The Price of Fear: The Truth Behind the Financial War on Terror

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The Price of Fear: The Truth Behind the Financial War on Terror

By Ibrahim Warde
University of California Press, 2007
261 pp. $24.95

This book is a well-reasoned critique, amounting to a stinging indictment, of the financial "war on terror" as it has been practiced by the U.S. government since 9/11. The working assumption has been that it is possible to stifle terrorist organizations by cutting off their funding and that this can be done effectively through a series of regulations applied to banks and by denying organizations that are suspected of supporting terrorism access to banks. Warde argues that this approach misconceives the nature and motivation of terrorists, the amount of money they need to carry out their terrorist acts, and the channels through which they can acquire the necessary funds. Although the government has trumpeted the success of the financial war on terrorism, that success is hard to square with the evident ability of terrorist organizations to continue to recruit and carry on their activities, at least outside the United States. At the same time, the collateral damage to innocent parties has been considerable, building resentment at home and abroad. Even after the rhetoric, and to some extent the policies, has been altered in other dimensions of the war on terrorism, the use of financial penalties continues without much critical scrutiny by the press or the public -- a deficiency this book helps rectify.

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