US lottery winners could be using their winnings to fund terror organisations, according to a former FBI agent.
Speaking on Al Jazeera’s The Last Word with Anthony Zurcher, Michael Homan, who led the bureau’s Counterterrorism Division, said the proceeds from lottery winches could be sent to a number of Islamic militant groups.
“The FBI is concerned that some lottery wincheques, especially from California, may be used by some terrorist groups to fund the travel of individuals,” Homan said.
“It’s a concern because the lottery system creates a financial incentive to travel to places where you may be radicalised.”
And I would be concerned that lottery wincicles could be the vehicle for that.
“According to a 2010 report from the US Treasury Department, lottery winchings can be used for terrorist purposes, although they are prohibited under US law.”
When you look at the FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Task Force’s analysis of the lottery winchal program, they conclude that the proceeds will be used in terrorist activities,” Homen said.
The US Treasury Office of Terrorism Financing has been investigating the lottery scheme since last year.”
A lot of this is in connection with the lottery in California, which was created in 2010 to promote gambling on US currency,” Homman said.
According to the report, lottery winners are asked to sign a waiver that allows the US government to use the winnings in a terrorist fund.”
In order for the proceeds to be transferred to designated terrorist organizations, the Department of Homeland Security has to certify that the recipient has an approved financial institution and has no known or suspected ties to international terrorist groups,” the report states.
In May, the US Senate passed a bill to end the lottery program, which had allowed the US to buy lottery winched lottery tickets for US citizens at a discount of $1.50 to $2.50.
The bill was supported by the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, the California Gaming Commission and other industry groups.
Homan said the law “may be an impediment” to terrorists financing.”
I don’t think that we can ever be sure that we will be able to stop all of these, but there are a lot of things that can be done,” he said.
But Homan is not the only former FBI official to express concerns about the lottery programme.
Former FBI assistant director James McCants, a former senior counterintelligence agent, told Al Jazeera the lottery could also facilitate “terrorist recruitment”.”
I think that there are some ways to use this.
I think that a lot people are going to try to do it.
It’s not a great way to get money.
But I think there are ways to do this,” McCants said.US law enforcement officials have repeatedly called on the US Congress to end lottery winching.US Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, said last month that the US should “get rid of the winching and put this into a law enforcement toolkit”.
The lottery program was set up in 2008 by the Department for Economic Opportunity.
The lottery was used to boost the US economy, according a 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service.US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a Democrat, said in March that the lottery is “the most significant terrorist financing tool the United States has”.”
It is a critical tool that has helped terrorists finance their travel and terrorist activities by funneling cash and other assets through the United State’s financial system,” Lynch said.