Ireland: A specialist Garda unit tasked with assessing intelligence on the financing of terrorism only has two members attached to it, despite external calls on the State to boost its resources and “more actively” pursue prosecutions, it was revealed in a report by Irish Examiner.
The Terrorist Financing Intelligence Unit receives around 880 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) with potential links to international terrorism on average per year.
The unit sends about 95 reports every year to Garda Security and Intelligence (S&I) for investigation.
The finance unit is tasked with examining referrals regarding financial transactions potentially relating to both domestic (such as republican) and international (such as jihadist) terrorism.
The section is part of the Financial Intelligence Unit within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.
The strength of the overall finance unit stands at 11 staff, including two gardaí attached to the terror unit.
This has not changed since an analysis of Ireland’s record on combating money-laundering and terrorist financing was conducted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which published its 200-page report in September 2017.
The Financial Intelligence Unit as a whole has seen a sharp rise in total STRs referred to it, rising from 12,390 in 2012 to 21,682 in 2016.
The FATF report said international terrorism referrals were the third-highest category of STRs, and that new technology would streamline the process.
It said the high numbers of STRs linked to international terrorism “may overburden” the terror unit, with “too many STRs” to properly analyse for investigators or intelligence.
The FATF report criticised the State for the low number of prosecutions for terrorist financing, saying authorities had indicated that the threshold of evidence to prove it was “too high” to pursue prosecutions.
There has been one terrorist financing prosecution to date: Irishman Hassan Bal was convicted last July of sending funds to IS.
The FATF report said the lack of terrorist financing prosecutions was “not consistent with Ireland’s risk profile”.
It said: “Ireland should more actively pursue TF [terrorist financing] prosecutions in line with its risk profile, with a view to securing TF convictions.”