Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Moyara Ruehsen

Associate Professor

I am passionate about capacity building in the areas of financial regulatory compliance and investigations, and public policies related to illicit markets as well as the macro-economy.  While my research and consulting work can be invigorating, my first love will always be teaching.  I hope to convey my own passion for these subjects to my students and inspire them to go out and explore new career paths they might not have considered when they first began their studies here.

What excites me about being a professor at MIIS is the energy and commitment of my graduate students to making a positive difference in the world.  One of the most gratifying things about being a professor is to hear either through social networking, email, holiday cards, and sometimes the media, what students are doing in their lives and careers with the skill sets they’ve developed at MIIS.

Professor Ruehsen is an award-winning instructor, who has given guest lectures throughout the U.S. and overseas. She received three graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University (MHS, MA, PhD) and then spent a post-doctoral year in 1993 at the University of California, Berkeley.  An economist by training and a certified anti-money laundering specialist (CAMS), and certified financial crime specialist (CFCS), for the past seventeen years she has  been teaching courses on international economics, financial crime, counter-terrorism financing and asset recovery.

Dr. Ruehsen's regional expertise is the Middle East, where she spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Bahrain.  She has also studied at Yarmouk University in Jordan.

Her current research focuses on trade-based money laundering, proliferation financing, and sanctions. Professor Ruehsen has published in a variety of academic journals and professional periodicals. She was a long time contributor to Money Laundering Alert, and also served as a consultant to governments and the private sector.


Money laundering, terrorism financing, corruption, asset recovery,  illegal drug markets, and international macro-economy.

Prof. Ruehsen speaks on euro crisis May 2010


PhD, International Economics and Middle East Studies, Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); MA, International Studies, MHS, International Health, BA, Social Science, Johns Hopkins University; CAMS (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist); CFCS (Certified Financial Crime Specialist)


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).

Course List

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

IPMG 8552 / NPTG 9552 - Fundamentals of Cybersecurity      

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

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NPTG 8572 - Proliferation Financing      

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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NPTG 8621 / MBAG 9621 / DPPG 9621 - Trade-Based Financial Crime      

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

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NPTG 8622 / MBAG 9622 / DPPG 9622 - FinancialInvstigatn&Compliance      

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

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NPTG 8640 - Sem: Threat Financing      

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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