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Following the money turns out to be hard

Trillions later:

nce the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, al-Qaeda has increasingly turned to local cells that run extremely low-cost operations and generate cash through criminal scams, bypassing the global financial dragnet set up by the United States and Europe.

Although al-Qaeda spent an estimated $500,000 to plan and execute the Sept. 11 attacks, many of the group's bombings and assaults since then in Europe, North Africa and Southeast Asia have cost one-tenth as much, or less.

The cheap plots are evidence that the U.S. government and its allies fundamentally miscalculated in assuming they could defeat the network by hunting for wealthy financiers and freezing bank accounts, according to many U.S. and European counterterrorism officials.

Ibrahim Warde, an adjunct professor at Tufts University and an expert on financial systems in Islamic countries, said the Bush administration and its allies falsely assumed that al-Qaeda had stashed large sums in secret bank accounts.

"It got the entire financial bureaucracy started on a wild-goose chase," Warde said. "There's a complete disconnect between this approach and the underlying reality of how terrorism is funded."

And why would they make that assumption?

Because that's what they're doing, silly!

Anyhow, I'm sure the surveillance systems that have been set up, although a massive fail from the standpoint of combatting terrorism, can be usefully turned to other purposes: Tracking us.

You might almost think....

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dupager's picture
Submitted by dupager on

That a terrorist group led by a "master mind" like Professor Moriarar--oh, sorry wrong century-- Osama bin Laden would suddenly change financing tactics and stuff.

That just shows how EVIL they are.. we as a government can't be expected to Imagine or Anticipate such things.

Meanwhile, we did catch that Democrat Elliott Spitzer doing something evil and nasty with his money! So it WORKS!!


Submitted by ohio on

Excuse me while I adjust this tinfoil.

Tracking cash has been going on for awhile. Didn't you ever see that episode of THE X FILES with the plastic tracking code in the $20 bill?

That was some good TV.

Seriously, when I worked for the criminals years ago, they had some interesting ways of legally avoiding being tracked regarding large cash transactions. All legal---had to be.

There is a significant cash economy still going on in the U.S. Not a majority of people, certainly, but still significant. Fancy tracking systems are not going to catch people wanting to do bad things and need cash to do it because this microeconomy works on the fly. Also interesting is that industries making up the larger economy requires this kind of activity in order to survive and profit. Agribusiness is one. Construction is another. Transportation (especially shipping) is another.

This is a fun game.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

This post I slapped up last night seems strangely appropriate now.

But yeah, the Bushies' blinders about what "the enemy" is up to are a lot about projection.

That kind of thinking is not limited to them, of course. Something else to put on our critique menu.

Submitted by cg.eye on

systems when the old one -- write a note to someone, say his brother's brother's son should bring cash/phone cards/something and give over that value to you, minus commission -- is a good enough, old enough system to work throughout the middle east and africa.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

It was always easy to see the foolishness (intended or otherwise) in pooring all of our money into guarding against another "Airplane's Plan", as if they'd be dumb enough to try something that blatant and predictable twice. So, here we are pouring all of this money into contractors guarding against something that is less likely to happen than a skyscraper catching on fire.

As for the money laundering aspect of terrorism, I'm far less critical of our attempts to disrupt their system, and making it possible that they can't go back down that same road. Sure, we could definitely be finding more creative ways to unconventionally go after the smaller amounts of money pushed even further underground, but I still do find it worthwhile to make sure they aren't ever allowed to come back to the easy-transport surface of the financial world.