Gottheimer Urges Action to Crack Down On ISIS’ Use of Online Money Laundering to Finance Terrorists on American Soil

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Washington, September 6, 2017 | comments
Today, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the Terrorism and Illicit Financing Subcommittee of the House Committee on Financial Services, sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in response to recent reporting that terrorists used fake eBay transactions to funnel money to an ISIS operative in the United States.

“Confronting the threat of lone wolf terrorists and those affiliated with ISIS and al-Qaeda must be a top law enforcement priority. It's key to protecting our homeland,” wrote Gottheimer to FinCEN’s Acting Director. “As technology advances and terrorists continue to innovate, federal enforcement efforts must keep pace, so that we can crack down on each new method of financing terror. I urge FinCEN to take additional steps to curb money laundering and suspicious financial transactions via internet services and new technologies.”

In his letter, Gottheimer asked for additional information regarding FinCEN’s efforts to block terrorist financing, which additional resources they require, and ways they coordinate with the private sector and other government agencies.

In the Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, Gottheimer asked Dr. Matthew Levitt, the Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counterterrrorism and Intelligence, about what federal law enforcement can do to prevent the illicit use of new transaction methods. Gottheimer’s question and Dr. Levitt’s testimony can be found HERE.

The full text of Gottheimer’s letter is below:


September 6, 2017

Mr. Jamal El-Hindi
Acting Director
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
U.S. Department of the Treasury
P.O. Box 39, Vienna, VA 22183

Dear Acting Director El-Hindi:

I write today to express my concerns regarding a recent report in the Wall Street Journal that a senior official in the Islamic State (ISIS) used eBay and PayPal to funnel money to terrorists in the United States. Confronting the threat of lone wolf terrorists and those affiliated with ISIS and al-Qaeda must be a top law enforcement priority. It's key to protecting our homeland. As technology advances and terrorists continue to innovate, federal enforcement efforts must keep pace so that we can crack down on each new method of financing terror.

Here in New Jersey, the threat of terrorism must not be dealt with lightly. We are home to the largest and busiest shipping port on the East Coast, the third most trafficked mass transportation system, and the fourth busiest U.S. airport for international travel. As you know, the lone-wolf terrorist Ahmad Khan Rahami who set off bombs in Manhattan and on the Jersey Shore had acquired materials to construct weapons on eBay, using an account with the username “ahmad rahimi.” Even though he had managed to evade federal law enforcement, he was later apprehended in Linden, New Jersey, thanks to efforts and bravery of the local police department.

I urge FinCEN to take additional steps to curb money laundering and suspicious financial transactions via internet services and new technologies. I respectfully request that you provide me with an update on the following:

  • What additional steps have you taken to prevent money laundering and illegal cash transfers since these examples I mentioned came to light?
  • Do you have the resources required to fully examine potential threats?
  • How much coordination is there between FinCEN and online companies to combat terrorist financing?
  • How much coordination is there between FinCEN and other government agencies to stop illicit support for terror?

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter as we work together to address this pressing threat.

Sincerely,


Josh Gottheimer
MEMBER OF CONGRESS

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