Terror groups get around post-Sept. 11 restrictions on banks and charities by having couriers smuggle cash across borders to finance plots, says USA Today. Intelligence from captured terrorist suspects and other sources indicates “a trend toward bulk-cash smuggling and use of cash couriers,” said Stuart Levey, undersecretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. Reliance on cash makes it harder for terrorist groups to raise money from wealthy individuals or charities who were accustomed to conveying money through the banking system. Cash makes distribution to front-line terrorist cells plotting attacks more cumbersome.
Cash is difficult for law enforcement to track, Levey said. International efforts to block illegal cash smuggling have been slow in coming, particularly in the Middle East, where there is a tradition of carrying large sums. Terror attacks are relatively inexpensive. Modest sums can finance damaging attacks. A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the international financial community has been slow to focus on the issue, leaving the way open to move smaller amounts of money that financed recent terrorist operations.