Terror financing is now making use of not only the Hawala system of laundering money but also using darknet and cryptocurrencies to mobilise funds for terror activities. The No Money for Terror conference in New Delhi provides an opportunity to deliberate the ways and means to counter these traditional and emerging mechanisms of terror financing. Delegations from 72 countries in 15 international organisations attended the conference
A two-day Ministerial Conference – No Money for Terror (NMFT) on Counter-Terrorism Financing was organised in New Delhi last week. This was the third edition of this conference after the first one in France in 2018 and the second conference in Australia in 2019.
The conference, involving delegations from 72 countries in 15 international organisations, offers a platform for participants to deliberate on the effectiveness of the present global regime on counter-terrorism financing and the necessary measures required to address pressing challenges.
The conference holds salience against the backdrop of rising terrorist attacks and the funding and transfer of terror funds at much greater speed and scale than hitherto witnessed. As per the Global Terrorism Index 2022, the number of terror attacks has increased by 17% to 5,226 over the previous year. South Asia alone registered over 1,829 casualties in terror attacks. Peter Neumann, an expert on terror studies, posits that since 2001 the fight against terror financing has been largely ineffective. In his report “Don’t follow the money”, Neumann argues that low-cost terror attacks are easy to carry out and noted that jihadist groups are easily transferring money without using the international financial and banking system.
Terror financing is now making use of not only the Hawala system of laundering money but also using darknet and cryptocurrencies to mobilise funds for terror activities.
The No Money for Terror conference provides an opportunity to deliberate the ways and means to counter these traditional and emerging mechanisms of terror financing. Security and law enforcement agencies need to improve the regional and global understanding of the risks posed by such informal financial mechanisms as hawala and their role in supporting terror groups. To counter cryptocurrency usage for terror finance, law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to rigorously track and monitor blockchain transactions of suspect groups. This requires better forensics, improved surveillance mechanisms and capacity building and training to check nefarious designs of terrorists in mobilising funds using advanced technologies.
Itself being plagued by frequent terror attacks, India is perhaps amongst the worst sufferers of state-sponsored terrorism by its neighbour. Terrorist groups emanating from Pakistan such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have been carrying out regular attacks on Indian soil and Indian citizens. These terrorist groups are receiving support from the Pakistani state by way of funds, weapons and other logistical supports. Numerous attempts made by India to enlist such groups in the UN’s List of Designated Terrorist Groups have been in vain because of barriers created by China which keeps on blocking any such attempt to blacklist global terrorists. Several Pakistani-based terrorists such as Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Sajid Mir of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Abdul Rauf Azhar of JeM, Abdul Rehman Makki of LeT, Shahid Mahmood of LeT, and recently Hafiz Talah Saeed – son of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack Hafiz Saeed, have been protected by China on frivolous excuses such as technical hold.
In drawing attention towards countering terror financing, India is playing a pivotal role. While addressing the conference, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly advocated for eliminating any ambiguity with respect to curbing the menace of terrorism as well as keeping away from using terrorism as a foreign policy tool. The conference emphasized that there shall be no distinction between good terrorism and bad terrorism. Any act of terrorism is an attack on humanity, freedom and civilisation. Indian Prime Minister, Modi highlighted the evil of state-sponsored terrorism which acts as a major source of political, ideological and financial support to terrorism. The linkages between terror funding and organised crimes was also underscored. For instance, money made in gun-running, drugs, arms dealing and smuggling is pumped into terrorism. Terror groups are also facilitated by organised crime groups via logistics and communication.
This conference was a continuation of India’s robust effort to sensitise countries regarding the issue of terrorism. The United Nations (UN) Security Council’s special meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) on 28-29 October and the 90th INTERPOL General Assembly on 18-21 October in India also brought forth the gravity of the issue to be dealt with urgency. The Delhi Declaration passed at the CTC conference also emphasized the need to choke terrorist financing as it remains a persistent challenge to national security.
Such global meetings provide India with the opportunity to not only highlight its concern in battling cross-border terrorism but also strengthen counterterrorism cooperation with other security and intelligence agencies. It also strengthens support for Indian initiatives such as the Comprehensive Convention on International terrorism, a Resolution that has been languishing in the UN for decades now.
Joint effort and cooperation is the need of the hour. Highlighting the complex environment, the conference stressed the UN Security Council, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Financial Intelligence Units, and the Egmont Group areenhancing cooperation in the prevention, detection and prosecution of illicit funds that are being used for terror financing.
