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Bitcoin Laundering: An Analysis of Illicit Flows into Digital Currency Services

By Yaya Fanusie - January 2018
Through extensive analysis of a data sample of Bitcoin transactions between 2013 and 2016, CSIF director of analysis Yaya Fanusie and Elliptic’s Dr. Tom Robinson identify trends in the flow of bitcoins from illicit actors to various digital currency exchanges and services.


Terror Finance Briefing Book: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb Financial Assessment
By Yaya Fanusie and Alex Entz - December 2017
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), considered al-Qaeda’s wealthiest branch in 2012, may make tens of millions of dollars per year, and likely has enough funding to sustain itself and its Sahel affiliates.


Terror Finance Briefing Book: Hezbollah Financial Assessment
By Yaya Fanusie and Alex Entz - September 2017

Hezbollah – a Shiite terrorist group based in Lebanon – is under financial strain, but is likely to stay buoyed by external support from Iran and by its vast network of illicit businesses around the world. The group makes roughly a billion dollars annually through support from Iran (which provides the bulk of its funding), donations from elements within the Lebanese diaspora, and smuggling and drug trafficking networks worldwide.

Terror Finance Briefing Book: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Financial Assessment
By Yaya Fanusie and Alex Entz - July 2017
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remains well-funded despite a sharp decrease in revenue following the loss of the Yemeni port city of Mukalla. It is also likely to see its income rise by exploiting the instability and sectarianism brought by Yemen’s civil war. At present, AQAP is likely making in the low- to mid-tens of millions of dollars per year, funding itself mostly through criminal opportunism and donations.


Terror Finance Briefing Book: Al-Shabaab Financial Assessment
By Yaya Fanusie and Alex Entz - June 2017
Al-Shabaab – the Somalia-based branch of al-Qaeda (AQ) – currently controls less territory and fewer ports than in years prior, but will likely be able to sustain itself by exploiting the country’s economic activity. Al-Shabaab probably will see its funding grow in years to come as the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) campaign draws down.


Terror Finance Briefing Book: Al-Qaeda's Branch in Syria Financial Assessment
By Yaya Fanusie and Alex Entz - June 2017

Al-Qaeda’s (AQ) branch in Syria – which now calls itself Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) (“Assembly for Liberation of the Levant”) – is likely to have enough funds to finance its operations in 2017, particularly as it leverages alliances in the country’s shifting rebel landscape.

Terror Finance Briefing Book: Boko Haram Financial Assessment
By Yaya Fanusie and Alex Entz - May 2017

Boko Haram (“Western education is forbidden”) is reeling under the pressure of Nigerian military operations, but its mobility and relatively low-cost operations in poorly governed territory will likely allow it to mount attacks despite dwindling resources. As Boko Haram is degraded militarily, it may squeeze locals more to provide for the day-to-day livelihood of its militants.

Terror Finance Briefing Book: Islamic State Financial Assessment
By Yaya Fanusie and Alex Entz - March 2017

In 2016, Islamic State (IS) likely had revenue in the high hundreds of millions of dollars. IS probably made between $1 and $2 billion in 2015. Indeed, IS is one of the most-funded terrorist organizations of all time. IS derives substantial income from controlling land rather than from outside sources, making interdiction difficult without retaking territory.

Auditing Standards for Clients Doing Business with Iran
By Mark Dubowitz - April 2017
Iran represents a heightened risk for companies considering doing business in this emerging market. Despite the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the U.S. maintains a number of non-nuclear sanctions based on Iran’s continued support for terrorism, ballistic missile development, human rights abuses, and de-stabilizing activities in the Middle East. Read here.

Islamic State 2021
By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross - February 2017
The Islamic State (referred to in this report as ISIL) has seen its prospects in North and West Africa grow increasingly dim since early 2015. ISIL has experienced significant losses in North Africa in the past year, especially in Libya, which was once ISIL’s most valuable territory outside of Syria and Iraq, and was home to the group’s unofficial African capital. Read here.

Securing American Interests: A New Era of Economic Power
By Eric B. Lorber - February 2017
American economic power has become an increasingly critical national security tool in recent years. For well over a decade, the United States has leveraged the size of its economy, the centrality of the dollar, and America’s ability to set economic and financial global standards and norms to drive its national security goals. Read here.

Qatar and Terror Finance
By David Andrew Weinberg - January 2017
Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani abdicated as the emir of Qatar in June of 2013, making his son Tamim the youngest ruler in the Arab world. Read here.

Should Boeing and Airbus sell planes to Iran Air?
By Emanuele Ottolenghi - January 2017
In January 2016, Airbus inked a deal to sell 118 planes to Iran Air, the Islamic Republic’s flag carrier, and in June of that year, Boeing announced it had reached a deal for the sale of 100 aircraft as well. Read here.

