PurposeThis article seeks to examine approaches to combating the “scourge of international terrorism” by targeting the financial resources of terrorist organizations and their supporters. Design/methodology/approachThe article begins with the disputed issue of how to define a “terrorist”, “terrorism”, “terrorist organizations” and “acts of terrorism”. In a global financial system, differences between the definitions of those terms could have significant implications because terrorists have the means and will to operate their financing infrastructure from the least effectively regulated jurisdictions. There are many methods by which terrorists finance both their organizations and specific attacks. By concentrating on three examples of recent terrorist activity, namely the 9/11 attacks in New York, the 7/7 bombings in London, and the transfer of funds from the “Union of Good” to Hamas to fund terrorist attacks in Israel by means of a certain charitable association, the article illustrates the problems facing legal regimes seeking to limit terrorist funding. FindingsThe article notes a broad convergence in the methods of those jurisdictions when combating the financing of terrorism. Originality/valueThe paper provides a discussion of financial resources of terrorism from a legal professional in an area where terrorism is a real danger.