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Counter Threat Finance (CTF)

Home > Terrorism > Counter Threat Finance

Over the years there have been thousands of terrorist organizations. All of them have required funds from which to operate, pay the rank and files, buy equipment and weapons, arrange transportation, and provide for safehouses and training areas.

With the advance of technology it has become both easier and harder for security organizations to track the funding activities of terrorist and insurgent groups. The tracking of terrorist and insurgent organization financing is a growth industry around the world. Within goverment circles the effort to stem movement of funds to terrorist organizations is sometimes referred to as "Counter Threat Financing" or CTF. In fact, the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), offers a one-week long course to military and government members entitled "Counter Threat Finance Course". 1.

There are many different types of terrorist and insurgent groups. Some are state-sponsored, some operate within just one country, some are international organizations, and many are loosely connected with other terrorist organizations. A lot of money travels across international borders in support of these terrorist organizations. Within the Middle East and other Muslim countries the attempts of security organizations to track the movement of money that finance terrorist operations are sometimes limited by the huge network of money brokers known as Hawala. See the section on Hawala on this web page below.

Agencies and Organizations that Counter Threat Financing

National Guard Counterdrug Program. The National Guard is taking part in the Department of Defense (DoD) Counter Threat Finance program. The National Guard will workin conjunction with six law enforcement agency partners (DEA, FBI, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Customs, and the IRS). They will be tasked with the duties of denying, disrupting, destroying or defeating finance systems and neetworks that negatively impact U.S. interests. 2.

Afghan Threat Finance Cell. This multi-agency intelligence organization located in Afghanistan was created in 2008. The lead agency in the organizaton was the Drug Enforcement Agency. 3.

Bibliographies on Terrorist Financing

MERLIN, MiPAL: Terrorism - Terrorist Financing, Military Education Research Library Network, National Defense University (NDU).

Government Documents and References
on Terrorist and Threat Financing

Department of Treasury, Fact Sheet: Combating the Financing of Terrorism, Disrupting Terrorism at its Core, September 8, 2011.

DoD, DoD Counter Threat Finance (CTF) Policy, DoD Directive Number 5205.14, August 19, 2010. Establishes DoD policy and assigns DoD responsibilities for countering financing used to engage in terrorism., illicit trafficking networks, and related activities that support an adversary's ability to negatively affect U.S. interests.

IMF, The IMF and the Fight Against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, International Monetary Fund, March 27, 2015.

UN Security Council, Protecting Non-Profit Organizations from Terrorist Financiers, United Nations, March 15, 2013.

Websites with Information About Terrorist Organization Financing

Terrorism Financing. by Wikipedia.

Threat Finanicing and Financial Intelligence. American Security Project.

Threat Finance Countermeasures. U.S. Department of State.

Terrorism Finance. U.S. Department of State.

Terrorism Financing. RAND Corporation.

Counter Threat Finance. War on the Rocks Blog.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Threat Financing. Afghan War News Blog.

Terrorist Financing. MERLIN at National Defense University.

Associations and Professional Organizations

Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists

Training and Educational Opportunities

Counter Threat Finance Course. Joint Special Operations University
Course Information

Threat Financing & Antimoney Laundering. Columbia University

Firms Offering Counter Threat Finance Services

Innovative Analytics & Training

Blogs about Financial Crime

The Financial Crime Blog. Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.


Hawala. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

El-Qorchi, Mohammed, "The Hawala System", Finance and Development, December 2002, Volume 39, Number 4. The author was a Senior Economist, Monetary and Exchange Affairs Department, International Monetary Fund (IMF). The paper discusses how the informal funds transfer system works and whether it should be regulated. Posted on the Global Development Research Center (GDRC).

Videos & Documentaries on Terrorist Financing

June 9, 2016. Stopping the Money Flow: The War on Terror Finance, Joint Hearing with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Armed Services Committee.


Papers and Publications about Financing of Terrorism
(listed in chronological order)


Foundation for Defense of Democracy (FDD), Terror Finance Briefing Book, Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, March 30, 2017.


FATF, Emerging Terrorist Financing Risks, Financial Action Task Force, October 2015.

Kleponis, Greg and Tom Creal, "The 21st Century Answer to Burning their Crops and Salting their Fields: Interdicting and Destroying the ISIS Financial Network", Small Wars Journal, August 1, 2015.

Lehr, Deborah and Wendy Chamberlin, Culture under Threat: Fighting Terrorist Financing in the Middle East, Huffington Post, May 12, 2015.

MF, The IMF and the Fight Against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, International Monetary Fund Fact Sheet, March 27, 2015.

Minkina, Nicole, "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria: Financing the Threat", Yale Economic Review, February 13, 2015.

