Canada puts the spotlight on extremist travellers as “the primary terrorist financing risk”

This blog from Eukleia’s Senior Vice President, Scott McCleskey, examines the key insights from a new report released by Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC).

The Terrorist Financing Assessment examines terrorist financing risks related to jurisdictions that FINTRAC has identified as posing the greatest threat to Canada. Although the report focuses specifically on threats to Canada, its analysis and conclusions are equally valuable to other jurisdictions and should be read by all those engaged in the fight against terrorism and its financing.

"extremist travellers” pose a risk to financial institutions

Understanding the risk posed by extremist travellers

Of particular interest is Canada’s concern regarding “extremist travellers”. These are individuals who return or travel to Canada after having travelled to conflict zones to engage in hostilities or engage in terrorist activity overseas (and presumably includes those who travel to terrorist-controlled areas to receive terrorism-related training).

In the report, FINTRAC identifies extremist travellers as the primary terrorist financing threat facing Canada, demonstrating the priority Canadian authorities will place on effective processes in this area in the future.

Advice on identifying potential extremist travellers

Importantly, the assessment also assists financial institutions in identifying potential extremist travellers by describing the various stages of extremist travel: pre-departure, en route, in theatre, and returning, as well as interrupted travel. It also looks at the indicators associated with each stage.

As is the case with all such indicators, they are neither exhaustive nor absolute evidence of illegal activity, but serve as a useful basis for establishing controls to detect extremist travellers and mitigating the risk they pose to the financial institution and the public.

The 2018 FINTRAC Terrorist Financing Assessment provides clear analysis of the threat posed from a number of sources. The section on extremist travellers is particularly useful to financial institutions strengthening their capabilities and closing a common gap in counter-terrorist financing processes.

The report should be read and its guidance considered by any bank exposed to terrorist financing risk, regardless of jurisdiction.

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