More than a decade and a half after the 9/11 attacks, Peter Neumann argues, “the war on terrorist financing has failed” (“Don’t Follow the Money,” July/August 2017). He contends that although the effort to cut terrorists off from the global financial system has crimped business and hampered humanitarian aid, “there is no evidence that it has ever thwarted a terrorist campaign.” “Governments,” he concludes, “should overhaul their approach to countering terrorist funding, shifting their focus away from the financial sector.”

That is bad advice. It is true that financial tools cannot solve the threat of terrorism. But they are not meant to. Rather, they are intended to form part of a broader strategy to confront a variety of international threats. Neumann argues that such a comprehensive approach is indeed necessary, but he claims that governments have yet to adopt one, writing, “In most countries, the responsibility for choking off terrorists’

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  • MATTHEW LEVITT is Director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2005 to 2007, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department. KATHERINE BAUER is Blumenstein-Katz Family Fellow at the Washington Institute. From 2011 to 2013, she served as Assistant Director in the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the U.S. Treasury Department. DANIELLE CAMNER LINDHOLM is Managing Director of Roaring Fork Strategies and Co-Chair of the American Bar Association’s National Security Committee. CELINA B. REALUYO is Professor of Practice at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University. From 2002 to 2006, she served as Director of Counterterrorism Finance Programs at the U.S. State Department. JODI VITTORI is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. PETER R. NEUMANN is Professor of Security Studies and Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) at King’s College London. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRNeumann.
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