A U.S. security expert says Austria
could play a more active role in the fight against global terrorism by helping
to prevent terrorist organizations and states that sponsor such organizations
from financing their operations.
Managing Director of the U.S.-based Chancellor Group, Rodney Azama, is touring
Austria at the request of the U.S. embassy, lecturing on the financial war
Mr. Azama, a counter-terrorist expert, told reporters it requires time and
patience to cut off the financing of terrorist activities. "Since September
11, 2001, more than 1,400 accounts, financial accounts containing an excess
of $136 million have been shut down globally and over 300 individuals and organizations
have been specifically identified and specially designated as global terrorists
or global terrorist organizations," he said.
Some organizations, Mr. Azama said, operate under the cover of charity associations
or transfer funds through cigarette smuggling. He said terrorists tend to look
for safe havens for their money in countries with stable currencies and strict
bank secrecy laws.
According to Mr. Azama, co-operation with Austrian authorities is good, but
could be better. But he says some groups on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations
are not recognized as such by the Austrians.
Numerous recent reports in Austrian media say the country is an operational
base for around 50 activists connected with Osama Bin Laden.
Mr. Azama also said North Korea is seen by the United States as a state sponsor
of terrorism, and its overseas financial activities through the Vienna-based
bank Gold Star must raise suspicion. "North Korea is one of the countries on
the non-co-operating list so that in itself I would think is cause for the
financial authorities to take a closer look at that particular bank," he said.
Gold Star, which is the only branch in Europe of the North Korean bank, is
reported to be responsible for the worldwide financial activities of dictator
Kim Jong-il. An interior ministry report on the bank in 1997 said the bank
has been engaging in money-laundering, counterfeiting, and trading in radioactive
Attorney General John Ashcroft is visiting Austria next week to discuss the
war on terrorism, drug trafficking, and the use of sky marshals on commercial