Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Financing of Terrorism: Risks for Australia

Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Financing of Terrorism: Risks for Australia

Article excerpt

Foreword | To date, Australia has been relatively quarantined from large-scale, organised terrorist activities such as those which have emerged in central and southeast Asia, Europe and the United States. Nonetheless, as a well-resourced country, Australia is at risk of being a location from which funds for terrorist activities may be drawn - even if the activities themselves are based predominantly in other countries. This paper presents information on the environments in which the financing of terrorism have taken place in recent years and the trajectory of financing of terrorism risk which is likely to emerge for Australia and globally in the years ahead. Consideration is given to how financing of terrorism occurs, not only through the use of illegally obtained funds, but also through financing derived from legitimate sources, such as charitable donations, which are diverted for use in terrorist activities. It is concluded that although evidence of financing of terrorism is limited in Australia, risks are present that need to be addressed, not only through effective gathering and the use of financial intelligence, but also through the prosecution and punishment of offenders and the education of those individuals and communities most at risk of becoming involved in illegal activities, both intentionally and inadvertently.

Adam Tomison

Director

Terrorists aim at intimidating people, compelling states to comply with their demands, or destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an organisation (Europol 2009: 5).

Terrorist groups may have a range of motivations and justifications for their actions including support of a particular religious faith; promotion of international recognition and political self-determination for ethno-nationalist and separatist groups; the achievement of entire political, social, or economic system change according to extremist left- or right-wing models; or simply changing a specific policy or practice as in the case of animal experimentation.

One of the main responses to threats of terrorist activity involves the use of financial transaction reporting and monitoring. This operates in two ways- first, by placing impediments in the path of those who seek to accrue and to move funds using the regulated financial sector and second, by enabling law enforcement and intelligence agencies to follow the financial trail of transactions left by those who make use of the regulated financial sector, so as to detect and to prevent possible attacks.

This paper examines the global environment in which the financing of terrorism occurs, particularly with respect to the activities of transnational, organised groups that may have an involvement with terrorist organisations. Consideration is then given to how the financing of terrorism occurs, first through the use of illegally obtained funds and then through financing derived from legitimate sources, such as charitable donations, which are diverted for use in terrorist activities. Evidence of the financing of terrorism in Australia is then examined and cases which have been detected and prosecuted in Australia that entail an element of terrorist financing are reviewed. Although the number of cases is small, they are indicative of the fact that Australia is not immune from terrorist activities that are being financed by Australian individuals and organisations.

Global trends in the financing of terrorism

A number of developments have been identified in the international security landscape in recent years that have had an influence on global trends in terrorist activity First, since the end of the Cold War, guerrilla and terrorist groups have experienced a considerable decline in funding from state sponsors, due to greater international scrutiny and condemnation. As a result, they have become increasingly selffinanced, mainly through the proceeds of drug trafficking (DFAT 2004; Levitt & Jacobson 2008). …

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