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Associate Professor

Moyara Ruehsen
McCone Building M213
(831) 647-4145

Professor Moyara Ruehsen oversees the Financial Crime Management program, which offers a specialization for master’s degree candidates as well as a stand-alone certificate for mid-career professionals. After receiving three graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University, Professor Ruehsen spent a post-doc year at the University of California, Berkeley, to study international organized crime. Since then she has taught courses on financial crime, including money laundering, trade-based financial crime, corruption, proliferation financing, and terrorist financing. 

Her regional interest is the Middle East, where she spent a year as a Fulbright scholar in Bahrain. She also studied for a summer at Yarmouk University in Jordan, and has a Master’s degree in Middle East Studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. Her consulting work often takes her to the region where she has lectured and conducted training in Kuwait, Iran, the Palestinian National Authority, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq. 

She also consults for the U.S. government. Professor Ruehsen served for several years on the Editorial Advisory Board of Money Laundering Alert, and the Middle East Task Force of ACAMS (Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists). She has published articles and book chapters on a variety of topics related to threat finance, and is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist and a Certified Financial Crime Specialist.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past four years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

This course begins with an introduction to financial crime, beginning with traditional money laundering schemes, and then delves more deeply into financial crimes related to trade and investment, such as false trade invoicing, the black market “peso” exchange, the use of high value metals, and sanctions circumvention. Prevailing* laws, regulations and best practices will be reviewed. Students will look at a few case studies and learn how to spot “red flag” indicators, and conduct a simulation in class. This will require critical thinking. Students will also complete a take-home exercise involving visual presentation skills requiring the ability to convey a complex crime schematically.

This course is designed for students who hope to become financial crime specialists, or merely gain fundamental knowledge of financial crime risks and regulations. This expertise is useful for careers in public or private sector compliance, investigative analysis, trade finance, and security/intelligence.

Spring 2017 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term, Spring 2018 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term

View in Course Catalog

Spring 2017 - MIIS, MIIS Second Half of Term, Spring 2018 - MIIS, MIIS Second Half of Term

View in Course Catalog

Countering proliferation financing has become an important tool in combating the movement of prohibited nuclear technology and the development of suspect nuclear programs in rogue states. But how can we disrupt the networks of shell companies and shipping companies that are used to finance these proliferation activities? And whose responsibility should it be? Governments are increasingly calling on financial institutions, manufacturers, and freight forwarders to act as the first line of defense by conducting enhanced due diligence on transactions that involve dual-use items or countries or individuals under sanction. But we can do much more. This course provides young professionals with what they need know in order to help prevent and detect proliferation financing at multiple stages of the transaction chain.

This 2-unit course will be taught entirely online in an asynchronous fashion over ten weeks, although there will be fixed deadlines for quizzes and other deliverables. Through the use of original podcasts, narrated slide shows, video-taped interviews with the world’s leading experts, and short documentaries, as well as links to relevant news clips, refereed journal articles and research reports, homework exercises, and quizzes, participants will come away from this experience learning about

• What is WMD proliferation financing

• International guidelines for preventing and detecting proliferation financing

• How the North Korean regime evades financial sanctions

• Evidence of North Korean cybercrime and other fundraising activities

• How the Iranian regime evades financial sanctions

• How to recognize “red flags” or risk indicators of proliferation financing

• How shell companies are created and the phenomenon of nested shell companies

• Lessons learned from recent cases of proliferation financing

• New efforts on the part of individual countries to hold financial facilitators accountable

• How to improve automated sanction screening tools

Students may not have previously taken NPTG 8640 SEM: Threat Financing.

