Before we start talking about terrorist financing, first we need to define what terrorism is.

As one of the people who fought ETA in Spain: when you have all your family at home…with several locks, ADT or any type of alarm, an aggressive dog, a bodyguard, electric fence… and with all those controls, you still do not feel secure; that is when a jurisdiction is said to be in terror.

Terrorism has been: 9/11 New York, Madrid Airport, car bombs in Colombia and Iraq, this New Year attack in Istanbul, ISIS in France in 2015, etc. This last one has set an international standard: it was the first time the terrorists showed us how coordinated they are; they exploded 6 bombs at the same time! Before this incident terrorism had just been one attack at a time…

It is estimated that in 2016, the number of terrorist attacks that have occurred is over 1,807 and these have resulted in more than 15,937 fatalities.

To attack, to make terrorist attacks, the criminal needs money. That is why it is called terrorist financing. It covers not only cash, but any resources that the terrorist can use such as: mobiles, dual-use goods, debit cards, vehicles, weapons, etc. Or they interchange drugs for explosives. For example, the main source of financing for ISIS is the oil taken from Iraq & Syria sold on the black market.

So, how to combat it? Know your customer is the key. Who that customer is? Does his profile matches to his life style? Does the explanation to any unusual transaction make sense?

Nowadays, terrorist financing is not an isolated event occurring in a specific place. It’s something that affects us, and we must pay attention to the signs. No crime is perfect and we should be able to identify it, before it’s too late…

By Mónica Ramírez Chimal, Partner of Asserto RSC, Mexico City

Learn more about Cyber Security in financial institutions:

5th Annual Internal Audit Forum

Cy-Fi 2017 MasTerClass