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Conference prepares Algerian officials to freeze al-Qaeda assets

By Said Jameh for Magharebia in Algiers – 24/07/08

The Algerian government held an informational workshop in co-operation with the United Nations on July 21st-22nd to discuss ways to limit the funds available to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Algerian counter-terrorism authorities also received training on how to implement UN resolutions.

More than 20 experts from Algeria's Police, Gendarmerie, Ministry of Finance Financial Information Desk, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Transport and Customs attended the two-day event, which is part of a UN programme to inform member states on new techniques to combat terrorism.

The closed-door meeting also reviewed lists of names of supporters and financers of terrorism compiled under a UN Security Council Resolution allowing for punitive actions against members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Created in 1999 following terrorist bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, Resolution 1267 allows for the freezing of funds and bans on foreign travel and weapons sales or transfers.

Twenty-four of the people named on the list are Algerians, including Abdelmalek Droukdel, emir of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, former commander of the ninth region of the organisation (Algerian Desert).

The Security Council added four of Droukdel's closest aides on July 3rd. These new additions are Yahia Djouadi – alias Abou Amar – current emir of the ninth region, and suspected to have ties to salafist jihadists in Mauritania, northern Mali and Niger; his deputy, Abed Hemadou aka Abdelhamid Abou Zeid; Salah Gasmi, known as Salah Abou Mohamed, head of the organisation's media committee; and Ahmed Deghidegh, alias Abou Abdalah.

States and individuals are forbidden by the Security Council from having any dealings with these four terrorists, due to their involvement in the December 11th bombings in Algeria. The United States Treasury Department also issued a decree ordering sanctions against these four men on July 17th.

"These sanctions," said Adam Szubin, Director of the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, "target these terrorists and all those who provide them with support or material assistance."

The order also allows the "freezing [of] their assets in the US and banning US citizens from having any business relations with them," Szubin said.

The UN has identified 113 terrorist organisations operating in the world, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The list of wanted individuals comprises 142 persons linked to al-Qaeda and 242 more belonging to other groups.

Algeria has already implemented the UN recommendations, including major legal, judicial, administrative, security and diplomatic reforms, the office of the Algerian president noted before the launch of the workshop.

The country's banking sector also began taking steps long before this week's conference. In his 2007 report on the monetary and financial status of Algeria, Bank of Algeria Governor Mohamed Laksaci said his agency had monitored six different banks to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

He pointed out that the Bank of Algeria conducts regular supervision to ensure that the 25 banks operating in Algeria, whether public or private, national or foreign, conform to international requirements for transparency.

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