Terrorism is a contested term – difficult to define and a cause of contention in academics and policy-making for years. There is no universal definition of terrorism. According to the UNHCR, terrorism is commonly understood as acts of violence targeting civilians with the aim of pursuing political or ideological objectives. In legal terms, although the international community has not yet adopted a comprehensive definition of terrorism, existing “sectoral” universal declarations, resolutions and treaties relating to specific aspects of it define certain fundamental acts and elements.
In 1994, the General Assembly’s Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, set out in its resolution 49/60, stated that terrorism includes “criminal acts intended or calculated to bring about a state of public terror public, a group of persons or persons for political purposes” and that such acts “are in all circumstances unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature which may be invoked to justify them. Article 2 of the “International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism” defines the financing of terrorism as: “The act of providing funds to a person by any means whatsoever (directly or indirectly), deliberately and knowingly in order whether the funds are wholly or partly used to commit a terrorist act by a terrorist or a terrorist organization”.
Funds are essential to carry out a terrorist activity. Terrorists acquire funds through different means and invest them in different ways and according to different procedures. One of the fastest growing ways to use money in the terrorist trade is through money laundering. – a process of concealing the illegitimate origins of money by turning them into other currencies or assets, which can then be used legitimately, essentially the conversion of dirty money into clean money.
According to Dr. Nicholas Ryder, money laundering is considered one of the biggest industries in the world and it is impossible to measure the true extent of money laundering. Money laundering is a global international threat that compromises the integrity of the financial system. The objective of money laundering is to make an economic profit from crime without getting caught. The terrorist or the criminal will always try to avoid leaving a trace that can go back to the initial crime (main offence). The terrorist will also seek to disguise the origin of the money, allowing it to be used to further terrorist activity or to be reinvested to increase their funds. Traditionally, money laundering takes place in three stages: placement, layering and integration.
Terrorism in the world in general, and in Pakistan in particular, depends on many sources and channels of funding. Sources of funding used by terrorists may involve funds collected from legitimate sources, such as personal donations and profits from businesses and charities. A percentage of the amount collected in the form of donations and charity by the organizations is used for the purchase of weapons, equipment and to give trainings. Thus, terrorism is transformed into a suitable structure – they are in business, including medicines that are not prepared here but mainly from Afghanistan.
Charitable works and donations made by developed countries to religious or social entities in developing countries take the lion’s share of the financing of the extremist diaspora and, therefore, of terrorism. People who are more religiously inclined give their own money as charity and donations. They also collect money from other people for these purposes. Some individuals, due to their ideological beliefs, also donate personal property.
Due to the religious views of the people of this country, people are very inclined to do charity as it is our sacred obligation to give zakat and sadaqah. At the same time, terrorist organizations collect funds under the guise of religious charities. They collect zakat, sadqa, fitra and sacrificial animal skins in the name of religion and to help the poor and needy. Charitable organizations raise funds during religious congregations like after Jumma prayer every Friday or during spiritual prayers like Eid. During the holy month of Ramazan, they keep donation boxes or collect money in the name of zakat and sadaqah.
People don’t usually ask what happens to the money they donate to charity. This money is misused for terrorist activities. This element of the socio-religious aspects of our nation is exploited by perpetrators of money laundering and terrorist financing – and charities and NPOs, especially those that operate on donations, pose a high funding risk. terrorism and money laundering.
Religious conservatism, the proliferation of medersas and the evolution of different sectarian groups have gone unchecked over the past 33 years. Some medersas serve as intermediaries to finance terrorism. There is no data available regarding the sources of funding for these medersas, whether foreign or domestic. This is a high-risk area, and it is difficult to comment on madrassahs, which are unregulated because there is no database or location of the backgrounds of the children who study there, what type of curriculum is taught to them, whether military training is given to them or not. Various fundraising groups like madrasahs, student organizations, religious parties, NGOs, NPOs and others are not accountable due to the monetary economy and make us vulnerable to terrorist financing.
The Hundi/Hawala system has been established for many decades in Pakistan, India and the Middle East. And for so long, it has been so successful in laundering all kinds of black money, including terrorist financing. Terrorist groups have taken advantage of it because it continues to be successful in many legitimate businesses and has been misused by our local bankers, traders and businessmen. Most of the proceeds of crime come from illegal means – bribery, arms and drug trafficking (mainly from its Afghan border), smuggling, illegal gambling and other criminal activities.
There is a consensus that Pakistan has many policies on every conceivable subject. The dilemma, however, is that there is a lack of implementation – and therefore fundamental policy objectives are not being achieved. This question becomes more complex in the presence of the enormous civil, military, police and other forms of bureaucracy that are trained and experienced in the implementation of policy. There is an absolute disconnect between policy formulation and implementation.
The author is Deputy Inspector General of Police, currently Head of Security and Emergency Services Division of Sindh Police and Sindh Safe Cities Authority.