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THE PRESIDENT: The United States is pressing the war against terror on every front. From the mountains of Afghanistan to the bank accounts of terrorist organizations. The first strike in the war against terror targeted the terrorists' financial support. We put the world's financial institutions on notice: if you do business with terrorists, if you support them or sponsor them, you will not do business with the United States of America.
Today, we are taking another step in our fight against evil. We are setting down two major elements of the terrorists international financial network, both at home and abroad. Ours is not a war just of soldiers and aircraft. It's a war fought with diplomacy, by the investigations of law enforcement, by gathering intelligence and by cutting off the terrorists' money.
I want to thank Secretary Paul O'Neill for being here today and for being the leader of this fine organization. I want to thank the Director, Jim Sloan, as well. You're doing some imaginative work here at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and I want to thank all the fine Americans who are on the front line of our war, the people who work here.
I want to thank Secretary Colin Powell for being here, as well. He's doing a magnificent job of stitching together one of the greatest coalitions ever -- a coalition of nations that stands for freedom. And I want to thank our Attorney General for coming -- the man whose job it is to make sure that any time we find anybody inside our country who will threaten an American, threaten our institutions, they will be brought to justice. And that's exactly what our nation is doing.
Acting on solid and credible evidence, the Treasury Department of the United States today blocked the U.S. assets of 62 individuals and organizations connected with two terror-supporting financial networks -- the Al Taqua and the Al Barakaat. Their offices have been shut down in four U.S. states. And our G8 partners and other friends, including the United Arab Emirates, have joined us in blocking assets and coordinating enforcement action.
Al Taqua is an association of offshore banks and financial management firms that have helped al Qaeda shift money around the world. Al Barakaat is a group of money wiring and communication companies owned by a friend and supporter of Osama bin Laden. Al Taqua and Al Barakaat raise funds for al Qaeda; they manage, invest and distribute those funds. They provide terrorist supporters with Internet service, secure telephone communications and other ways of sending messages and sharing information. They even arrange for the shipment of weapons.
They present themselves as legitimate businesses. But they skim money from every transaction, for the benefit of terrorist organizations. They enable the proceeds of crime in one country to be transferred to pay for terrorist acts in another.
The entry point for these networks may be a small storefront operation -- but follow the network to its center and you discover wealthy banks and sophisticated technology, all at the service of mass murderers. By shutting these networks down, we disrupt the murderers' work. Today's action interrupts al Qaeda's communications; it blocks an important source of funds. It provides us with valuable information and sends a clear message to global financial institutions: you are with us or you are with the terrorists. And if you're with the terrorists, you will face the consequences.
We fight an enemy who hides in caves in Afghanistan, and in the shadows within in our own society. It's an enemy who can only survive in darkness. Today, we've taken another important action to expose the enemy to the light and to disrupt its ability to threaten America and innocent life.
I'm proud of the actions of our agencies. We're making a difference. We're slowly but surely tightening the noose, and we will be victorious.
Now it's my honor to welcome the Secretary of Treasury, Paul O'Neill. (Applause.)
END 1:58 P.M. EST
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