Dr Timothy Wittig

Associate Fellow - Expert on wildlife trafficking, illicit economies, and terrorist/threat finance


Dr Timothy Wittig is an international relations scholar, intelligence professional, and expert on terrorist/threat finance, environmental security, and geopolitics. He is author of the popular geopolitics newsletter, ‘Global Sync’.

Dr Wittig received his PhD in International Relations from the University of St Andrews in 2009, and has since held various appointments at National Defense University in Washington DC; the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany; the Basel Institute on Governance in Switzerland; the University of Amsterdam; the University of the West of Scotland; and the University of St Andrews. He was a tenured professor of International Relations at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands until 2019, when he decided to return to practice.

Dr Wittig began his career in national security, working in defence intelligence and special operations, and writing a PhD on the anthropology and geopolitics of terrorist and illicit finance. His book, ‘Understanding Terrorist Finance’, reframed how to think about this complex and politically charged topic and is now a standard text in the field. He worked closely with financial institutions and a variety of government and international agencies on how to build better systems to detect and disrupt illicit supply chains and threat financing networks and manage associated risks. As an educator and expert advisor, he regularly briefed policy and decision makers and co-founded the ‘Illicit Trade Summer School’, a unique one-week intensive course bridging theory and practice now in its 8th year.

He is also a life-long environmentalist and leader in the environmental security field. Dr Wittig was one of the first in the US intelligence community to recognise biodiversity collapse as a national security issue, briefing these issues up to Presidential level and helping develop the first US national strategy on global wildlife trafficking. In 2014, he decided to apply his skills to this mission as a full-time wildlife conservationist, working throughout Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia. From 2016 to 2023, he was invited by the Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales to design and lead the intelligence sharing partnership powering the United for Wildlife Transport and Financial Taskforces, a ground-breaking programme that has mobilised 400+ of the worlds’ largest banks, maritime shipping companies and airlines, along with governments and civil society, to take meaningful action against global wildlife trafficking. In parallel, he has worked with RUSI on a number of relevant projects and events, and authored several RUSI publications and commentary pieces.

Over his career, Dr Wittig has lived in 8 countries on 3 continents, working in over 50 countries. He  currently is focused on writing and advising on emerging risk issues for investors, corporates and governments.

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