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13 November 2003

Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee Chairman Calls for More Cooperation

Head of U.N. Security Council panel requests more data from U.N. members

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The head of the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee on al-Qaeda and the Taliban November 12 called for more cooperation from nations in identifying members and seizing all assets of the terrorist organizations.

Ambassador Heraldo Munoz of Chile said that "we have 372 individuals and entities on our consolidated list and this does not reflect the extent of functioning of al-Qaeda and the Taliban given consideration that about 4,000 individuals linked to this terrorist network have been detained in over 102 countries."

Briefing journalists after a closed door Security Council meeting, Munoz said that "we need member states to deliver appropriate information to our committee ... and improve the quality of information" so that nations have the necessary data to stop the terrorists at their borders.

"This is urgent," he said. "There are people dying on the streets, innocent people. Therefore, when countries cooperate with us they cooperate with themselves because we are a conduit for multilateral cooperation. They cannot do it alone."

"Let us remember the main characteristic of al-Qaeda -- it is a global terrorist network and that global terrorism is not defeated unilaterally, but through cooperation," Munoz said.

Munoz said that he discussed several concerns with the Security Council.

The ambassador said that countries are not seizing all the property and assets of the people who are on the list. "Bank accounts are not the whole picture. The whole picture is properties, businesses, and other types of investments," Munoz said.

The committee has also found that countries are not providing enough information on weapons and explosives seized. It is especially concerned about getting sufficient data on portable surface-to-air missiles that could be used in future terrorist activities, the ambassador said.

Another concern is "the way that al-Qaeda is circumventing the sanctions," especially by using charities, he said.

"Charities continue to be abused and used to channel money to terrorist activities. We have discovered that in several cases," Munoz said. "Many countries do not act against charities because they are linked to religious and cultural beliefs. ... But at the same time we do know some of them continue to be a channel" for funds and even enter into joint ventures with the terrorists.

For example, member states are clearly willing to freeze bank accounts, but the committee's monitoring group has found that often individuals and organizations related to al-Qaeda have property and businesses that continue to function despite the fact that some of those organizations are on the U.N. watch list, Munoz said.

"In addition, we have discovered that some individuals listed in the consolidated list have violated the travel ban in fact to engage in activities related to their financial and economic assets," he said.

The committee has asked the Security Council to consider strengthening the sanctions regime, the ambassador said. "We want more teeth in the sanctions."

Munoz also said that the number of countries reporting to the committee is "disappointing."

"Only 84 countries have presented reports ... less than half the membership of the United Nations. Yet we know that there have been members of al-Qaeda and related organizations arrested in 102 countries," he said.