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US Hits Terrorists' Financial Networks

President Bush is expanding efforts against financial networks used to fund international terrorism; freezing the assets of several organizations with suspected ties to Osama bin Laden.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the Bush Administration is cracking down on the infrastructure terrorists use to get their money. The Treasury Department has added Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist group.

They include assets in countries including Somalia, Liechtenstein, the Bahamas, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Italy and the United Arab Emirates. The Bush Administration is asking those governments to freeze those accounts.

Swiss police have detained two Egyptian men who are co-founders of the Al-Taqua Management Company, a group on the Treasury Department list.

Mr. Fleischer says U.S. investigators are also moving against nine operations inside the United States. Those include money transfer services in the states of Washington, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Ohio. "Beginning at 10 am Eastern time this morning, Treasury and Custom agents delivered blocking orders and began security evidence at several locations across the United States and evidence is being secured as a result of these raids," he said.

Mr. Fleischer says the hunt for terrorist finances is just as important as bombing terrorist camps in Afghanistan. "The President has made clear that the war against the terrorists is going to be a multi-front war," said Ari Fleischer. "We have been hearing a lot about the military campaign, obviously, and you have been receiving information from the Pentagon about it. But the President also believes that the war on the financial front is just as important. The ability of the United States, and for governments around the world, to start squeezing the source of funding that the terrorists use to operate their missions is a vital component to winning this war. The less money they have, the fewer missions they will be able to carry out," said the spokesman.

Mr. Fleischer says no one action will stop the terrorists as they move their money from one hiding place to another. But he says a sustained, international campaign to attack terrorist financial resources will hurt their ability to carry out further violence.