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24 September 2001

Bush Executive Order Freezes Assets of Terrorists

(Also meets with Canada's Prime Minister, phones Thai Prime Minister)
(840)
By Wendy S. Ross
Washington File White House Correspondent
Washington -- In response to the terrorist attacks on New York and
Washington, President Bush has signed an executive order freezing the
financial assets of 27 terrorist organizations and individuals,
including Usama bin Laden and the al Qaeda organization.
"We will starve the terrorists of funding," Bush announced at a
September 24 event in the Rose Garden of the White House, flanked by
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The order, Bush said, applies to "terrorist organizations,
individuals, terrorist leaders, a corporation that serves as a front
for terrorism and several nonprofit organizations."
The White House released a fact sheet explaining that the executive
order strengthens one put in place by President Clinton by expanding
the class of affected groups to all those who are "associated with"
designated terrorist groups, and authorizes U.S. officials "to block
the U.S. assets of, and deny access to U.S. markets, those foreign
banks that refuse to freeze terrorist assets."
"What is so different about the executive order the president signed
last night is now the United States is prepared to take action against
nations that don't take action themselves," White House Press
Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters.
"What this does is allow the United States government to go well
beyond anything that was previously done. And the principal way it
does that is by sending a message to foreign banks that they need to
take action, and we're going to work with foreign governments so they
can take action against ... any terrorist organizations or front
groups that have assets in foreign countries that are beyond the
immediate reach of the United States government," Fleischer said.
Asked when the administration would release publicly evidence that bin
Laden and his network engineered the September 11 attacks on the
United States, Fleischer said it would not be released immediately
because some of the information "is going to end up in the form of
grand jury information, subject to secrecy laws." Information from
intelligence services "is by definition going to be classified, and
will be treated as such," he said.
But he said he expects "over the course of time" there will be changes
to that. "That has historically been the pattern," and that was what
Secretary of State Colin Powell was referring to in his statements
over the weekend, Fleischer said.
"I think as Secretary Powell said, there is hope to do that [release
information], and to do so in a timely fashion, over some course of
time. That's always important in a democracy. In a democracy it's
always important to provide the maximum amount of information
possible. But I think the American people also understand that there
are going to be times when that information cannot immediately be
forthcoming. And the American people seem to be accepting of that."
In other developments, Fleischer said that President Bush early in the
morning phoned Thai Prime Minister Chinnawat Thaksin "to discuss ways
the United States and Thailand can cooperate in the war against
terrorism."
Then, following a meeting with his national security team, he met in
the Oval Office with Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien after which
they continued their discussions over a working luncheon.
On September 27, Bush will meet at the White House with the President
of the European Council, Guy Verhofstadt and on September 28 he will
welcome King Abdullah of Jordan to the White House for a working
visit, Fleischer announced.
The President and Secretary of State Powell are receiving "very
strong" support from foreign leaders for the anti-terrorist campaign,
Fleischer said.
He pointed out that "it's not just the United States that collects
information and knows that all roads lead to the al Qaeda
organization. Other nations have similar means of collecting
information," Fleischer said.
"Many of these nations know what we know. And they are working with
us, because they know a lot of the things that we know. There are many
conversations that take place between the United States at the state
level, at the presidential level, with foreign leaders, that if there
were to be a transcript of that conversation, for example, it would be
classified, because they discuss secrets. There is a sharing of
information" in private, Fleischer said, but "that's not the type of
information that can always be publicly shared."
"They are working with us, because they believe us. They're working
with us because of things they know, and because of the trust they
hold in the United States government."
Bush September 24 also met privately at the White House with the
families of passengers and the flight crew of Flight 93, which crashed
September 11 in southwestern Pennsylvania, one of the four planes
hijacked by terrorists.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)



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