US Security Firms Crack Down Terrorism & Transnational Crime in South America
Torres AES Trains Officials to Counter Terrorism & Trans-National Criminal Networks
Warrior Global Security Staff
The fluid and more loosely-governed border area separating Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay continues to generaate substantial concern about international criminal activity and its relationship to terrorist financing – prompting ongoing local and multi-national responses.
Referred to as the Tri-border área, the region has been an attractive draw for Iranian-backed terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and criminal organizations interested in moving illegal money, staging operations and helping to fund international terrorist activity.
Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, a private security and training firm supporting the U.S and a range of friendly foreign governments, has been expanding training courses for U.S. and international entities interested in cracking down on these activities.
The Torres-taught training course, called “Anti-Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Course for Prosecutors,” zeroes in on the troubling, yet well-documented connection between terrorist funding and transnational criminal organizations.
The training focus is to further enable U.S. and host country counterterrorism and law enforcement officials to “track the money sources” and better identify the flow of questionable transactions.
Recently submitted expert testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, specifically cites the dangerous overlap between transnational crime and terrorism in this area of South America.
“This toxic crime-terror nexus is fueling both the rising threat of global jihadism and the collapse of law and order across Latin America that is helping drive drugs and people northward into the United States,” states the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, in a report to Congress titled “State Sponsors of Terrorism, an Examination of Iran’s Global Terrorism Network.
The report further specifies Hezbollah as a terrorist entity known to rely upon “criminal activities to generate revenue,” something which forms a “substantial part of its operating budget.”
Often-used illegal terrorist techniques include trade-based money laundering techniques such as under-invoicing and mistating ítems of merchandise to move money across continents, the testimony explains.
The Torres course emphasizes collaboration between various entities regarding financial intelligence, linking organizations such as the National Police in Paraguay and allied government entities – such as the Government of Paraguay, the U.S. Department of State and other U.S. Federal organizations.
Using instructors with both law enforcement and government backgrounds, the Torres course instructs future officials about how political and military leaders pursuing effective crackdowns can integrate financial intelligence information.
The merits of connecting these efforts was highlighted by several students who recently completed the Torres course.
Trainees in the course explain learning of the need to further integrate money laundering investigations with seemingly separate criminal prosecutions. For instance, if an offender is already convicted of criminal narcotics charges, it does prove useful to integrate additional investigative work on that particular case.
“Now I know that the money laundering charges really carry a lot of weight because they can cause more harm to the offender’s criminal organization and could even help to dismantle it,” a course student said in a Torres report of the training.
The Torres training is strategically aligned with multi-national government, academic and private industry efforts to quickly identify problems related to illicit financing and terrorist activity with a mind to exploring new remedies.
One particular paper from a U.S.-based think tank, known as the Wilson Center, delineates some successful joint U.S.-Paraguay initiatives – the kinds of specific things incorporated into the Torres training.
The Wilson Center’s Latin American Program Mexico Institute’s essay, titled “Following the Money Trail to Combat Terrorism, Crime, and Corruption in the Americas,” articulates a somewhat paradoxical quality to the tri-border área -- namely that problems of low-oversight and challenged enforcement in the área continue to be offset by U.S. and Latin American combined efforts to increase financial intelligence and counter-money laundering practices
“Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, U.S. and Latin American governments have incorporated the financial arm of national power in efforts to combat terrorism and crime,” the report says. Specifically, the essay highlights three main lines of effort: Intelligence and law enforcement operations against terrorist financiers, public designations of terrorists or traffickers, sanctions, asset freezes and both domestic and international training.
The report praises combined U.S. and Latin American efforts to meet requirements of a 2001
UN Security Council Resolution counterterrorism measure. This resolution helped establish a legal framework with which to criminalize money laundering and terrorist financing, add more oversight to financial structures and form financial intelligence units.
Torres CEO Jerry Torres says these efforts are precisely the kind of activities their training courses are intended to support.
“Our courses draw from complex, recent challenges related to these issues as a way to help fortify host-country friendly governments interested in strengthening counterterrorist efforts both globally and in their region. We hope to strengthen U.S. and friendly host-country efforts to address these dangerous problems, while helping to forge new generations of well-prepared law enforcement and counterterrorism officials,” Torres said.