Financing terrorism

I recently participated in a meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance, which is studying the financing of terrorism.

I recently participated in a meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance, which is studying the financing of terrorism. Prior to being a part of this study, I had many questions that I am certain most of you have asked – questions such as, where do these terrorists get their money to buy guns and armaments, and why can’t governments stop the flow of money to these terrorist groups?

Professor Bill Tupman from the United Kingdom told the committee how oil from sites controlled by ISIS is flowing through Turkey to the Black Sea, where a process of paper-juggling allows the oil to enter the European market with no determination of the oil’s place of origin. This brings in as much as $1 million dollars a day to fund the so-called Islamic State’s aggression.

Professor Christian Leuprecht of Canada’s Royal Military College informed the committee that one of the most effective vehicles for both money laundering and the financing of terrorist rings is cigarettes. In 2013, sixteen people around New York City were arrested in operation “Tobacco Road.” It is estimated that this illegal operation alone raised $22 million to finance Hezbollah and other terrorist operations, while costing the city of New York $80 million.

Tracking money is also difficult in the age of Internet. People in the U.S. and Canada can simply go on PayPal and donate $1,000 to groups such as ISIS and there is next to no way to trace donors.

These are the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies. One of the witnesses at the finance committee recommended the RCMP establish a branch solely focused on forensic auditing to trace money leaving Canada, as well as the identifying the sources of funding.

I agree with this recommendation.

If the global community doesn’t stop the flow of money to terrorist groups they will be able to buy more sophisticated weapons, and this will only increase the threat to free western democracies.

One thing for certain is that our allies should endeavor to purchase their oil from countries that are friends and not enemies of freedom.

-Colin Mayes is the MP for Okanagan Shuswap