Terrorist Finance Tracking Program Disclosed

Treasury Secretary John Snow announced last week the existence of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, according to a prepared statement. Data-mining, statistical and financial analysis and link-analysis tools have been employed in this effort to “follow the flow of terrorist monies.”


These are the tools used by forensic accountants to combat white-collar crimes such as embezzlement and insurance fraud, InformationWeek reports. Accounting, auditing, and investigative skills are used by these accountants to analyze evidence in criminal and civil actions. The fact that financial institutions and other financial organizations use different IT systems to do what they do is making the forensic accountants job just that much more difficult. Government entities also contribute to this lack of integration.

Snow said in his prepared statement, “I am particularly proud of our Terrorist Finance Tracking Program which, based on intelligence leads, carefully targets financial transactions of suspected foreign terrorists. Let me be clear what this program is, and what it is not. It is an essential tool in the war on terror, based on appropriate legal authorities with effective oversight and safeguards. It is not “data-mining” or trolling through the private financial records of Americans. It is not a “fishing expedition” but rather a sharp harpoon aimed at the heart of terrorist activities. That fact makes today’s disclosure so regrettable, because the public dissemination of our sources and methods of fighting terrorists not only harms national security but also degrades the government’s efforts to prevent terrorist activity in the future.”

Some of these tools used by forensic accountants are auditing tools such as ACL developed by ACL Service Ltd. It is an analysis and data mining tool. ACL outputs can be exported to link-analysis tools NetMap developed by NetMap Analytics, headquartered in Sidney, Australia, or i2’s Analyst’s Notebook to see how potentially thousands of bits of information are connected. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Treasury Department’s own Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCen) use these applications in the war on crime and terrorism, according to InformationWeek.

Whether laundering drug profits or funneling money to terrorists, financial transactions are created that tell a story, according to InformationWeek. If suspicious or unusual transactions or activity are found, banks and other organizations use software developed by FundWare Ltd. to further analyze these events before notifying authorities.

On a similar anti-terrorist track, GovExec.com reports that the head of the visitor tracking program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) called for the creation of a “global ID management system" last month. Jim Williams called for a solution to better link the nations of the world in order to better combat terrorism. A worldwide identification system would go a long way to making this a reality. Williams directs the DHS’s US VISIT program.

In speaking about al Qaeda operatives called “submarines” that must surface to kill, Williams said, “In order for them to do what they want to do, they have to travel,” according to GovExec.com.

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