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23 / 06 / 2004
Loretta Napoleoni, economist, journalist and expert on international terrorism: “the abolition of tax havens would be the first step towards cutting off financing for terrorism”

The Forum “141 Questions” (45): “Who is doing business with terrorists?” Loretta Napoleoni (Rome, 1956), speaker at the “International Justice” Dialogue, acknowledged, “terrorism is an economic reality”. She said that after the Second World War the development of the international economic system as we know it, presently supports international terrorism: “Everybody does business with terrorism”, she concluded.

Loretta Napoleoni, economist and expert on terrorism and the Arab world pointed out today on the Haima Stage that “the abolition of tax havens would be a serious blow to terrorism”. To dry up their sources of financing, she mentioned that it would also be necessary to “put an end both to the smuggling of narcotics as well as electronic products”. Loretta Napoleoni underlined the fact that the terrorist attacks of S11 and M11 “shouldn’t be seen as an attempt to bring down Western democracy; they come in response to an attack on the economic and political powers that maintain the corrupt regimes in the Islamic world.

She argued that opposition from Spanish society to the Iraqi war was insufficient to prevent the terrorist attacks of M11 “because Al Qaeda saw a country co-aligned with Bush and Blair”. In terms of the atmosphere of opposition, she described the abandoning of demonstrations rejecting the war - once it was over - as “a European mistake”.

Loretta Napoleoni went on to mention that Al Qaeda is a transnational organization which generates resources in various countries: “It is a phenomenon related to the globalization of terrorism which started at the start of the ‘90s, coinciding with the process of liberalization in the international markets”. To the numerous questions put to her by the audience, she responded that, in effect, Al Qaeda uses the Internet to communicate and to trigger future terrorist actions: “They don’t need any kind of training camp; they write documents which, on the Net, show how to carry out terrorist attacks”, she explained.

Napoleoni made reference to the war in Iraq as a clear example of how the phenomenon of terrorism is manipulated: “They used false arguments such as weapons of mass destruction and the relationship between Sadam and Al Qaeda for their own agenda and to achieve power”. She denied that governments look favorably on terrorist acts in their countries and repeated that prior to S11 a document released by the UN revealed that 20% of the GDP of Saudi Arabia was used to finance acts perpetrated by Al Qaeda abroad.

In relation with the terrorist group ETA, she explained that this organization has always funded its own operations: “ETA has paid its members low salaries so that they are forced to look for money from family members and friends. The wages of activists’ parents has financed the organization”.

Loretta Napoleoni, author of the book Jihad. How terrorism is financed in the new economy, was the first journalist to interview a member of the Italian Red Brigades. Economist and journalist, she has worked as correspondent for Italian newspapers and magazines since the ‘80s. After working in various banking institutions, personal reasons led her to study the phenomenon of terrorism: a childhood friend was arrested for belonging to the Red Brigades.