Profiling Terrorists—Using Statistics to Fight Terrorism

Robert Beeres*, Robert Bertrand, Myriame Bollen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The financial war on terror necessitates authorities and governments to search for novel methods and tools to identify, prosecute and round up (members of) terrorist networks and, preferably, preventively thwart their activities. Terrorist profiling, originating in offender profiling, provides one such method. It aims to derive information from seemingly relevant and coherent sets of attributes. Grounded in counter threat finance, and geared towards incapacitating terrorist business models and underpinning financial resources, the toolkit used is derived from another area of misuse of financial services, namely money laundering. This chapter, based on practice and scarce research, thus far, renders an account of developments in terrorist profiling in the financial economic realm. Specifically, it is discussed whether statistical profiling based on retail banking behaviour can be considered effective in the financial fight against terrorism. We conclude that, to date, similar to the effectiveness of FATF’s financial measures to fight terrorism, the effectiveness of statistical profiling in this respect remains limited.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNL ARMS Netherlands Annual Review of Military Studies 2017
EditorsPaul Ducheine, Frans Osinga
Place of PublicationThe Hague
PublisherTMC Asser Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-6265-189-0
ISBN (Print)978-94-6265-188-3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2017


  • Counter threat finance
  • statistical profiling
  • Terrorism

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