Saturday, December 18, 2004

Khaleej Times: Iran has frozen bank accounts of renegade Afghan warlord

Khaleej Times Online "Iran has frozen bank accounts of renegade Afghan warlord

18 December 2004
UNITED NATIONS - Iran has frozen four bank accounts belonging to renegade Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who is believed to have teamed up with Taleban holdouts and Al Qaeda militants, the chairman of a UN sanctions committee said.

UN anti-terrorism sanctions require all 191 UN member states to impose a travel ban and arms embargo against a list of those linked to the Taleban or Al Qaeda and to freeze their financial assets. Hekmatyar is one of 318 individuals and 115 groups on the list.

Chile’s UN Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, who chairs the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against the Taleban and Al Qaeda, told an open council meeting on Friday about his recent trip to Iran and other countries where he met high-ranking government officials.

“Iran has frozen considerable assets in four separate accounts of an individual on our list, Mr. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and has apprehended a number of Al Qaeda operatives,” Munoz said. He did not disclose the names of those arrested or the amount of money in the accounts of Hekmatyar, who is believed to be working with the Taleban and Al Qaeda to target US-led coalition forces and the Afghan government.

Munoz said Iran had also warned that trade operations were being used to finance terrorism.

“We were told that an Iraqi had operated a company in Iran which sold spoiled vegetables to clients in another country in the area who, in return, paid unusually high prices to the suppliers,” he said, indicating that these funds were used to finance terrorist activities.

Munoz said the committee’s monitoring team is currently analyzing information in reports from countries on what they are doing to implement sanctions, and has been encouraging countries that haven’t reported to do so.

US deputy ambassador Stuart Holliday told the council the monitoring team “has noted that the quality of reports is wide-ranging, and in the most extreme cases, unhelpful.”

“In cases where states are capable but appear to be unwilling to press the fight and cause discomfort to Al Qaeda, further committee investigation, and quite possibly, council action, is warranted,” he said.

Without naming any countries, Holliday said he was referring to states that aren’t complying sufficiently with the sanction requirements and are also listed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s financial action task force “as being non-cooperative.”

Munoz said the committee’s priorities remain encouraging countries to add names to the list and identifying ways to strengthen sanctions.

Holliday said the current sanctions “must be strengthened, tightened and further refined.”

“Identifying, tracing and freezing Al Qaeda assets is not going to get easier,” he warned, stressing that all nations must redouble their efforts to identify people associated with Al Qaeda and submit the names to the committee.

Germany’s UN Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said names alone are not enough and must be accompanied by additional information to identify those subject to sanctions.

Without such identification, people who see their names on the list “may then hide their assets from freezing or procure false passports for traveling,” he said. “The lack of proper identifiers also increases the risk of innocent persons being wrongly targeted.”

Pleuger noted that the European Court of Justice is expected to rule on several UN sanctions related cases early next year and stressed the importance of “due process” for those on the sanctions list.

“The way entities or individuals are added to the terrorist list maintained by the council and the absence of review or appeal for those listed raise serious accountability issues and possibly violate fundamental human rights norms and conventions,” he said."


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9:32 PM  

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