Fitzpatrick, Lynch Hold Task Force Hearing “A Dangerous Nexus: Terrorism, Crime & Corruption”

May 21, 2015 Issues: Anti-Terrorist Financing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Ranking Member Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) together held the second hearing of the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, focusing on the intersection of organized crime, corruption and international terrorism.

“Terrorist groups have become entwined with trans-national criminal syndicates - or in some cases evolving into the role themselves - engaging in criminal activities which yield greater profits than simply relying on state sponsorship or big pocket donors,” said Chairman Fitzpatrick. “Groups like Hezbollah, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram can no longer simply be considered terrorist groups; they’ve evolved into sophisticated global criminal conglomerates. In order to effectively combat such volatile threats, U.S. policy must also evolve as well.”

“The interplay of crime, terrorism, and corruption is playing out in hotspots around the world. As a nation, we must work to halt potential funding sources for terrorist organizations, including drug and human trafficking, counterfeiting, and money laundering,” said Ranking Member Lynch. “Today’s hearing sheds light on the pervasiveness of these threats and ways to prevent terrorist and transnational criminal groups from thriving in insecure regions across the globe.”

The dangerous merger of terrorist and criminal organizations provide lucrative funding opportunities through acts like political corruption, drug trafficking, human smuggling, and extortion. These funding methods, on top of the other non-traditional means discussed at the task force’s last hearing, explain how today’s terror organizations are often better financed than their predecessors.

The hearing included testimony from a panel of expert witnesses who focused their testimony and questions responses on areas of U.S. strength and weakness in addressing the challenges of the nexus of terror groups and organized crime as well as highlighting regions where these activities exist. Testifying was:

  • Dr. David Asher, Board Member, Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
  • Mr. Richard Barrett, Senior Vice President, The Soufan Group
  • Mr. Douglas Farah, President, IBI Consultants LLC; Senior Non-Resident Associate, Americas Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies and Senior Fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center
  • Professor Celina B. Realuyo, Professor of Practice, William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University

Over the next six months, the task force will hold further hearings with U.S. terror financing officials and global counterterrorism experts to identify weaknesses in current authority and work to ensure terror groups are unable to finance their operations, especially through the American financial system. In September, the task force will present a report of its findings as well as recommendations for additional legislation if needed.