In recent times, efforts by FATF and other bodies have yielded positive results. For example, the pressure of blacklisting by FATF forced Pakistan to roll back its support to anti-India terrorist groups. The UN Resolutions 1267 and 1373 enforced by governments also played a critical role in checking criminal networks involved in terror financing.
The world needs to unite against all forms of terrorism, extremism or radicalisation be it overt or covert. Moreover, costs must be imposed upon states that support terrorism and help in its perpetuation and widespread across the world.It is high time that the clarion call made by India for a uniform, unified and zero-tolerance approach towards terrorism must be heeded by all countries for the safety and security of the entire global population and humanity.
Raja Kumar, President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) started his work as the chief of the world’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing agency on Friday.
Indian origin Raja Kumar will focus on enhancing the effectiveness of global anti-money laundering & counter-terrorist financing measures, improving asset recovery and other initiatives, as per the agency.
“Raja Kumar starts as FATF President today. He will focus on enhancing the effectiveness of global anti-money laundering & counter-terrorist financing measures, improving asset recovery and other initiatives,” FATF tweeted on Friday.
FATF is a global watchdog tasked with combatting money laundering and terrorist financing.
Raja Kumar has rich leadership and operational experience, having held a wide range of senior leadership roles in the Ministry of Home Affairs in Singapore and the Singapore Police Force for over 35 years.
He currently serves as the Senior Advisor (International) in the Ministry of Home Affairs, advising on international policy development, partnerships and engagement.
Prior to this, he was Deputy Secretary (International) at the Ministry from January 2015 to July 2021 and was concurrently the Chief Executive of the Home Team Academy between 2014 to 2018.
As Deputy Secretary (International), Raja Kumar forged stronger collaborative relationships with key counterparts in the safety and security arena, including with strategic partners such as INTERPOL and the UN. (ANI)
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Pakistani authorities, had in the past claimed Sajid Majeed Mir had died, but Western countries remained unconvinced and demanded proofs of his death, reports Asian Lite News
As Pakistani officials ticked items off their to-do list for submission of report to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on the implementation of the action plan for getting out of its ‘grey list’, something that strengthened their case was the conviction and sentencing of top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist and 26/11 Mumbai attacks’ handler Sajid Majeed Mir.
Mir, 44, was sentenced by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, in the first week of this month, to 15 and a half years in jail after convicting him in a terror financing case, Dawn reported.
He was also fined 420,000 PKR and is currently serving sentence in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail.
It all happened so quietly that no one came to know about such an important court verdict in such a high-profile case, except for a very brief report in one of the newspapers, which too could not attract attention, according to a source.
His detention, which apparently took place in later part of April, was also kept away from media’s prying eyes, reports Dawn news.
Pakistani authorities, had in the past claimed he had died, but Western countries remained unconvinced and demanded proofs of his death.
This issue rather became a major sticking point in FATF’s assessment of Pakistan’s progress on the action plan late last year.
This was where things finally started moving in Mir’s case leading to his “arrest”.
His conviction and sentencing were, therefore, major achievements that Pakistani officials showcased in their progress report given to FATF on its action plan during the latest plenary, Dawn reported.
It indeed helped in convincing FATF members that Pakistan had finished all the required tasks.
Weak prosecution and poor conviction rate of terrorists were major shortcomings that had all along hampered Pakistan’s exit from the grey list.
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The ministers pledged to promptly implement the FATF’s global beneficial ownership rules to stop criminals from hiding their illicit activities and dirty money behind anonymous shell companies and other corporate structures, reports Asian Lite News
The Ministers of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) members committed to take swift and decisive action to improve the effectiveness of measures to fight money laundering, terrorist and proliferation financing at their meeting in Washington D.C. on April 21.
This includes promptly implementing the FATF’s global beneficial ownership rules, which were strengthened earlier this year, to stop criminals from hiding their illicit activities and dirty money behind anonymous shell companies and other corporate structures.
During this biennial Ministerial meeting, members pledged to remedy remaining significant technical compliance deficiencies and agreed on strategic priorities for the two years ahead (2022-2024) to enhance the effective implementation of the FATF Standards worldwide.
In addition to enhancing beneficial ownership transparency, these include increasing capabilities to more effectively recover criminal assets, which will help remove incentives for crimes, such as corruption and tax crimes, and return assets to victims.
