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Indonesia to freeze assets linked to terror groups

Megawait has expressed veiled condemnation of the strikes on Afghanistan
Megawait has expressed veiled condemnation of the strikes on Afghanistan  

By Yenni Kwok

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Indonesia's Attorney General's office has asked the country's central bank to freeze accounts of groups, companies or individuals suspected of links to terrorist organizations.

The Attorney General's office made the request to the Bank of Indonesia after the Indonesian Foreign Ministry forwarded a United Nations letter requesting Jakarta to freeze such assets if they existed in Indonesia.

In the letter sent last month, the U.N. named 28 organizations and individuals that allegedly have links with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network.

"As far as we know, none of them are based in Indonesia," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wahid Supriyadi.

He refused to disclose the list, saying that it is confidential for the purpose of ongoing investigations.

Supriyadi said that Indonesian Government is looking into whether the listed organizations and individuals had assets in Indonesia.

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If there is such evidence, Indonesia would freeze or block the accounts or assets, he added.

"The U.N. also sent similar letters to all of the U.N. members, not only Indonesia," Supriyadi told CNN.

"This is a follow-up because Indonesia is bound to the U.N. resolution."

After the September 11 attacks, the U.N. Security Council issued a resolution, urging member countries to freeze bank accounts and assets allegedly linked to terrorist groups.

"We don't know if there are assets of these groups in Indonesia," a spokesperson at the Attorney General Office told CNN. "[The request to the Bank of Indonesia] is only the beginning."

Earlier, Bank of Indonesia Governor Sjahril Sabirin said that the country's banking laws do not allow central bank authorities to freeze any accounts without notice from the state prosecutor's office, police or the court.

The central bank also said current legislation does not allow for the freezing unless the owner is officially a suspect or proven guilty in a criminal case

Suspicious accounts

Last week, State Minister of Communications Syamsul Mu'arif said intelligence officers were preparing to look into several suspicious bank accounts, which allegedly have links with terrorist organizations.

However, there is a legal hurdle Indonesia must pass.

Mu'arif said the Government is preparing a presidential decree -- in advance of an anti-terrorism law -- to enable authorities to access suspicious bank accounts without violating existing legislation.

Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim country, has backed Washington's war on terrorism, but the government is in a difficult position after U.S-led military strikes began in Afghanistan.

Demonstrators and religious groups have called for an end to the strikes and Jakarta has been trying to balance such sentiment without publicly condemning the attacks.


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