Most UN Members Lag on Drive Against Al Qaeda


By Irwin Arieff

January 13, 2004

More than half of U.N. members have yet to report on their efforts to crack down on the al Qaeda network, as required by the Security Council in September 2001, a council diplomat said on Monday.

To date, just 93 of the United Nations' 191 member-states have filed reports with the Security Council committee charged with monitoring U.N. sanctions on al Qaeda and Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers, said Chilean Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, the committee's chairman.

The council plans to adopt a resolution on Friday that would put more pressure on noncomplying countries and also tighten the sanctions and facilitate international cooperation in battling terrorism, Munoz told reporters.

A resolution approved by the council soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States requires all U.N. members to freeze the assets of any individual or group suspected of ties to al Qaeda or the Taliban. Washington blamed Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda for masterminding the attacks and the Taliban for offering al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan.

The resolution also orders governments to block suspects' movements and bar them from obtaining arms, funds or other resources. Munoz's committee compiles the official lists of suspected groups and individuals, based on information submitted by governments. "International terrorism sponsored by al Qaeda and those associated with this network continue to pose one of the greatest threats to international peace and security. As such, it must be combated by all means, both at national and international levels," Munoz told the Security Council.


U.S. envoy Stuart Holliday urged the committee to work more effectively by focusing more on money moving through informal banking systems and suspect charities. He also called for a crack-down on those governments not meeting the U.N. reporting requirements. "Unwilling states, if any, that lack sufficient political will to address the al Qaeda threat must first be encouraged -- and, if necessary, later pressured -- to do more," he said. "We, the Security Council, would be negligent in our duties if we were to allow any weak links to undermine our shared counter-terrorism objectives. Al Qaeda surely would exploit them," Holliday said.

Algeria's U.N. ambassador, Abdallah Baali, called on the council committee to release the names of those countries that had failed to file their reports, along with their reasons. Baali also expressed surprise that the committee's official list named just 371 groups and individuals suspected of links to al Qaeda or the Taliban. He blamed governments that hesitated to share their intelligence findings or refused to acknowledge that al Qaeda affiliates might be operating within their borders.

French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere called for a one-year time limit on the new sanctions regime to be voted on Friday, so the sanctions could be reviewed annually. While Paris has argued for the past several years that all U.N. sanctions should have expiration dates, Washington wants the al Qaeda sanctions to remain in place until the council decides to abolish them.

More Information on the Security Council
More Information on Afghanistan
More Information on the UN Involvement Against Terrorism

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