Saturday, 25 November 2006

The financial war on terrorism

Treasury Dept. Misses Deadline to Release Iranian Frozen Assets to Victims of Terrorism
January 27, 2003

Washington, DC] – The Treasury Department has missed the legal deadline for releasing the frozen assets of Iran to the families of the victims of terrorism, Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13) confirmed today.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary-designate John Snow, Fossella said the Department has not offered an explanation why it missed the Sunday, January 26, 2003 deadline to make the frozen assets available. Roughly 30 families who have won court judgements against the Iranian government for sponsoring terrorist acts that killed their loved ones would qualify for the assets.

Call me an old cynic but does it look to you as if there was a deliberate delay here so that the money actually remains with the Treasury Department?

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which Congress passed in 2002, allows people who have received judgments against a terrorist organization to receive damages out of any frozen assets of the organization or groups that support it.

I have yet to read a report of any of these assets being handed over to victims of terrorism.

An article in The Guardian of
Thursday November 8, 2001-The financial war on terrorism

On 8th November 2001 HM Treasury released a press statement stating :

Chancellor Gordon Brown also announced that a further £7 million of suspected terrorist assets had been frozen in the UK in the last week. The total amount of assets frozen in the UK now stands at £70 million in 38 accounts.

On 13 February 2006 HM Treasury released a press statement stating :

In a speech on national security to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, Gordon Brown said:

“We need not only to deny a safe haven to terrorists, but ensure there is no hiding place for those who finance terrorism. Since 2001 we have frozen assets of terrorists of nearly £80 million - including for over 100 organisations with links to Al Qaeda. Today I am announcing new measures to prevent terrorist financing, identify suspicious transactions, and disrupt terrorist activity.”

SO - in 2001 assets seized amounted to £70 million but by 2006 this figure had only increased to £80 million.

The Washington Post
By Bill Miller
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 22, 2000; Page A01

The federal lawsuits against Iran, Cuba and Libya were filed under a 1996 law that permitted U.S. citizens who are victims of terrorist acts abroad to sue foreign countries for civil damages in U.S. courts if those countries have been classified by the State Department as sponsors of terrorism.

Iran, Cuba and Libya have been on that list for years, along with Iraq, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. The United States holds $2.7 billion in frozen assets belonging to those countries.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 14, 2003; Page A01

U.S. officials said that about $138 million in terrorist assets have been frozen since the attacks, and that some steps have been taken to clamp down on charities and other known terrorist funding mechanisms.

The U.N. report said $75 million of the $138 million in frozen assets claimed by the United States belonged to al Qaeda or the Taliban. The Taliban money, which was a "substantial" portion, has been turned over to the new Afghan government.

On 1 September 2005 Eu reported:

the US courts have confirmed that the Palestinian Authority has vast and diverse resources. As the Boston Globe recorded, the Bank of New York is the hub for money transfers to Palestinian missions in Ukraine, Guinea, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Ivory Coast, China, Bulgaria, Norway, Pakistan, and Colombia. The frozen assets in the USA alone are estimated at US$1.3 billion.

However on 30 January 2006 USA reports:

In the 16 weeks after the 9/11 attacks, 157 suspected terrorism fundraisers were identified and assets valued at $68 million were frozen. The numbers fell after the initial rush by authorities. However, Gurule says the totals for 2005 — $4.9 million frozen in the accounts of 32 suspects or organizations — suggest the effort is losing intensity because of a lack of help from foreign governments and an uneven commitment by the U.S. government to monitor suspicious transactions at financial institutions in the USA and abroad.

Why the discrepancy in figures? Where is this money going to? I have seen reports of families being awarded millions from frozen assets but as yet I have not found a report of them having actually received any money.