Dr. David Asher is a senior fellow at FDD and on the board of advisors of FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance. Asher is well known as one of the most experienced subject matter experts to the U.S. Government on countering money laundering, terrorism financing and sanctions evasion schemes. Over the last 25 years he has played a senior role in numerous economic and financial pressure campaigns involving defiant states, terrorist organizations, drug cartels, and weapons proliferation networks.
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 (under the Secretary of State), 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. During the Bush administration, Asher developed and oversaw the global targeting and disruption of the Kim Jong Il regime’s financial, illicit trading and WMD networks. Asher 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 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. From 2010-2014, he served as a senior advisor to the US 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 arrest and the largest counter terrorist civil financial action in the history of US Department of Justice, the $483 million forfeiture claim against the Lebanese Canadian Bank (ultimately resulting in $102 million asset forfeiture in the US).
From October 2014-August 2015 Asher returned to the Department of State where he led the development of the USG and coalition economic Warfare Campaign Strategy against the Islamic State, under the Presidential Special Envoy, General (ret.) John Allen. This interagency and international campaign later became known as Operation Tidal Wave II. It played a disproportionate role in the destruction of the Islamic State’s finances.
Asher is the principal author of two reports for the Center for a New American Security on Counter Threat Finance Strategy and Operations, Pressure: Coercive Economic Statecraft and U.S. National Security and co-author of Pushback: Countering the Iran Action Network (written with Scott Modell). Asher has a doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University and was a College Scholar at Cornell University as an Undergraduate. He 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 on 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.