“Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network has continued to spread, with Iraq becoming a fertile ground for al-Qaeda supporters while anti-terror responses have been weak, a UN-appointed group said.” This from the Sydney Morning Herald.
“While the group cited some progress in freezing assets of and banning travels by members of al-Qaeda and the former militants in Afghanistan, the Taliban, it said governments failed to cooperate in providing information regarding those members. . . .
“The group, known as the ‘Committee on Sanction on al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their associates’, was created by the UN Security Council in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.
“The council ordered a freeze of assets and a travel ban on al-Qaeda and Taliban members. The monitoring group has listed 371 names and organisations belonging to al-Qaeda and Taliban and has demanded governments provide information on 272 individuals for the purposes of asset freezing and travel ban. . . .
“It said Iraq has become ‘readily accessible to followers of al-Qaeda’.
“‘With such large numbers of foreign and non-Muslim troops involved (in Iraq), it is proving an ideal “battleground” for followers of Osama bin Laden’s inspired “World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders”,’ the report said, referring to the US-led coalition army in Iraq.
Which governments have been slow to cooperate? “The monitoring group tried to visit several Middle East countries in September to write the report. Saudi Arabia denied entry to the group. In Kuwait, the group sought information about the al-Qaeda-related Wafa Humanitarian Organisation, but was told that organisation did not exist. Yemen failed to provide names of those detained in the attack against the USS Cole in 2000. In Egypt, the group was told that Cairo had not received a UN letter requesting information on individuals on the list of al-Qaeda suspects. The report said it received little cooperation in Jordan, Syria and Morocco.
“It said governments in some countries were not aware of UN resolutions demanding information and cooperation in fighting global terrorism.
“Al-Qaeda was suspected of maintaining assets in 83 countries, but only 21 countries have reported freezing those assets.
“The total assets frozen amounted to $US75 million ($A103.38 million) with the United States accounting for $US70 million ($A96.49 million).
“Governments have been asked to provide information on asset freezing, but the report said they have been vague on the mechanism and structures put in place to identify and investigate banking institutions that may harbour those assets.
“The UN arms embargo on al-Qaeda and Taliban has not been fully carried out, either. The report said, ‘States’ description of the measures (embargo) … are more telling from the information they do not provide than from what they do provide.’
“The UN has also asked for information on charity organisations, which have been suspected of financially helping al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
“But the monitoring group said some governments had resisted demands for information.
“It cited for example the al-Rashid Trust and its partners in Pakistan, and the Om al-Qura Foundation, which has branches in Thailand and Cambodia as well as in Bosnia and Chechnya. Little information was received from those organisations.
“‘It has proven particularly difficult to pierce the charity veil and uncover the deep pocket donors, including business entities that provide such funding,’ the report said.” (Thanks to nicolei.)