Treasury official calls for global moves against terror

Any strategy intended to disrupt the ability of terrorists to raise funds and finance future attacks must be international in nature, Treasury Undersecretary for Enforcement Jimmy Gurule said Thursday.

Gurule, in an address to the D.C. Bar Association, called the fight against terrorist financing "a complex problem that will involve years of careful diplomacy and innovative thinking."

The reasons why the fight is international in nature "are obvious," Gurule said. "First, terrorism is a global problem. Second, money is a fluid commodity that can be wired around the world in seconds. Third, because of the strict federal bank reporting requirements and aggressive forfeiture laws, terrorist funds are not likely to be held in U.S. banks," he said.

Gurule noted that development of an international strategy to deplete terrorist funding poses "enormous challenges" not only because foreign governments have different legal regimes, but also because some countries have not enacted anti-terrorist financing, money laundering, or asset forfeiture laws.

"Our strategy, both domestically and internationally, is designed to be a preventative approach," Gurule continued. "Our challenge is to harness the international interest in the terrorist financing issue into worldwide action. We believe that we have made some important steps in the right direction but I want to point out that this fight will be a marathon and not a sprint. We are just beginning."

One critical component of the United States' long-term effort to dismantle terrorist financing lies in "the development of personal relationships with our counterparts abroad," Gurule said, noting that Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has traveled to Europe, Asia and the Middle East in an effort to enlist cooperation there.

"Close relations and regular communication with our global partners is critical to our success in combating terrorism now and in the future," Gurule added.

Gurule delivered these remarks as U.S. and Chinese officials remained in the midst of meetings this week at the Treasury Department to exchange views on how to prevent and combat terrorist financing. The meeting is the first of other semi-annual meetings planned to deal with the issue, at which the United States and China will alternate as hosts.

On a related note, Senate Banking International Trade and Finance Subcommittee Chairman Evan Bayh, D-Ind., announced Friday he will hold a hearing Tuesday on the role of foreign and U.S.-based Islamic charities and non- governmental organizations in the financing of terrorist activities.

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