial tracking of a terrorist cell, shared its specific findings with a foreign
intelligence agency, and that information turned out to prevent six potential
deadly terrorist attacks — six!
are key. Mr. Bald was joined at the proceedings by a number of experts
and partners in the efforts to combat money laundering and financing in support
of terrorism: Richard Stana, Director of Homeland Security and Justice General
Accounting Office; Loren Yager, Director of International Affairs and Trade General
Accounting Office; Raymond Baker, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Deputy
Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Juan Zarate, U.S. Department of Treasury;
Director of Operations Mike Dougherty, Bureau for Immigration and Customs Enforcement;
and Administrator Karen Tandy, Drug Enforcement Administration. All were frank
in their assessments of progress made; all brought thoughtful recommendations
to the table to improve the coordination of data collection and information sharing.
FBI strength: investigative skills. Mr. Bald talks at length in his statement
about recent FBI cases — some 16 of them -- and what they have brought to
the larger table of the international crackdown against terrorist financing. He
also outlines FBI initiatives with the private sector; our use of information
technology in our investigations; and how we are “spreading the wealth”
of our investigative expertise in money laundering with law enforcement agencies
around the world. This is interesting stuff — we recommend you read it…
as well as the statements of other participants in the hearing.
Mr. Bald’s Testimony |
of the 3/4/04 Senate Caucus hearing