News / Asia

Experts: Bin Laden’s Death Has Negative Impact on Terrorism Financing

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan (1998 file photo)
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan (1998 file photo)

The death this week of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is likely, analysts say, to have a negative impact on the terrorist organization’s ability to raise money and finance future large scale attacks. 

Osama bin Laden was the face of international terrorism and his financial firepower helped fund the mujahedeen in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

After the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, bin Laden became the worldwide symbol used to raise money for al-Qaida and its affiliates in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Stuart Levey is the former undersecretary of terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department and is currently with the Council on Foreign Relations.

"Osama bin Laden was the primary inspirational figure for al-Qaida both for recruiting new members to al-Qaida, but also for the funding of al-Qaida and so they will have lost that sort of iconic figure," he said.

Source of funding

Analysts say al-Qaida receives most of its funding from individual wealthy donors living in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Governments of those countries have tried to stop the fundraising and experts say in recent years it has been a challenge for al-Qaida to raise significant sums of money.

They say intelligence suggests al-Qaida is having trouble paying for the training of its militants and providing funding for their families.

Matthew Levitt, director of the program on counterterrorism and intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says bin Laden’s death during a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan creates an opening to further damage the organization.

"This is a great opportunity for us to have further disruptions of the al-Qaida network across all the different aspects of that organization from fundraising on down," he said.

The Obama administration announced that during the attack in Pakistan, U.S. forces collected intelligence information that could be helpful in the fight against terrorism.

News organizations are reporting this included a large number of computers, hard disc drives and other memory devices.

"The apparent exploitation of the intelligence that was apparently picked up during the raid is a potential huge lead with respect to terrorist financing and frankly not just financing, but going after the network in general depending on what kind of information is in those computers and whatever else was taken," said analyst Stuart Levey.

Falling Muslim support

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center says support for bin Laden among people in predominantly Muslim countries has declined significantly in recent years.

Analysts like Matthew Levitt say the recent revolts in Arab countries have offered a new and more attractive narrative to the violence and bloodshed preached by al-Qaida.

"And here you have had in a matter of weeks relatively peacefully a bunch of youth accomplishing, in places like Egypt, that which al-Qaida and its affiliates, through very bloody violence over many years, failed to accomplish," he said.

Impact on financing

Current and former officials at the U.S. Department of the Treasury say the death of bin Laden is an important step in the effort to reduce donations to al-Qaida.

But Stuart Levey says it is essential to maintain pressure on al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations. "The death of bin Laden is a tremendous development for counterterrorism in general and for terrorist financing as well.  But it is not the end of the battle. It is just a significant milepost along the way and I think it is important that we do continue these efforts. I think that we will," he said.

Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute says the nearly ten-year and now successful search for bin Laden since the 2001 attacks sends a strong message to anyone considering making financial contributions to al-Qaida.

"But this tightening of the noose, it is much more than just the removal of bin Laden," he said. "We have indicated that it may take a long, long time, but we will find you and that has to make people think twice about how much they want to be involved in this enterprise."

Analysts say counterterrorism efforts by the United States and its allies have forced al-Qaida’s fundraising activities to become decentralized.

They say its affiliates are now being left to raise their own funds and conduct operations without significant assistance from the core organization.

You May Like

Photogallery Pakistani Offensive Empties Largest Town in North Waziristan

Army commander says troops have found about a dozen bomb-making facilities, underground network of tunnels; troops must clear huge amount of IEDs More

Video Israel, Hamas Trade Blame, Dig in

Both sides blame each other for provoking conflict, neither side at this point is ready to back down More

US: Cooperation with Germany Important Despite Spying Fallout

Refusing to comment on 'purported intelligence matter', White House spokeswoman says administration 'will continue to be in touch with German government in appropriate channels' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Restored Papyrus Swamps Can Help Fight Pollution, Conserve Wateri
X
Faiza Elmasry
July 10, 2014 5:18 PM
Papyrus is a light but strong reed that grows well in shallow, fresh water. The plant stood at the center of the ancient Egyptian civilization. It was used as paper and the reed's shape inspired the fluted columns of ancient Greece. Most of the papyrus swamps gradually disappeared from Egypt and other parts of Africa. As VOA's Faiza Elmasry discovered, though, restoring the papyrus swamps could hold the key to solve many of today’s problems, from pollution to water wars. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Restored Papyrus Swamps Can Help Fight Pollution, Conserve Water

Papyrus is a light but strong reed that grows well in shallow, fresh water. The plant stood at the center of the ancient Egyptian civilization. It was used as paper and the reed's shape inspired the fluted columns of ancient Greece. Most of the papyrus swamps gradually disappeared from Egypt and other parts of Africa. As VOA's Faiza Elmasry discovered, though, restoring the papyrus swamps could hold the key to solve many of today’s problems, from pollution to water wars. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Virginia Site Tests Drones for FAA Rules

Blacksburg, a college town in southwestern Virginia, is one of six locations chosen by the FAA - the Federal Aviation Administration - to test drones. Researchers are sending feedback to the FAA as the agency develops national drone regulations. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti traveled to the town to check what’s up in the air there.
Video

Video Israel, Hamas Trade Blame, Dig in

The military conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, continues to escalate. As VOA’s Brian Padden reports, both sides blame each other for provoking the conflict and neither side at this point is ready to back down.
Video

Video Civilians Fear Mideast Violence Could Turn Into Full-Scale War

Violence in the Middle East is escalating at a time when there are no new peace talks in sight. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have condemned the brutal deaths of three Israeli teenagers and one Palestinian teen, and have vowed to punish those responsible. But both sides also seem to be gearing up for more fighting. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video African-born Pastor Brings ‘Holy Laughter’ Revival to Washington

A South African-born televangelist based in Florida has brought his ministry to Washington for a three-week event he is calling “Celebrate America.” Rodney Howard-Browne is calling for a religious revival in the United States. But as VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports, his preaching style is far from mainstream.
Video

Video American Roadside Attraction 'Dinosaur Land' Lures Visitors

A big part of the American landscape of the middle 20th century was the roadside attraction - small zoos, amusement parks or quirky museums along the highways families traveled on their way to vacation destinations. Most of those attractions are gone, but one in Virginia, a couple of hours from Washington, called Dinosaur Land, is still going strong.
Video

Video Burma Football Friendly Brings Together Battlefield Opponents

As most of Myanmar’s ethnic armies maintain a fragile ceasefire with the government, some of the troops were able to let off a little steam, World Cup - style. Steve Sandford reports from Karen State, Myanmar, also known as Burma, on a peace initiative aimed at building trust between the opposing sides of one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.
Video

Video FIFA’s Football for Hope Tournament Kicks Off in Brazil

As excitement builds toward the final matches of football's (soccer's) World Cup, another competition has kicked-off in Brazil. The Football for Hope Festival brings together underprivileged young people from around the world for an event that is less about winning than about enjoying the game and one another. Scott Bobb reports from Rio de Janeiro.

AppleAndroid