Flying Above the Radar: Sanctions Evasion in the Iranian Aviation Sector
By Emanuele Ottolenghi, Annie Fixler & Yaya J. Fanusie - July 2016
With the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in January 2016, most international sanctions against Iran have been lifted. These include long-standing U.S. sanctions against Iran’s aviation sector. Read here.

The Iran Deal's Fatal Flaws After One Year: Emboldened Iran and Diminished American Deterrence
By Mark Dubowitz & Annie Fixler - July 2016
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it is worth recalling why this deal is fatally flawed. The JCPOA provides Iran with a patient pathway to nuclear weapons capability by placing limited, temporary, and reversible constraints on Iran’s nuclear activities. Read here.

Don't Buy the Spin: Iran is Getting Economic Relief
By Mark Dubowitz & Annie Fixler 
| Co-authored by Rachel Ziemba - June 2016
In recent weeks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been on an international “road show” to encourage large European banks to return to business with Iran and to help alleviate their concerns about the legal risks associated with engaging with a country still under U.S. sanctions for money laundering, terrorism, missile proliferation, and human rights abuses. Read here.

Monumental Fight: Countering the Islamic State’s Antiquities Trafficking
By Yaya J. Fanusie & Alexander Joffe - November 2015
In the four and a half years since the Syrian civil war began, the terrorist group known as Islamic State (IS) has become one of the most destabilizing actors in the Middle East. Read here.

Iran's mysterious Shrinking Reserves
By Mark Dubowitz & Annie Fixler | Co-authored by Rachel Ziemba - September 2015

A close review of the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has exposed a major divergence between estimates of the Iranian government’s assets held abroad. Read here.

Improving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
By Mark Dubowitz & Annie Fixler | Foreword by Former Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Former Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), Gen. Michael V. Hayden, former CIA and NSA director - August 2015

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated between the P5+1 and Iran places term-limited constraints on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of many of the most impactful global sanctions. Read here.

'SWIFT' Warfare: Power, Blowback, and Hardening American Defenses
By Mark Dubowitz & Annie Fixler | Foreword by Juan Zarate  - July 2015

Economic warfare is now the default instrument of coercive statecraft for confronting challenges to the international order. Read here.

The Cyber Financial Wars on the Horizon
By Juan Zarate | Foreword by Stewart Baker 
- July 2015
Cyberattacks and intrusions threaten U.S. private sector institutions on a daily basis. Read here.

Iran’s Economic Resilience Against Snapback Sanctions Will Grow Over Time
Co-authored by Rachel Ziemba - June 2015

As the P5+1 and Iran enter the final days to conclude a nuclear agreement, the details of the emerging deal are becoming clearer. Read here.

Sanctions Evasion Series
A series focusing on the issue of sanctions evasion - June 2015

These periodic memos will help legal compliance officers, government regulators, and financial intelligence unit personnel identify the methods and schemes that individual actors, organizations, and nation-states use to skirt economic sanctions and undermine their impact... For more info, click here.

Turkish Medium-Term Economic Scenarios: The Costs of Policy Stasis
Co-authored by Maya Senussi and Rachel Ziemba - June 2015

The majority of the analysis on Turkey’s general elections, to be held on June 7, has focused on the domestic political ramifications of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s bid to forge a presidential system that would enable him to consolidate power. But the outcome of this election will also be hugely consequential for the Turkish economy... Read here.

Iran’s Economy Will Slow But Continue To Grow Under Cheaper Oil and Current Sanctions
Co-authored by Jennifer Hsieh and Rachel Ziemba - February 2015

Iran has escaped from the severe recession that threatened its economy in 2012 and early 2013. As previous Roubini Global Economics (RGE) and Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) reports have assessed, Tehran has used the sanctions relief from the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) interim agreement, reached in November 2013, and the resulting improvement in market sentiment to stabilize its economy and build up economic resilience against future sanctions pressure. Read here.

The Case for Deadline-Triggered Sanctions on Iran
The largest obstacle to a deal right now, after Iranian intransigence, is the Obama administration’s assumption that it has sufficient leverage to conclude an acceptable final deal. - January 2015

To date, the Iranian government remains unwilling to come into compliance with its international obligations. At the same time, as the Obama administration has lowered its nuclear demands, U.S. negotiating leverage has diminished. Read here.

Qatar and Terror Finance - Part 1: Negligence
Part one in a three part series on Qatar's performance in the fight against terror finance - December 2014

Qatar’s performance in the fight against terror finance tests the notion that it is a reliable friend and ally. Despite its tiny size, Doha is now being described by some U.S. officials as the region’s biggest source of private donations to radical groups in Syria and Iraq. Read here.

Bordering on Terrorism
Turkey’s Syria Policy and the Rise of the Islamic State - November 2014
Southeastern Turkey has now become a jurisdiction for terrorism finance, weapons smuggling, illegal oil sales, and the flow of fighters to Syria. This pipeline serves the interest of several terrorist organizations, including Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) and the Islamic State (IS)... Read here.