http://www.gulf- daily-news. com/Story. asp?Article= 209944&Sn= BNEW&IssueID=
30344

MILLIONS of dollars are being raised in the Gulf to finance terrorism, a
senior US treasury official alleged yesterday.

Iran is the chief culprit, but funds are being raised throughout the region,
often through otherwise genuine charity funds, said Under-Secretary of the
Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.

He called for more to be done to block millions allegedly being chanelled to
Al Qaeda, Hizbollah and other organisations.

A recent decision by Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank to suspend business with
Iran was evidence that terrorism funding exists in all Gulf countries, said
Mr Levey.

In October last year, the US accused Iranian banks Saderat and Bank Melli,
which together own two-thirds of the Bahrain-based Future Bank, of funding
terrorism and supporting Iran’s nuclear programme.

Future Bank was established in Bahrain in 2005, as a joint venture with Ahli
United Bank
.

“Terrorist organisations and Al Qaeda raise money in the Gulf by going to
individual donors and through charities,” Mr Levey told a Press conference
at the Sheraton Hotel.

Iran as a matter of state policy funds terrorism organisations and does so
in great quantities.

“We believe they send between $100-200 million (BD37.8m to BD75.6m) a year
to Hizbollah.

“The (Iranian) banks also send a significant amount of money to Hamas.

“There is historical evidence of charities being corrupted to send money to
terrorist organisations and this is a substantial problem.”

Mr Levey denied that the US was trying to put pressure on Iranian banks as
part of efforts to disrupt its nuclear development programme.

He was in Bahrain for a one-day visit to build up support to combat
terrorist financing, that will also see him travel to Qatar and the UAE.

Mr Levey held meetings with Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al
Khalifa, Justice and Islamic Affairs Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al
Khalifa, Social Development Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi and Central Bank
of Bahrain governor Rasheed Al Maraj.

He is responsible for US government’s efforts to disrupt and dismantle the
financial networks that support terrorist organisations and has overseen the
introduction of financial measures against proliferators of weapons of mass
destruction
.

Mr Levey has also brought in financial strategies aimed at countering
threats to US national security and protecting the international financial
markets from abuse.

The GDN reported last week the results of a Jurdab Charity Fund survey which
showed that a third of charities in Bahrain do not carry out annual audits
of their accounts.

“The issue of charities is a difficult one which all countries are grappling
with,” said Mr Levey.

“One of the victims in that equation are the people who are innocent donors.
Their real will is to give their money to people in need and not to have it
diverted to extremists.

“Unfortunately, too often that situation occurs.”

Mr Levey said putting pressure on the financial networks of terrorists would
not alone solve the problem but insisted it was part of the solution. “We
need to use their financial networks to learn more about them and in the
long run we need to win the ideological war,” he said.
“It is not acceptable to use terrorism to pursue a political goal.”

 

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