Afghan Threat Finance Cell

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The Afghan Threat Finance Cell is a multi-agency intelligence organization, in Afghanistan.[1][2][3] The organization was created in 2008. The United States' Drug Enforcement Administration is the lead agency in the organization. The co-deputy agencies are the United States Treasury and the United States Department of Defense. Other participating agencies include the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Internal Revenue Service.

The Afghan Threat Finance Cell was set up at the initiative of General David Petraeus, when he was promoted to command of CentCom, based on the experience of the earlier Iraqi Threat Finance Cell, that had reported to him when he was in command in Iraq.[4][5]

Tracking both illicit and legitimate financial transactions led to 27 approved targets to be named on the "Joint Prioritized Effects List".[1] The Joint Prioritized Effects List is colloquially called the "kill or capture list". Once an individual is named on this list, special forces are authorized to covertly target and raid that individual's home or workplace.

In February 2011, Dexter Filkins, writing in The New Yorker, reported:[3]

The Threat Finance Cell also has almost single-handedly demonstrated the degree to which the American-led war in Afghanistan is compromised by connections among the Taliban, drug traffickers, and Afghan officials.[3]

The organization was instrumental in exposing corruption in the Kabul Bank, which came close to collapse in 2010.[6]

In February 2012 the Afghan Threat Finance Cell was awarded the Department of Defense's Joint Meritorious Unit Award.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "DEA Afghanistan Unit Receives Prestigious Joint Chiefs of Staff Award". KETK NBC. 2012-02-08. Archived from the original on 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2012-02-10. The ATFC began operations in mid-2009 and is a multi-agency organization led by DEA with the Treasury Department and Department of Defense as co-deputies. Additional personnel staff ATFC from the Department of Defense's CENTCOM, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Internal Revenue Service. In the past, the FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police also were members. The ATFC’s purpose is to attack insurgence funding and financing networks by providing threat finance expertise and actionable intelligence to U.S. civilian and military leaders. 
  2. ^ "US Officials Say Taliban Funding May Be Impossible to Dry Up". AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes. 2009-10-06. Archived from the original on 2010-12-12. Retrieved 2012-02-10. The US government has now created a special investigative unit called the Afghan Threat Finance Cell that gathers financial information about the Taliban. The cell has about two-dozen members drawn from the Drug Enforcement Administration, US Central Command, the Treasury Department and the CIA. The FBI is expected to join soon. 
  3. ^ a b c Dexter Filkins (2011-02-14). "The Afghan Bank Heist: A secret investigation may implicate dozens of high-ranking government officials". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 2012-08-28. The investigation into Kabul Bank was run by a remarkable but little-known group of Americans working at the Embassy called the Afghan Threat Finance Cell. Their findings are considered so sensitive that almost no one—generals, diplomats, the investigators themselves—is willing to talk about them publicly. 
  4. ^ J. Edward Conway (2012-07-05). "Analysis in Combat: The Deployed Threat Finance Analyst". Small Wars Journal. Archived from the original on 2012-08-28. Gen. Petraeus at this time had moved from commander in Iraq to commander of CENTCOM writ large and saw as one of his priorities the establishment of a threat finance cell in Afghanistan akin to the ITFC. When he was asked at a House of Representatives hearing in April of 2009 to comment on how forces in Afghanistan were combating threat finance networks, he responded that the key would be getting the Afghan Threat Finance Cell set up because of the ITFC’s success in Iraq. 
  5. ^ "Budget in brief – FY 2010" (PDF). United States Treasury. 2010. p. 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-08-28. The Afghanistan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC) was established in FY 2009 on the model of the successful Iraq Threat Finance Cell as a joint Treasury, State and Defense Department initiative. 
  6. ^ Michael Harris, "Corruption as Afghan as poppies". Ottawa Sun, February 25, 2011, p. 13.