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Experts warn firms against terror financing

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By Abraham Adekunle

Many companies knowingly or otherwise support terrorists through funds channels.

Terrorism, banditry, militancy, inter-ethnic wars, and religious extremism are causing growing worldwide concern as more nations grapple with the security challenges posed by such groups. According to the 2023 Global Terrorism Index report by the Institute for Economics and Peace, terrorist attacks became deadlier in 2022, with an average of 1.7 people killed per attack compared to 1.3 deaths in 2021. This marks the first increase in lethality rate in five years. The report also highlights various terror-related incidents, such as abductions, hostages, injuries, property destruction, and displacement of communities.

Further, the report highlights that in 2022, some of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups are the Islamic State and its affiliates like al-Shabaab, Balochistan Liberation Army, and Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen. Notable Islamic State affiliate groups encompass Islamic State – Khorasan Province, Islamic State – Sinai Province, and Islamic State West Africa Province, operating in the Sahel region, including Nigeria. According to the report, these groups often require funds for activities, such as purchasing arms and fueling their network. Illicit mining of natural resources, like gold, diamonds, and crude oil, serves as one of the accessible sources of funds they exploit, acting as a financial funnel.

Illegal oil refinery and gold mining funding sources for terrorists.

Moreover, many terrorist groups and affiliated organisations may exploit corporate entities by channeling funds through shell companies or engaging in illicit financial transactions, thus perpetuating their activities. For instance, in Sierra Leone, the prolonged civil war from 1991 to 2002 was fueled by various factors, including illicit diamond mining. Diamond extraction played a significant role in financing rebel groups, particularly the Revolutionary United Front. These groups sustained their activities by trading in ‘blood diamonds’ or ‘conflict diamonds,’ often extracted illegally and sold on the international market to acquire weapons and support their insurgency. Though not as prevalent, illicit gold mining also contributed to these activities.

Back in Nigeria, instances of terrorism, banditry, and militancy facilitation have been documented. Data and research indicate that the increase in militancy in the oil-rich South-South states is linked to crude oil mining in the Niger Delta region. The ongoing demand for resource control has intensified the proliferation of illegal refineries and the pilfering of both crude oil and refined products. In North-West Nigeria, Zamfara State serves as another illustration where the illicit mining of gold deposits has been identified as a funding source for insurgents, contributing to the escalation of insecurity in the northern part of the country.

Groups exploit firms through indirect shareholding.

This is why Uche Igwe, a Fellow at the London School of Economics, noted in his writeup that violence and insecurity in Nigeria are fueled by illicit natural resource extraction, with references to crude oil exploration in the Niger Delta region and gold mining in Zamfara. Igwe also pointed out that criminal networks, involving locals, influential figures, and foreign opportunists, often provide cover for those engaged in illicit mineral deposit mining. In recent times, there has been a growing trend of corporations becoming entangled in global terrorism facilitation due to questionable relationships, unethical dealings, or transactions with organisations inclined towards terrorism activities.

Terrorist groups occasionally exploit corporate entities by channeling funds through indirect shareholding, seeking necessary funding. Corporations lacking diligence in background checks may inadvertently become involved in money laundering for terrorists. A recent example involves reports in some sections of the international media, where certain technology companies, including Africa’s telecom giant, MTN Group, were alleged to face prosecution and trial in U.S. courts for purported business ties with a terrorist organisation—the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. MTN Group maintains commercial links with MTN Irancell, in which IRGC holds a minority 49 percent investment shareholding—a relationship criticized as unhealthy.

Some tech companies were aware business ties will finance terror.

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York found that MTN and the implicated tech companies were aware that their business ties with IRGC would contribute to financing, arming, and supporting the Iranian terror group’s activities in Iraq. Recently, the U.S. District Court approved the trial of MTN Group for international terrorism financing under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The prosecution stems from a federal lawsuit by over 50 Americans alleging business dealings with a terror organisation. MTN Group faces charges of aiding and abetting liability under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, civil conspiracy liability, and aiding and abetting terrorist acts in Afghanistan. IRGC, designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2019, conducted attacks on Iraq from 2011 to 2016, resulting in numerous American casualties. MTN Group maintains innocence, vowing to continue its commercial ties with Irancell despite global criticism.

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3 months ago

Experts warn firms against terror financing. – Many companies knowingly or otherwise support terrorists through funds channels. – Express your point of view.

2 months ago

Experts advise businesses not to fund terrorism. Numerous businesses, whether on purpose or not, use financial channels to assist terrorists. The corporations endorsing and providing financial support to these terrorists ought to be held accountable by the legal system. The perpetrators of this horrible crime need to be put behind bars and this atrocity condemned.

2 months ago

The idea that certain businesses may, deliberately or unknowingly, provide financial assistance to terrorists through channels is concerning. Businesses must be on the lookout for any signs of terror financing and take the appropriate precautions to avoid it.

Adeoye Adegoke
2 months ago

That’s a very concerning issue, indeed. It’s crucial for companies to be vigilant and take proactive measures to prevent any involvement in terror financing. Supporting terrorists through funds channels, knowingly or unknowingly, can have devastating consequences for society and global security. Companies must prioritize due diligence, implement robust financial monitoring systems, and adhere to strict regulations to ensure that their funds are not being misused for illicit purposes. Collaboration between governments, law enforcement agencies, and businesses is essential in sharing information, intelligence, and best practices to combat terror financing effectively. By staying vigilant and taking collective action, we can contribute to a safer and more secure world.