In the wake of the attacks in Paris last month, the U.S.-led coalition ramped up airstrikes against ISIS’s oil enterprise significantly. The escalation is part of a larger plan unveiled earlier by Defense Secretary Ash Carter to go after the group’s “financial infrastructure.” The need for such strikes reflects a broader truth about the terror finance landscape. Some of today’s most dangerous terrorist groups are no longer vulnerable to the traditional means of disrupting their cash flow.
Like any opponent, the key to defeating a terrorist group is to target its center of gravity. For Al Qaeda in the wake of 9/11, that meant going after donations from wealthy supporters in the Gulf and elsewhere. To do that, the United States built a set of robust tools to prevent those donations from flowing through international financial system. Perhaps the most important tool has been the use of designations to compel banks and other financial institutions to block transaction linked to terrorist groups.
The above excerpt was originally published in The National Interest.
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