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Homeland Security


Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

26 June 2003

Al Qaeda continued to present a significant risk to international peace and security, the Chairman of the Monitoring Group established to monitor the implementation of measures against Al Qaeda, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this morning.

Established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1363 (2001), the Monitoring Group monitors the implementation of measures imposed by resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1333 (2000) against Usama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their associates. Those measures, which include a freeze of financial and economic assets, a travel ban and an arms embargo, are applied against the individuals and entities contained in a Consolidated List maintained by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1267 (1999), also known as the “1267 Committee”.

Describing the first of two reports the Monitoring Group is requested to submit to the Committee, the Chairman of the Monitoring Group, Michael Chandler, said there had been key successes in the period covered by the report – 19 January to 31 May 2003. There had been a number of arrests, including that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Yasir al-Jaziri, Waleed bin Attash and other senior lieutenants of Usama bin Laden’s original “command team”. Those arrests had significantly dented Al Qaeda’s operational capability and provided critical intelligence about the network. A number of terrorist cells had also been broken up, and a number of network supporters detained.

Recent events, however, including the bombings in Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Morocco and Afghanistan, had demonstrated that Al Qaeda still posed a significant threat, he said. The network continued to recruit new adherents, receive funds, explosives and arms and was able to have some of its people move around. Those facts must be faced.

The Al Qaeda network retained a strong appeal among Islamic extremist elements around the world and was able to draw on a substantial number of people trained in Afghanistan or in other training centres associated with the Al Qaeda network. Further success in bringing down the network would require sustained international effort with enhanced information sharing and coordination among Member States. “It is not something that anyone country was going to do on its own”, he said.

Highlighting the draft report’s recommendations, he said it was important that the Consolidated List was accurate and complete so that agencies around the world had good information. Member States should look at the List on a regular basis. The List only included a small sub-set of the critical membership of the Al Qaeda network, which had a substantial effect on proper implementation of the resolution. The List should be expanded to take in a broader set of Al Qaeda members and associates.

Greater efforts were also needed to deal with the issue of funding, he said. The success of clamping down on the formal banking system had driven Al Qaeda and its associates to use informal means. It was now known that many of the cells that had broken up in Europe were self-sufficient and able to raise cash through small drug sales and credit card scams. Also, some of the money raised from the poppy harvest in Afghanistan could possibly get to Al Qaeda.

Efforts must be redoubled to ensure that Al Qaeda and its associates did not acquire nuclear, radiological, chemical or biological weapons or materials, he said. When there was an arms seizure, it was important that information on those seizures was provided to law enforcement officials. In short, there was a long way to go.

Presenting the report, which will be issued as an official document on 11 July, Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile, the Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1267 (1999), said it was ironic that the success of the Committee’s measures against the Taliban and Al Qaeda also explained some of its failures. Although some doors had been closed because of the Committee’s work, for example, financing for Al Qaeda and Taliban, other doors had been opened. “In a sense, our progress has yielded new ways in which the Taliban and Al-Qaida are operating”, he said.

Mr. Muñoz said the Committee had met throughout the year with a view to seeking ways to improve the implementation of sanctions. Those measures included enhancing the reports submitted by States and increased reporting with the Security Council. In that regard, he would report to the Council on the Committee’s work in an open meeting on 29 July.

In the last period of activity, he said the Committee had accomplished a number of things. Specifically, it had improved both the format and content of the “Consolidated List” of individuals and entities associated with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. [That List, which is maintained by the Committee, is provided to all Member States.] Information had been reclassified in a more consistent way, and the presentation of names and entities on the List had also been adjusted. The List was accessible throughout the world via the Internet.

The Committee had also revised the guidelines for considering information provided by States so that it could quickly respond to information submitted to it, he said. The Committee was increasingly receiving information by States. Just yesterday, in fact, a name submitted to the Committee by the Russian Federation had been included in the List. Transparent guidelines for submitting reports had also been disseminated to Member States. The Committee had also been working with the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee to increase cooperation and mutual coordination.

