Fitzpatrick, Lynch Lead First Terror Financing Task Force Hearing

Apr 22, 2015 Issues: Anti-Terrorist Financing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Ranking Member Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) together led the first hearing of the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing and focused on laying the groundwork to understand current policy and challenges regarding terror funding.

“The threat to freedom and democracy posed by the Islamic State and groups like it circles the globe and the United States can ill afford to combat these enemies on the battlefield alone. Any global strategy against terror groups worldwide must attack at their funding source. Organizations, no matter how ideologically fanatical, cannot effectively function without requisite resources,” said Chairman Fitzpatrick. “As legislators entrusted with protecting the American people, we cannot sit back and wait for terror to come to us. While our military engages with terrorists on the battlefield and law enforcement works to protect our homeland Congress needs to make sure that we understand the nature of the threat and how we can strike our enemy by every means.”   

“Detecting and disrupting the flow of funding to terrorist groups is crucial in our fight against terrorism. Without financial resources, terrorist organizations, including ISIL, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab, would not be able to carry out their attacks, pay their fighters, or otherwise support their operations,” said Ranking Member Lynch. “While the United States government is highly committed in its counterterrorism efforts, we must ensure that our government is doing all it can to curb the flow of funding to terrorist groups and evolve  our anti-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering capabilities as these organizations constantly shift their funding methods.”

The hearing included testimony from a panel of expert witnesses focused on providing a survey of terror financing ability globally as well as the United States’ response as part of its larger anti-terror strategy. Testifying was:

·         Juan C. Zarate: Senior Adviser, Center for Strategic and International Studies and Senior Counselor, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

·         Jonathan Schanzer: Vice President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

·         Seth G. Jones: Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation

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.