Bottom Line: For terrorists, moving money covertly through hawala networks to circumvent institutionalized banking systems remains one of their leading methods of avoiding detection. The U.S. has managed to unearth and even sanction certain illicit hawala networks, but terrorists continue to exploit this centuries old, nearly untraceable practice to finance ...

Signs are increasing that jihadist groups are looking to capitalize on the rising value of bitcoin, as massive price increases for the cryptocurrency in recent months garner growing public attention. Cold, hard, untraceable cash remains their preferred medium for transmitting funds, but new online activity shows that some jihadist groups ...

As ISIS loses territory across Syria and Iraq, its capacity to generate revenue has declined drastically. Nonetheless, ISIS continues to profit from its oil industry, black market antiquities trading, and taxing and extorting local populations under its control. The U.S. government has worked with allies in the region to try ...

ISIS is rapidly losing territory across Syria and Iraq and, as a result, is suffering significant financial setbacks. Yet ISIS remains driven by its goal of establishing a physical caliphate. To acquire the necessary funds to maintain its bloody campaign, ISIS may turn to more traditional methods of terrorist financing, ...

Once billed the richest terrorist group in history, ISIS’ revenue streams are drying up, which may force it to rely more heavily on criminal enterprises and donations from like-minded extremists to survive. The group has ceded nearly 90 percent of the territory it once controlled in Syria and Iraq, according ...

The end is near for the battle for Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS’s self-declared caliphate, but the terrorist group still has ways of raising funds and plenty of cash on hand — and still remains a threat near and far. Although U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Tuesday ...

In January, the Indonesian financial transactions agency claimed Bitcoin had been used by Islamic militants to fund terrorist activity there; last year, Salafi-jihadist groups designated by the United States as foreign terrorists were able to raise some $600 in bitcoins. These incidents raise alarms about the potential for virtual currencies ...

Terrorists’ tactics evolve with the times. Just as we have seen an adaption of terrorist methods for sowing fear and distrust, so, too, we have seen their propaganda machines evolve to inspire audiences globally. Gone are the days of printed manifestos, pamphlets, or fuzzy VHS tapes. The internet now facilitates ...

Continuing terror attacks around the world indicate law enforcement and intelligence agencies face difficulty in trying to identify and disrupt the plans of globally disparate and loosely affiliated entities. Terrorist groups have adapted to each step security services take against terror, including the severing of financial lifelines. With growing terrorist ...

Discussion of malicious cyber activity has mainly focused on criminal activity and countries’ intelligence efforts. Entities other than national governments – particularly terrorist groups – seem to be making their way, if slowly, into the cyber realm through hacking and leaking techniques, and commandeering social media sites. Beyond savvy messaging, ...

Hezbollah is ramping up its grassroots fundraising efforts with an intensive online outreach campaign aimed at making its revenue streams more resistant to U.S. pressure. The campaign indicates that Hezbollah – likely on advice from Iran – is seeking more financial autonomy from its Iranian patrons as they struggle under ...

An integral component of U.S. counterterrorism strategy has centered on disrupting terrorist finances. Terrorist groups have exploited resources and industries in various countries – poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, charcoal mining in Somalia, and oil extraction in Iraq to name a few – to sell on the black market and subsequently ...

Hawala networks and terror finance are in the news again.  These networks have been used by ISIS in war-torn Syria and Iraq, and were reportedly used to help finance the 2015 ISIS attacks in Paris.  Hawala networks are still considered to be the national banking system of Afghanistan and are ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Celina Realuyo, Professor of Practice in the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at National Defense University, to discuss how terrorist groups have used hawala networks to transfer funds undetected to help support their operations. TCB: What are hawala networks? Celina Realuyo: ...

Having carried out several attacks in the last couple of months, al Shabaab remains a “very high” threat to security in Somalia and surrounding countries, says Phil Carter, former U.S. Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. According to Carter, the broader effort to combat al Shabaab really “comes down to ...

Designated by the United States as a terrorist group in 1997, Hezbollah is a Shia extremist organization and political party based in Lebanon that wears many faces. Today, with its outspoken ambitions of destroying Israel, staunch military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the Syrian civil war, and status ...

Tehran likes to style the alliance between itself, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime in Syria as the core of an “Axis of Resistance.” The name tries to evoke the strength of will to confront, if not overthrow, foreign occupiers and oppressors—that is Israel and the United States—by Iran and its ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Matt Levitt, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Treasury Department, to discuss Hezbollah’s roles in Lebanon, Syria and as a proxy for Iran. According to Levitt, despite losses in Syria, Hezbollah remains a threat to Israeli security and U.S. interests ...

The intelligence community (IC), in coordination with government entities and private organizations, is working together to tackle a growing national security threat: wildlife trafficking. At a conference at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) last week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that the IC is committed to fighting this ...

Nir Kalron, a former Israeli commando and the Chief Executive of Maisha Consulting Ltd., voiced concern over the poaching problem and explained that terrorist organizations play a role in committing these environmental crimes. Furthermore, Kalron told The Cipher Brief that there is room for the private sector to become involved ...

Much has been written about the connection between the illegal ivory trade and the Somali al-Qaeda franchise, al-Shabaab. Some experts claim that a substantial amount of al-Shabaab’s funding is derived from the slaughter of East Africa’s elephants, while others say conservationists are hyping up such claims in order to raise ...

Last month, al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate based in the Horn of Africa, released a recruitment video showcasing its appetite for poaching. In the video, al-Shabaab members boasted that they don't need hunting permits, proclaimed that jihad is the “tourism of the ummah (nation),” and then proceeded to kill and mutilate ...

“I’m sorry, but I don’t care if Dumbo takes one to the head,” said one senior European law enforcement official to a colleague at an international meeting on transnational organized crime earlier this year. Clearly, not everyone cares about the perils of one of the world’s most iconic creatures, but ...