Just over thirty-eight years ago, on October 8, 1985, the modern American struggle against terrorism financing began. On that tragic day, terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Organization summarily executed an American hostage, Leon Klinghoffer, a sixty-nine-year-old, wheelchair-bound entrepreneur and World War II veteran on vacation celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife. The terrorists subsequently dumped his corpse overboard on the hijacked Achille Lauro cruise ship. This horrific tragedy led to the eventual passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1990, which for the first time provided a legal cause of action for American terrorism victims to seek justice for acts of international terrorism. Since then, the United States has continued to refine its financial toolkit to go after terrorist organizations and their financial enablers through a variety of civil and criminal legal tools.
The US government should use all available tools of national power to protect the United States and its allies, work toward the recovery of American and partner hostages, and degrade terrorist groups’ financial capabilities.
In its October 7 attack on Israel, Hamas and other terrorist groups killed more than 1,400 people and took at least 222 hostages. Among the dead are at least thirty-two Americans, making it the deadliest foreign terrorist attack against Americans since 9/11.
The United States must again learn from tragedy. The US government has an opportunity to use its robust financial authorities to disrupt Hamas’s tactical financial capabilities. To do so, it must implement structural changes to strengthen both US and partner capabilities to combat terrorism financing and other illicit finance threats in the Middle East and beyond.
Read the full article from The Atlantic Council.
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