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Target: Terrorism: State Department Press Conference

Aired October 5, 2001 - 13:46   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: To the State Department. Spokesman Richard Boucher on that list of worldwide terrorist organizations.


RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: So there are a total of 28 groups now on our list of foreign terrorist organizations.

For groups on this list, the law prohibits any persons in the United States -- makes it illegal for persons in the United States to provide any kind of financial or material support, makes people in these organizations ineligible for visas, and takes other steps with regard to financial institutions. So this is one of our ways of continuing the fight against terrorism and continuing to impose restrictions on these organizations and members of these organizations insofar as they might wish to use the United States as a place to move money or people.

QUESTION: Richard, can you just clarify on the record the fact that this list is unrelated to the list that the White House and the Treasury put out last week? I mean, it's not completely unrelated, but it's a different list.

BOUCHER: It is a different list. It's not completely unrelated. There are several executive orders and lists that have to do with terrorism.

BOUCHER: This is a certification process that we do every two years to identify foreign terrorist organizations. It has certain legal implications, financial implications.

There was also an executive order in 1995, Executive Order 19247, I think it is -- maybe 12947 -- of January, 1995, that lists organizations that have been trying to harm and interrupt the Middle East peace process at that time. So that executive order had certain implications for specific organizations, some of which were also on this list.

And then we had another executive order about a week ago, 10 days ago, from the president, where he specifically listed the entities of Al Qaeda and associated with Al Qaeda in order to make them subject to very specific controls, in the financial area particularly.

QUESTION: Can you say how successful you believe that this list has been? I mean, you have to depend on Treasury to freeze funds -- to find the accounts and to freeze funds. How successful do you think follow-up has been?

BOUCHER: Well, we think there's very good follow-up Treasury works, obviously, with the U.S. financial and banking system to prevent, in every way they can, any specific financial transactions, banking transfers associated with these groups.

Obviously, we know that some of the operations of terrorists are done through fronts and some done through individuals, and so it's, in some ways, very hard to track down every one. But with regard to the specific purpose of these laws and the ability to stop transactions involving these groups, I think we are fairly confident we can do that.

QUESTION: Is there any way to quantify how successful you think you've been? Do you have any idea of bank accounts or amounts of money?

BOUCHER: No, I don't. I don't think I could do that. Treasury might have had, but the major importance of these steps is it prevents these people from using the U.S. banking system; it prevents these organizations from transferring money. So it's money not taken that -- you know, it prevents the facilities to be available to them of the world's largest financial centers.

QUESTION: The secretary mentioned two groups with close ties to Al Qaeda. I'm sure there are others. Could you mention them? BOUCHER: There are others. Al Qaeda is on this list as well as on some of these other lists as well -- in fact, all of the other lists of organizations that are subject to various financial controls.

There are other bin Laden-affiliated groups that are on this list, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, the Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Abu Sayaf group. All of those organizations have ties to or receive financial support from bin Laden.

BOUCHER: And you'll find many of these associated groups on other lists as well.

QUESTION: I understand that one of the new features of the executive order last week, with the list of 27 individuals and organizations, was that it imposed, or could impose, sanctions against banks which failed to comply. Is this something -- a practice you intend to expand to cover other groups on the FTO list?

BOUCHER: This list that we put out under this law has to do with the provisions of this particular law that requires this list. We did say when the president put out the executive order that we would expect to add others to the list as time went on but that, first and foremost, we wanted to get at the Al Qaeda organization and all its associated groups. We said that when we put that out.

QUESTION: Is it correct to say that it is an exhaustive list, and you can add any more at any time, or has it to be done at the end of the year or something?

BOUCHER: No. We add from time to time. I think this year the secretary of state has added the Real IRA to this list and the AUC in Colombia. Secretary Albright added several groups from time to time. So we always keep careful watch on groups that are active around the world, and as we see groups that meet the criteria, we will add them to the list.

QUESTION: Based on the criteria, it says organizations -- on the criteria based on which you designate, the organizations' activities must threaten the security of U.S. nationals, national security, national defense, et cetera. Does it mean that those which threaten a free democracy, for instance, the group which tried to blow up the Kashmir (INAUDIBLE) building...

BOUCHER: This is a legal standard that's in our law that we use for the purposes of this law. Obviously...

QUESTION: Doesn't it also -- the entity, if it doesn't threaten the United States, it threatens only the Sri Lankan government -- the liberation Tigers.

BOUCHER: Again, this is a criteria in our law that applies to the United States and to the actions in the United States that we can carry out. Clearly, we have a broad view of the national security interests of the United States. But it would be measured, because of the law -- anything would be measured against these particular criteria that are in our law.

QUESTION: Foreign minister of India was here. He met with Secretary Colin Powell. And he made a plea and gave India's list that these groups must be or should be added on the list. So where do we stand on that? What was the reaction from the secretary to the foreign minister?

BOUCHER: These groups have been raised. We've certainly heard questions. And, I think, the secretary was quite clear that the attack on the legislature on Srinagar was a horrible attack. We expressed strong and heartfelt condolences to the Indian people who suffered in that attack. And we viewed it also as an attack on democracy.

The group, Jaesha al-Mohammad (ph), is also listed in our Patterns of Global Terrorism report as an other group. And so, this is a group that we do keep under active review, and it's a group that we've been looking at carefully to see if it meets the criteria for designation.

QUESTION: As we go against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, this group based in Pakistan is a close ally of Osama bin Laden and Taliban. They have claimed the responsibility. So where do we stand since they are close to Osama and...

BOUCHER: I think I just told you where we stand with them, and I'll leave it at that for the moment. WOODRUFF: State Department spokesman Richard Boucher answering reporters' questions about this list of worldwide or foreign terrorist organizations, a list that they put out periodically.

Our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel joining us now from the State Department.

Andrea, I noticed one of the reporters pressed Mr. Boucher on just how successful the followup has been, in other words, in making sure that the law that requires that Americans don't give money to these organizations, that their assets are in effect frozen in this country, and that they are not given visas, he said the followup has been very good. But Al Qaeda has been on this list for two years.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPNDENT: You're absolutely right, Judy. There have been a lot of questions raised in the wake of the September 11th attacks as to just how these so-called representatives, these alleged representatives of the Al Qaeda network got into the United States. None of them were American citizens. Many of them came from countries around the world, but somehow or another, they did get in on some type of U.S. visa, whether it be a student visa, visitors' visa, but they got in. And clearly, there are some loopholes that I believe the Immigration and Naturalization Service are looking at.

But because Al Qaeda has been on this foreign terrorist organization list for two years now, you would have expected Al Qaeda members not to have gotten visas to come here. So I think that's what that one journalist was pressing at with Richard Boucher there.

WOODRUFF: I would say certainly a lot of questions raised by the publishing of this list and some of the organizations on it.

All right, Andrea Koppel at the State Department, thanks.




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