December 14, 2003

Al Qaeda's Finances Ample, Say Probers Worldwide Failure to Enforce Sanctions Cited

Well, the Bush cabal has come up with a "December
Surprise." It is hard to believe it took this long, if
the story is true. It is hard to believe his poll
numbers are as bad as they must be, if as I suspect,
they have known where Saddam was all along or at least
for awhile and were waiting for *later* in the 2004
election cycle to "bring him in." As predicted in the
LNS, I expected them to trot Saddam and Osama out for
the fall campaign in 2004. Do they also have the Osama
card? And when will they cash that one in? There is a
downside to the capture of Saddam, of course --
unfortunately, the guerilla war being waged against
the US presence is not predicated on allegiance to
Saddam, and sadly it will continue, and with it, the
pointless deaths of US GIs. Meanwhile...

Washington Post: As a result, al Qaeda continues to receive ample
funding not only to carry out its own plots but also
to finance affiliated terrorist groups and to seek new
weapons, the investigators and terrorism experts said.
A report released this month by a U.N. panel of
experts documented the continued flow of money --
including drug money -- to terrorist organizations and
warned that al Qaeda "has already taken the decision
to use chemical and bioweapons in their forthcoming
attacks. The only constraint they are facing is the
technical complexity to operate them properly and
effectively" -- rather than a lack of means to acquire
them.


Support Our Troops, Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A62515-2003Dec13.html

washingtonpost.com
Al Qaeda's Finances Ample, Say Probers Worldwide Failure to Enforce Sanctions Cited

By Douglas Farah
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 14, 2003; Page A01

Governments around the world are not enforcing global
sanctions designed to stem the flow of money to al
Qaeda and impede the business activity of the
organization's financiers, allowing the terrorist
network to retain formidable financial resources,
according to U.S., European and U.N. investigators.

Several businessmen designated by the United Nations
as terrorist financiers, whose assets were supposed to
have been frozen more than two years ago, continue to
run vast business empires and to travel freely because
most nations are unaware of the sanctions and others
do not enforce them, the investigators said. Several
charities based in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that were
reportedly shut down by the governments there because
of the groups' alleged financial ties to Osama bin
Laden also continue to operate freely, they said.

As a result, al Qaeda continues to receive ample
funding not only to carry out its own plots but also
to finance affiliated terrorist groups and to seek new
weapons, the investigators and terrorism experts said.
A report released this month by a U.N. panel of
experts documented the continued flow of money --
including drug money -- to terrorist organizations and
warned that al Qaeda "has already taken the decision
to use chemical and bioweapons in their forthcoming
attacks. The only constraint they are facing is the
technical complexity to operate them properly and
effectively" -- rather than a lack of means to acquire
them.

"We desperately need to revitalize our effort to choke
off terrorist financing, because until we cut that
off, we have not crippled al Qaeda's ability to attack
us," said one senior U.S. official who monitors
terrorist finances. "We started out well, picked all
the low-hanging fruit, and then, as we have squeezed,
they have simply moved on to different methods."

A separate report released last week by the General
Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress,
noted that U.S. law enforcement still has no clear
idea of how terrorists move their money and that the
FBI, which is the lead agency in tracking terrorist
assets, still does not "systematically collect or
analyze" such information. It concluded that the
Justice and Treasury departments have fallen more than
a year behind in developing plans to attack terrorist
financial mechanisms, such as the use of diamonds and
gold to hide assets.

Under the sanctions policy adopted by the United
Nations immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks,
individuals designated by the world body as terrorists
or terrorist supporters were to have their assets
frozen and be banned from international travel.

So far, the world body has publicly named 272 people
as sponsors of terrorism.

But U.N. and U.S. officials said they do not know
where more than a handful of those people are, and
only 83 of 191countries have submitted the required
U.N. reports on attacking terrorist financing and
implementing the travel ban. Only a third of those
have given the list to their border guards.

The investigators said some developing nations lack
the resources to comply with the sanctions, while some
wealthier countries do not know of the sanctions or
are hampered by bureaucratic inertia.

U.S. officials said that about $138 million in
terrorist assets have been frozen since the attacks,
and that some steps have been taken to clamp down on
charities and other known terrorist funding
mechanisms. Officials noted the closure of three large
Islamic charities in the United States and an ongoing
investigation of a group of charities and
organizations in Northern Virginia. Numerous alleged
sponsors of terrorism, in the United States and
abroad, have been publicly named.

But the officials acknowledged that al Qaeda, now more
decentralized, needs less money to operate than it did
when bin Laden was supporting training camps and
propping up the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

The U.N. report said $75 million of the $138 million
in frozen assets claimed by the United States belonged
to al Qaeda or the Taliban. The Taliban money, which
was a "substantial" portion, has been turned over to
the new Afghan government.

Illustrating the ineffectiveness of the sanctions
regime, U.S. and U.N. officials said, are the joint
business empires of Yousef Nada and Idris Nasreddin,
which sprawl across Europe and Africa and are worth
hundreds of millions of dollars.

Nada, an Egyptian national who lives in Switzerland,
was designated a terrorist financier by the United
Nations on Nov. 9, 2001, and was publicly accused by
U.S. and U.N. officials of providing direct aid to al
Qaeda. Nasreddin, an Eritrean who lives in Italy, was
designated a terrorist supporter on April 24, 2002. At
that time, the assets of more than a dozen of their
joint enterprises were supposed to have been frozen,
and a travel ban was imposed on the pair.

