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President Bush announced the first shot in the war on terrorism on September 24th when he listed 27 terrorist organizations and individuals and instructed U.S. financial institutions to block their accounts. Additional shots in this war have repeatedly been fired since September as 127 additional entities were listed and their assets ordered frozen. Today, President Bush and Secretary O'Neill announced that we are continuing the fight to deny funding to those who promote and support terror.
The terrible events in Israel over the weekend underscore the need for prompt action against all terrorist organizations. Hamas has proudly claimed credit for killing scores of people. Hamas also raises money to support the use of terror in other countries around the world. Clearly, Hamas is a terrorist organization of global reach.
Since October 1, 2000 Hamas has claimed responsibility for at least 20 other bombings, two shootings, one kidnapping and one mortar attack. At least 77 people, including three American citizens, have been killed in these attacks and at least 547, including four Americans, have been injured. The use of suicide bombers has become a Hamas trademark.
With today's announcement we are focussing on three Hamas-controlled organizations that finance terror:
The Holy Land Foundation masquerades as a charity while its primary purpose is to fund Hamas. Last year Holy Land raised $13 million in the United States. This morning we shut down four offices of the Holy Land Foundation in the United States.
Beit el-Mal Bank, a public holding company that funnels money to and for Hamas, ostensibly engages in investments and finance and has assets estimated at $25 million. The company's chairman is a major financial player in Hamas and a majority of shares in the company are held by members of Hamas.
Al Aqsa Islamic Bank. Like Beit el-Mal, Al Aqsa is a direct arm of Hamas, established and used to do the business of this organization.
The actions the United States has taken today are important. But action here at home is not enough. Blocking orders must be put in place around the world, not just in the U.S. This requires building a global coalition against the financing of terrorism. Terrorist assets -- like the terrorists themselves -- must have no safe harbor. Combating the financing of terrorists is a critical facet of our international agenda.
To help build this coalition we continue to communicate and coordinate with our international partners. We have spoken to finance officials in nearly 100 countries, and have advanced this agenda in multilateral fora. In order to measure progress, our Task Force on Terrorist Finance at Treasury is keeping track, account by account, dollar by dollar, of all countries' efforts. To date, 196 countries and jurisdictions have committed to join this effort; 139 countries now have blocking orders on terrorist assets in force; and over $61 million in terrorist assets has been frozen globally since September 11.
Ultimately, implementation and enforcement are the critical factors of success. Combating the financing of terrorism is an essential part of the overall war on terrorism. We will continue to name the financiers of terrorism to ensure that Hamas and other terrorist organizations have no ability to finance their acts of evil. We will work with every nation around the globe to ensure that there is no safe haven for terrorist money. This is a fight we expect to win.
U.S. Government Website