Tags: Bush | Freezes | Assets | Tied | Terrorists

Bush Freezes Assets Tied to Terrorists

Monday, 24 September 2001 12:00 AM

In a Rose Garden Ceremony with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Treasury Secretary O'Neill, Bush said he was putting "banks and financial institutions around the world on notice, we will work with their governments, ask them to freeze or block terrorist's ability to access funds in foreign accounts.

"If they fail to help us by sharing information or freezing accounts, the Department of the Treasury now has the authority to freeze their bank's assets and transactions in the United States."

Almost no major banking institution could operate without having funds in U.S. banking institutions or be able to serve customers doing business with the United States. Halting transactions with the United States would leave even the most regional institution financially endangered.

Bush's order goes well beyond a similar order signed by President Clinton two years ago seeking to seize Osama bin Laden's assets in the United States. Treasury investigators discovered at that time that bin Laden had few assets in the country.

Bush also extended the initial targets of his asset freeze to include individuals around bin Laden as well as other alleged terrorist groups. Bush issued a list of 27 individuals and organizations that will be affected. He said additional targets would be named as time went on.

The list included a dozen alleged terrorist leaders including bin Laden and his key lieutenants, 11 alleged terrorist organizations, three charitable organizations and one corporation.

"Just to show you how insidious these terrorists are, " Bush said, "they oftentimes use nice-sounding, non-governmental organizations as fronts for their activities. We have targeted three such NGOs. We intend to deal with them, just like we intend to deal with others who aid and abet terrorist organizations."

The following entities were designated by the White House:

--Alleged Terrorist Leaders:

Groups Allegedly Associated with Terrorists:

"The executive order means that that United States banks that have assets of these groups or individuals must freeze their accounts. And United States citizens or businesses are prohibited from doing business with them," the president said.

He said "we know that many of these individuals and groups operate primarily overseas, and they don't have much money in the United States" and that was why Treasury devised moves to enforce the freeze abroad.

The White House is issued no evidence on any group or individual, except bin Laden, showing how they came to be on the list or what information they were giving foreign governments to get them to take action. Bin Laden was indicted by a United States grand jury in New York in connection with the attack on American embassies in Africa in 1998. He has denied the charges and evidence supporting the indictment never has been presented in court. Bin Laden also has denied he had a role in the Sept. 11 attack.

"I want to assure the world that we will exercise this power responsibly," Bush. "But make no mistake about it, we intend to, and we will, disrupt terrorist networks. I want to assure the American people that in taking this action and publishing this list, we're acting based on clear evidence, much of which is classified, so it will not be disclosed.

" It's important as this war progresses that the American people understand we make decisions based upon classified information, and we will not jeopardize the sources; we will not make the war more difficult to win by publicly disclosing classified information," the president said.

On Sunday, Powell said the on NBC show "Meet the Press," that at some point the United States would issue a "white paper" on its evidence against bin Laden and the terrorist groups.

Reporters on Monday asked Bush about Powell's statement.

"The secretary said that he'd be glad to talk about the paper," Bush said. "Let me first tell you that I gave a speech to the nation last Thursday in which I spent a great deal of time talking about the al Qaida organization as the first terrorist organization that we're going to deal with. And the reason I did is there is a lot of classified information that leads to one person, as well as one global terrorist organization."

Powell said "more information is coming in with respect to his activities and the activities of this network. Most of it is classified, and as we look through it, we can find areas that are unclassified and it will allow us to share this information with the public, we will do so. That would be our intent. But most of it is classified."

Powell said that the U.S. will be in touch with the United Nations, the European Union and the G7/G8 organization of industrial nations to get their assistance in tracking bin Laden's money.

O"Neill said Treasury had a foreign terrorist asset tracking center "up and running, coordinating information from among government agencies with the express purpose of identifying and stamping out the financial network that funds terrorism."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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In a Rose Garden Ceremony with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Treasury Secretary O'Neill, Bush said he was putting banks and financial institutions around the world on notice, we will work with their governments, ask them to freeze or block terrorist's ability to...
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Monday, 24 September 2001 12:00 AM
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