Both men have strongly denied any involvement in
terrorist activities.

But U.S. officials and the U.N. report said that many
of the pair's businesses, including a luxury hotel in
Milan, continue to operate and that both men violate
the travel ban with impunity.

The U.N. panel found that on Jan. 28, Nada traveled
from his home in Campione d'Italia, in Switzerland, to
Vaduz, Liechtenstein, to change the names of two of
the companies that were targets of the asset freeze.

Despite his designated status, he traveled under his
own name and even applied for and received a new
passport shortly before leaving.

In Liechtenstein, Nada sought to liquidate both
renamed companies and listed himself as the
liquidator, a move that would have allowed him to
pocket the proceeds. When U.N. officials discovered
the move and protested, the liquidation was halted.

Lawyers for the two men did not return telephone calls
seeking comment.

Victor Comras, a former State Department official who
helped write the U.N. report, said that, in the
immediate aftermath of the terrorist strikes, the
United States and other countries effectively froze
some terrorist assets, but that the success was
largely limited to halting money in the banking
system.

Once al Qaeda understood the weaknesses and loopholes
in the sanctions regime, Comras said, "money was
quickly moved out of harm's way" by taking it out of
banks and putting it into commodities, such as
diamonds and gold, or into front companies.

"Al Qaeda had assets, and those assets are still
around," Comras said. "They had a number of different
ways to handle the problem, and they are using all of
them."

U.S. and U.N. officials said the lack of enforcement
is especially acute in Europe and Saudi Arabia, and
they expressed dismay that, 27 months after the
terrorist attacks, many countries have done little to
install a legal framework that would make the
sanctions effective. Most lacking in Europe are laws
that would allow the seizure or shutdown of shell
companies, businesses and properties -- not just bank
accounts -- if there is evidence linking them to
terrorism.

Legal issues, including how to confiscate properties
when one owner is a designated terrorist sponsor but
others are not, present another obstacle, officials
said.

"The question is, how do you go after real properties
and not just bank accounts," said Juan C. Zarate, the
Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for
terrorist finance. "These are men of resources, men of
high finance who know how to reformulate their
businesses and how to move money."

U.S. and U.N. officials said that some failures to
effectively implement the sanctions stem in part from
ignorance of the sanctions regime, and that others are
the result of bureaucratic inertia.

"The European Union has very strong regulations
covering money and travel issues in compliance with
the United Nations," one U.N. official said. "One has
to question how some of these governments can justify
not being in compliance with EU regulations."

In addition, the body set up by the European Union to
monitor compliance with the U.N. regulations has only
two people assigned to the enforcement office and has
no real authority.

U.N. and U.S. officials also said another problem is
the ongoing activity of charities that were supposed
to have been shut down.

Several branches of the al Haramain Charitable
Foundation, a Saudi Arabia-based organization that in
the past raised as much as $30 million a year, remain
active, they said. Several offices of the organization
were directly implicated in the financing of al Qaeda,
and in May the Saudi government announced that the
charity had been required to suspend all activities
outside Saudi Arabia.

"Al Haramain is still active in a number of countries
and has just opened a new Islamic school in Jakarta,
Indonesia," the U.N. report said.

The al Haramain office in Saudi Arabia did not respond
to telephone calls, but in the past its leaders denied
any links to terrorism.

U.S. officials said that shutting down al Haramain and
ensuring that other suspected terrorist financiers are
put out of business by Saudi Arabia is at the top of
the two nations' agenda.

Similarly, the U.N. report noted that the al Rashid
Trust, a designated Pakistani charity, "continues its
operation in Pakistan under various names and
partnerships . . . it has continued to be active in
funding al Qaeda-related activities as well as other
social and humanitarian projects."

The investigators also expressed concern about the
alleged activities of Wael Julaidan, a businessman who
helped found al Qaeda and who was designated by the
United Nations on Sept. 6, 2002, as a terrorist
financier.

Until last year, Julaidan was the Saudi chairman of
the Rabita Trust, a Pakistani charity also found by
the United Nations to have funded al Qaeda activities.
U.N. and U.S. officials said Julaidan continues to
work in charities and to handle large sums of money.

A source with direct knowledge of U.S. actions said
the "highest priority of the U.S. government is to get
the Saudis to do what they said [they] would do and
close down what they were supposed to close down." The
source noted that, after agreeing to put him on the
U.N. list, senior Saudi officials publicly denounced
Julaidan's designation.

"Then the Saudis said he was questioned but wouldn't
tell us what he said," the source said. "They said his
assets are frozen, but won't say where. It's like
Humphrey Bogart in 'Casablanca.' They round him up
when the pressure builds and are shocked to find
anything going on."

A senior Saudi official disputed the U.S. and U.N.
accounts of the ongoing activities of al Haramain and
Julaidan.

"Julaidan is not operating," the official said. "His
assets are frozen. Al Haramain cannot spend a penny
outside Saudi Arabia. We are doing what we can."

He added: "If they think al Haramain is doing
something in Indonesia, then it is up to the
government of Indonesia to take action, not Saudi
Arabia."

2003 The Washington Post Company

Posted by richard at December 14, 2003 10:08 AM