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Macron Urges Coordination in Fighting Terror Financing


Participants attend a round table with international delegations at a conference to discuss ways of cutting funding to groups including Islamic State and al-Qaeda, at OECD headquarters in Paris, Apr. 26, 2018.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for closer coordination and transparency in fighting terrorist financing Thursday as he closed a two-day international conference in Paris that focused on two of the biggest threats — al-Qaida and Islamic State.

Officials from more than 70 nations and hundreds of experts heard Macron outline several areas the international community should tackle to help close the financial spigot flowing to terrorist groups. He called for better control of anonymous financing, bogus charities and crowd funding; supporting vulnerable states; and freezing assets of individuals implicated in terrorist financing.

Macron said the terrorist threat would not go away soon. Al-Qaida and Islamic State will continue to attack and destabilize countries and kill innocent people, he said, the the global community's determination to respond must be absolute.

The French leader — speaking hours after returning from talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, in which fighting terrorism ranked among the top subjects — also called for greater international support for the Financial Action Task Force, an international body fighting money laundering and terrorism.

French President Emmanuel Macron answers a question from student in the audience during a town hall meeting at George Washington University in Washington, April 25, 2018.
French President Emmanuel Macron answers a question from student in the audience during a town hall meeting at George Washington University in Washington, April 25, 2018.

Experts note terrorist financing is taking on new and more complex forms, even as terrorist attacks like plowing vans through crowds are increasingly cheaper to carry out. Even so, both IS and al-Qaida need substantial sums to exist and spread.

In an interview with VOA, David Lewis, executive director of the Financial Action Task Force, said more needed to be done in terms of information sharing and technological innovations to track terrorist funding.

"What we are actually seeing is that most countries now have the laws in place, the tools to do the job, but they are not actually doing the job," Lewis said. "So what is required is a greater level of political commitment to attach the right priorities to this and the right amount of resourcing so intelligence agencies and police forces can get on and use the powers they now have to make a real dent into this problem."

France has weathered a number of terrorist attacks in recent years. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said that during the past two years, the country had identified 416 terrorist funders locally and 320 collectors of terrorist funding, mostly based in Turkey and Lebanon.

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