During a recent conference on the progress and challenges of disrupting terrorist financing, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that since the attacks in 2001, efforts to impede the flow of funds to terrorist organizations have been a central part of international efforts to combat terrorism.
"While terrorism is very different from conventional military threats, it has something significant in common with them: it needs cash," he said.
The United States has developed a whole-of-government approach to cutting off terrorist financing. It works by bringing together intelligence, targeted sanctions, international cooperation, and private-sector engagement in order to identify the donors, financiers and facilitators supporting terrorist organizations, and then disrupting their ability to fund them.
The U.S. Government has also strongly encouraged other countries to join the global coalition working to cut off terrorist funding. International cooperation remains fundamental to our common endeavors for the simple reason that most of the funds used to support terrorism are located outside the jurisdiction of the United States.
"We are obtaining, analyzing and acting on intelligence in order to constrain the activities of those who would fund terrorism and to hold them accountable through sanctions.
"International cooperation reinforces the effectiveness of this work. . . . and multilateral bodies, including the G-20, have institutionalized this focus on combating terrorist financing – both through the adoption of new standards and through public support for increased financial transparency.
"Finally, . . . .the vigilance of financial institutions to identify and block money for terrorist activities reinforces the ability of regulators and law enforcement to target funders.
"Thanks to this strategy, donors, financial institutions, and facilitators across the world are no longer free to fund and facilitate terrorism with impunity," he said.
"Two and a half thousand years ago, the Greek historian Thucydides wrote of a Spartan king who said, 'War is a matter not so much of arms as of money,'" said Secretary Geithner. "Two and half years ago, in a chilling echo of these words, a senior al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan explained, 'Without money, jihad stops.'
The pool of finances for terrorism is shrinking, and it has grown harder and harder to hide and move. Today, al-Qaida struggles to secure steady financing. And as terrorist groups look for new methods to raise and move money, the international effort to develop creative and effective strategies to stop them will continue.