Jewish World Review August 30, 2002 / 22 Elul, 5762

UN report: Al Qaida
'fit and well'

By William M. Reilly | UNITED NATIONS, (UPI) -- Al Qaida remains "a threat to international peace and security" nearly a year after the Sept. 11 attacks despite international strictures because it "is 'fit and well' and poised to strike again at its leisure," according to a draft report from a U.N. panel obtained yesterday by United Press International.

Authorized by a Security Council resolution earlier this year, the Monitoring Group is charged with reporting and making recommendations concerning measures the council decided were necessary to take against Osama bin Laden, al Qaida, the Taliban and "associated individuals and entities." Some of the measures included freezing of assets, bans on travel and arms embargoes.

"The measures adopted by the international community have had a marked impact on al Qaida, causing it to go to ground, to reposition its assets and resources and to seek new recruits," the 43-page report said, however, quickly adding, "al Qaida is by all accounts 'fit and well' and poised to strike again at its leisure.

"The bottom line is that members of al Qaida and their associates are deployed in many countries across the world and given the opportunity they will have no compunction in killing as many people as the can from those nations who do not conform to their religious and ideological beliefs and who they perceive as their enemies," the report said.

"Prime targets" were believed "persons and property of the United States and its allies in the fight against al Qaida, as well as Israel."

Despite initial successes in locating and freezing the militant group's assets, the network "continues to have access to considerable financial and other economic resources."

The report said restrictions against assets of the group and its members as well as travel bans were running into problems in various countries.

"Several states have indicated that they are facing legal challenges to the blocking of assets," said the report, adding there were also challenges against listing names on travel bans.

At the same time, the report found Washington and other capitals provided incomplete data on suspected members of al Qaida and varying lists of suspects published by the European Union, United Nations and the United States were creating confusion and undermining efforts to halt the flow of al Qaida assets and personnel in many areas.

The report did point out that the group had been forced to pull its tentacles in from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The study recommended steps be taken "to increase intelligence and information sharing between states relevant to this issue ... states should exercise greater surveillance over the operations of charities and the disbursing of funds (and) greater efforts should be made to track down and close down business and entities supporting al Qaida."

The panel, urging countries to impose more stringent arms regulations and to identify alternative systems of transferring funds whether obtained "with assistance of Islamic religious charities" or "using alternative remittance systems and petty crime."

While the Monitoring Group said it was encouraged by successes "in a number of states with their investigations" leading to the arrests of suspects, "many remain at large and rather like advancing infantry lines in battles of the 1800s, as gaps appeared due to cannon fire, they were quickly filled, so it is with al Qaida (there are) new cells being formed by those committed to the al Qaida cause."

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