Throughout the year, the Monitoring Group had carried out travel, research and investigation to monitor the implementation of Council resolution 1455, he said. [Adopted by the Security Council on 17 January 2003, that resolution seeks to improve the implementation of measures imposed by Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999), 1333 (2000) and 1390 (2002). By its terms, a group of experts was reappointed to monitor the implementation of measures and to follow up on relevant leads relating to any incomplete implementation.]

At an informal meeting yesterday, the Committee began a preliminary discussion of the draft report, he said. Overall, members supported the approach taken by the report, which, they said, was a “step in the right direction” in strenghthening the sanctions imposed on Taliban and Al Qaeda. Members had also noted the timely reference of the influence of drug trafficking in Afghanistan on the development of the global Al Qaeda network.

It was a long-term task and would not be achieved through a couple of reports in a couple of years, he said. Because of the challenge ahead, more experts would be added to the Monitoring Group to deal specifically with issues such as financing and arms embargo. The number of case studies would also be increased beyond the overall analysis provided in the reports. It had been suggested that he call upon Member States that had not submitted reports to do so. Only 56 Member States had submitted reports in compliance with resolution 1455.

To understand the real situation in the field, the Committee had also discussed the possibility of traveling to certain areas, he said. Member States had suggested the importance of visiting areas where Al Qaeda had recently struck, including in Asia and East Africa. He would travel to Afghanistan and other countries where an enhanced political signal was needed.

Responding to a question on the Group’s meeting with officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mr. Chandler said that while the United States had been interested in why the Group had visited the Court, it had in no way prevented its reporting on the matter. The visit to The Hague had been purely exploratory. The Monitoring Group had discussed with ICC officials the possible application of the Court’s mandate to combating terrorism, particularly some of the crimes committed by Al Qaeda.

In response to a question on Chechnya, he said one had to look at what had taken place in the past years. There were definite links between people who were involved with Al Qaeda, who had worked through Bosnia into Chechnya. Certain aspects of the way in which the Chechnyan rebel movement operated were similar to the way in which Al Qaeda operated, including suicide bombings and attempts to take hostages. It was the first time a Chechnyan had been put on the Consolidated List.

Asked why the report did not address possible Al Qaeda links to Iraq, Mr. Chandler said nothing had come to the Group’s notice that indicated links between Al Qaeda and the Iraq situation. That was not to say, however, that the link did not exist.

Asked if the United States supported the Group’s work following the fallout of the Iraq situation, Mr. Chandler said the United States Administration was very supportive of its work.

Mr. Muñoz added that he had been invited to Washington to address issues dealing with the chairmanship of the Committee. He had accepted the invitation, which had indicated the degree of the interest by the United States in the Committee’s work.

Had the Committee investigated the alleged link between Al Qaeda and Iraq? a correspondent asked. Mr. Chandler said he had five people on his team. Al Qaeda was a global network. There were many people dealing with Iraq. He was concentrating on what was going on in the rest of the world. So far, there was nothing to indicate a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

On the concept of “third generation Al Qaeda”, he said that term referred to people who had never gone to Afghanistan and who had never been part of Al Qaeda as it had evolved. There were three stages: Al Qaeda when it was started by bin Laden, Al Qaeda after 11 September 2001, and the demise of the Taliban regime and the dispersion of a large number of people trained as Al Qaeda. There had been a number of arrests. In the case of Morocco, not one of the people who had carried out that attack had ever been near Afghanistan. Yet they had picked up the same ideology.

How did the Monitoring Group work, and how complete was the picture presented by the report if it excluded Iraq? a correspondent asked.

Mr. Chandler said there was a lot of the world beside Iraq. The Monitoring Group carried out its work in a number of ways, including through research on open sources, country visits and meetings with government officials related to three specific aspects of its mandate, namely, freezing, travel ban and arms embargo. The Monitoring Group also liaised with other international bodies. It had close cooperation, for example, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Asked if Al Qaeda was currently the largest global terror threat,

Mr. Chandler said it seemed to be the one with the highest profile.

In response to a question on Iran, Mr. Chandler said that when he had visited Iran in October 2002, it seemed to be handling the situation well. There had been no indication of Al Qaeda activity. He was, however, aware of recent sub-reports on the issue and clarification on the matter was being sought.

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