US officials head to Riyadh for launch of terrorist funding task force
The United States and Saudi Arabia plan to launch a joint task force comprising of US law enforcement officials stationed in the Kingdom to target individuals suspected of funding terrorism.
Senior US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials and Internal Revenue Service agents are heading to Riyadh on Tuesday August 26, 2003, in order to finalize the group’s objectives, which will include retrieving information from bank accounts and other financial data to track the flow of financing to terrorist organizations.
According to General Counsel of the US Department of Treasury David Aufhauser, one of the first assignments for the Saudi-led Joint Task Force on Terrorist Financing will be to examine documents that Saudi officials seized in the aftermath of the May suicide attacks in Riyadh that killed 34 people, reported Reuters.
The US Senate has pressed the Bush administration for information about possible Saudi financial links to terrorism following the release of a controversial report about the causes of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
At a hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee July 31, 2003, senators probed two senior administration officials, one from the FBI, the other from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, on cooperation by the Saudi government to investigate terrorist acts and to cut off financing to terrorist groups by Saudi charitable organizations and non-governmental organizations.
The Senate convened the hearing after the July 24 release of the "Report of the Joint Inquiry into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001" by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, in which the Bush administration ordered that 28 pages be deleted.
The deleted pages are reported to deal with Saudi Arabia's links to terrorism. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal visited President Bush in Washington July 29 and said the deleted pages should be released to the public so that the Saudi government can address the allegations.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi government has declared it had no involvement in the attacks. President Bush said he ordered the pages deleted in order not to compromise an investigation into the attacks. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)