Thursday, March 10, 2005

Terror Conference--Block the Money

Madrid — Financial experts urged world leaders Wednesday to create a new international institution under UN auspices to study how terrorists raise money so ways can be found to cut the funds to al-Qaeda and other violent movements.

The draft recommendation, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press, and experts attending a terrorism conference said that some measures have been taken to curb terrorist financing but that they are not enough.

“Terrorist financing has not been recognized as a priority in the fight against terrorism,” said Loretta Napoleoni, an expert on terrorist financing. “It would be much more efficient if we blocked the money. And we haven't done that.”

World leaders and experts at the four-day summit on democracy, terrorism and security are grappling with ways to combat violence without jeopardizing human rights.


Fighting terrorism financing was seen as a possibility, but it is complicated, in part because terrorists raise funds by using legitimate businesses, besides kidnapping, drug dealing and credit-card fraud.

“We don't have a clear image of how the money of terrorists moves around,” said Petre Roman, a former prime minister of Romania. “We know that the most terrible acts have been committed with very little money.”

The train bombings in Madrid on March 11, 2004, cost as little as $1,300 (U.S.), Mr. Roman said, while the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States did not exceed $500,000. Islamic extremists said they were behind both events.

“Without an international effort, we cannot tackle this problem efficiently,” he said. “We need to know how to pursue this money, and this cannot be done within the current legal framework.”

Former French prime minister Lionel Jospin stressed that international co-operation must take place within “the rule of law and respecting civil rights, because they are the soul of democracy.”

Mr. Jospin, Roman and former Colombian president Andres Pastrana said the conference's draft recommendations will address the blocking of terrorists' financial networks.

The finance working group experts suggested that in addition to creating an independent finance centre under UN auspices, a judicial review process should be put into place to place anti-terrorism measures within a legal framework.

“Decisions taken by the international community to act against institutions and individuals must be subject to legal oversight,” the draft statement said. “This must be done through a mixture of co-operation between legal domestic tribunals and an international body, sanctioned by the (UN Security Council) or an international treaty.”

The Club de Madrid group of former heads of government organized the conference and timed it to coincide with the anniversary of the Madrid train bombing, an attack that killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,500.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was to present a special UN report on terrorism at the conference Thursday. Other world leaders to arrive Wednesday include Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

U.S. Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales will represent President George W. Bush.

Summit topics include terrorism financing, recruiting, and use of the Internet; and its impact on world business including tourism.

Experts and Club de Madrid officials said there are no quick solutions.

“This summit is convened to pool together our wisdom,” said Lee Hong Koo, the former prime minister of Korea. “In this process we will preserve our democracy
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