Counter-Terrorism: February 1, 2005


Islamic terrorists are not a wealthy lot, and they are always coming up with new, usually illegal, ways to raise money for their operations. One of the more recent scams includes life insurance fraud. The terrorist takes out as many life insurance policies as he can, then travels to the Middle East, where local officials can be bribed to verify that he died in a fake automobile accident. Then, the dead man goes off and becomes a suicide bomber in Iraq, to make sure that the insurance companies never catch on to the scheme, and come looking to get their money back. Rackets like this can yield several hundred thousand dollars for the cause. But expenses are high. Terrorists move around a lot, which means high travel expenses. This also precludes having a regular job, so the living expenses (not very high, actually) have to be covered by the income from illegal activities. Credit card and Internet related scams are favored as well. The down side of these illegal income sources is that it exposes the terrorists to arrest. Indeed, many terrorist cells have been discovered and destroyed because members of the cells got caught by the police. Its been known for several years that Islamic terrorists have favored this kind of crime for raising money, and the police are on to them. It is believed that some police agencies have infiltrated al Qaeda cells via the criminal underground of credit card, insurance and Internet scams. This has resulted in some disputes between the police and intelligence agencies. The cops want to bust as many of these criminals as possible, and prevent more crimes, while the intelligence agencies want to keep known terrorists under surveillance (at least until they try to kill someone, or leave the country), so they can detect and prevent a future terrorist attack. This way, more terrorists can be identified, and eventually rounded up. This tension between the police and intelligence agencies is generally kept quiet, but it has led to cases where the cops just busted people who they suspected were terrorists, but did not want to bring intelligence services in lest the police be forbidden to make the arrests. These are all aspects of the war on terror that dont get reported much, but could be a matter of life and death for a lot of people one of these days.


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