Analysis: EU reviews terror financing (UPI-UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL) By Douglas Bakshian LUXEMBOURG 06/07/02 1:12 PM)
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LUXEMBOURG, June 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. Treasury official has urged Europe
to dig deeper to find and block terrorist financing, while some
European authorities say they need more proof to identify terrorist
Jimmy Gurule, undersecretary for enforcement, said $116 million in
suspected terrorist assets linked to Osama bin Laden´s network has
been blocked worldwide since last September -- about $82 million of
it outside the United States. The European Commission says an
estimated $94 million in assets belonging to persons or entities
sponsoring terrorist acts have been frozen in the European Union
since Sept. 11th, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in
New York and the Pentagon just outside of Washington.
But Gurule said the war against terrorist financing is long-term, and
more needs to be done. In an interview, he argued that while obvious
targets have been achieved, more individuals and groups have to be
"I think that what we´ve seen certainly is that we have kind-of taken
care of, with respect to designations, the so-called low-hanging
fruit. I mean the obvious targets, terrorist organizations, terrorist
financiers have been designated. Now we´re getting down to the
tougher names where there may be disagreement as to whether or not
these individuals are supporting terror."
Gurule spoke in Luxembourg Thursday, one of Europe´s banking
capitals. Earlier this week he took a similar message to European
Union officials in Brussels and later to Switzerland, another country
heavily into financial transactions. Gurule praised Luxembourg for
its support for the war against terrorist financing and said
Washington is looking for ways to enhance that cooperation.
Luxembourg Treasury and Justice Minister Luc Frieden noted that his
small nation already has much stricter legislation on money
laundering issues than other countries, because Luxembourg is a major
European financial center. He said prevention mechanisms like "know
your customer" have been in place for a long time.
Frieden also said certain accounts were freed for use in recent weeks
because there was no proof to justify holding the funds further.
Other nations, including Sweden and Switzerland, have said their laws
require proof for authorities to continue holding money of
potentially suspicious accounts. Financial prosecutions are very
complicated, and some European authorities say that information
released by Washington is not enough to verify terrorist links.
They say Washington withholds information to avoid compromising
intelligence sources or operations. Gurule acknowledged the problem.
"This is a very complicated business that we´re involved in. In many
instances the information that we have is classified information.
It´s classified by our intelligence agency ... and because of these
competing concerns it may be that we are not able to disclose that
classified information with our allies."
In Sweden, The United States listed Al-Barakaat, a Somali-owned money
transfer service, as a backer of Osama bin Laden´s terror network.
Swedish officials asked for more evidence on three Swedish-Somalis
accused in the case.
Gurule said the United States is reviewing cases of two of the
individuals and is close to a decision on whether they will be taken
off the terrorism financing list. The Somalis have also appealed to
the European Court of Justice.
European countries accepted U.S. lists of suspected terrorist
financiers following the Sept. 11th attacks, but difficulties later
arose. The reliability of the lists has been questioned because some
Arabic names were misspelled, some people included turned out to be
dead, and basic details like place and date of birth were sometimes
Gurule admitted shortcomings, but said information is improving.
"In some cases we´re not able to uncover and determine and provide
this type of detailed information," Gurule said. "I think we´re
getting better. I think that as a result of a better sharing of
information between the intelligence community and federal law
enforcement community of the United States, it is making it easier
for us to collect this information and share it with our allies
abroad." (Copyright © 2002 United Press International 06/07/02)
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