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Al-Qaida terrorist operatives diversifying finances, UN expert panel warns

Al-Qaida terrorist operatives diversifying finances, UN expert panel warns

Terrorist operatives from the Al-Qaida network appear to have diversified the base and security of their finances by acquiring valuable commodities and using the Internet to move money, according to a new report by a United Nations expert group.

"As a result of the freezing of assets that has been and continues to be carried out globally, there are allegations that Al-Qaida, for now at least, may be diversifying financial aspects of its logistics support by converting parts of its assets into gold, diamonds and other precious stones, for example lapis lazuli and sapphires," states the report of the Monitoring Group established by the Security Council to ensure enforcement of sanctions against Usama bin Laden, the Al-Qaida organization, the Taliban, and their associates.

The report also notes that criminals and terrorists are using the Internet to move their money without detection. "The Group is particularly concerned about the use of the Internet by Al-Qaida and many of its associates, not only regarding financial transactions but also in support of their communications, command, control and logistics," the report warns, noting that experts are looking into ways to "disrupt and neutralize" these criminal actions.

States are working to cut off terrorists' financial resources, the report says. By the end of March, no less than 144 countries had blocking orders in place in the context of the fight against terrorism. As a result of these orders, $103.8 million in assets have been blocked worldwide since 11 September 2001. The Group estimates that approximately "half of this sum represents assets connected with Usama bin Laden and Al-Qaida."

The Group makes a series of recommendations regarding the Security Council's list of those subject to the sanctions, proposing, for example, that it be translated into each of the UN's six official languages.

The Group encourages all States to become parties to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and those nations involved in the trade of rough diamonds to take part in the Kimberly process, a negotiating procedure to establish minimum acceptable international standards for national certification schemes covering the import and export of rough diamonds.

On the arms embargo, the Group recommends that, in order to increase the transparency of international weapons sales, all arms-producing countries join the Wassanaar Arrangement on export controls for conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies.