Blood from Stones

Blood from Stones : The Secret Financial Network of Terror

3.92 (42 ratings by Goodreads)
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In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush froze all terrorist assets in traditional financial institutions and money channels. But Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have long followed a diversification strategy that has rendered the crackdown by the U.S. and other governments almost useless. Blood from Stones is the first book to uncover, through on-the-ground reporting, the interlocking web of commodities, underground transfer systems, charities, and sympathetic bankers that support terrorist activities throughout the world.

As a foreign correspondent and investigative reporter for The Washington Post, Douglas Farah ventured into the dangerous and uncharted world of terrorist financing—a journey that took him across four continents. The information he gathered was far ahead of what U.S. intelligence agencies knew as they scrambled to understand the 9/11 attacks. In unprecedented detail, Farah traces the movement of money from the traffickers of “blood diamonds” in West Africa to the world diamond exchange in Belgium and homegrown money merchants in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Karachi, and Lahore who turn cash into commodities and commodities into cash. He probes charities that siphon off money to pay for such essentials as false identification cards and safe passage for operatives. And he reveals how the funding of terrorist activities is integrated into the age-old hawala network, a trust-based system that has operated for generations across Arabia and Southeast Asia.
Focusing on this critical aspect of the war on terrorism, Blood from Stones not only shows how terrorists are able to orchestrate complex and expensive attacks but also makes it clear why the war will be so difficult to win.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 225 pages
  • 162.1 x 241.3 x 23.1mm | 480.82g
  • Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc)
  • Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Del
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • maps
  • 0767915623
  • 9780767915625

Review Text

Opponents of the WTO take note: one of the unintended consequences of globalization is financial freedom for terrorists. Why has the money trail around al Qaeda grown so cold? In part, writes Washington Post Africa correspondent Farah, the "rapid deregulation that came with globalization, where international financial transfers are instantaneous and hard to trace," has served to hide the terrorist group's balance sheet. Though the Clinton administration took pains to freeze some $240 million belonging to the Taliban and al Qaeda in Western banks in 1999, following attacks on US embassies in Africa, terrorist operatives swiftly transferred still more money into commodities such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, gold, and other precious gems and metals that could be readily traded without drawing attention to the parties involved. Such a savvy move should have come as no surprise, writes Farah, given that Osama bin Laden "initially rose to prominence not as a fighter but as the most influential financier for the mujahadeen fighting to drive the Soviet army out of Afghanistan." Yet it and other ploys apparently eluded Western intelligence agencies, which reacted with embarrassment when Farah filed newspaper reports about al Qaeda's involvement in the West African diamond trade, providing funds that purchased weapons for tyrants such as Charles Taylor of Liberia. Farah's swiftly moving narrative introduces a cast of characters worthy of a le Carre novel, ranging from tough-talking CIA agents to canny African operators to the super-villainous former Soviet officer responsible for arming both sides in the Afghan civil war. It also sounds disturbing themes, among them the ineptitude of high-ranking American intelligence officials: "I returned to Washington stunned that no one in the embassy [in Abu Dhabi] had even heard of one of the largest companies in the gold business"; "the al Qaeda-Hezbollah alliance was observed by intelligence operatives on the ground in Africa and Asia long before it was accepted by analysts in Washington." Immensely valuable for those who follow the movements of international terrorists-who, by Farah's account, walk among us on all sides. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Rating details

42 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 24% (10)
4 45% (19)
3 31% (13)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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