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Fri, Nov 09, 2001 - Page 4 News List

World choking off terrorist money supplies

DRAGNET The US said it has blocked US$26 million in assets of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and an additional US$17 million has been blocked by other countries

AP , WASHINGTON AND GENEVA

"Today, we take another important action to expose the enemy to the light and to disrupt its ability to threaten America and innocent life," Bush said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "Money is the oxygen of terrorism."

The event was designed to show progress in the broad anti-terrorism campaign, countering doubts about the US-led military operations in Afghanistan and the administration's response to anthrax scares.

The US has blocked US$26 million in assets of the Taliban and al-Qaeda; an additional US$17 million has been blocked by other countries, bringing the worldwide total to US$43 million, a Treasury spokeswoman said.

To date, 112 countries have blocking orders in force.

In Europe, in a coordinated assault on Osama bin Laden's financial network, authorities across Europe raided homes and businesses and detained two Arab financiers with links to an Egyptian fundamentalist group.

Arab financiers

Police detained Youssef Nada and Ali Himmat in raids Wednesday at the men's homes in the Italian enclave of Campione D'Italia. The men were taken across the border to Lugano, Switzerland, for questioning and released six hours later.

They are suspected of funneling money to bin Laden's al-Qaeda network through the Nada Management Organization, which until recently was known as the Al Taqua Management Co.

The Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office said police conducted searches in Muri, Switzerland, where another member of Nada Management Organization lives, and at the company's offices in neighboring Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

The lawyer for the two Arab financiers, Pier Felice Barchi, said his clients will be questioned again in coming days. He added that they ``have nothing to fear and nothing to hide.'' He said authorities also seized thousands of pages of documents from their homes and offices.

While Swiss and Italian authorities identified the men as Egyptian, Himmat was identified on the U.S. Treasury list as holding Swiss and Tunisian citizenship.

In the Netherlands, a government official said on condition of anonymity that investigators went to the address of the Barakat Telecommunications Company but found new tenants unconnected to it.

Also on the U.S. list was a man with a Rome address, Dahir Ubeidullahi Aweys. A woman who answered the telephone there said he had left for Somalia, then hung up.

Officials at the Bank of Italy and the Italian Treasury Ministry also said that they had been monitoring al Taqua's operations for some time.

Muslim brotherhood

Nada and Himmat are also senior members of the Muslim Brother-hood, a fundamentalist group that wants to establish an Islamic state in Egypt, a leading Brotherhood member said in Cairo. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the group is outlawed in Egypt.

Egyptian police have recently cracked down on the group. On Tuesday, in the third mass arrest in recent months, 21 Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested. Lawyers said interrogations did not touch on the Sept. 11 attacks or funding for militant groups.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 in Egypt, is the Arab world's oldest fundamentalist Muslim group. It is officially banned in Egypt, but is believed to be the largest Islamic organization in the country.

In Egypt, the Brotherhood's activities are tolerated to an extent. Leaders issue statements from offices in Cairo and its members, running as independents, became the largest opposition bloc in the legislature.

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