Threat Finance

From the Taliban in Southwest Asia to al Shabaab in the Horn of Africa to drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico, the behavior, capabilities, and ultimate success or failure of terrorist, criminal, and other transnational threats are closely tied to economic and financial factors.

This close link among an adversary’s operational, strategic, and financial dynamics is widely recognized and has spawned a boutique art aimed at countering and taking advantage of what has come to be known as “threat finance” within not only the Special Operations Forces (SOF) but also within conventional military units, interagency counterterrorism and intelligence efforts, law enforcement, and the financial and charity sectors.

Threat finance is a critical issue for both undergrounds and SOF. Learning to understand economic and financial dynamics and leverage them for effect is a critical and perhaps underused weapon in the national security arsenal.

This article was published on pp.97-132 of Hahn, Erin, ed. Special Topics in Irregular Warfare: Understanding Resistance. US Army Special Operations Command, 2016.

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US Army Special Operations Command