New Treasury Office Will Help Cut Terrorist Funds

A new Treasury Department office will help run government efforts to cut terrorists off from their money.

The new Executive Office for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, announced in a statement Monday, is being set up to respond to a management void created by the recent loss of key enforcement agencies at the Treasury Department.

The new office will be headed by Juan Zarate, a deputy assistant secretary, who has played a central role in these issues at the department.

Zarate will work closely with other offices within Treasury and throughout the government on matters dealing with terrorist financiers and financial crimes in general.

He will coordinate policy with Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Office of Foreign Assets Control, two major players in the government's efforts to financially paralyze terrorists.

Zarate also will be involved in cracking down on money laundering and thwarting terrorist financiers through new powers created by the 2001 USA Patriot Act.

Roughly $124.5 million in assets belonging to terrorists have been blocked worldwide since Sept. 11 as a result of the U.S.-led campaign.

The office, which will have nine full-time employees, is expected to be up and running this week, a senior Treasury official said. The official would not comment on its budget.

Its creation answers a void created in part by the establishment of the new Homeland Security Department

The Customs Service and Secret Service on Saturday moved from their long-standing homes at Treasury to become part of Homeland Security. In January, the old Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was broken up, with its agencies overseeing guns and explosives moving to the Justice Department. Regulation and tax collection of tobacco and alcohol remains with Treasury.