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GCC states adopt strategy to fight terror financing

posted on 06/03/2005: 706 views

The Gulf Cooperation Council yesterday renewed its pledge to fight terrorist financing by cooperating regionally and internationally and by implementing legislation. "Leaders of the GCC countries have been attentive to the growth of the terrorist funding phenomenon and have adopted a comprehensive strategy including a regional joint programme by the Ministries of Interior," said Abdul Rahman H. Al Attiyah, GCC Secretary-General, in his address to the joint seminar of the GCC and European Union (EU) to combat terrorist financing.

"The GCC has implemented through national legislation the 40 recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) along with its nine special recommendations to combat terrorist financing. "Arab and Islamic nations are involved in the war against terrorism because these nations are also targets and it is happening on their territories," he said.

Earlier, UAE Central Bank Governor Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi welcomed the delegates. Gijs De Vires, counter-terrorism coordinator of the EU, called for a long-term policy to fight terrorism.

"The fight against terrorist financing is not a short-term policy with short-term goals. It is a policy for the long-term. We must all be committed to pursuing it. Cooperation in the fight is essential at all levels nationally, regionally and internationally."

He praised the cooperation from the GCC, particularly the establishment of the Middle East North Africa task force (Mena-FATF). "Such regional bodies complement the work of the FATF and the EU will share its experiences of working with bodies such as MoneyVal, the Council of Europe's anti-money laundering group."

However, he urged GCC countries to sign and ratify all 12 UN conventions that are part of the international community's fight against terrorism. "Of the 12 conventions, five have so far been signed and ratified by all 25 member states of the EU and four by all member states of the GCC.

"To stop terrorists from raising and obtaining money, the 1999 Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing is a vital instrument. In Europe, this convention still needs ratification by Ireland and the Czech Republic. In the GCC, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE have not yet signed or ratified. Saudi Arabia has signed but not ratified. We all must redouble our efforts to improve our score."

De Vires urged all countries to fight terrorist financing through an intelligence-led approach and information sharing. "More effective interaction between intelligence/security services, financial intelligence units and other government bodies and law enforcement agencies is essential and information should be shared internationally."

Noting that the annual income of Al Qaida has dropped significantly since 9/11, he said money still flows into the hands of terrorists. "Money is still being used to pay for attacks. We therefore need to work harder to block the money when it moves and to identify and freeze it when it is in the banking system." Al Qaida's expenses in Iraq alone were 200,000 euros per week according to estimates, he said. (The Gulf News)


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