FATF targets terror-financing of right-wing extremists

FAFT president notes rise of right-wing extremists in U.S., globally

Marcus Pleyer of Germany took on his nation’s two-year presidency of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in July of 2020. Pleyer knew that the global AML/CTF standard-setting organization would see an impact of Covid on money laundering and terror financing. But another priority named in 2020 has taken on new urgency, and that is the tracking and preventing of the financing of terror by right-wing extremists around the world.

In a Dec. 28, 2020, interview with the Wall Street Journal, Pleyer described right-wing terrorism as having the potential to be “ the fastest growing security and terrorist threat globally.”

Pleyer said FATF has noted “a 320 percent rise in attacks over the past five years.”  He said the number of attacks by such groups in the U.S. alone from 2010 to 2017 has exceeded the number of attacks carried out by groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

In announcing objectives for the German presidency of FATF, the organization named specifically the financing of ethnically or racially motivated terrorism: “Ethnically or racially motivated terrorist attacks (sometimes also referred to as “right wing terrorist” or “far right terrorist” attacks) have increased worldwide in recent years. These attacks (including in Christchurch, Pittsburgh, Halle, Hanau) tragically highlight the importance of raising awareness and further analyzing the phenomenon, including the underlying financing schemes. The German Presidency plans to improve understan

ding in the international community of financial flows and (cross-border) linkages between these terror groups and individuals, their means and donor structures as well as typical modi operandi.”

In a September 2020 speech describing FATF priorities, Pleyer said he “cannot emphasize enough the importance of public-private partnerships in combatting terrorist financing. Many of us in Europe, the Americas, and the Asia Pacific region have witnessed a number of high-profile terrorist attacks in the last few years. The establishment of trust and confidence between public and private sectors is therefore fundamental in this fight against terrorist financing. Public-private partnerships must be established before the need for a terrorist financing investigation arises.”

Pleyer’s recent question-and-answer session with the Journal preceded the loosely coordinated mob attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. Investigations are currently underway to determine the instigators, origins, and responses to the attack.

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