Juan Zarate is Senior Adviser, Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He previously served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism from 2005 to 2009. In that role, he was responsible for developing and overseeing the effective implementation of the U.S. government’s counterterrorism strategy. He was also responsible for overseeing all policies related to transnational security threats, including counternarcotics, maritime security, hostages, international organized crime, money laundering, and critical energy infrastructure protection. Prior to joining the National Security Council, Mr. Zarate served at the Department of the Treasury, from 2001 to 2005. He was the first assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, where he led the department’s efforts to attack terrorist financing, build comprehensive anti-money laundering systems, and expand the use of the department’s powers to advance national security interests. This included the development of a new brand of financial power that has been used to pressure North Korea, Iran, and other rogue actors. Mr. Zarate also led the U.S. government’s global hunt for Saddam Hussein’s assets, resulting in the return of over $3 billion of Iraqi assets.
Prior to working at the Treasury Department, Mr. Zarate served as a prosecutor in the Terrorism and Violent Crime Section of the Department of Justice, where he worked on terrorism cases, including the USS Cole investigation. Earlier, he worked as a federal law clerk for Chief Judge Judith Keep in the Southern District of California. Mr. Zarate is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a cum laude graduate of the Harvard Law School. He studied as a Rotary International fellow at the Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. He is the author of Forging Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Effects of U.S. Foreign Policy on Central American Democratization (University Press of America, 1994), as well as “The Emergence of a New Dog of War,” Stanford Journal of International Law (1998), a groundbreaking article on the growing use of private military and security companies by nation states.