Ministers and other top officials from 37 FATF member countries and two regional organisations also agreed to strengthen the FATF Global Network, support the FATF system of mutual evaluations, ensure sustainable funding for the FATF to implement its strategic priorities, and leverage digital transformation to better tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.
FATF President Dr. Marcus Pleyer reported on the successful completion of the FATF’s Strategic Review, which ministers welcomed and expect to achieve more timely assessments with a stronger focus on risk in the next round of mutual evaluations.
FATF Ministers expressed their sympathies with the people of Ukraine in light of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, and called on jurisdictions to remain vigilant of the threats to the integrity, safety and security of the international financial system that result from Russia’s actions.
FATF Ministers will meet again in 2024. (ANI)
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Pakistan has been on the FATF’s grey list for deficiencies in its counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes since June 2018, reports Asian Lite News
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has once again retained Pakistan on the increased monitoring list, also known as the “grey list” and called the country to work on “complex money laundering investigations and prosecutions.”
This decision was made after the conclusion of the four-day FATF Plenary from March 1-4.
Pakistan has been on the FATF’s grey list for deficiencies in its counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes since June 2018. This greylisting has adversely impacted its imports, exports, remittances, and limited access to international lending.
“Since June 2021, Pakistan has taken swift steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime and completed 6 of the 7 action items ahead of any relevant deadlines expiring, including by demonstrating that it is enhancing the impact of sanctions by nominating individuals and entities for UN designation and restraining and confiscating proceeds of crime in line with Pakistan’s risk profile,” the FATF said in a statement.
“Pakistan should continue to work to address the one remaining item in its 2021 action plan by demonstrating a positive and sustained trend of pursuing complex ML investigations and prosecutions,” it added.
Meanwhile, the global financial watchdog also added the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to its “grey” watchlist.
“In February 2022, the UAE made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and MENAFATF to strengthen the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime,” the FATF statement read.
The FATF Plenary took place under the German Presidency of Dr Marcus Pleyer which saw the participation of over 200 members from the Global Network and observer organisations, including the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
The event took place in a hybrid format with a significant number of participants attending in person due to the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions in several countries. (ANI)
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The UAE has indicated its strong commitment to working closely with FATF to address remaining areas of improvement through the implementation of an action plan, reports Asian Lite News
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has recognised that the United Arab Emirates has made positive progress in its anti-money laundering (AML), countering the financing of terrorism (CFT), and counter proliferation financing (CPF) efforts.
With the aim of ensuring the success and sustainability of the UAE’s efforts to strengthen its anti-financial crime framework, FATF has announced that it has placed the UAE under increased monitoring.
The UAE has indicated its strong commitment to working closely with FATF to address remaining areas of improvement through the implementation of an action plan. Noting that the UAE has “significantly strengthened” its anti-financial crime framework, the action plan builds on the firm foundations established and important efforts already underway.
Commenting on the country’s ongoing efforts to fight financial crime, the UAE’s Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism said, “The UAE takes its role in protecting the integrity of the global financial system extremely seriously and will work closely with the FATF to quickly remedy the areas of improvement identified.
On this basis, the UAE said it will continue its ongoing efforts to identify, disrupt and punish criminals and illicit financial networks in line with FATF’s findings and the UAE’s National Action Plan, as well as through close coordination with our international partners.”
The UAE government said its commitment to advancing efforts to combat money laundering and counter terrorist financing remains a key pillar underpinning the country’s status as an attractive global business hub that operates in line with international standards.
Moreover, robust actions and ongoing measures taken by the UAE Government and private sector are in place to secure the stability and integrity of the country’s financial system, it said.
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The reality is however contrary to every assertion being made by Pakistan before the FATF. Not only has Pakistan not cleaned up its act on AML/CFT, but it also has no intention of doing so, said Giuliani….reports Asian Lite News
Ahead of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary on Pakistan scheduled later in February, Islamabad has yet to clean up its act on terror financing.
Federico Giuliani, covering Asian events for Il Giornale – Gli Occhi della Guerra, writing in Italy-based news website Inside Over said that the Paris-based watchdog placed Pakistan in the ‘Grey List’ in 2018 on its performance to address international concerns on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
Pakistan will once again present its case before the international financial watchdog and try to convince it that it has delivered on all the high-level commitments it had made, not just in terms of tightening the laws and regulations but also in terms of successfully prosecuting and punishing people involved in money laundering and terror finance.
The reality is however contrary to every assertion being made by Pakistan before the FATF. Not only has Pakistan not cleaned up its act on AML/CFT, but it also has no intention of doing so, said Giuliani.
