WASHINGTON – Usama bin Laden's family members are almost certainly helping the accused terrorist evade law enforcement, investigators close to the probe have told Fox News.
Those family members do not include relatives in Saudi Arabia or those running the family's massive international construction firm, but investigators are pursuing significant leads indicating that some of bin Laden's relatives elsewhere in the world continue to help him.
Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are desperate for hiding places and cash and the terrorists that have managed to stay ahead of the law are looking for new sources of funding, said Ken Dam, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, who is leading the charge to cut off terrorist financing
"Yes, they are obviously trying to raise money and they're trying to raise it where they've raised it before," Dam said.
Four months into the money chase, officials behind the locked doors of the financial investigation's headquarters revealed the most comprehensive account yet of the extraordinarily complex ways in which Al Qaeda raises money. It also has marked some successes in its campaign to prevent the terrorist network from gaining access to its funds.
Thursday, one organization, Al Taqwa, whose assets were frozen on Dec. 7, announced that it has gone bankrupt. Another organization also shut down on that day, Al Barakat, the largest employer in Somalia and biggest provider of banking, telecom, wireless cell, and Internet service in Mogadishu, has effectively closed down, a byproduct of which has been that Somalia's capital city has virtually no communications.
Investigators said Al Qaeda has operated numerous criminal enterprises whose front organizations are the focus of the terror financing investigation. Some of Al Qaeda's activities include drug trafficking, guns and weapons running, money laundering, ATM and credit card fraud, and elaborate document fraud for counterfeit passports, visas and other identification cards.
Shipping fraud continues and specific firms are being targeted for their involvement in smuggling cigarettes and other goods.
Al Qaeda also has committed trademark violations and theft, particularly pirating software, and its embezzlement operations from commercial entities and fronts are particularly lucrative, officials said.
Currency exchanges, money transferring and wire services, diamond and honey trades, and even an Internet service provider were all used to skim cash for the terror network.
In addition, charities, mosques and Islamic centers have all been used for fundraising. Several charitable organizations have been shut down by the United States, most recently on Wednesday when assets of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society and Afghan Support Committee, established by bin Laden himself, were seized.
Of late, officials say extortion and protection rackets have resurfaced for quick cash. Rogue nations, corrupt government officials, and radical wealthy donors have also been hit up for cash help.
"I read the intelligence reports and we know that in Afghanistan that they were pleading for money, the Al Qaeda were pleading for money," Dam said.
The number of countries helping the U.S. money dragnet continues to rise. On Thursday, government officials said that every nation in the country with only three exceptions have expressed support either publicly or privately for the U.S. effort to combat terror financing.
The only nations that are not on board are Iraq, Cuba, and Comoros, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Africa that is 98 percent Sunni Muslim. North Korea and Libya have defied expectations and privately expressed support, government officials said.
Carl Cameron currently serves as Fox News Channel's (FNC) Washington-based chief political correspondent. He joined FNC in 1996 as a correspondent.