U.S. Freezes Assets of 8 Now in German Prisons

The United States on Monday blocked the assets of eight men in German prisons including an Iraqi accused of raising money and recruiting members for an Islamic group linked to Al Qaeda.

The men were added to the U.S. list of individuals whose assets are frozen by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

U.S. banks and other financial institutions are directed to block the assets of people added to the list. The administration has used the designations as a key resource in its battle to choke off the source of financing for terrorists.

One of the eight designated on Monday was Amin Lokman Mohammed, 31, who has been accused by German authorities of conducting fund raising for Ansar al-Islam. This group was formed in the Kurdish parts of Iraq and is believed to include Arab Al Qaeda members who fled the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Its bases along the Iranian-Iraqi border were bombed at the start of the Iraq war in 2003 and the group's members scattered with some going to Europe. Since then, followers of Ansar al-Islam have been arrested in several European countries for allegedly channeling would-be suicide bombers to Iraq for attacks on U.S.-led forces.

Mohammad was arrested in Munich's main train station in December 2003 and was the first person charged under a post-Sept. 11 German law that made membership in a terrorist group on German soil a crime, even when the group was based abroad.

Banks were also ordered to freeze any assets found for seven other men being held in German prisons. Those individuals were Kawa Hamawandi, Mazen Ali Hussein, Dieman Abdulkadir Izzat, Ibrahim Mohamed Khalil, Ata Abdoulaziz Rashid, Yasser Abu Shaweesh and Rafik Mohamad Yousef.

Treasury officials said they could not provide details on why the other seven individuals were being held in German jails. The United States blocks assets of individuals on its own determination and also at the recommendation of other countries once those names had been added to a master list maintained by the United Nations.

In a related matter, Treasury announced Monday that it was issuing new guidelines to help charitable organizations protect themselves from being used by terrorist organizations.

The new guidelines take effect immediately but may be modified based on public comments that are received by Feb. 1, officials said.

"Charitable giving is an act ingrained in the culture of America," said Patrick O'Brien, assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crime. "Sadly, terrorist networks and their sympathizers have preyed upon this goodwill to raise and move money in support of their deadly agendas."