The reason is simple, the real problem is not that non-state actors are involved in money laundering and terror finance; it is the state agencies that are involved in this activity and they use the non-state actors and criminal networks as a front to carry out their nefarious activities.
Moreover, recent events in Europe have shown how Pakistani intelligence agencies are laundering money and financing terrorism in other countries, including in the UK, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Canada, said Giuliani.
Shortly after Pakistan was placed on the ‘Grey List’ the government announced that it had seized over PKR 1 billion from accounts linked to UN-designated terror groups.
But recently it was revealed that all the seized funds had since been released to the account holders; likewise for assets of designated individuals and entities.
The real big story has come out of London where a Pakistani origin man has been charged for trying to assassinate a dissident blogger based in the Netherlands. According to the prosecution, the funds for the assassin were routed through Hawala networks using Pakistani banks and money laundering networks.
Clearly, the only lot with any real interest in targeting the blogger was the Pakistani military establishment. The evidence presented in court clearly points at the intelligence agencies in Pakistan, though it does not name them, reported Inside Over.
These networks do not operate only inside Pakistan but are also operated by Pakistanis settled in Europe and North America.
Take for instance the bust in France of a Pakistani network involved in money laundering and fraud using fake companies and forged documents. The French police arrested 11 Pakistani-origin men and seized over Euro 1 million in this particular bust, said Giuliani.
The FATF should demand an explanation from Pakistan on the money laundering in the London case. The Europeans too should ask the Pakistanis some tough questions because the London case documents reveal that there were other Pakistanis dissidents in continental Europe who were on a hit list. This hitlist included a journalist in France as well, said Giuliani. (ANI)
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The international anti money laundering watchdog, FATF’s decision to place Turkey in its grey list only signifies Istanbul’s failure or deliberate inability to check terror financing, a report by Mahua Venkatesh
As social media is abuzz with various hashtags relating to the Mumbai terror attacks that took place on this day in 2008, there are enough indications to suggest that illegal money may have trickled in larger quantum into India and South Asia through hawala channels in the last few months amid the Covid 19 pandemic.
Besides, the nebulous political framework in India’s neighbourhood along with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) step to add Turkey along with the already existing Pakistan in its grey list is a wake-up call, security agency sources said. Hashtags NeverForgetNeverForgive, MumbaiTerrorAttacks among others were trending as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Tributes to those who lost their lives in the gruesome 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.”
The international anti money laundering watchdog, FATF’s decision to place Turkey in its grey list only signifies Istanbul’s failure or deliberate inability to check terror financing. The country’s proximity to Pakistan, Syria and Lebanon has also raised concerns for the global community.
Just Security, an online forum for analysis of national security and foreign policy in a recent report said that due to economic sanctions against the Taliban and the limited financial connectivity in Afghanistan, the hawala system is currently serving as the primary financial lifeline for the country. This system is also extensively used for doing trade with Pakistan.
The US and the international community must tighten mechanisms related to monitoring of anti-money laundering activities and countering financing of terrorism in and around Afghanistan especially as terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network have close associations with the Taliban.
“Terror activities need substantial resources and therefore financing is a critical area to monitor. The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack was well-planned and could not have been possible without transfer of large sums of money into sleeper cells in the country, particularly in Maharashtra,” BK Singh, Retired Joint CP (Commissioner) Crime, Delhi Police told India Narrative.
In the wake of heightened terror threats, experts said that coastal security especially on the Karachi and Mumbai belt has to be fortified further.
According to the European Foundation for South Asian Studies, continued efforts towards understanding the changing terrorism landscape, including from an organizational perspective, remains key to maintaining the efficiency of ongoing counter-terrorism efforts and keeping the threat at bay.
Recently, Bangladesh authorities indicated that the incidents of violence against minorities in the South Asian nation and the attacks on Durga Puja pandals were the handiwork Pakistan supported radical group Jamaat-e-Islami. Not just that. Violence had also erupted in the country during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka in March. Even then, the Bangladesh authorities said that the incidents were due to groups that had support from Pakistan.
The FATF has already warned that terror outfits “continue to pose a serious threat to international stability, security and peace.” FATF also noted that since 2020, both ISIL and Al Qaeda have increasingly turned to new payment technologies to raise, move and deploy funds.
“As a result, the use of virtual assets by terrorists remains a risk. In addition, the risk emanating from expansion of affiliates of ISIL and Al Qaeda has been increasing over the past years,” the terror financing watchdog said.
