December 17, 2018 | Press Release

David Asher Named Senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies

David is an Expert on Countering Money Laundering and Terrorism Finance.
December 17, 2018 | Press Release

David Asher Named Senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies

David is an Expert on Countering Money Laundering and Terrorism Finance.

(Washington, D.C., Dec. 17, 2018) – David Asher, who for 25 years has played a senior role in numerous economic and financial pressure campaigns involving defiant states, terrorist organizations, drug cartels and weapons proliferation networks, has joined the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) as a Senior Fellow.

A leading expert on countering money laundering, terrorism finance and sanctions evasion schemes, Asher will focus on Iran, North Korea, Hezbollah, transnational terrorism, and illicit finance.

“David Asher brings more than 25 years of remarkable public service supporting the State  Department, Intelligence Community, Pentagon and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) where he was instrumental in developing and deploying instruments of financial coercion against America’s enemies,” said FDD Founder and President Cliff May. “David joins a bipartisan team of former government officials and private sector experts at CSIF, and we are honored to have him.”

From Oct. 2014 to Aug. 2015, Asher served at the State Department where he led the development of the U.S. government and coalition economic Warfare Campaign Strategy against the Islamic State, under Presidential Special Envoy General (ret.) John Allen. This interagency and international campaign later became known for the military as Operation Tidal Wave II, and played a disproportionate role in the destruction of the Islamic State’s finances.

From 2010-2014, Asher served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Special Operations Command for counter threat finance and counter network operations. As part of his work for CENTCOM and then SOCOM, Asher helped lead DEA’s Project Cassandra and Operation Titan investigations into Lebanese Hezbollah’s Global Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Networks. These investigations resulted in dozens of arrests and the largest counter terrorist civil financial action in the history of U.S. Department of Justice, the $483 million forfeiture claim against the Lebanese Canadian Bank.

From 2008-2010 he advised the Deputy Commander, US CENTCOM, General John Allen, on Iran-Hezbollah economic pressure strategy as well as on sensitive counter-proliferation and counter terrorism programs and operations.

During the administration of President George W. Bush, Asher developed and oversaw the global targeting and disruption of the Kim Jong Il regime’s financial, illicit trading and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) networks. He was the strategic architect of the September 2005 designation of Banco Delta Asia in Macao, the February 2011 designation of the Lebanese Canadian Bank, and the April 2013 designations of the Rmeiti and Halawi Exchange Houses—all under Section 311 of the USA Patriot Act.

From 2001 to 2005, Asher was Senior Advisor for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department, special coordinator of the State Department’s North Korea Working Group, co-chair of the North Korea Activities Group policy coordinating committee for the National Security Council, and U.S. delegation adviser to the Six Party Talks.

“David Asher is among the best there is when it comes to sanctions and strategies to counter illicit finance, transnational terrorism, and money laundering,” said FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz.‎ “David brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience earned over a remarkable career and his research will be a tremendous addition to FDD’s broader scholarship on the convergence of economic and financial power and national security.”

Asher has a doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University. He was a College Scholar at Cornell University as an undergraduate, and is fluent in Japanese. He has over two decades of experience working in the international financial community, including advising two of the world’s largest global hedge funds in Japan. He is also a Senior Corporate Advisor at SparkCognition, one of the nation’s leading AI companies, and Chairman of Sayari Analytics, a financial intelligence and commercial data provider.

About FDD

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a Washington, DC-based non-partisan policy institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Visit our website at and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

About CSIF

The Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF) expands upon FDD’s success as a leading think tank on the use of financial and economic measures in national security. The Center’s purpose is to provide policy and subject matter expertise in areas of illicit finance, financial power, and economic pressure to the global policy community.