FINANCIAL records and audits provide "blueprints of the architecture" of terrorist organisations, a top banker said yesterday.
"By following money trails through financial information sharing worldwide, we can unearth terrorist cells and networks, and save lives," Ithmaar Bank chief executive officer Michael Lee told delegates at the Middle East: Homeland and Global Security Forum.
"The maintenance of terrorist networks and acquisition and development of lethal weapons is expensive, even if a particular attack does not prove costly in isolation," he added.
"Identifying and isolating the sources of funding for terrorist groups incapacitates not only their execution of attacks, but also their ability to maintain international alliances for creating infrastructures around the world for recruitment and training, and to purchase or develop deadly weapons."
Mr Lee was speaking at a session on the protection of financial institutions from terrorist penetration.
Just over a month after the September 11 attack, Mr Lee represented the GCC at an emergency meeting in Washington where the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering issued special recommendations on terrorist financing.
"To stem the flow of funds to terrorists, countries must address the threat of terrorist financing - domestically and internationally - to deny terrorist networks financing and safe havens," he said.
"Through capacity building, a country can reinforce its legal, financial regulatory, financial intelligence, law enforcement, and judicial capabilities to combat terrorist financing.
"And the international community, by leveraging its resources to assist countries with meeting the challenges posed by terrorist financing, can better safeguard financial systems against abuse by terrorist financiers around the world.
"Combating terrorist financing imposes inconvenience on us all; whether it be at airport security queues, in having to separate containers with liquids, in waiting for no-shows' baggage to be unloaded, and in frequent travellers counting cash to ensure that they are not carrying more than $10,000 in cash. And it seems that this inconvenience will continue to escalate.
"Civilisation, as I have said, unlike terrorists, values each individual life. And we must go to extraordinary lengths to protect each innocent life, no matter what the inconvenience to our business or social activity.
"If this is the only victory of the terrorists - to create massive inconvenience, they will have had a hollow victory."