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Countering the Financing of Terrorism in West Africa

Terrorists cannot maintain their operations without a regular flow of funds. One of the ways that they gain access to funds is by appropriating aid meant for humanitarian purposes. In the West Africa region, there are growing concerns about the traceability and transparency of financial flows. Combatting cross-border terrorism financing poses numerous challenges and obstacles, including finding a balance between implementing strict regulations while ensuring that non-profit organizations (NPOs) receive support to carry out their work.

West African countries have expressed concerns regarding the need for and importance of local capacity building to counter the financing of terrorism in the region. In response, the GCTF Capacity-Building in the West Africa Region Working Group, co-chaired by Algeria and Germany, organized a workshop to: 1) share information on efforts made to counter terrorism financing and the results achieved; and, 2) share lessons learned and good practices in financial intelligence and investigations.

The workshop examined conventional and new modes of financing terrorism in West Africa, including traceability and transparency (especially of funds intended for NPOs, charitable projects/donations, and wire transfers) and combatting illicit transactions while keeping channels open for legitimate transactions. Countries shared success stories on legal and operational practices. Participants also underlined shortcomings and ways to strengthen efforts in compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.

The workshop looked at operational cooperation among countries in the West Africa region to address illicit money transfers and trans-border crime. Participants mentioned that respect for the rule of law, sound economic governance, and the integration of civil society constitute some of the challenges and solutions for safeguarding humanitarian space while countering the financing of terrorism.

Overall themes running through this workshop included the relationship between terrorism and transnational organized crime and informal and new cash transfer systems.

Countering the financing of terrorism is an important aspect of global counterterrorism efforts. The international community is focusing more and more on taking steps to cut off the financial resources available to terrorist groups.

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July 2021, published on GCTF

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