Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Flow of funds to terrorists is ebbing : Hindustan Times.com

Flow of funds to terrorists is ebbing: US: South Asia : Hindustan Times.com

Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey, told two sub-committees of the US House of Representatives on May 4 that the terrorists were "feeling the pressure and hurting for money".

"We are seeing terrorist groups avoiding formal financing channels and instead resorting to riskier and more cumbersome conduits like bulk cash smuggling. And, most importantly, we have indications that terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and Hamas are feeling the pressure and are hurting for money," a US State Department website quotes Levey as saying.

"We have made real inroads in combating terrorist financing in the Middle East," Levey said.

A key advantage that the investigators enjoy in the financial arena is that the targets have something to lose.

"In contrast with terrorist operatives, who may be willing to die for their hateful cause, terrorist financiers typically live public lives with all that entails: property, family, and social position. Being publicly identified as financier of terror threatens an end to all this, lending our actions a deterrent impact," Levey said.

"Our reporting confirms this, indicating that once-willing donors are now thinking twice or balking altogether at sending money to terrorist groups. We are tracking and disrupting the flow of funds to terror in every area of the globe."

Syria remains a problem

As far as the Middle East is concerned, many countries are taking action as per US requests, though there is a long way to go still. Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, and Kuwait have put some systems into place. Saudi Arabia too has worked with the US "to some extent" to address vulnerabilities in the charities sector.

But Syria remains a major problem as funds from there are still flowing into the coffers of Iraqi terror groups.

According Levey, Syria has released over US$ 600 million of assets belonging to the Iraqi government to third parties, and thus far, has refused to return over US$ 250 million of Iraqi assets frozen.

"We made it clear that Syria would either take steps to address our long list of concerns, or we would cut it off from our financial system," Levey said.

This seemed to be working as Syria was "desperately" trying to avoid the latter eventuality, the US official said.

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