Saudi Arabia needs proof of terror-funding accounts
Saudi Arabia is prepared to crack down on groups and individuals suspected of funding terrorism, but needs clear evidence that such accounts exist in the oil-rich kingdom, the Saudi interior minister said Monday October 15.
"We have always been prepared to do this. But it is unacceptable to take any action without providing the evidence that there are some (suspicious) accounts in the kingdom," Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz said.
"We acted in the past and requested the United States, Britain and some European countries to cooperate with us in this field, but found no (positive) response," he said, quoted by the official SPA news agency.
Prince Nayef also denied allegations that part of the funds raised by Islamic charity organizations may be used to fund terrorism. "We guarantee that such funds will go only to those who deserve it," he said.
Finance ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, which include Saudi Arabia, said Saturday they will cooperate with Washington in freezing accounts of individuals and groups suspected of funding terrorists.
Charities run by Islamists and a number of financial institutions in the Gulf Arab states have been accused of financing terrorists. The organizations categorically denied the charge. The GCC move followed a freeze ordered by the US on Friday on the assets of an additional 39 suspected terrorists and their supporters. Names of at least four Saudi businessmen appeared on the list.
One of those on the list, Yassin Abdullah al-Qadi, deputy chairman of the Jeddah-based Jamoum general trading company, denied Sunday that he had any links with terrorist groups, including Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that he asked his lawyers in the United States and Britain to take all necessary measures "to clear my name and explain the situation." US President George W. Bush last month released an initial list of 27 individuals and organizations whose funds must be blocked, also warning overseas banks to follow suit.
The chairman of the Islamic Banks Union, Saudi billionaire Saleh Kamel, has denied that Islamic banks have started freezing assets of a number of charity organizations and individuals following the US request.
Kamel told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that Islamic banks have not yet received detailed lists of assets suspected of funding terrorism, but acknowledged that some accounts might be suspicious. The drive to choke off financing for terrorists is part of a global effort launched by Washington following the September 11 jetliner suicide bombings in the United States that left thousands dead. — (AFP, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)