Kolkata, Oct 21: Humanitarian and religious
charity for the needy is being used for terrorist activities by
groups such as the Tamil Tigers and al-Qaeda, according to a
former US official and expert on terrorism funding.
Jammy Gurule, considered an expert on
international criminal law, terrorism, terrorist financing and
money laundering, spoke mainly about al-Qaeda, but also referred
to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in passing.
"There are reports that the LTTE has been able
to divert some humanitarian funds (linked to tsunami) for their
personal purposes and that does not surprise me since terrorists
are creative and intelligent and always looking for new sources
of money," Gurule said.
"In the US we have identified 48 charity
organisations which were funding terrorist groups like the Hamas
or Hizbollah. Osama bin Laden himself said in interviews that
Zakat (Islamic concept of charity) should be used for jehad."
"I am not condemning Islamic charity at all. I
am saying how the fundamentalists and radicals are making use of
this beautiful religion and charity," said Gurule, who until
2003 was an under secretary for enforcement in the US Treasury
"According to different government reports,
terrorism experts, NGOs and other sources, al-Qaeda has an
annual budget of around USD30 million. It has a global reach
with operations in 60 countries."
"When bin Laden was in Afghanistan between 1996
and 2001, there was substantial evidence that he was funding the
Taliban to provide them al-Qaeda a safe haven," said Gurule,
co-author of the book How to Block Terrorist Funds .
"Bin Laden was paying the Taliban USD10 million
a year for their basic operations there."
"A lot of charity organisations are being used
by terrorists to fund their activities. The US administration
has frozen around USD200 million in bank accounts but much more
needs to be done."
"The US laws and legislation now have not only
focused on banks but have also taken into the definition of
banks other financial institutions and expanded them to include
a much wider range of businesses dealing with large sums of
money and providing several other services to banks," he said.
"Those businesses are also liable now to file
suspicious activity reports. Bond and security industries and
brokerage firms, in the US, need to know the customer,
suspicious activities, etc. Travel agencies are also required to
file suspicious activities report," said Gurule.
According to Gurule, though India is an
important partner of the US in fighting terrorism, more needs to
"Since there are no major attacks in the past
five years post 9/11, even the US has lost the sense of urgency
and certain complacency has crept in. We need to remember what
happened post 9/11 in other parts of the world. The memory of
the international community, including the US, is very short,"
Gurule played diplomatic while referring to
"I donít want to single out a particular
country. A country not doing much needs to be engaged and it is
a long-term effort. Certain people are criticising the US for
its alleged double standards but a lot of things like telephonic
conversations, correspondence, meetings and other efforts go on
behind the public eye. I can say this, having worked in the
government," Gurule said.
Gurule rues the absence of international law or
legislation to bind countries in the fight against terrorism.
"We need one international convention on
prevention of terrorism. It strikes me as rather ironic that
even five years after 9/11 and the long history of terrorism
preceding that there has not been an international convention on
"I think if we had such a treaty that could go a
long way in addressing the question and prosecution of
terrorists or their extradition by the signatory states. It
would have been a legal obligation. But we donít have a
"I think why we do not have such a convention or
law even now is because we are still as an international
community unable or unwilling to come to an international
definition of terrorism."
"Like the terrorist-freedom fighter dichotomy. I
think that is a phony argument. International communities have
to agree the fundamental definition that killing innocent
civilians in furtherance of ethnic, political and religious
ideology is tantamount to terrorism," Gurule said.(Zeenews.Com)