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本•拉登死了,但基地组织的资金命脉呢?

本•拉登死了,但基地组织的资金命脉呢?

Katie Benner 2011年05月04日
当全球还在消化奥萨马•本•拉登死亡的消息时,美国政府发出的警惕报复式袭击的警告说明一个人的死亡并不意味着基地组织的瓦解。理由之一:本•拉登并不是这个恐怖组织的资金支柱。

    “有两样东西是伊斯兰兄弟必须献给圣战组织的:自己和金钱”——基地组织一成员

    援引这个不言而喻的道理的——正是911事件调查委员会2004年发布的详细报告。该报告最重要的一些章节分析了基地组织如何筹集现金,进而转移至全球各地成员手中,编织出一张金融网。调查委员会认为正是这张金融网“使得基地组织能为自身、运转以及成员提供支撑”。

    “没有资金是没办法运转起一个恐怖分子网络的,因为成员培训、运输以及购买设备都需要钱,”前新泽西州州长、911事件调查委员会主席托马斯•肯恩告诉《财富》(Fortune),“如果切断这些供应,运转将变得非常困难。”

    和普遍观点不一样,本•拉登之死不会对基地组织的财务状况造成打击。“[奥萨马•本•拉登]不是用个人财富或业务网络来支撑基地组织,”该委员会在报告中写道。

    “基地组织对911前募集资金的依赖程度远远超过了当时所想,”调查委员会写道,“本•拉登没有大笔的继承财富和广泛的业务资源。事实上,看上去基地组织基本上是现挣现吃。”

    但关于“本•拉登是基地组织财务支柱”的传说依然存在。这可能是因为他是一个亿万富翁的儿子,20世纪80年利用部分继承财产创立了基地组织,并将其打造成了“一个向全球输出恐怖主义的跨国企业。”(《纽约时报》(New York Times)语)

    但报告称,到了2004年,基地组织的募资对象是“知情和不知情的捐款人、清真寺、支持基地组织事业的伊玛目以及慈善机构等非政府组织”。情报报告揭示了一个几乎不可能追踪的金融网——在这个由情报员组成的网络中,资金的分散速度和募集速度一样快。网络中一旦出现资金,就会立刻被取下,分发出去。没有活动基金可供发现,而且基地组织也不从银行取钱。

    基地组织赖以生存的独特方式,让情报官员和特工很难领先一步。“911事件的一个教训就是你不能照搬过去的经验,”肯恩说,“我们未能预见到911事件,是因为恐怖分子的所作所为超出了我们的想象。他们筹钱的方式也一样。”

    这种打地鼠游戏已改变了全球金融业。如今,银行必须担起责任,了解客户身份,发现异常行为。

    肯恩表示,美国财政部(Treasury)已运用其力量干扰资金流向基地组织,包括跟踪单笔金融交易。

    但这尚未阻止恐怖主义。

    “基地组织正在做的很多事情并不需要很多钱,比如通过互联网招揽新成员,”肯恩说,“庞大的911计划运作最多只花了500,000美元。”肯恩指出,911之后所需的经费金额似乎更小了。

    本•拉登的死对于基地组织是一个重大的精神打击,但对基地组织的资金命脉打击不大。

    "There are two things a brother must always have for jihad, the self and money." -- An al Qaeda operative

    This truism is cited by none other than the 9/11 Commission in the detailed report that it published in 2004. One of the first and most important chapters in that document looks at how al Qaeda raises cash and moves it to its operatives around the world, weaving a financial web that the Commission said "allows the organization to support itself, its operations, and its people."

    "You can't run a terror network without funding because it takes money to train operatives, transport them, and buy equipment," Thomas Kean, the former New Jersey governor who chaired the Commission, tells Fortune. "When you cut off those supplies, it becomes very difficult to operate."

    Contrary to popular opinion, the death of bin Laden does not strike a blow to the organization's financial health. "[Osama bin Laden] Does not support al Qaeda through a personal fortune or a network of businesses," the Commission wrote in its report.

    "Al Qaeda relied on fund-raising before 9/11 to a greater extent than thought at the time," the Commission wrote. "Bin Laden did not have large sums of inherited money or extensive business resources. Rather, it appears that al Qaeda lived essentially hand to mouth."

    And yet the myth has persisted that bin Laden has been the organization's financial pillar. This is likely because he was the son of a billionaire who used a portion of his inheritance to start al Qaeda in the 1980s and he nurtured it to become, in the words of the New York Times, "a multinational enterprise to export terror around the globe."

    But by 2004, al Qaeda financed itself by raising money from "witting and unwitting donors, mosques and sympathetic imams, and nongovernment organizations such as charities," says the report. Intelligence reports reveal a financial web that is nearly impossible to track, as the money is distributed as fast as it is raised by a network of couriers. Each strand in the web is taken down and distributed as fast as it is woven. There is no war chest to discover and no bank from which al Qaeda draws funds.

    The reality of how al Qaeda actually survives has kept intelligence officials and operatives in other countries fighting to stay one step ahead of the organization. "One lesson of 9/11 was that you can't fight the last war," says Kean. "We talk about a failure of imagination on 9/11 because the terrorists did something we never imagined they would do. The way they raise money is no different."

    This game of whack-a-mole has changed global finance. Banks now must take responsibility for knowing who their customers are and for sussing out unusual behavior.

    Kean says the Treasury has used its powers to disrupt the flow of money to al Qaeda, including tracking down individual financial deals.

    But it hasn't stopped terrorism.

    "A lot of what al Qaeda is doing now doesn't require a lot of money, like recruiting people over the Internet," says Kean, who notes that the amounts seem to have gotten smaller since 9/11. "That huge 9/11 operation only took $500,000 maximum."

    Bin Laden's death is an important moral blow to al Qaeda, but it is less of a blow to the organization's lifeline.

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