The publication Government Computer News has an excellent story in its latest issue on the the government’s efforts to track and interdict terrorists’ financial activities:
When a suburban Virginia resident began transferring money to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, federal agents took notice, and began tracking the pattern and destinations of his wire transfers.
Last year, the man, Rahim Bariek, was convicted of receiving and transferringâ€”without a licenseâ€”about $5 million to Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, said IRS-Criminal Investigation officials.
Investigators couldnâ€™t have broken this case, or other similar ones, without robust applications that analyze trends and patterns in large amounts of financial data. The type of data agencies require from banks and other financial institutions under the Bank Secrecy Act hasnâ€™t changed, but the volume has increased because Congress has required more industries to provide information.
Investigating agencies, such as the Treasury Departmentâ€™s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and IRS-CI, use analytic software that can dig deeper and more broadly through the sea of data to discern patterns of money laundering and terror financing.
Like a digital bloodhound, analytic software picks up trails of data left by money launderers and terrorism financiers in their transactions. The financial activities may appear lawful until analysts combine that information with other data.
The article goes on to describe some of the analytical tools that the key government agencies are using to track terrorism finance. Overall, an interesting piece on an ofter overlooked element of homeland security. For more on this issue, see the links at these previous posts.