Date of Graduation

Spring 2013


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Andrei Shoumikhin


terrorism, financing, al Qaeda, operational structure, affiliates

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


This paper examines the financial networks of al Qaeda and its affiliates, which remain significant threats a decade after the September 11th attacks. The thesis examines how al Qaeda has evolved in the face of U.S. and international counter-financing efforts from charities and donors to rely extensively on illicit activities, including narcotics smuggling and kidnapping for ransom. It examines the formal and informal methods of moving funds. It also examines the financial and operational relationships between al Qaeda Central and its affiliates, and it details U.S. and international efforts to combat al Qaeda's financial network. The findings of the paper indicate that although counter-financing pressure has caused al Qaeda to evolve, its transformation towards illicit and informal methods of raising and moving funds has exposed a glaring weakness in counter-financing efforts that has allowed many of its affiliates to raise substantial sums of money to maintain and expand operations.


© Robert Warbinton

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