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Israel’s Financial War on Terror Led to Global Shift in Targeting Money
BY: Bill Gertz - Wshington Free Beacon
Israel's government waged financial warfare on terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which became a model for most states battling terrorism today, according to members of a once secret Israeli task force called Harpoon.
The operations ranged from financial operations that caused terrorist groups to lose tens of millions from bad investments, to commando raids on banks linked to the funding of suicide bombings, to targeted assassinations of terror group financiers.
"Harpoon showed the world that there must constantly be new angles to attack terrorist groups and infrastructure," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, coauthor with Samuel M. Katz of a new book, Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism's Money Masters, to be published Tuesday.
"The Israeli task force realized ahead of everyone else that money was the oxygen for the terrorist networks and you could badly damage them by choking it off," she said.
Beginning in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Israel, led by Gen. Meir Dagan, a commando veteran who later headed the Mossad intelligence service for nine years, combined old and new spy methods to squeeze the finances of terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and the regimes and paymasters behind them. The operations greatly reduced the deadly suicide and rocket attacks used by both groups against the Jewish state.
Dagan advocated targeting terrorist financing as a top priority. He died of cancer last year, and the book highlights the major role he played in leading Israel's covert war against terrorists and supporters like Iran.