September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Statement by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill; November 7, 2001

November 7, 2001

Statement by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill


The President signed the Executive Order on Terrorist Financing on September 23. His instruction to the Treasury Department was straight-forward: chair a committee of all agencies with potential information about terrorist financing; then take that shared intelligence and make it actionable. That is something new in Washington and I am here to tell you that it is working.

This morning, agents from the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control, the Customs Service, and the IRS shut down 8 al Barakaat offices in the United States, and took possession of evidence that will be investigated for further leads in the terrorist money trail. In addition, we used authority in the newly-enacted anti-terrorism legislation to block assets and seize evidence at two al Barakaat outlets in Virginia. Millions of dollars have moved through these US offices of al Barakaat. This organization is now exposed for what it is - a pariah in the civilized world. US businesses and individuals are now forewarned, and prohibited from doing business with this company.

Since the issuance of the Executive Order, the United States and our coalition partners have issued blocking order on the assets and trade of 88 individuals and organizations who support terrorism. Today we add sixty-two (62) names to that list. But more important than the number is the character of today's designees.

Al Taqwa and al-Barakaat are financiers of terror. The President's September 23 Order made plain that those who underwrite violence bear equal culpability to those who perpetrate it. Feigned indifference, willful blindness, and the appearance of normalcy and status in the world of business or commerce will no longer provide cover or safe harbor -here or abroad.

The al Taqwa group has long acted as financial advisers to al Qaeda, with offices in Switzerland, Lichenstein, Italy and the Caribbean. The al Barakaat companies are the money movers, the quartermasters of terror. At core, it is a hawala conglomerate operating in 40 countries around the world with business ventures in telecommunications, construction, and currency exchange. They are a principal source of funding, intelligence and money transfers for bin Laden.

And they operate office even here in the US. At least they did until today.

Our allies around the world are joining us in cutting al Barakaat and al Taqwa out of the world financial system. Dubai, UAE is the home base of al Barakaat. Today the UAE blocked the accounts of al Barakaat, paralyzing the nerve center of the operation.

And that is only one example of the nations around the world who have eagerly joined this effort to separate terrorists from the world financial system. To date, 112 nations have blocking orders in force on the names we'd previously added to this list. Together, the civilized governments of the world have already blocked more than $43 million in terrorist assets.

This is a painstaking process. It requires cooperation on a global scale, and information sharing the likes of which no one thought possible a few short months ago. The civilized nations of the world are determined to end the threat of global terrorism. We will protect our citizens by slowly and carefully dismantling the financial infrastructure of terrorism.

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