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UN Sanctions on al-Qaida Beginning to Work, say US Officials

U.N. sanctions are beginning to make it harder for terrorist groups to fund their operations. That is the conclusion of two senior U.S. officials who briefed the U.N. Security Council's al-Qaida/Taleban sanctions committee.

Assistant U.S. Treasury Secretary Juan Zarate told Security Council ambassadors that measures aimed at cutting off funds to individuals and groups linked to al-Qaida and the Taleban are taking hold.

"It is now harder, costlier and riskier for al Qaida to raise and move money," he said. "The cornerstone of those efforts has been our ability to designate individuals and entities who provide support for al-Qaida and the Taleban."

Security Council resolutions require all 191 U.N. member countries to report steps they have taken to freeze assets of terrorist groups and prevent terror suspects from traveling or acquiring weapons. A U.N. report issued last year, however, concluded that the sanctions were largely ineffective.

But Mr. Zarate says the picture is changing as more countries join the effort to identify and track al-Qaida and Taleban operatives.

"We know we've frozen now approximately $147 million in terrorist -related assets based on this process," he said. "We know that the designation process not only freezes assets but it cuts off channels of funding for al-Qaida, it deters those who would otherwise support al-Qaida and other like minded terrorist groups. It notifies those who are not otherwise witting of their support that they are supporting an organization. We've seen that in the case of non-profit organizations that have been abused by al-Qaida."

Mr. Zarate declined to identify countries that had frozen terrorist assets, but he told the sanctions committee dozens of countries have begun cooperating in the anti-terrorism effort.

Also speaking to the committee, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Anthony Wayne called international cooperation the key to success in fighting al-Qaida. "You can have the best intelligence in the world, but if you do not have the cooperation of other governments where individuals are operating, you have a very hard time stopping them,." he said.