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U.S. targets more groups for financial freeze

Secretary O'Neill
U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill announces the freezing of assets of 39 more individuals and organizations suspected of supporting terrorists.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saying the United States has taken the "next step in the financial war" against terrorism, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said Friday all U.S. financial institutions have been notified to freeze the assets of 39 additional suspected terrorists, organizations or supporters.

The 39 are in addition to the 27 names on the administration's initial list. Six of the new names are entities, while 33 of them are individuals.

O'Neill signed the "blocking order," which went into effect at 8 a.m. EDT.

The Bush administration is providing the list to other governments as well, and asking them to join the international crackdown on terror financing. O'Neill said Thursday 62 nations had already frozen some assets and that 102 more nations had indicated an intent to join that aspect of the international coalition.

As part of the coordinated effort, the British government on Friday also issued a list of 38 organizations and individuals who may have connections with international terrorist groups. The list includes six organizations and 32 people, including eight already named on a United Nations list in March this year.

At a press conference Friday, O'Neill reiterated the government's plan to starve terrorists of their funding.

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"We're determined to deny terrorists the resources to carry out their acts of evil," O'Neill said.

Friday's action covers:

-- Twenty-one individuals and entities, of which 15 people and two charitable organizations have ties to the al Qaeda terrorist organization, the administration said.

-- Ten entities from the new FBI list of most-wanted terrorists.

-- Also, Secretary of State Colin Powell signed orders adding eight names from the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists.

A task force that includes the departments of Treasury, State and Justice -- as well as the FBI and CIA -- has been meeting virtually daily to discuss and debate additions to the list.

Some individuals identified as suspected terror sponsors are being kept off the public lists because the government believes there is more to be learned by quietly watching transactions and other dealings, the White House and another administration official told CNN.

O'Neill told reporters Thursday that the international effort so far had resulted in the freezing of $24 million in accounts linked to the Taliban and the al Qaeda network, a number administration officials privately conceded was quite modest. The Treasury Department alone has frozen nearly $4 million belonging to the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

The new additions include bin Laden and al Qaeda financial backers in the Philippines and Germany, and several businesses believed to serve as fronts for terrorism.

-- CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King and Producer Terry Frieden contributed to this report.


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