Christian Long

Loretta Napoleoni: The Intricate Economics of Terrorism

In TED Talks on May 23, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Reflection by BRENDON L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Loretta Napoleoni: The Intricate Economics of Terrorism

Loretta Napoleoni is a macroeconomist who had the privilege of interviewing terrorists who were a part of the Italian Red Brigades. Through her interviews, she rapidly began to learn that the biggest part of terrorism was not ideology, but rather economics.

She recounts her experience interviewing the leader of the Red Brigades, stating she felt as if she was having lunch with a fellow banker or economist back in England.

Soon the question dawned on her, where does the money that funds these groups come from?

Nobody wanted to fund her research, so she sold her company and funded it herself. She used the money from her company to travel across the world searching for her answer, which she eventually found.

The answer: Terrorism is funded through both legal and illegal activities. A combination of money laundering, along with legal transactions supply these groups with the money they need to carry out their acts of terrorism.

The economics of terrorism closely parallel our own in the way it has evolved and she even goes on to say that our world and their world are intertwined with each other.

Before 9/11, terrorism was a 1.5 trillion dollar business. This money was soon transferred to other currencies after 9/11 due to the Patriot Act which prevented illegal money laundering with the US dollar. Thus, the money was transferred into the European economy and the Euro.

Her passion and curiosity, evident through her research, has shed new light on a subject that many of us try to ignore or deny. She dedicated herself to this cause, and many of us should follow in her footsteps. She gave up her previous life to pursue research in a topic that interested her. This is a burning passion that more of us need to have.

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