FROM THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2002
REMARKS BY TREASURY SECRETARY PAUL O'NEILL ON NEW TERRORIST FINANCING DESIGNATIONS
U.S. CUSTOMS AIR AND MARINE BRANCH
First, let me say thank you for having me here today, and thank you for the job you are doing protecting our homeland. Each and every member of the Customs Service has responded to the call for greater vigilance since the attacks of September 11, and your nation appreciates your hard work.
Immediately after September 11, President Bush said our enemies are terrorist organizations of global reach, and all who harbor them, and all who support them. He asked me to pursue the money that fuels terrorism, and every asset of the Treasury Department has been deployed in that pursuit. The Customs Service and other Treasury bureaus and offices have created an international effort to track and block terrorist money. Today, the Treasury Department has designated 21 more individuals under Executive Order 13224 as financiers of terrorism.
These individuals have acted for or on behalf of ETA, also known as the Basque Fatherland and Liberty. The United States Department of State previously designated ETA as a "foreign terrorist organization," our government's gravest categorization.
Today's blocking action is the result of close cooperation with the Government of Spain and the European Union - a collaboration that symbolizes a new and extremely important chapter in the financial war against terrorism. I am very pleased to share the podium with Carmen Guttierez, who is here today representing the Government of Spain. Our two nations have a common goal. We are not only committed to cooperating in the financial war against terrorism, but we are playing a leadership role together.
The United States wholeheartedly welcomes this international cooperation. It is our hope that other governments will take the lead in identifying terrorists and their supporters, so that together the civilized world can shut down their organizations and eradicate their sources of support.
We are starting to see this occur. At the end of December the EU designated several terrorist entities and organizations, including extremist groups who threaten peace in Europe. We were pleased to follow the EU's lead and designate those entities, too.
This trend must continue, as terrorists are as likely to attack in New Delhi or Nairobi, as they are in New York. This designation is a crucial step in the right direction, and I hope this serves as a model for more countries to independently initiate more designations.
Now, speaking from this facility, in front of this impressive P3, affords me the opportunity to highlight the role the U.S. Customs Service has played in combating terrorism financing, specifically through Operation Green Quest, a Treasury-led inter-agency task force with vigorous participation from IRS-CI, USSS, FinCEN, OFAC, FBI, DOJ, the Postal Service, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Green Quest - founded in October - is a unique operation. It brings the full scope of the government's financial expertise to bear against systems, individuals, and organizations that serve as sources of terrorist funding.
In the four months it has existed, Operation Green Quest has seized approximately $10.3 million in smuggled U.S. currency and $4.3 million in other assets. Operation Green Quest's work has also resulted in 21 search warrants/consent searches, 12 arrests, and 4 indictments. Currently, Operation Green Quest has more than 300 ongoing investigations into terrorist finances. Green Quest, along with the FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, has also traveled abroad to follow leads, exploit documents recovered, and to provide assistance to foreign governments.
This model of international co-operation - demonstrated by today's blocking action - coupled with our domestic enforcement efforts - like Green Quest - have begun to put a dent in the global infrastructure that finances terrorism. But there are more terrorist networks of global reach, and more front groups who seek to support them. We must, and we will, remain vigilant.