Money – a medium of the transaction to exchange goods and services, that’s how our textbooks define it. We are often preached how human life is all about happiness, sorrow, excitement, love, success and other human emotions which are beyond the materialistic things in the world that money can’t buy. While it’s true that money can’t buy emotions, it is also a reality check that its presence or absence largely affects us, blame the lifestyle that we live today. A bad photograph can spoil our mood and a good evening snack can change everything back to normal. There’s no doubt that our ancestral preachings genuinely teach us the right thing, however, there’s a real doubt over “Are we choosing to do the right things these days?”
There’s a strange correlation between the graph of money and inhuman activities around the world – they both go in the same direction. The more economically driven we become, the more we are adulterated with an inhuman mindset. In a bid to live a better lifestyle, we often destroy the lives of many others, creating an unequal society. Those unprivileged people either resort to inhuman activities by choice due to their life experiences and inequality they faced; or are forced to choose the same when left with no other way to access necessities. Not directly, but ultimately, somehow these same people affect the lives of those who had earlier treated them unequal, and thus, that’s how the cycle of life is completed. As you sow, so shall you reap!
Inequality leads some people to poor living, and some others to extremism, and there are all kinds of extremists in this world, however, only when fueled with money, they become poised to destroy the world. Money gets their weapons, from those who want to earn even at the expense of others. Weapons, in turn, gets them everything else – food, shelter, secured areas, training grounds and everything else – either through money or at gunpoint. If they don’t find men and women, they simply traffick them. If they don’t find support, they simply kill them. Money can’t buy peace, but certainly, money can destroy it.
After 20 long years of struggle, war and politics, the United States moved out of Afghanistan. It was expected the country would be once again vulnerable to terrorists, however, nobody expected it to be so fast. Within a month, the entire country is under the control of extremists – with whom the superpower of the 21st century fought for 20 years and yet they survived. They outnumbered and outpowered the Afghanistan Government and no country dared to fight them. This explains how powerful they have been and how well equipped and funded they have become.
When you think of travelling, there are various expenses involved, though you are a citizen and a taxpayer. Imagine the same trip under a pseudonym, with fake documents, secret plannings and carrying dangerous weapons. You would need a lot more money than your usual trips and be well informed and trained to handle situations. Thus, terrorism cannot survive without proper financing and cutting down the funding sources of such terror groups can fetch better results than waging war with them. This leads us to question where do they earn from and how do they operate their network?
How do terror groups source funds?
Our legal currencies are issued by Government and the Government somehow traces our money. While citizens try to sweep some money under the carpet, the tax departments usually catch up and trace the money back to us. However, the same currency not only reaches the terror group but also becomes untraceable. Certainly, the terror groups know a lot more about our currency and the government than we citizens stay abridged of which makes it possible for them to obtain, transact and yet stay untraceable.
Trading in illegal products
There are various products that Governments ban in their countries owing to the same causing vulnerability to people’s health such as drugs, liquor, etc. or their lives such as trafficking, weapons, etc. However, trading, smuggling and trafficking continues in underground markets. Many people in an attempt to earn money enter into such activities. As long as there is demand, there will be supply. The demand isn’t from terrorists – but from common people desirous of going beyond the legal boundaries to fulfil their thrills. Terrorists have used these products as their means of earning. Since the entire network operates underground, the money they source from here becomes untraceable.
Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium which is refined to produce heroin. It is estimated that annually USD 1.5 billion to 3 billion worth of opium is exported from Afghanistan across the world. The sheer value of the transaction explains how big this network is and yet they operated without being detected by the Government. Terror groups often employ local people to produce or procure such products from them. They even allow the people involved to profit from the same, thus gaining not only the product they need but also the loyalty of such people. It’s almost the equivalent of Government for those people.
Geopolitical and personal donations
An opinion is a big thing in our world – right from Sports franchises to Religious beliefs, people have an opinion on everything. Your right may be wrong according to someone else and vice versa. While a healthy debate is good for humanity, some people take their beliefs to extremism. People influenced by the ideological beliefs of certain terror groups often donate money and even help such groups. However, a bigger chunk of the donations comes from political rivalry – nation against nation, religion against religion, and a belief against a belief. Those with power and money, in a bid to outpower the others in the competition, often donate to the terror groups to achieve their own end goals through them. Otherwise, access to weaponry wouldn’t have been possible for terror groups. However, on top of all donations sits the donation of people who influenced by ideologies of the terror group donate their knowledge and support to groups – helping them plan and propagate their activities.
Taxes from areas under control
Terror groups have the power to control and create fear. While their activities are inhuman, their method of operation is similar to Governments, as they create leadership, departments, responsibilities and accountability. They often exercise their control over areas and collect taxes from the people living there, just like the Government, except that there’s a threat to your life if you don’t pay while there is a democratic process in the case of the Government.
Mines and minerals
Often terror groups gain control over mines and control the production of minerals from the same. In such cases, all the minerals produced are smuggled to different countries where businesses buy the same illegally or are sold without the knowledge of the source. This is another way for terror groups to generate funds for their activities.
Frauds, phishing and threats
Terror groups also operate online phishing scams and fraudulent activities whereby they collect information through various means and use the same to gain access to financial assets. People are lured into various activities and often lose access to their accounts and money online. Threat calls to the powerful and rich have been a traditional way of getting the money, however, the same occurs on a lower scale in recent times, owing to the emergence of other ways of generating funds.
Routing and laundering the Money
Merely generating money is not enough for running all the operations. It is important for the terror groups that money can be transported where it is required. This is where false financial companies and fake businesses are created and used to route money to its destination or launder the illegal money into the legal system and thereon use the same. Historically, smuggling of gold and currency was the means, however, with stricter Government controls over the boundaries and entry-exit points, the same is not feasible. Hawala dealers take up most of the burden of exchanging currencies and making money available where required. They gain access to such money through the common public who aren’t aware of the possible end use of such money in hands of such people. On the other hand, hawala dealers do it to earn their living, and at times, they may not be even aware of the person they are dealing with. Terror groups have found innovative ways in forming Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) that collect donations from the public and are liable to lesser Government oversight. Thus, the necessary funds required are received in terms of donations and routed for the necessary purposes. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoins are the newest way of laundering money and routing them. Since the Governments do not have any control over the same, there have been many allegations in the past decades that the money is laundered and circulated illegally through the network.
The Bottom Line
The activities of the terror groups are inhuman. However, in the world we live, it is impossible to live, travel, or carry out any activity without money. Rich people have more access to material things and also makes them powerful enough to exercise influence in various spheres of life. Similarly, the more funding the terror group gains access to, the more powerful they become. The currency which is created by Government and circulated amongst noble citizens shouldn’t ideally reach the terror groups unless people are scammed or knowingly aid the same, for their benefit. Weapons and the material required to manufacture them are usually under Government control and not accessible to everyone, and yet the terror groups gain access to the same – only because someone helps them in gaining access – some human.
Terror groups cannot operate absolutely on their own. Either they get voluntary support from people in exchange for favour or money or extract support by intimidation. Hawala dealers, underground market groups, financiers, smugglers, powerful and rich people, and many others who help the terror groups in carrying out their work are all humans – helping to get some benefit for themselves, though not directly involved in the inhuman activities, are equally responsible for the results. This is something that the human group needs to understand and avoid, to defeat the inhuman group. Until then, terrorism continues to be the inhumanity funded by humans!