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Britain Freezes Taleban Assets - 2001-10-01

Britain says it has frozen $88 million in assets linked to the Taleban regime in Afghanistan. Britain says the move is the first in a crackdown on the finances of international terrorism.

British Treasury Minister Gordon Brown has told a meeting of his Labor Party that last month's terrorist attacks in the United States have changed the world. "September 11 transformed our times and our task," he said. "And let us be in no doubt: it has now fallen to our generation to bear the burden of defeating international terrorism."

As part of that effort, Mr. Brown said Britain is freezing $88 million of funds connected to Afghanistan's ruling Taleban, which has refused to hand over suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Brown says the rest of the world also must act to choke off funding for terrorism. "Ready access to finance is the lifeblood of modern terrorism," he said. "And no institution, no bank, no finance house anywhere in the world should be harboring or processing funds for terrorists."

Speaking to journalists before his speech, Mr. Brown said Britain soon will be taking more steps against terrorist financing. "One of the things we'll be doing in the next few days is publishing a further list of organizations and individuals who, we think, are associated with terrorist money," said Gordon Brown. "This will be published internationally. And we are now going to agree on common exchanges of information with other countries on that terrorist finance, and common sanctions for dealing with them."

The British government is also considering a number of new anti-terrorism laws. Officials say the legislation could speed up extradition of terrorist suspects, tighten asylum laws that have given safe haven to some alleged terrorists, and regulate currency exchange houses to cut down on money laundering.