UN Gives Green Light to Afghan Bank

Associated Press
January 16, 2002

The United Nations has given a green light for Afghanistan's central bank to operate again and ordered the freezing of assets of two Pakistani organizations which the United States says raised money for the al-Qaida terror network.

The actions Monday by the Security Council's committee monitoring sanctions against Afghanistan were made public on Tuesday.

The committee removed the Da Afghanistan Bank, the country's central financial institution, from its list of groups and individuals whose assets have been ordered frozen because of links to Osama bin Laden's terrorist operation.

Allowing the central bank to resume normal operations is crucial for Afghanistan's new interim government and international efforts to start rebuilding the war-shattered nation. Taliban officials looted the bank before the hard-line militia was routed in mid-November.

Two Pakistani groups were added to the U.N. list of organizations whose assets have been ordered frozen: the Afghan Support Committee and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society.

Also added to the list were group leaders Abu Bakr Al-Jaziri, the reported finance chief of the Afghan Support Committee, and Abd al-Muhsin Al-Libi, head of the Heritage Society's Pakistan office and manager of the Support Committee's office in the border city of Peshawar.

The U.S. government froze the groups' assets last week, saying they funneled charitable donations to support al-Qaida. U.S. officials said Al-Jaziri, an Algerian living in Peshawar, had served as bin Laden's chief fund-raiser, and Al-Libi had provided bin Laden's network with facilities in Peshawar.

The U.S. administration has accused bin Laden of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Also Tuesday, the Security Council lifted an international flight ban on the country's airline, imposed to pressure the Taliban to hand over bin Laden. International flights of Ariana Afghan Airlines were halted in October 1999.

The airline has a single working jumbo jet. Crews at Kabul Airport are working to repair fissures in the runway, which was damaged by the U.S. bombardment in October. Ariana has said the first international flights would be to Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates and India.

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