Exploring Potential Uses of Geographic Information Systems and Predictive Analysis in AML/CTF Investigations

Author: Michael Wakeman, CAMS-FCI

In 2014 the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) emerged as a new and disturbing player in the field of terrorism. This organization, which seemingly sprang from nowhere, was actually born out of the marginalization of Sunni Muslims under Iraq’s Maliki regime and the failed inspirations of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers (AQI). Unlike other terrorist organizations, ISIS has strived since its foundation to be independent of outside wealth.

For these organizations to conduct their operations they must have access to funds and the ability to move said funds. This basic need does not vary based on the source of capital—whether an organization’s coffers are filled by donors living abroad, the sale of narcotics, oil, taxation, or the sale of sex slaves as brides to militants. While this basic economic need remains constant, what can be observed as changing is the level of commitment nations provide in their willingness to stop the flow of these funds. The commitment of countries to fight terrorist financing (TF) and money laundering (ML) to cut the legs out from under organizations such as ISIS, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab varies across the globe. This difference in willingness to fight ML/TF is also greatly affected by geopolitical factors, such as political stability, poverty rates and infrastructure.

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