Remarks at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Preventing and Countering the Financing of Terrorism

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
January 31, 2019


Thank you, Ambassador. Thank you as well to Australia, France, Indonesia, Peru, and Tunisia for bringing us together here today to discuss this very important topic.

The United States, as you know, has been at the forefront of international efforts to counter terrorist financing. Money is an indispensable ingredient in the operations of terrorists. And, as we all know, terrorist threats today are evolving. While ISIS no longer holds the territory that allowed it to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, the organization still generates income from a variety of means. These include funding from extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and the infiltration of legitimate businesses.

We must remain especially vigilant as ISIS finds more covert ways to provide financial support to its affiliates around the world. Al-Qaida also employs many of those same tactics.

One of the most critical tools the international community has to combat terrorist financing has its foundations in one of the Security Council’s first counterterrorism resolutions. Resolution 1373 obligates Member States to criminalize terrorist financing. Resolutions 2253 and 2368 regarding UN sanctions against ISIS and Al-Qaida clarify that this obligation extends to making funds available to terrorists or terrorist organizations for any purpose.

So, it’s not just important for every country to stop the financing of terror, as we so often say – it’s also every UN Member State’s legal obligation to do so.

But despite these longstanding obligations, many Member States have not yet taken these steps. We need all countries to develop necessary legal regimes, criminalize terrorist financing, and then implement and use those laws to investigate and prosecute those responsible.

In addition to criminalization and prosecution of financing of terrorist acts, the financing of terrorists’ and terrorist groups’ operations including recruitment, travel, and planning should also be criminalized and prevented.

Member States must heed the Security Council’s repeated calls to prevent terrorists from benefitting from ransom payments, such as that in Resolution 2133. Only by refusing to give terrorists what they want can we break the vicious cycle of kidnappings, ransom payments, and then more kidnappings.

The United States is working hard to improve implementation of Council resolutions. Under our current presidency of the Financial Action Task Force, the task force will host a workshop on prosecuting terrorist financing cases in March. This workshop will help investigators and prosecutors identify best practices to successfully pursue terrorist financing cases.

Together with Saudi Arabia, the United States also established the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center in Riyadh, where we work with partners in the Gulf to counter terrorist financing.

And finally, the United States notes that digital financial tools have created new opportunities for terrorists to move, store, and launder their proceeds and we should closely watch these developments to prevent terrorists from successfully exploiting new and emerging technologies.

In October, the Financial Action Task Force called on states to assess and understand the risks associated with these tools, and to apply anti-money laundering/counter terrorist financing approaches and regulations to these service providers. We urge all Member States to take those steps.

In conclusion, we look forward to working with Council members in the future to address any gaps in our framework, and to make sure all Member States carry out our obligations to stop terror financing. Thank you.