Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, testified in the Senate Tuesday, outlining the federal government's efforts to root out financial networks that support terrorists.
The testimony is fascinating and well worth reading.
Some notables from his testimony:
On why going after financiers of terrorism is essential to the overall effort:
The terrorist operative who is willing to strap on a suicide belt may not be susceptible to deterrence, but the individual donor who wants to support violent jihad may well be. Terrorist financiers typically live public lives with all that entails: property, occupation, family, and social position. Being publicly identified as a financier of terror threatens an end to that "normal" life.
To the extent we can force terrorists and their supporters out of the formal financial system, we force them into more cumbersome and riskier methods of raising and moving money, subjecting them to a greater likelihood of detection and disruption.
On Treasury's accomplishments so far:
With respect to the terrorist group that poses the greatest threat to the United States, al Qaida, we have made real progress. We have disrupted or deterred many of the donors on which al Qaida used to rely. At the very least, these donors are finding it far more difficult to fund al Qaida with the ease and efficiency provided by the international financial system.
We have thus far designated approximately 50 charities worldwide as supporters of terrorism, including several in the United States, putting a strain on al Qaida's financing efforts.
On roadblocks to success:
One of our greatest challenges will be to foster the political will required to deter terrorist financiers more consistently and effectively. It has proven difficult to persuade officials in some countries to identify and to hold terrorist financiers publicly accountable for their actions.
We are also not yet where we need to be with respect to State Sponsors of Terrorism, particularly Iran and Syria. These states not only provide support and safe haven to terrorists, but also a financial infrastructure that terrorists can use to move, store, and launder their funds.
Full transcript is here.