Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Threat Finance" Analysis & DOCEX

A interesting new piece in Small Wars Journal by J. Edward Conway entitled "Analysis in Combat: The Deployed Threat Finance Analyst" discusses the work of intelligence analysts deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq focused on terrorist finance networks. He describes the work of interagency "threat finance cells (TFCs)" and highlights the role of DOCEX:
The TFCs also proved to be particularly adept at document exploitation (DOCEX) – drawing value from media picked up in the field. For example, TFC agents accompanying U.S. troops on a hawala office raid would seize forensic data such as financial ledgers, which TFC analysts could then process in a matter of days due to in-house TFC interpreters/translators. Benjamin Bahney (who was detailed to the ITFC in 2008 and 2009 while at RAND) along with several of his RAND colleagues affirmed the value of DOCEX in their open source analysis of Al Qaeda financial ledgers. Their analysis shows how in-depth exploitation of financial data can increase our understanding of an organization’s decision-making hierarchy and vulnerable sources of revenue and expenditure, but most importantly, Bahney et al. make a strong case for the relationship between an organization’s financial health and its ability to conduct attacks – validation of the need for threat finance analysts as originally proposed by the CFR back in the wake of 9/11.