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Funding Terror

The events of September 11, 2001, forever changed the political and legal responses to terrorism. After more than ten years, two wars, numerous targeted military strikes, and significantly increased surveil-lance, we have not stopped the growth of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The War on Terror has involved more than military operations. To stop terrorism, it is imperative to cut off its funding stream. To this end, a number of nations have created financial laws that prohibit the formation of anonymous companies and monitor suspicious bank transfers. Though these laws have been touted as evidence that we are winning the War on Terror, this Article questions their efficacy. In particular, this Article demonstrates how easy it is to form a terrorist finance network and to exploit the impotence of these international and domestic financial regulations. The Article presents findings from the largest global, randomized controlled trial on this issue to date. In our experiment, we acted as customers seeking to form anonymous shell companies in a variety of scenarios resulting in either greater risk or greater reward. On the whole, forming an anonymous shell company is as easy as ever, despite increased regulations follow-ing September 11. The results are disconcerting and demonstrate that we are far from a world that is safe from terror.