20041007 In Hot Pursuit of Terrorist Funds

Even old cars are expensive in KL – so a terrorist may decide to steal or hijack a car. This is probably the most high-risk part of his venture. As an agricultural country, there would be little problem in sourcing the chemicals to make a fertiliser bomb. As to venue, KL is full of open car parks with zero security, many close to impressive buildings, foreign institutions and / or centres of entertainment where thousands gather at weekends. Remote or timed detonation in late evening would leave plenty of time to get a bus out of the country.

Put simply, the amount of money that would pass through a bank account for such an activity would be so insignificant that it would be impossible for there to be suspicion.

And if the funds are withdrawn from a foreign bank account using an ATM card, then there is little or no prospect of that transaction being tied to the act.

The whole event including travel, accommodation and subsistence for a week could have been done for somewhere in the region of MYR1000 and largely without outside assistance once the terrorist arrived in the country.

Now revert to the idea of terrorism being a series of minor attacks designed to unsettle the population and consider the firebomb: a stolen motorcycle as vehicle and the use of several firebombs in strategic places over a period of several days and the social life upon which KL is so dependent would be devastated. The total cost would be well under MYR1000.

Yet financial services businesses are geared up to identify much larger sums – and cannot, in the real world, be expected to identify as connected with any crime, sums of such a small and routine amount.

Moreover, mostly, sums of this sort would not touch the banking sector in any case.

But if we look upstream in the terrorist network, then we can see that the funding requirement increases dramatically. That’s in the training camps.

It is in the training camps of the Sudan and other places that the IRA developed its barter system.

The international underground runs on arms, drugs and other forms of trafficking.

Anything that can move can be used in barter. In the appendix to this paper, is an extract from research called THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ILLEGAL DRUGS AND FIREARMS: A Literature Review Conducted for the Department of Justice Oscapella, Eugene (July 1998) but the whole research demonstrates the inter-operation of organised crime and terrorism especially between drugs and guns. The paper also, incidentally, explains how the Ulster Loyalists, the paramilitary force opposing the IRA, also took part in the drugs for guns trade. Nothing has changed since then, except that the IRA is no longer the primary paramilitary force teaching urban warfare.

Even so, the average spend of those involved in the 11 September 2001 attacks on Washington and New York was in the region of USD10,000 including flying lessons and staying in rented accommodation. And that was over a period of months.

So what lessons have been learned from the investigation into 11 September?