Still searching for needles in haystacks

May 18, 2012

This video illustrates the problem of trying to detect terror finance transactions when the amounts involved are unremarkable compared to the millions of large volume transactions conducted every day throughout the international financial system.  It’s not the most exciting video, but you may want to pay special attention to the middle of the video which shows how the 9/11 hijackers were able to use Western banks (along with hawala transfers to their U.S. bank accounts from the UAE) without raising suspicions.  With apologies for the giant red bar across the bottom of the video:

It’s also worth noting that as much as regulations on the finance sector have increased to help detect terrorist financial transactions, the formula for detection has not.  We still assume that we can discern criminal intent through the size, structure, or frequency of financial transactions, as opposed to using a more common sense profile about the religion, national origin, gender, and age of the financial customer.


  1. Interesting stuff! I wonder if the banks will ever try to move towards a shared global blacklist?

    • Thanks, Shimky. Perhaps the U.S. and EU could come to a consensus list, but I suspect the Asian banks would never sign-on to the program..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: