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November 20, 2017 2:29 pm

How Israel Fought Terror Financing

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Hamas terrorists. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

After reading the new gripping book, Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel Katz, you will want to thank the Mossad, Shurat HaDin and Darshan-Leitner. The book’s fascinating story describes the work that has been done since 9/11 by a range of Israeli security organizations and private lawyers to “destroy terrorists’ money networks.”

The book tells the tale of the late legendary Mossad commander, Meir Dagan, as he created an intelligence task force, code-named Harpoon, to launch financial warfare against the terrorist organizations that target Israel and the West. Harpoon utilized soldiers, spies, accountants, diplomats, hackers, assassins and even lawyers to try and choke off the funding that is the oxygen of the Middle East extremist groups. Dagan gave his task force agents a broad directive: “Follow the money, target the money and kill the money.”  

Darshan-Leitner worked with Israeli intelligence units to financially battle the terror groups in courtrooms around the world.

In reading this book, one learns:

The true cost of a suicide bomber is much more than the vest and explosives. Funds must be paid to those who train them, those who drive them to the location, those who buy the nails and other nightmarish parts of the bomb, the safe houses in which they live prior to the bombing, the recruiters who find the people willing to be bombers, etc. And each of these people has families, clothing and health bills, and more. Israel worked to cut off money to all of these people.

Israel set up worldwide operations to stop the flow of terrorist organizations that sold drugs to finance their crimes. The Israelis also set up multiple ponzi schemes to rip off the wealthiest terrorists in the world, including Hezbollah and Yasser Arafat, both of whom were stripped of hundreds of millions of dollars using covert operations. In one particularly riveting narrative, the book details the story of an Arab financier, Salah Ezzedine, who became known as the “Lebanese Bernie Madoff” in an operation that was conducted by Israel’s security services to strip Hezbollah and their leaders of up to a billion dollars.

Ever wonder why you are asked the purpose of your wire transfers? The answer comes in this book — simply, worldwide financial institutions have tired of transferring money because the risk of expensive litigation by Israeli and other governments has outweighed the risks of touching terrorist money.

This book also details the fascinating relationships and litigation work done by Shurat Hadin, led by coauthor Darshan-Leitner, which has achieved over $2 billion in judgments on behalf of terror victims. It’s hard to get Hamas to write a check, so Darshan-Leitner went after the banks.

This fascinating book about the intelligence and legal war against terror is a must-read. As we learn at the end of the book, similar efforts are now utilized by the United States to counter ISIS, and other enemies of the West. This kind of unconventional warfare — lawfare — is one of the best weapons to fight modern-day terror.

Tamir Pardo, the former director of the Mossad, says that the book is the “riveting and untold story of the intelligence task force that launched a dynamic new front in the war on terror.” He’s right — and while more than 20% of the book was censored by Israeli security services, it’s nevertheless an eye-opener and must-read to better understand the ongoing fight against terror.

Ronn Torossian is a New York-based public relations executive. He’s a board member of Shurat Hadin.

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