Transcript: Follow the Money
This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," March 31, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
DAVID ASMAN, GUEST HOST: Usama bin Laden's former bodyguard says he is certain that a new attack on America is imminent. "60 Minutes" is going to be airing the interview with a man who worked for the terror mastermind from '96 to 2000.
My next guest says, whether these claims have any merit or not, he is concerned that Swiss bank giant UBS is helping to fund bin Laden and even Iran and Cuba.
California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher joins us now. He's chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee, and it's looking into this issue.
First of all, Congressman, you must have seen news about these threats made by bin Laden's former bodyguard. What do you make of them?
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, R-CALIF.: Well, we have to remember that we are at war with a very well-financed enemy, who not only are willing to, but has already demonstrated to us that they will kill tens of thousands of our people, if they get a chance. We saw that on 9/11.
What is facilitating their effort, and what gives them the ability to actually accomplish these very expensive missions. You know, it wasn't inexpensive. Nine-Eleven wasn't something that was an inexpensive operation to bring down those buildings. It really involved millions upon millions of dollars that went into various accounts. In that case, it went through United Arab Emirate banks, and they have since tried to come to grips with that.
ASMAN: But specifically, on this guy's threats, do you think we should take them seriously? Or is it just bluster?
ROHRABACHER: Of course we should.
And, as I say, they have a financial infrastructure throughout the world that they are able to use to transfer funds from one location to another. The United Bank of Switzerland had bin Laden's account at one point and they have given that up. And they are cleaning up their act, and which we have heard testimony for.
But the international financial institutions of the world are facilitating this type of terrorism that can threaten us at any time.
ASMAN: Now, you say UBS is cleaning up its act. Apparently, the information you found was, it was empowering Al Qaeda, Cuba, even the Iranians. But how do you get the others to clean up their act?
ROHRABACHER: Well, let me put it this way. We did have a hearing on this. And I was very grateful that UBS sent a representative. And we grilled him for about two hours.
And they have put in place reforms within the United Bank of Switzerland to try to come to grips with terrorists and other rogue elements using their institution.
However, there are $3 trillion -- now, get this -- not billion -- $3 trillion in offshore accounts -- and there is almost no control or verifying where that money is being sent throughout the world and who is sending it.
What came out of our hearings is, we need, the United States needs to set the standard for the world and insist that any financial institutions in the world who do business here meet our standards. But, now, there is no standards. There is no transparency. People are sending money. They could be terrorists. They could be drug dealers. They are sending huge sums of money from one country to another, with no verification.
ASMAN: Congressman, is it technologically possible to dry up these accounts, these terror accounts?
ROHRABACHER: Well, we haven't tried.
And I will have to tell you that we haven't tried. Certainly, we have tried to track them down, but we haven't set the standard which gets control of these international financial institutions, with people wearing their $2,000 suits and living in beautiful homes in various countries of the world, and very upper-income people, are dealing with the rogues of the world: the drug dealers, the dictators, the terrorists.
And there is no transparency in their economic dealings. We have got to make sure to dry up this money, as you say, we have got to set a standard in the United States that there is transparency for any institution that is doing financial business in our country.
ASMAN: All right.
ROHRABACHER: They have got to know who the customers are, and it has got to be available to the government.
ASMAN: And, if we do that, this could be the Achilles' heel of the terrorists, if we are able to dry up those accounts.
We have got to leave it at that.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, from California, great work you are doing. We will keep our audience apprised of it. Thanks very much.
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