WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is moving beyond freezing the assets of groups connected with Al Qaeda and other militant groups related to its network.
Twenty-one more terrorist-related individuals and groups are being added to a list of those whose assets have been frozen, and they are not necessarily associated with the group responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill announced Tuesday.
"From the beginning of this fight, President Bush has said our enemies are terrorist organizations of global reach, all who harbor them, and all who support them," O'Neill said. "Unfortunately for the civilized world, Al Qaeda is not the only terrorist organization with a global reach."
Under an executive order allowing the government to ask for terrorist assets to be frozen worldwide, the Bush administration has added individuals who have acted for or on behalf of Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), also known as the Basque Fatherland and Liberty. The group, which advocates the separation of the Basque region from Spain, had been previously designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the State Department.
O'Neill said the government of Spain and the European Union participated closely in the decision to add ETA to a growing list of nearly 200 targeted terrorist groups and their supporters.
"Our crackdown on terrorists is blind to nationality and origin," he said. "By taking this action, we join many nations to act forcefully against such terrorists; which is a compelling, unique factor that led to today's designation."
According to a State Department report on global terrorists in April 2001, ETA wants to establish a separate, Socialist state in the northern region of Spain, known as Basque country, and has killed more than 800 persons in the name of that goal since the early 1960s. Its primary activities are the bombing and assassination of Spanish government officials, according to the report.
In November 1999, ETA broke its "unilateral and indefinite" cease fire and began a series of violent attacks that resulted in the death of 23 individuals by the end of 2000.
O'Neill joined Spanish government representative Carmen Guttierez in the afternoon speech. According to the treasury secretary, the European Union has provided a number of names and organizations to the list that had not been previously designated by the United States.
"This trend must continue, as terrorists are as likely to rear their ugly heads in New Dehli or Nairobi as they are in New York," he said.
"Green Quest," an inter-agency task force set up by executive order to allow the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Postal Service, the IRS and others to track, freeze and seize terrorists' assets, has confiscated approximately $10.3 million in smuggled U.S. currency and $4.3 million in other assets over the last four months.
Green Quest has resulted in 21 search warrants and consent searches, 12 arrests and 4 indictments. Currently there are more than 300 ongoing investigations.
Worldwide, more than $68 million in assets have been cut off in the war on terror.