Keatinge, Tom. "Nip It in the Bud: Disrupting Insurgent Financial Networks Before They Take Root", Fletcher Security Review.


Anderson, Major Wesley J.L., Disrupting Threat Finances: Utilization of Financial Information to Disrupt Terrorist Organizations in the Twenty-First Century, a monograph for the School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, AY 06-07.


PWC, Threat Finance: More Licit and More Local Than You Think, Price Waterhouse Coopers, April 2013.

Levi, Micheal (2013): "Threat finance: disconnecting the lifeline of organized crime and terrorism", Defense & Security Analysis, 29:2, 172-173.


Carter, LtCol Jennifer E., USMC, Emerging DoD Role in the Interagency Counter Threat Finance Mission, United States Army War College, 2012.

Conway, J. Edward, "Analysis in Combat: The Deployed Threat Finance Analyst", Small Wars Journal, July 5, 2012.


Boelter, Ralph S., Countering Terrorist Financing - Statement Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Washington, D.C., September 21, 2011. Boelter was the Acting Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI.

Stringer, Kevin D., "Tackling Threat Finance: A Labor for Hercules or Sisyphus?", Parameters, Spring 2011. Posted on Strategic Studies Institute webpage.


Flynn, Michael T. and Simone A. Ledeen, "Pay for Play: Countering Threat Financing", Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 56, 1st Quarter 2010.

Levi, Michael, Combating the Financing of Terrorism: A History and Assessment of the Control of 'Threat Finance', Cardiff University, 2010. Posted on the Social Science Research Network website.


Bowman, Major Clarence W., Countering Threat Finance as a Critical Subset of Irregular Warfare: An Interpreteive Case Study of Northern Nigeria, School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, AY 2009.,%20C%202009.pdf


Lormel, Dennis M., "Combating Terrorist Financing at the Agency and Interagency Levels", CTC Sentinel, March 15, 2008. Paper published by the Combating Terrorism Center of the West Point Military Academy.


Anderson, Major Wesley J.L., Disrupting Threat Finances: Utilization of Financial Information to Disrupt Terrorist Organizations in the Twenty-First Century, a monograph for the School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, AY 06-07.


Aufhauser, David. Terrorism: Growing Wahhabi Influence in the United States - The Threat of Terrorist Financing, Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, June 26, 2003.


News Articles about Terrorist Organization Financing

February 24, 2016. "How Islamic State's Secret Banking Network Prospers", The Wall Street Journal. Money-exhange offices in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Jordan funnel millions of dollars daily in and out of militant-held territory.

August 20, 2015. "Four Pressing Issues in Comatting Terrorism Financing", by Alex Zerden, American Banker. The author provides some recommendations for the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing.

May 19, 2015. "ISIS Finances Are Strong". By Sarah Almukhtar, The New York Times. The Islamic State has revenue and assets that are more than enough to cover its current expenditures despite expectations that airstrikes and falling oil prices would hurt the group's finances. Other sources of income include extortion and taxation.

May 18, 2015. "IS Militants Use Popular Russian Web Payment System to Raise Cash". Radio Free Europe.IS militants from Russia's North Caucasus region are using the popular Russian QIWI wallet electronic payment system to raise money online.

May 18, 2015. "Islamic State's War on Art Turns a Profit." Bloomberg View. Erin L. Thompson explains how IS uses looted ancient artifacts for raising money.

May 12, 2015. "Culture Under Threat: Fighting Terrorist Financing in the Middle East". The World Post.

April 20, 2015. One Way to Flag Threats Outside the U.S.: Follow the Money, Mission Corner.

February 11, 2015. "Jihadists Turn to Virtual Digital Money for Financing". Voice of America.

November 20, 2014. "Financial Sector Terrorism Threat Grows". Bank Info Security.

June 23, 2014. "Saudi Funding of ISIS", Policy Watch 2275, The Washington Institute.

June 13, 2014. "Guard members broaden Counter Threat Finance skills". DVIDS. Guard Soldiers attend the Advanced Threat Finance Analysis Course (ATFAC) at the Defense Intelligence Agencty.

March 7, 2014. "Counter Threat Finance (CTF): Grasping the Eel". International Relations and Security Network. Using counter threat finance techniques to blunt criminal and terrorist networks presents a number of challenges but some recommendations presented can improve efforts in this area.

January 20, 2014. "Regaining Control of the Financing Agenda in Syria", War on the Rocks.

July 2010. "Global Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing Threat Assessment", July 2010". Council on Foreign Relations.

May 30, 2010. "How the US is attacking Taliban funding". Global Post.



1. Read more about the JSOU Counter Threat Finance Course.

2. Read more in "Counterdrug launces new Counter Threat Finance program", National Guard, April 3, 2012.

3. Info from Afghan Threat Finance Cell entry in Wikipedia


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