U.N.: Al Qaeda Able to Strike Again

Published August 30, 2002

| Associated Press

Al Qaeda and the Taliban fighters are moving undetected across borders and receiving fresh supplies of weapons despite U.N. anti-terrorism moves, a U.N. group said in a draft report.

Porous borders, especially between Afghanistan and Pakistan, difficulties monitoring groups subject to U.N. sanctions, and the illicit arms trade are hampering the fight against terrorism, said the report by a group of experts.

Nearly a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States, the Thursday report said the global campaign against terrorism has pushed Al Qaeda underground but hasn't stopped the flow of money and fresh recruits to carry out new terrorist attacks.

The U.S. Treasury Department, responding to the draft report, said it was confident that efforts to disrupt terrorist finances "are having real-world effects" -- and that Al Qaeda is suffering financially.

"We also believe that potential donors are being more cautious about giving money to organizations where they fear that the money might wind up in the hands of terrorists. In addition, greater regulatory scrutiny in financial systems around the world is further marginalizing those who would support terrorist groups and activities," it said in a statement.

But the Treasury stressed that there was still urgent work to do to deal with issues cited by the U.N. experts, including the abuse of charities and the use of informal networks for transferring funds outside normal banking and government controls known as hawalas.

The experts were authorized by the U.N. Security Council to monitor U.N. sanctions adopted unanimously in January requiring all nations to freeze the finances and impose arms embargoes and travel bans on individuals and groups associated with Usama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban -- wherever they are in the world.

Calling the monitoring of the arms embargo their "most complex and challenging task," the experts said they were concerned at reports that weapons are flowing to groups that support Al Qaeda in southeast Asia.

Arms traffickers in the Golden Triangle where the borders of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet "are known to provide weapons and ammunition to groups such as Abu Sayyaf or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines, Jemaah Islamiya in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, who are linked with Al Qaeda," the experts said.

According to the reports, Cambodian traffickers have also been funneling weapons to dissident militant groups with ties to Al Qaeda including the Pakistan-based militant groups Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. The experts did not cite the source of the reports.

The draft report, which will be presented next week to the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions, called on all countries to provide better training and technology for border control officers so they can detect falsified documents. It urged the European Union, which has visa-free travel, to consider steps to restrict the movement of designated individuals.

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