ISIL, for example, has about $25-50 million in reserves. These funds help the group to sustain some activities and to seek a potential resurgence.
Singh added that state governments across the country need to work in sync to prevent any major or minor terror attacks. “Tracking suspicious transactions will be critical,” he said.
“Vigilance is important amid the rapidly changing situation and now with FATF placing Turkey in the grey list, India needs to further increase co-ordinations among state governments and security authorities,” Singh said.
(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)
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Malik said the confession by the Indian foreign minister had raised a big question on the integrity and transparency of FATF…reports Asian Lite News
Former Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has written a letter to FATF President Marcus Pleyer, seeking a probe into India’s role in keeping Pakistan on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Dawn reported.
He has also written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan urging him to file a petition in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against FATF’s discrimination and continued victimisation of Pakistan.
In his letter to the FATF president, Malik, who is also chairman of the Institute of Research and Reforms, called for investigating the confessional statement of the Indian foreign minister by a special team of FATF to expose the truth.
He said India was behind keeping Pakistan in the grey list, adding FATF was not taking Pakistan out of the grey list due to political pressure and influence by some countries, Dawn reported.
Malik said the confession by the Indian foreign minister had raised a big question on the integrity and transparency of FATF and confirmed the Indian involvement in pushing Pakistan into the grey list, Dawn reported.
“Unfortunately, FATF has not yet moved any action against Indian minister to prove the neutrality of FATF,” he said, as per the report.
“Despite clear evidence of involvement in terror financing, money laundering and even in heinous crimes of nuclear proliferation, India is being spared and no legal action is being initiated against it by FATF,” the letter added, as per the report.
He noted that some inimical countries were using FATF as a tool to put Pakistan under pressure with ulterior motives.
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FATF too expressed concern about the current evolving money laundering and terrorist financing risk environment in Afghanistan…reports Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha
Once again, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has failed to blacklist Pakistan.
FATF, the global body working to combat financing of terrorism and money laundering let Pakistan off the hook, despite Islamabad’s repeated failure to adequately investigate and prosecute senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups. Nevertheless, Pakistan remains grey-listed -a dubious position that it has maintained for more than three years in a row. The main reason for Pakistan’s embarrassing status is its inability to tackle the money laundering and terror financing that FATF had earlier flagged.
FATF President Marcus Pleyer asserted that of the 27 action points agreed under the June 2018 plan, Pakistan has implemented 26 but has not addressed the most crucial point – the investigation of senior leaders and commanders of UN designated terrorist groups.
FATF also expressed concern about the current evolving money laundering and terrorist financing risk environment in Afghanistan. “We affirm recent UNSC resolutions on situation Afghanistan. We demand that country not be used to plan or finance terrorist acts,” Pleyer said.
Interestingly, the latest US Congressional report on terrorism “Terrorist and Other Militant Groups in Pakistan”, underlines that at least 12 groups designated as “foreign terrorist organizations” by the US are based in Pakistan including five that are India-centric. As per the US administration, Islamabad continues to remain a base of operations for numerous non-state militant groups, many with global reach.
In the last meeting of the FATF, Pakistan was given time until October to act against 8 terror groups – the Afghan Taliban, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Haqqani Network, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, al-Qaeda and Islamic State.
“Some of these entities and their leaders are now part of the interim Afghan government. That makes it impossible for Pakistan to move against them,” says Shahbaz Rana, a Pakistani journalist.
Interestingly, few hours before of the FATF press conference on Thursday, the Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and ISI chief Faiz Hameed were meeting Taliban ministers including Sirajuddin Haqqani, the interior minister of Afghanistan and chief of UN designated terror outfit Haqqani Network. He has a bounty of $ 10 million on his head. Experts believe that Pakistan has not given recognition to the new government in Afghanistan yet fearing possible action from FATF. The Pakistanis backed the Taliban diplomatically even financially, not to mention militarily.
FATF too expressed concern about the current evolving money laundering and terrorist financing risk environment in Afghanistan. “We affirm recent UNSC resolutions on situation Afghanistan. We demand that country not be used to plan or finance terrorist acts,” Pleyer said.
And Pakistan has to act by the next session of the Global watchdog scheduled to be held in February next year. Earlier China, Turkey and Malaysia have been helping Pakistan to prevent its blacklisting but now Turkey finds itself in the greylist of the FATF.
(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)