Celina Realuyo: Defunding ISIS and Other Terrorists

Defunding ISIS and Other Terrorists
(Celina Realuyo, November 30, 2016)

Transcript available below

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About the speaker

Celina Realuyo is Professor of Practice at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University where she focuses on U.S. national security, illicit networks, transnational organized crime, counterterrorism and threat finance issues.

From 2002-2006, Professor Realuyo served as the State Department Director of Counterterrorism Finance Programs in the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in Washington, D.C. She managed a multi-million dollar foreign assistance program aimed at safeguarding financial systems against terrorist financing. Under her stewardship, the U.S. delivered training and technical assistance to over 20 countries across four continents (including Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.)

Professor Realuyo holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, MA from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), BS from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and Certificate from l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, France. Professor Realuyo has taught at Georgetown, George Washington, and Joint Special Operations Universities. She has traveled to over 70 countries and speaks English, French, and Spanish fluently, and is conversant in Italian, German, Filipino, and Arabic.

She speaks regularly on “Managing U.S. National Security in 21st Century,” “The 3 R’s: Responding to Risk with Resourcefulness,” “Following the Money Trail to Combat Terrorism, Crime, and Corruption,” and “Combating the Convergence of Illicit Networks in an Age of Globalization.”  

She previously spoke at Westminster on the subject of Combating Terrorist Financing And Illicit Networks.


Robert Reilly:

Well, tonight it is a great, great pleasure for me to present our speaker, Celina Realuyo, who was a colleague at National Defense University with me, with Tom Blau, in this room, and it was a privilege to work with her in the counterterrorism fellows program. In fact, we once joint taught a course and Celina is still at National Defense University. She is professor of practice at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies and she focuses there on national security, illicit networks, transnational organized crime, counterterrorism and threat finance issues.

Celina brings both a background in finance in New York, an academic background in the deep government experience to these topics. She was the State Department Director of Counterterrorism Finance Programs in the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in Washington. She managed a multi-million dollar foreign assistance program aimed at safeguarding financial systems against terrorist financing.

Celina’s background from Harvard Business School, MA Johns Hopkins, Bachelor of Science Georgetown University Foreign Service School, Certificate l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris. She has taught at Georgetown, George Washington, at Joint Special Operations Universities, has traveled to more than 70 countries in her work, speaks French, Spanish, fluently, and can converse in Italian, German, Filipino, and Arabic. Those are just some highlights of her many accomplishments. And tonight she will be speaking on, “How to Defund ISIS and Other Terrorists.” Please join me in welcoming Celina Realuyo.

Celina Realuyo:

What I plan to do tonight – and leave ample time to questions for such a learned and inquisitive group from our cocktail session – time for questions. What we will take a look at is how this whole field of looking at threat financing, which is how threats are being funded has become now an integral part over the last ten years of all of our campaigns and it is actually part of all the national strategies and we anticipate in the next administration it will be an important facet as opposed to just an accessory, which it had been prior to 9/11 and even in the years after 9/11.

How are we using financial intelligence to better understand our adversary and more importantly, how are we using financial instruments offensively, which you probably know as sanctions, and defensively, which is in terms of investment and providing opportunity, and more importantly, prosperity and security go hand in hand, so we are trying to make it and actually establish discipline much more so.

So, if we can start and take a look more importantly at the world we are living in. This is what the next administration is going to inherit. Everyone calls this my circle of doom. My students who are at George Washington University, they are like she is kind of the professor of the dark side of globalization. I do not know if you know that there is something called Rate My Professor that the students actually put in there about the pros and cons like she is a tough grader, the one lately which is a bit disturbing, ‘she gets everyone a job at the CIA or FBI’, so I have for next semester a wait list of seventeen students trying to get into my class with very creative writing as to why they have to take my class.

But this is what we take a look at. And this is literally this question of state and non-state actors, and we were just at a conference today at the Foreign Policy Initiative this morning at the Newseum where General Votel, who is leading the efforts of Central Command against ISIL as well as the fight in Afghanistan and South Asia, really now captures it as a trans regional threats and what he calls multidimensional domains, including cyber in that.

