01 February 2007

Future Jihad: Financing Systemic Ideology...

One only has to listen to a few stories from experts in Counterterrorism to realize that vigilance is still the mantra. Yesterday the facts and observations from Walid Phares made us ever so more aware and even more focused on the mission. Funding of the war of ideas.

His point is clear that the funding of education and systemic transfer of ideology across the globe is why we are still so vulnerable. "The class room. The news room. To the War room."
For the United States, winning the War on Terror depends on two battlefields. The first is overseas, where Washington must confront jihadi forces and help allies to win their own struggles with terrorism. This will require the United States to support democratic change abroad, both as a counterweight to jihadist lobbies and as a means of assisting Arab and Muslim democrats to win the conflict within their own societies.

The second, however, is closer to home. Homeland security planners must be thinking seriously about a duo of unsettling questions. First, are jihadists already in possession of unconventional weapons on American soil, and how can the U.S. government deter them? This crucial issue tops all other challenges, for a terrorist nuclear strike on the U.S. has the potential to transform international relations as we know them. Second, how deeply have jihadist elements infiltrated the U.S. government and federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and various military commands, either through sympathizers or via actual operatives?

In a recent Economist Intelligence Unit survey on Operational Risk Management the question is asked:

Which of the following types of threats receive the most attention in your organisation's consideration of Operational Risk?

  • 42% - Loss of Data
  • 36% - Systems Failure
  • 28% - Supply Chain Disruption
  • 27% - Worm or Other Malicious code attack
Unplanned downtime of systems was tied with malicious code, next was human error at 26%, human malfeasance such as theft or fraud at 20% followed by a tie for:
  • 15% - Terrorism
  • 15% - Application Failure
Why is terrorism tied for 8th on this list? Maybe it is because institutions have more confidence in our Homeland Security and the FBI than they do in their own IT department. Or could it be the frequency of the threat that puts these items so high or low on the list of concerns. One thing is certain, the financing of "Future Jihad" is not going away.

In fact, the funding mechanisms are morphing and adapting as new Anti-Money Laundering initiatives and Regulator oversight creates even more difficult avenues for terrorist financing to occur. The private sector still remains the Deputy Sheriff as new transactions take place outside the traditional banking controls of Citi, B of A and HSBC. Hedge funds, insurance companies and other broker / dealers still provide the weak link in the chain for tracking the movement of zeros and ones across a global financial grid.

This multi-dimensional problem is not something to ignore. When you really think about Terrorism, what is your definition? What is a terrorist?

The day will come when you finally realize that a terrorist is and could be increasingly responsible for the top 4 items on the EIU list. It's all a matter of your own worldview.

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