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‘Wash Wash’ and Terror Financing | Citizen Support


'Wash Wash' is a term used in Kenya to denote the various types of money laundering businesses that exist mainly in the three major cities of the country. The most common types of ‘wash wash’ are: the fake money scam, the fake gold scam, and the fake tender scam. The thread that weaves them all together and guarantees results innumerable times is the greed of the intended victims. 'Wash wash' is an equal opportunity business model, no one is exempt from its jaws so long as your greed is more than logic. While the scams have had many casualties, including Presidents and Princes from other countries, there are a number of people who willingly engage in it in order to peacefully launder their money in a bid to beat the financial systems. Money laundering essentially defined the process of concealing the illicit origin of proceeds of crimes. There are a number of people who run shady businesses and have every reason to launder their money back into the economy, terrorists being among them as there is a clear need to finance the planning and execution of all terror attacks.


...it befits all citizens especially in the formal and informal financial sectors to stay vigilant and keep asking questions about suspicious amounts of money being moved around.


Terror networks run an impressive decentralized financial system with funds stemming from both legal and illicit sources which are aided by a number of loopholes in the existing financial systems. Terror organizations, contrary to what many believe, have a huge number of supporters across the world who send in donations and aid in order to finance the ideas and the course of the group. Terror networks are also very organized and some of them run a number of profitable side businesses that generate income to fund their core business of terror. But terrorist groups can also get their funding from unlawful activities such as trafficking weapons, drugs or people, or kidnapping for ransom. All these funds are then combined and channeled through legal financial systems that have loopholes that terrorists have been able to exploit effectively. Mpesa for example is one such platform that al Shabab has exploited to deposit funds onto an account in what is referred to as the placement stage, then the layering stage is next where funds are moved between different accounts, and finally the integration stage when funds are withdrawn from an account through customers and agents who may be knowingly or unknowingly complicit. The key objective of individuals or entities involved in the financing of terrorism is therefore not only essentially to conceal the sources of the money, but to conceal both the funding activity and the nature of the funded activity.



According to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, a person commits the crime of financing terrorism "if that person by any means, directly or indirectly, unlawfully and willfully, provides or collects funds with the intention that they should be used or in the knowledge that they are to be used, in full or in part, in order to carry out" an offense within the scope of the Convention.


What this essentially means is ignorance is not a defense against being complicit in the chain of terrorism financing. While members of terror groups have been able to infiltrate the existing ‘wash wash’ networks that have somehow been allowed to thrive in the full glare of law enforcement, it befits all citizens especially in the formal and informal financial sectors to stay vigilant and keep asking questions about suspicious amounts of money being moved around. The financial and reporting institutions should also pull up their socks and take the fight against terror financing more seriously in order to aid the country’s fight against violent extremism.


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