This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.
The United States is attempting to cut the supply of money for terrorist groups. Congress has approved measures expanding the government’s power to halt the flow of money to Osama bin Laden and his al Qa’eda organization. They are the main suspects in the airline hijackings on September eleventh which caused thousands of deaths in New York and Washington.
President Bush has signed executive orders to freeze the American assets of sixty-six individuals, businesses and organizations linked to the suspected terrorists. An order to freeze assets means people and groups on the list cannot remove money held by banks in their name. The government says banks have halted the use of about forty-million dollars so far. The order also barred citizens and companies from doing business with those on the list.
American officials have asked other governments to join the international campaign to halt the flow of money to terrorists. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill said that at least sixty-two nations have already blocked any activity for terrorist bank accounts. He said one-hundred-two others have said they will join the effort. Mister O’Neill told reporters the international effort has stopped the use of at least twenty-four-million dollars in bank accounts linked to Osama bin Laden and the al-Qa’eda organization.
It will not be easy to stop the financial support for al-Qa’eda. That is because not all its support comes from the movement of money through banks. Reports say the terrorist group receives money directly from supporters in the Middle East, and through a group of Islamic organizations.
Al-Qa’eda also uses an ancient system of money exchange known as “hawala.” Under hawala, trusted people exchange millions of dollars around the world. These exchanges do not use paper or other documents.
Experts say Mister bin Laden also is able to move money, weapons and men around the world through support from several Middle Eastern and European businesses. The experts say some money is earned through criminal actions that include selling the illegal drugs opium and heroin.
The United States says most nations have been cooperating in the financial campaign against terrorists. The seven leading industrial countries recently announced a joint plan. They called on all nations to establish investigative groups, share information and develop ways to stop terrorist financing. And the European Union has called on member nations to block terrorist bank accounts and to stop the financing of terrorism.
This VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Steve Ember.