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Blocking Terror's Funds

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AP
A top U.S. Treasury official called Tuesday for action against charities and donors that finance terrorism and said governments must share information about terror financing.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Kenneth Dam, who discussed terror financing Monday with President Pervez Musharraf, said 147 countries, including Pakistan, have blocked terror-related financial assets. The Treasury says more than dlrs 80 million has been frozen since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Dam, the Treasury's pointman on blocking funding for terror, said more must be done.

"We need to move forward and work more with other governments by sharing information, and I don't mean just what we have," he said at a news conference. "We need the information that other governments have in order to make this truly effective."

He also said action is needed against charities "that although it is not their established public missions, sometimes, in a few cases, a few serious cases, have lent themselves to the financing of terrorism."

"Donors who knowingly make contributions to charities that do this or do not even inquire about what the charities actually do need to be put on notice that this is a serious matter," he said.

Another area of concern are hawalas, unofficial exchange businesses that operate from the Middle East to East Africa. Terrorists are thought to have used the system to transfer funds, leaving no trace of their actions.

Pakistan "is aware of the problems that can arise through hawala-type informal networks, where there is no accountability, no records and so forth," Dam said. "They are taking intensive steps - I think very intelligent steps - to be sure that these problems are dealt with."

U.S. troops have also seized documents and other materials in al-Qaida safehouses and bases in Afghanistan that already are shedding light on the network, its terrorist plans and finances.

"We need to fully utilize this industrial quantity of documents as well as hard drives and so forth that were acquired in connection with the war in Afghanistan, because there is really a huge store of information that needs to be thoroughly analyzed," said Dam.

Dam, who was traveling later Tuesday to India, praised Pakistan's cooperation in stemming funding to terrorists. He said a package of U.S. assistance for Pakistan would be announced during Musharraf's visit to Washington next week. He gave no details, but said U.S. President George W. Bush was committed to strengthening economic ties with Pakistan.

"Fighting the root causes of terrorism, poverty, and hopelessness is as important as fighting terrorism directly," he said.

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