Washington, D.C., June 2, 2017 – Following President Trump’s pledge to Arab Gulf State allies that the United States will help them disrupt terrorist funding, a new report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recommends attacking the funding sources – particularly ransom payments — that support the growing threat of al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.
The report, “Al-Qaeda’s Branch in Syria: Financial Assessment,” finds that al-Qaeda’s presence in Syria represents a significant jihadist threat in the region, especially as IS continues to lose territory.
Lead author Yaya J. Fanusie posits that the resilience of al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria is based on its ability to merge with other rebel groups within the war-torn country. He notes that U.S. policymakers need to understand al-Qaeda’s growing influence as rebel groups consolidate power in the country, which has implications for jihadism in a post-war Syria. He also emphasizes the role that Gulf countries have played in supporting the rise of al-Qaeda in Syria by bankrolling other anti-Assad rebel groups which have collaborated with the branch.
Fanusie, a former CIA economic and counterterrorism analyst, writes that al-Qaeda in Syria depends largely on kidnapping ransoms to finance their operations. The report recommends that the administration pressure NATO allies and other states to refrain from paying ransoms.
“Al-Qaeda’s Branch in Syria: Financial Assessment” is the third part of “The Terror Finance Briefing Book,” produced by FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF): “Islamic State: Financial Assessment” and “Boko Haram: Financial Assessment.” These assessments detail the key financial strengths and vulnerabilities of top terror groups, highlight possible wildcard scenarios which could impact future funding, and specific actions the United States should take to disrupt them.”
When completed, “The Terror Finance Briefing Book,” will be accompanied by CSIF’s Terrorism Designees Spreadsheet. Until now, there has been no public database where researchers could quickly sort out terrorism designees by nationality and organization.
Each report will be published with an appendix listing designated individuals and entities affiliated with the respective group.
For more information, contact [email protected] or 202.403.2904.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a Washington, DC-based non-partisan policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Visit our website at www.defenddemocracy.org and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.