U.N. Official: Taliban, Al Qaeda Sanctions Need 'More Teeth'

U.N. sanctions against the Al Qaeda (searchterror network and Afghanistan's ousted Taliban (searchregime are often circumvented and need "more teeth," the chairman of the committee overseeing sanctions said.

Heraldo Munoz (search), the Chilean ambassador to the United Nations (search), said Wednesday many countries are not freezing assets or enforcing an arms embargo and travel ban on the 272 individuals and entities that are on the U.N. sanctions list for links to the two groups.

And he said the list itself is woefully incomplete.

While 4,000 individuals linked to the two groups have been detained in over 102 countries, Munoz said, the U.N. list has just 272 names culled from reports by only 84 countries.

This showing "makes it clear that there's a reticence on the part of many member states to provide the United Nations with adequate information" that is critical to the global fight against terrorism, he said.

The 84 countries that have submitted reports represent less than half the 191 U.N. member states. "I will by the end of the year report on those who are in noncompliance," he said.

Munoz spoke to reporters after briefing the Security Council on his recent trip to Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Indonesia to see how the sanctions, imposed in 1999, are working. He also gave council members a preview of a report expected to be released in a few weeks by an expert group monitoring the sanctions.

The council shifted sanctions from the government of Afghanistan to terror leader Usama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and remnants of the Taliban in January 2002, after a U.S.-led force ousted the Taliban.

More than $135 million has been frozen, but mostly in 2002 "and we haven't been able to discover new bank accounts," Munoz said. "The report ... will describe these new ways through which individuals and organizations are circumventing sanctions."

In addition, he said, the committee has discovered that some individuals on the sanctions list have violated the travel ban.

"This information is preoccupying and signals the need to strengthen the sanctions regime," Munoz said. "If we can have more teeth on the sanctions, I think that would be welcome by our committee."

Munoz said some countries have asked what happens to individuals who are on the sanctions list, forbidden to travel and living in a country where their assets have been investigated and in some cases frozen.

"What do we do next? Do we put them in jail? Do we deliver them to someone? This is a question mark," he said.

Munoz said the expert report expresses concern that countries aren't providing information on arms and explosives that have been seized.

The experts also raise serious concerns that "charities continue to be abused and used to channel money for terrorist activities," he said.