Terrorism ﬁnancing and money
laundering: two sides
of the same coin?
Classe Préparatoire DCG, Lycéee Robert Doisneau, Corbeil-Essonnes,
France and Sciences Humaines, Centre Pierre Naville,
Université d’Evry Val d’Essonne, Evry, France
Purpose –The purpose of this paper is to analyse howterrorism ﬁnancing can be assimilated with money
launderning when the amounts ofmoney involved differ so markedly. Not only is the cost of ﬁnancing
terrorist attacks minimal compared to the huge sums often at stake in ﬁnancial crimes, but also the
psychological proﬁle of terrorists, who are reclusive by nature, contrasts starkly with that of ﬁnancial
criminals, who are usually fully integrated members of society. When terrorism ﬁnancing is equated with
money launderingthis represents a utilitarian approach in thatit facilitates the creation of a security strategy
and stiﬂes criticism of criminogenic capitalismthat turns a blindeye to tax evasion.
Design/methodology/approach –The analysis is conceptual,focussing on the assimilation of terrorism
ﬁnancing with money laundering. There is an interview with a French magistrate, specialized in the ﬁght
against corruptionand white-collar crime, and data have been collected from internationalorganizations and
Findings –The ﬁght against money laundering and money dirtying has clearly sparked numerous
controversies around evaluation, scope, criminal perpetrators and a lack of vital cooperation between
administrativeand judicial services.
Social implications –This paper raises questions about the reasons behind the linking of money
laundering and money dirtying by statesand players in public international law and why the ﬁght against
money laundering is very much overshadowed by their focus on terrorist ﬁnancing in dealing with the
growing threatof Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL,in the Middle East and West Africa.
Originality/value –The paper enables the reader to raise the questionof similarities between the ﬁght
againstmoney laundering and the ﬁght against terrorism ﬁnancing.
Keywords Tax evasion, Money laundering, Tax avoidance, Terrorism ﬁnancing, ISIS, Money dirtying
Paper type Viewpoint
Chomsky’s (2001) response on thenight of 9/11 is very relevant when attempting to answer
the question posed by the title of this paper:
The September 11 attacks were major atrocities [...] As to how to react, we have a choice. We can
express justiﬁed horror; we can seek to understand what may have led to the crimes, which
means making an eﬀort to enter the minds of the likely perpetrators.
These two premises lead us to question the natureand effectiveness of the ofﬁcial discourse
and institutional response whichcombats current threats by linking money laundering and
terrorism ﬁnancing, a discourse which predominated during the Bush administration. Has
this common misconceptioncontributed to the ideological extension of a mistruth?
Indeed, concocting plausible lies to win over publicopinion is reminiscent of the rhetoric
of present-day policymakersand economic players. Michael Lewis (1990) in Liar’s Poker, his
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.25 No. 4, 2018
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