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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Al Qaeda spending $30 mn annually: US expert

KOLKATA (Times of India): Terrorist group Al Qaeda has an annual budget of around $30 million to fund its various activities across the globe, according to a former US state official.

Jimmy Gurule, an internationally known expert on international criminal law, specially terrorism, terrorist financing and anti-money laundering, said Al Qaeda has global ambition with the primary objective of unifying billions of Muslims worldwide and can strike any moment with a severity that surpasses the 9/11 attacks.

In an interaction with reporters at the American Center here on Wednesday, Gurule said: "All that we can do is to make it more difficult for terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda to expand by blocking the funds."

"A lot of charity organisations are being used by the terrorists to fund their activities. The US administration has frozen around $200 million in bank accounts but much more needs to be done."

"I personally think a terrorist attack of the 9/11 scale can be averted by preventing money from moving," said Gurule who was an Under Secretary for Enforcement, US Department of the Treasury, till 2003.

"Al Qaeda funds jihadi training and with a very sophisticated propaganda. No one country can disrupt the financial network of Al Qaeda and hence all countries, including India, should unite to do that, said Gurule, co-author of the book "How to Block Terrorist Funds".

"Islamic charities are used and people donating money for zakat (the Islamic concept of tithing and alms for the poor and one of the five pillars of Islam as enshrined in Quran) are channelised to fund terrorism."

Gurule said in the US at least 48 charities have been identified by the administration whose funds are going to fund terrorist activities.

"Al Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden says Muslims have a religious duty to join the jihad and the least they can do is to donate money," Gurule said, adding traditional banks besides the hawala route and briefcase transfer through couriers were used to channelise money for sponsoring terrorism.

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