Australian Islamic militants using travel gift cards to fund terrorism

Published: 02 May 2017

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Australian Islamic militants are using travel and retail gift cards to fund terrorism in the war torn Middle East.

Reports suggest travel gift cards can be loaded with up to $100,000 in Australia at a time, and are being spent in countries which border Syria.

Federal intelligence agency AUSTRAC released a report on the issue today.

The Herald Sun revealed AUSTRAC has recently identified 12 cases of gift cards allegedly being used to fund terrorism, with transactions of up to $170,000 being made in the likes of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

The intelligence agency then cited another 66 suspicious money transfers in nations that are recognised as transit areas for terrorism.  

Justice Minister Michael Keenan told the Herald Sun cards are being used by terrorist's worldwide, including in France for the 2015 Paris terror attack.

"In Australia, foreign fighters have used stored value cards to fund their terrorist activity before and after departure to the conflict zone," Mr Keenan said.

"Internationally, we have seen stored value cards used to fund terrorist attacks, including the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015."

"This AUSTRAC report serves as yet another tool to target and disrupt serious organised crime, including terrorist financing, and identify where preventive measures can be strengthened."

The AUSTRAC report also revealed $2.2 billion worth of funds from Australian gift cards were spent in foreign countries in the year to the end of August 2016.

"The most significant potential consequences of the criminal use of stored value cards is the threat to national and international security if used to facilitate terrorism financing, particularly enabling and sustaining the activities of foreign terrorist fighters" the AUSTRAC report said.