Spring 2018 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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This seminar is a follow-up to the introductory course, NPTG 8621: Introduction to Money Laundering and Trade-Based Financial Crime, where students were introduced to the scope and methods of money laundering and terrorism financing. This seminar is designed to allow students to probe more deeply into case studies specific to threat finance, which is defined broadly as the financing of illegal activities that pose a threat to national security. This naturally includes terrorism financing and proliferation financing, but can also include the money laundering operations of violent narco-trafficking organizations or the laundering activities of traffickers of illegal conventional weapons sales. Readings and class discussions will examine the evolution of counter-threat financing efforts and strategies, including seizing funds, following funds, blacklisting individuals and entities, blacklisting countries, legislative and regulatory capacity building around the globe, regulatory fines of institutions, and civilian survivor lawsuits against financial institutions for facilitating terrorism financing specifically. We will also look closely at specific cases, separate from the cases that students will investigate as part of their final deliverable, which can be a paper or video documentary. And finally, we will discuss how a case is initiated and developed, looking at the various steps involved. The course will explore cases and policy measures from both the U.S. and abroad, and at the multilateral level, and feature a couple of guest speakers offering first-hand observations from the field.

Fall 2017 - MIIS

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Cybersecurity is becoming a concern for everyone, and not just for our national security cyber professionals. Whether we want to protect our own personal devices and information, or help our employers develop proper cyber hygiene and safety protocols, we need to learn the vocabulary, concepts and basic techniques that cybersecurity specialists take for granted. This course is designed with the beginner in mind. The course begins with basic cybersecurity vocabulary and an explanation of how the internet works. We will discuss different types of malware and attacks, and cyber-enabled fraud, and then go into specific countermeasures. Countermeasures include everything from basic procedures like multi-factor authentication, to more sophisticated passive and active methods of intrusion detection. Students will also learn about symmetric and asymmetric encryption.

Spring 2017 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

  • Money Laundering
  • Terrorism Financing
  • Proliferation Financing
  • Corruption, PEP Monitoring
  • Cyber-enabled Financial Crime
  • Sanctions Compliance
  • BSA/AML Compliance

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Washington, D.C.  Doctoral exams in both International Economics and Middle East Studies.
  • MA, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), JHU, Washington, D.C.  
  • MHS, School of Public Health, JHU, Baltimore, Maryland. Biostatistics and International Health. Delta Omega National Honor Society.
  • BA, School of Arts and Sciences, JHU, Baltimore, Maryland. Phi Beta Kappa and General Honors.

Professor Ruehsen has been teaching at the Institute since 1994.


  • Moyara Ruehsen and Leonard Spector, "Following the Proliferation Money," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol 71 (5), 2015.
  • "Breaking the Ice In Baghdad," Toastmaster Magazine, September 2014.
  • Freeman, Michael and Moyara Ruehsen, "Terrorism Financing Methods: An Overview," Perspectives on Terrorism Volume 7, Issue 4, August 2013.
  • "PKK" in Michael Freeman's Financing Terrorism: Case Studies, Ashgate Press, 2012.
  • "Afghanistan's Drug War - The Farmers Aren't the Enemy," LA Times, 2 November 2009.
  • “Arab Government Responses to the Threat of Terrorist Financing,” Chapter in J. Giraldo and H. Trinkunas, Terrorism Financing and State Responses in Comparative Perspective, Stanford University Press, Fall 2007.
  • “Choosing an Appropriate Palestinian Monetary Regime,” Research in Middle East Economics Volume 6, 2005, pp. 183-199.
  • “Diamonds Are a Terrorist’s Best Friend,” MoneyLaundering.com (September 2004).
  • “Little Noticed UN Report Cites Alleged Saudi Terrorist Financing,” Money Laundering Alert, (October 2003).
  • “Dirty Laundering: Financing Latin America’s Drug Trade,” (review essay) in Harvard International Review, (Winter 2003).
  • “The Fallacy of Sanctions,” Middle East Insight (March-April 2002).
  • “Tracing al-Qaeda’s Money,” Middle East Insight (January-February 2002).
  • “Suspected UAE Links to Terrorist Funds Spark Anti-Laundering Efforts,” Money Laundering Alert (December 2001).
  • “Arab Naming Customs Complicate Screening for Suspected Terrorists,” Money Laundering Alert (December 2001).