A Europol news release on 20th June reported that the new EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report describes terrorist incidents and activities on European soil. 9 EU Member States reported a total of 205 foiled, failed and completed terrorist attacks in 2017 (2016: 142). This is a 45% increase compared to 2016 and a shift from a downward trend that started in 2014. 975 individuals were arrested in the EU for terrorism-related offences and most of these arrests were related to jihadist terrorism, for suspicion of participating in activities of a terrorist group; planning and preparing attacks; and facilitation activities such as dissemination of propaganda, recruitment and financing of terrorism. In the section on the financing of terrorism, from page 11, the report notes –
- One major investigation focused on a large network of Lebanese nationals offering money laundering services to organised crime groups in the EU and using a share of the profits to finance terrorism-related activities of the Lebanese Hezbollah’s military wing. The co-operation of these money launderers and Hezbollah’s military wing was a clear example of a nexus between organised crime and terrorism.
- Another investigation uncovered the mechanism used by foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) to obtain financial support from their families in Europe through a network of facilitators and money collectors, the FTF being in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
- The cases of financing of terrorism together illustrate the diverse methods that the financing of terrorism may employ, from very basic to highly complex schemes.
- In terrorism financing, cash transactions, in which couriers may be used, and unregulated and illegal financial networks take a prominent role.
- Many prominent hawala operators are based in the UAE, which frequently serves as the international platform for illicit finance activities. Money being transferred via the hawala system generally moves from – and not to – the EU, and It is probable that hawala is used more often by support networks that send money to terrorist organisations abroad than for plotting attacks within the EU.
- Diaspora communities living in the EU play a significant role in financing and procurement activities for conflicts in their countries of origin.
- Calls for donations are made in mosques, via websites and web for a; and non-profit organisations (NPO) may be used for money laundering and terrorism financing under the umbrella of humanitarian activities.
- The Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK, Kurdistan Workers’ Party) is known to systematically and, if need be, forcibly collect funds in the EU to finance its activities; it also uses front organisations and charities in the EU for this purpose and is suspected of being involved in criminal activities.
- Kidnapping remains a high-profile form of jihadist terrorism impacting on foreign nationals overseas.
- Most terrorist activities with which the EU was confronted in recent years, irrespective of affiliation, were inexpensive and did not require external sources of funding.
- In addition to licit employment incomes, state subsidies and social benefits, funds provided from like-minded individuals within the community are the main sources of income.
- Dissident Republicans in Northern Ireland are associated with both minor and serious criminality, including drug dealing, extortion and fuel laundering.
- Anarchist and right-wing extremist groups are mainly financed by their members through contributions and fundraising events.
- Members of the anarchist and left-wing extremist milieus have been found to sometimes revert to crime (robberies of banks and supermarkets).
- Virtual currencies, among which Bitcoin is the most well-known, have gained popularity, but the expansion of use among terrorist organisations, however, seems to be slow and has not yet matched the use made of them by organised crime groups, especially those involved in cybercrime.