The civil war in Syria and the subsequent war against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups are clear examples of the complexity of modern conflict. The number of parties involved, their unrestricted forms of warfare and the fluidity of their organisations are truly baffling.
An important tool to combat and prosecute these terrorist organisations has been the ‘follow the money approach’. Most of the time, terrorist organisations are incapable of raising enough funds to finance their activities, so they are dependent on external funding from rich individuals or sympathetic regimes.
With regard to the civil war in Syria, terrorist organisations received external funding via couriers in neighbouring countries. Foreign funders know that their activities are illegal and, therefore, try to hide both the financing itself and the nature of the financed activity, making it difficult to uncover or prove the phenomenon.
Nonetheless, these foreign funders contribute to the destructive capability of terrorist organisations and thus also to the suffering of innocent civilians and reputational and economic damage for legitimate businesses. They enable terrorism attacks to take place and are thus considered a sustaining dynamic of terrorism.