A new U.N. report concludes that current international sanctions against the al-Qaida terrorist network are out of date and should be replaced. The report warns that the nature of the al-Qaida threat has changed since the first sanctions were imposed five years ago.
U.N. officials say al-Qaida is evolving rapidly into a highly decentralized global network, able to stay ahead of international efforts to keep up with its activities.
Richard Barrett, head of the al-Qaida Monitoring team of the United Nations, says the terrorist group is showing great flexibility and adaptability in evading sanctions. He says the sanctions regime, which dates back to 1999, is obsolete.
"What I'm saying in the report is sanctions that are in place have possibly run their course. Or beginning to get near end of it. They were relevant to circumstances at the time. Circumstances have changed," he said. "I'm not saying sanctions can't work. I'm saying the sanctions [that] were imposed maybe have lost some of their efficacy, or effectiveness. The threat has evolved."
In a report to the Security Council, Mr. Barrett's team points out that al-Qaida is able to operate with a few committed operatives and little money. They estimate that the terrorists spent less than $50,000 on each of their major attacks, except for the September 11 suicide hijackings.
The report outlines al-Qaida's transformation from a group with an established base, led by Osama bin Laden, to a loose network of affiliated underground groups intent on creating an international sense of crisis.
Chilean Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, head of the Security Council's al-Qaida/Taleban Sanctions Committee, says the battle against terrorism can only be won if all countries participate.
"Because we are not going to do it alone. We will do it to the extent that the 191 countries become truly serious about a problem that is global," he said. "It is not a U.S. problem, not a European problem, it is global. It is the first global phenomenon, al-Qaida, of the 21st century."
Ambassador Munoz is urging all countries to provide updated lists of its residents who are suspected of links to al-Qaida.
So far, he says, the sanctions committee has compiled a list that contains the names of 429 individuals who have been verified as having links to the al-Qaida network.
But the ambassador adds that not all countries are cooperating with the committee. He says some have been reluctant to give the committee names, while others may have submitted names of political enemies who have no terrorist links.