Can Bankers Fight Terrorism?

What You Get When You Follow the Money

Courtesy Reuters

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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