Michael Jacobson is a senior fellow in The Washington Institute's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
U.S. and international efforts to combat the financing of terrorism are an under-appreciated and little-understood aspect of the global counterterrorism campaign. But since terrorist attacks are often inexpensive to mount -- the September 11 attacks were staged for less than $500,000 -- why should governments devote so much attention to tracking and severing the money trail for terrorism?
In this Washington Institute Policy Focus, senior fellows Matthew Levitt and Michael Jacobson -- both former officials in the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, now with the Institute's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence -- explore the critical role that money plays in the success of terrorist organizations, and why countering financial flows must be an integral part of the U.S. government's counterterrorism strategy.
Levitt and Jacobson analyze how terrorist financing has matured since 2001, with case studies on al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hizballah. They also assess the effectiveness of U.S. and international responses to this evolving threat, focusing on the performance of governments throughout the Middle East. The authors, both veteran policy practitioners, offer timely recommendations to the new Obama administration on how to strengthen international efforts in the war on terror.