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Pakistan Requests Help in Choking Off Terror Funds - 2003-09-19


U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow says Pakistan has made significant progress in cracking down on terrorist finances entering its borders. Pakistani government is now asking other nations to join together to choke off terror funds.

During his two-day visit to Pakistan, Mr. Snow is focusing on global terrorist financing, in particular money laundering and the movement of funds across international borders.

Previously Pakistan has served as both a transit point and a destination for large sums of money meant for terrorist organizations like al-Qaida.

Much of the money came into the country through informal remittance networks, called hawalas, a system widely used by overseas workers to send money back home to families in South Asia.

Officials believe these networks were also used to fund terrorism. Mr. Snow says Pakistan has made significant strides over the past two years in cracking down on terrorist money transfers.

"Pakistan wants to be and is in the forefront of the war on terror and terrorist finance," he said. "Evidence of that is the strong actions that have been taken on money laundering and regulation and registration of the hawala networks."

The crackdown has also help keep legitimate transfers by overseas Pakistanis out of the informal hawala market. This has given a boost to Pakistan's banking sector, which has seen an increase in its transfer business.

Pakistani Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz says other countries need to work with his in order to completely cut off terrorist financing.

"It takes two to tango, so when money is coming into a particular country, it's coming from somewhere else," said Shaukat Aziz. "So the same level of attention needs to be given at the origination point."

Experts familiar with terrorist funding say large sums of money used to finance terrorist actions throughout the world come from the Middle East and Europe.

Mr. Aziz says slowing the flow of terrorist money at its origin and transit points will be a major topic of discussion at this week's meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Dubai.