Give banks names of far-Right extremists, urges think tank

The banking district of Canary Wharf  (PA Archive)
The banking district of Canary Wharf (PA Archive)

Banks and other businesses should be given lists of names of people linked to far right terror groups to help them stop potential attacks, a new report said on Monday.

The report by the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London says that existing counter terrorism financing laws were designed to tackle the Islamist threat posed by groups such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State and are ill-suited to combating the danger from far-right extremists, who tend to be “self-activating” and “operationally autonomous”

It says this is making it harder to detect attackers and that a number of changes are needed to plug the gaps.

These include providing lists of names to private sector organisations such as banks and the sharing of “real-time live intelligence on persons of interest” between “social services, health, education, security intelligence services and financial institutions.”

The report states: “The vast majority of far-right violence emits meagre financial signals before an attack is carried out, which is incongruous with a counter terrorism financing regime that depends on financial institutions to spot overt red flags in transaction data.”

“Further, the reliance on terrorism designations and sanctions to financially isolate groups is at odds with the far right, whose organisational structures are unprecedentedly fluid and adaptable to such restrictive measures.

“States should provide their private sector (particularly financial institutions) with detailed lists (including names and identifying information) of real or legal persons linked to designated far-right groups.”

The report adds that government reforms to address the problems are also needed because the current gaps mean that social media firms and other tech businesses are decidIng the boundaries of free speech instead.

It says this can simply push violent far-right extremists onto more obscure sites where it is harder to spot the danger they pose.

Stephen Reimer, the report’s author, added: “There’s a lot of talk at the moment of cutting off far-right financing, but with the framework we have, counterterrorism financing measures cannot be applied against extremist organisations with unpalatable, yet not illegal, views and aims”.