The United States’ and Saudi Arabia’s long-standing cooperation in combatting global terrorism is by its nature a secretive area of the relationship but is occasionally revealed to the public as it was this week in the case of another foiled Al Qaeda bombing plot.
SUSRIS has compiled much of the publicly available information including exclusive interviews with officials and specialists about these challenges. Today we provide for your consideration a very insightful interview with David Cohen, the current Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence; conducted by Juan Zarate, a senior adviser at CSIS and former Deputy National Security Adviser for Combatting Terrorism and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.
Eight years ago Mr. Zarate, representing the U.S. Treasury Department, testified before the U.S. House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, on the subject of cooperation between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia on the “Fight Against Terrorist Financing.” He addressed global efforts to tighten the “financial net”, and “attack and prevent the flow of funds to terrorists,” and noted, “The efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia fall directly in line with this international cooperation and continue to improve in substantively important ways.” In his March 2004 testimony he went on to say that:
“The Kingdom has taken important steps, independently and along with us, to attack al Qaida’s finances and to prevent the continued support for those who would attack the United States and Saudi Arabia. Our progress in working with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to attack terrorist financing networks is best understood in the context of the complementary targeted and systemic approaches described in our 2003 National Money Laundering Strategy. In the short term, we have engaged the Saudis on a number of terrorist financing targets to eliminate key sources and conduits of terrorist support and have established direct mechanisms to work together on the real threat posed to both of our countries. Over the longer term, we have worked with the Saudis to enhance the transparency and accountability of formal and informal financial systems, particularly those that have been abused by terrorists to raise and move money in the past. These efforts are ongoing, and much work remains to be done. Yet the targeting actions and systemic reforms undertaken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia clearly demonstrate its commitment to work with us and the international community to combat the global threat of terrorist financing.”
The interview presented in this video by CSIS was recorded May 10, 2012 and runs about one hour. It provides an overview of the financial aspects of countering terrorism and brings you up to date on US Government policies and activities in this area. We applaud CSIS for organizing timely, important discussions of this nature and sharing them via video recordings.
Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
Discussion with Under Secretary David S. Cohen
Center for Strategic and International Studies
May 10, 2012
David S. Cohen was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence on June 30, 2011. As under secretary, he leads the department’s policy, enforcement, regulatory, and intelligence functions aimed at identifying and disrupting the lines of financial support to international terrorist organizations, proliferators, narcotics traffickers, and other illicit actors posing a threat to our national security. He is also responsible for directing the department’s efforts to combat money laundering and financial crimes. In this role, he serves as a member of the Obama administration’s national security team in developing financial strategies to combat these wide-ranging threats and protect the U.S. and international financial systems from abuse.
Juan C. Zarate is a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the senior national security consultant and analyst for CBS News, and a former deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser. He advises companies and organizations on national, homeland, and finance-related security, technologies, and investments. He sits on the Board of Advisors for the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the Board of Advisors for Regulatory DataCorp, and the Board of Directors for American Charities for Palestine.
Mr. Zarate served as the deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism from 2005 to 2009. In this role, he was responsible for developing and overseeing the effective implementation of the U.S. government’s counterterrorism strategy. He was also responsible for overseeing all policies related to transnational security threats, including counternarcotics, maritime security, hostages, international organized crime, money laundering, and critical energy infrastructure protection. Prior to joining the National Security Council, Mr. Zarate served as the first assistant secretary of the treasury for terrorist financing and financial crimes, where he led the Treasury Department’s domestic and international efforts to attack terrorist financing, build comprehensive anti-money-laundering systems, and expand the use of the department’s powers to advance national security interests. He also led the U.S. government’s global efforts to hunt for Saddam Hussein’s assets, resulting in the return of over $3 billion of Iraqi assets from the U.S. and around the world. Mr. Zarate served at the Treasury Department from 2001 to 2005, where he received the Treasury Medal. Prior to working at the Treasury Department, he served as a prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s Terrorism and Violent Crime Section, where he worked on terrorism cases, including the USS Cole investigation. He previously worked as a federal law clerk for Chief Judge Judith Keep in the Southern District of California. Mr. Zarate is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a cum laude graduate of the Harvard Law School. He studied as a Rotary International Fellow at the Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. A noted commentator on national security issues, with a weekly show for CBS News called “Flash Points,” Mr. Zarate is a recognized author with several publications, including “Harnessing the Financial Furies: Smart Financial Power and National Security,” Washington Quarterly (October 2009); “The Emergence of a New Dog of War: Private International Security Companies, International Law, and the New World Disorder,” Stanford Journal of International Law (Winter 1998); and Forging Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Effects of U.S. Foreign Policy on Central American Democratization (University Press of America, 1994).
- Discussion with David Cohen – CSIS – May 10, 2012
- Critical Commercial and Economic Ties: A Conversation with Jose Fernandez – SUSRIS Exclusive Interview – Apr 3, 2012
- Saudi Arabia and the Fight Against Terror Financing Testimony by Juan C. Zarate – SUSRIS – Mar 29, 2004
- Saudi Arabia and the Fight Against Terror Financing Testimony by J. Cofer Black – SUSRIS – Mar 29, 2004
- FBI – Mr. Thomas J. Harrington, Deputy Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division – SUSRIS – Mar 29, 2004