In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush froze all terrorist assets in traditional financial institutions and money channels. But Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have long followed a diversification strategy that has rendered the crackdown by the U.S. and other governments almost useless. Blood from Stones is the first book to uncover, through on-the-ground reporting, the interlocking web of commodities, underground transfer systems, charities, and sympathetic bankers that support terrorist activities throughout the world.
As a foreign correspondent and investigative reporter for The Washington Post, Douglas Farah ventured into the dangerous and uncharted world of terrorist financing—a journey that took him across four continents. The information he gathered was far ahead of what U.S. intelligence agencies knew as they scrambled to understand the 9/11 attacks. In unprecedented detail, Farah traces the movement of money from the traffickers of “blood diamonds” in West Africa to the world diamond exchange in Belgium and homegrown money merchants in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Karachi, and Lahore who turn cash into commodities and commodities into cash. He probes charities that siphon off money to pay for such essentials as false identification cards and safe passage for operatives. And he reveals how the funding of terrorist activities is integrated into the age-old hawala network, a trust-based system that has operated for generations across Arabia and Southeast Asia. Focusing on this critical aspect of the war on terrorism, Blood from Stones not only shows how terrorists are able to orchestrate complex and expensive attacks but also makes it clear why the war will be so difficult to win.