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UN Sets Deadline For Countries To Report Anti-Terror Measures - 2004-01-31

The U.N. Security Council is stepping up the pressure on countries that refuse to enforce sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban. More than half the world body's member countries are out of compliance with the sanctions regime.

The Security Council Friday gave member countries 60 days to prove they are enforcing sanctions against the al-Qaida terrorist network and the Taliban. The sanctions include a travel ban, a freeze on the groups' assets, and an arms embargo.

The Council president, Chilean Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, who also chairs the al-Qaida sanctions committee, said those countries who fail to report will be publicly named and shamed. He called the vote a strong signal to the nearly 100 countries that have ignored the sanctions reporting requirement.

"We've given a step forward in the struggle against terrorism, we hardened sanctions, and we think we learned lessons of past errors to close the gaps of the previous regime, and throughout year, to continue," he said. "It doesn't end here. We have a mandate to continue improving the sanctions regime."

Ambassador Munoz urged countries to pay closer attention in particular to reports that terrorists are using charitable organizations to cover up their money transfers.

His comment came a day after the United nations added four branches of the Islamic charity al-Haramain to its list of groups suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden and his terror network.

Ambassador Munoz said terrorist groups are finding many ingenious new ways to keep money flowing to their operatives worldwide.

"We don't want to specify one in particularly, but they are non-banking transfers, informal banking transfers that could be abused, traditional ones in fact, that could used by terrorists to channel funds," he said. "Also, couriers. So we are asking countries to take a closer look at those conduits."

The Security Council also established a sanctions monitoring team with expertise in all forms of terrorist financing. The resolution requires the team to file its first report by the end of July, another one at the end of this year, and a final report in June of next year.