After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States Department of the Treasury initiated the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) to identify, track, and pursue terrorists – such as Al-Qaida – and their networks. By following the money, the TFTP has allowed the U.S. and its allies to identify and locate operatives and their financiers, chart terrorist networks, and help keep money out of their hands. The TFTP is firmly rooted in sound legal authority, based on statutory mandates and Executive Orders – including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the United Nations Participation Act (UNPA). The U.S. Treasury Department issues subpoenas to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) – a Belgium-based company with U.S. offices that operates a worldwide messaging system used to transmit financial transaction information – seeking information on suspected international terrorists or their networks.  Under the terms of the subpoenas, the U.S. Government may only review information as part of specific terrorism investigations. 
At the end of 2009 SWIFT stopped storing certain sets of these critical data on its U.S. servers and hosts those data in the European Union.  The United States negotiated an agreement with the European Union on the processing and transfer of this information to the U.S. Treasury Department.  The Agreement became effective on August 1, 2010.
Based on information that identifies an individual or entity, the U.S. Government is able to conduct targeted searches against the limited subset of records provided by SWIFT in order to trace financial transactions related to suspected terrorist activity. SWIFT information greatly enhances the US’ ability to map out terrorist networks, often filling in missing links in an investigative chain.  The U.S. Government acts on this information – and, for counter-terrorism purposes only, shares leads generated by the TFTP with relevant governments’ counter-terrorism authorities – to target and disrupt the activities of terrorists and their supporters. See: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/terrorist-illicit-finance/Terrorist-Finance-Tracking/Pages/tftp.aspx

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