With terrorist attacks growing in size and frequency around the world, more organizations are trying to develop tools and technologies to stop the financing of terrorism.
Terrorist Financing is the process by which terrorists fund their operations in order to perform their terrorist attacks. They need financial support to carry out their planned activities. ACAMS explains that “Detecting and reporting terrorist financing red flags is the most effective way to combat terrorist financing and stop the flow of funds.” Global acts of terror have become a regular occurrence and have recently affected the Berkeley community directly with the death of two students over the summer of 2016.
UC Berkeley students Anjali Banerjee, Tyler Heintz, and Alice Ma believe that in response to these tragedies, the best thing we as a community can do is apply our skills to develop tools and technologies to thwart the intentions of individuals and organizations globally who are using modern technology to recruit and finance terror activity. That is why they proposed the Collider Challenge to SCET and are working on executing the project.
During the Collider Kickoff on January 30, students were able to hear from our sponsor Centre for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS) and advisors from Financial Integrity Network and Counter Extremism Project. Our advisors will provide students with different perspectives on intelligence and technology for counter-terrorism efforts.
As the CEO of C4ADS, Varun Vira, oversees projects and investigations across various illicit systems, including narcotics trafficking, asset tracing, and conflict financing. Varun’s work at C4ADS has been featured in the daily intelligence briefings at the very highest levels of the U.S. government, and he has briefed flag officers, ambassadors, and leadership at various government agencies, including the Departments of State, Treasury, and Defense.
We also heard from Yaya Fanusie, a UC Berkeley Alum who has previously worked for the CIA, is currently working as Director of Analysis at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He has years of experience in the intelligence and counter-terrorism community. Fanusie explained that this Collider Project is a great opportunity to find solutions to the evolving challenge of financing terrorism. He described three developments that the students need to understand: “how the 9/11 attacks were financed, how the U.S. reacted and changed regulations in order to prevent future financing of terrorist attacks, and how terrorists are adapting and learning to get around these new securities.” In order to create a viable solution, students need to understand all sides. The three audiences that Fanusie believes need to be taken into consideration are the Compliance officers at banks or fintech companies, Intelligence analysts and the government, and the Decision or Policy makers. Students should focus on the principles of the methodology of terror in order to develop actionable, real world tools.
We are also excited to have William Guarino as an advisor from the Financial Integrity Network. Guarino previously worked for Command Consulting Group as their Security Advisory Management Services Associate, where he handled private sector client portfolios, with a focus on projects involving financial integrity and intelligence. He will be able to provide students with insight into financial integrity.
During the course of the Collider, students will work under the advisement of counter-terrorism experts to develop solutions that will leverage the latest in data science tools and technologies to increase the productivity of experts and analysts trying to stay one step ahead of criminals using social media, mobile banking, crypto-currencies, shell companies, shadow NGOs, etc., to raise and move funds around the globe. By the end of the project, they will provide NGOs working in counter-terrorism tools and methods that enhance their ability to an aggregate and analyze data. This will be in the form of a minimum viable product accompanied by market research and a sustainable business model.
Center for Advanced Defense Studies C4ADS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting on global conflict and transnational security issues. They engage with local and international audiences and produce compelling analysis on conflict and security issues. In doing so, C4ADS fills a critical gap left by traditional public sector and profit-driven institutions.
Financial Integrity Network FIN delivers a broad array of strategic, advisory, and technical services to a diverse group of financial clients committed to financial integrity. FIN’s services, assist clients in designing and implementing financial integrity strategies and systems to combat and protect against the full range of illicit financing threats.
The Counter Extremism Project CEP is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, international policy organization formed to combat the growing threat from extremist ideologies. Led by a renowned group of former world leaders and diplomats it combats extremism by pressuring financial and material support networks; countering the narrative of extremists and their online recruitment; and advocating for smart laws, policies, and regulations.