Press Center

 SECRETARY PAUL O'NEILL STATEMENT


1/9/2002

Good afternoon. Today we are blocking the assets of two organizations and two individuals who have been stealing from widows and orphans to fund al Qaeda terrorism. The Afghan Support Committee, branches of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society and two of their employees defrauded well-intentioned donors and turned funds meant for good into funds for evil. These bad actors will now be pariahs in the civilized world.

 
Let me take a moment to update you on our progress in shutting down these terrorist financiers' access to not only the US financial system, but the world financial system they rely on to transfer monies to finance the terrorists' evil acts.
 
As you all know, those who peddle weapons to the evildoers in the world don't accept the currency Afghanis . Materials of destruction are sold on the world market in hard currencies such as dollars, yen, euros or pounds.
 
And large quantities of hard currency can only be obtained in the money centers of the world. Places like New York, London, Dubai, and Hong Kong. The world financial system is a hub and spoke system, and money centers are the hubs through which anyone in a remote part of the world must work to make purchases anywhere else in the world.
 
Shutting down terrorists' access to money center nations is the key to preventing them from purchasing the tools of their evil. These are the choke points in the system, and they are the focus of our attention.
 
First, here at home we've begun implementing the PATRIOT act, prohibiting US financial institutions from providing correspondent accounts to foreign shell banks, and requiring that US financial institutions take reasonable steps to ensure that foreign banks not use correspondent accounts to indirectly provide banking services to foreign shell banks. In addition, we issued a proposed rule requiring securities brokers and dealers to file suspicious activity reports. These steps make it harder for terrorists to access the US financial system.
 
Second, we've worked with nations around the world to block terrorists' access to the hard currencies they need to purchase the tools of terrorism. We have sent teams from the US government to meet with their counterparts in the Middle East and Europe to further cooperation.
 
We have sent technical assistance teams to help nations enhance their systems for identifying and blocking accounts that finance terrorism. We also work systematically through global institutions like the United Nations to engage the entire world in our effort.
 
Money center nations have taken enormous steps so far in this effort. Canada and Luxembourg have blocked all the names we have blocked and the UK has blocked all but a small handful. The same would be true for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. . Switzerland has blocked 30 terrorist-related accounts containing 15 million dollars (24.9 million Swiss francs) since September 11. The UAE's action to block the al Barakaat network effectively shut down the operation worldwide. And the list goes on. Hard currency countries have been leading the charge in the international effort to destroy the financial infrastructure of terrorism.
 
Because our allies in the money centers around the world are working with us, terrorists who may have resources hidden somewhere remote can no longer change that money into hard currency with ease. When the terrorists have no access to hard currency, they have no means of purchasing the technology and equipment of terrorism. With each new step in this effort, the civilized nations of the world add another brick to the wall that cuts terrorists off from the financing they need to carry out their evil schemes.
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