Back to the future for national security surveillance

France says the Paris attacks are likely to have cost no more than 30,000 euros (NZ$49,000) to organise.

The attackers financed the assault by amassing several “tiny sums” which are hard to track, notably by using prepaid credit cards, Finance Minister Michel Sapin told a news conference.

“The cost of these latest attacks, the financing of the attacks, represents a sum not exceeding 30,000 euros,” Sapin said.

This means the attackers did not need to move any large sums of money during their preparations, he said.

The French finance ministry’s intelligence unit Tracfin said prepaid cards, some bought in Belgium, were used to pay for cars and apartments used by the assailants in the 48 hours preceding the attacks.

Sapin said tracking even small sums could turn out to be “crucial” in the fight against terror, if such data were cross-referenced with other parts of any investigation.

As part of efforts to improve surveillance of funds potentially used in future attack plans, France is to give Tracfin easier access to suspects’ files.

For some time, criminals, terrorists and spies were unaware what arrangements governments had made to monitor their communications and funding. ?Governments have quietly placed interception points in their national communication and banking infrastructure, and certain parameters for red flags are set by monitoring meta data. ? Read more »