We are going to focus particularly on the threat of both ISIL in Iraq and Syria but even more disturbingly is beyond and how it is really all of these away games that we used to talk about how to contain are now no longer that. They actually are threats as we saw sadly with the attack, a terrorist attack at Ohio State University, which I will gladly say that is what it was – are now actually coming and encroaching on our homeland.

But we take a look at all of these different dimensions and these different threats, whether it is a rising China or adventurism of Russia, and these other issues that are taking place around the world, which is actually now demanding a new construct of national security in what is even a post-9/11 world.

We have these post-war institutions such as the way we have set up the 1947 National Security Act, which probably needs to be amended if not totally reformed, so how do you use post-World War II tools and organizations and mechanisms to fight the threats of the 21st century? This is kind of what we are trying to grapple with in this sense.

Illicit Networks are Empowered by Globalization

So we see just as we have been the beneficiaries of globalization over the last thirty years in terms of communications, technology, access to goods, services, information, and physical access, the ability for all of us to travel to all of the corners of the world, we have seen how illicit actors – and when we talk about those, we include terrorists, criminals, proliferators, and their facilitators – have also taken advantage of a more interconnected world and more importantly more porous borders, as well as the cyber domain, which is all the rage now, we are always talking about cyber security and the cyber instrument of national power.

You are actually seeing now just a factoid. I had the pleasure of talking about Russia. We are actually seeing cocaine in discotheques in Moscow, costing six times the price of the same amount sold in a disco in Miami. You are seeing what we see, that globalization of drug trafficking, arms trafficking, sadly human trafficking, as well as all other kinds of contraband, taking advantage of the global supply chain.

What we are seeing is just as large corporations try to maximize their opportunities and more importantly take advantage of this inter-connectedness, we call it the 4Ms. Marines love the letter M, right Sebastian? And I am now the professor of the 4Ms because nobody can pronounce my name. And it is about moving your team and your equipment from point a to point b. Walmart is doing the exact same thing now, getting the latest toys from point a to point b for Christmas shopping.

Global Supply Chain Management Four Critical Elements

And the first thing is what is moving through that supply chain? Materiel. More importantly, who is controlling that is this concept of manpower, and sadly, corruption is perhaps the greatest threat in terms of giving and allowing space for these illicit actors to undermine a lot of our institutions. And the third one is financing, which I spent a lot of time taking a look at. And then lastly, the different mechanisms, are we using land, air, sea, space, and now cyberspace as different routes.

Critical Enablers of Illicit Networks

So what we are seeing now is when we try to analyze our adversaries, these illicit networks, whether they be terrorist or criminal in nature, we were really focused on a decapitation strategy, looking at command and control, very classic military doctrine.

What we learned through Afghanistan and Iraq was that we had to take a look at what else helped these groups sustain themselves and these organizations sustain themselves, what type of environment A.K.A. corrupt environment allowed them to flourish in ungoverned spaces, and they became alternative governed spaces by these groups. How are they recruiting personnel and retaining them? How are they using logistics and technology in order to actually control larger parts of a territory? And then more importantly, how are they using illicit activities?

And this is the classic case we have seen in Afghanistan, where there are actually more opiates being produced now than before we intervened after 9/11. All of these different facilitators actually require one thing in common and that is the money part, and that is why we have tried to figure out how to deny these groups access to these different facilitators.

Understanding Threat Financing Flows

What we have seen then is when we talk about how these groups finance themselves, we look at four kind of steps and stages. How are they raising the money? How are they moving that money? How are they storing that money? And then lastly, how are they actually spending the money? And this is very important in a lot of our counter-terrorism investigations.

So as we speak right now there is a discovery just today that the Ohio State attacker was actually here in Washington, D.C. He actually (through his credit card receipts and the kind of signature) bought the butcher knife that he used in the attack, initial reports are revealing this, at a Home Depot here in Washington, D.C. What was he doing here?

See the rest of her talk…