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Qaeda, Taliban Gold Shipped To Sudan

The al Qaeda network and Afghanistan's deposed Taliban militia have sent several shipments of gold to Sudan in recent weeks, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing European, Pakistani and U.S. investigators.

The newspaper quoted sources as saying that several shipments of gold, usually disguised as other products, were taken by boat from the Pakistani port of Karachi to either Iran or the United Arab Emirates.
From there, they were mixed with other goods and flown by chartered planes to Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

The report said it was not clear how much gold has been moved, but U.S. and European officials said the quantity was significant and an indication that al Qaeda and members of the Taliban militia still had access to large financial reserves.

The sources, who were not identified, told the newspaper Sudan may have been chosen as the repository for the gold because al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and others in his network were familiar with the country and had business contacts there.

Bin Laden lived in Sudan from 1991 to 1996, when he was forced to move to Afghanistan.

A draft United Nations report by a panel of experts states that al Qaeda's financial structure remains largely intact and retains access to tens of millions of dollars.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said they were investigating the information about the new gold shipments but had no further comment, the newspaper reported.

"We know they are looking at new sources of revenue and are finding new ways to raise and move funds to where they are accessible," a U.S. official was quoted as saying. "The bankers are the ones that move the money and the bankers are not sitting in caves in Afghanistan."

A spokesman for the Sudanese Embassy in Washington was quoted as saying he had no official information about the shipments. "Sudan is not going to allow anything like this to come in knowingly."

A U.N. report, obtained by Reuters last week, said despite initial success in freezing bank accounts of al Qaeda associates, the effort had become sloppy and uncoordinated and that bin Laden still had enough money to operate.

After the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, which Washington blames on the al Qaeda network, the United States froze some $112 million in assets belonging to al Qaeda and its associates.

But in the past eight months, only $10 million in additional funds had been blocked, according to the report for the Security Council committee enforcing a financial, travel and arms embargo against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

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