Foreign Policy Digital

To Fight Terrorists, Follow the Money

Prosecuting money launderers is the best way to stamp out terrorism and corruption.

In 2015, British authorities caught Hezbollah-linked operatives stockpiling more than 6,000 pounds of explosives on the outskirts of London, new reports revealed last month. The British deserve praise for unearthing the London bomb factory. But they did not destroy the underlying commercial or financial structures that allowed the group to buy and stockpile such materials.

For too long, counterterrorism operations have focused narrowly on disrupting attacks. Without aggressive prosecution of those who carry out the groups’ financial transactions, the illicit networks that provide financial and logistical support for Hezbollah are likely to remain intact.

The United States has begun taking steps in the right direction. Last month, Paraguayan authorities extradited the businessman Nader Mohamad Farhat to face money laundering charges in Miami. Until May of last year, he ran one of the largest currency announcing the indictment of his co-conspirators (the cases have since been merged), Farhat participated in “an international money laundering scheme relying on the complexities of global trade … to launder millions of dollars for transnational drug traffickers and other bad actors.”

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