The Bush administration yesterday expanded its campaign to deny terrorists access to funds by adding six European organizations to a list of groups subject to asset seizures in the United States.
The move, taken by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, follows a similar action Friday by the European Union to target terrorist organizations originating in its 15 member countries.
“The secretary welcomed the European Union’s action of naming terrorist financiers and blocking their assets,” said a Treasury Department official, who asked not to be identified. “This morning we showed our support for this action by blocking the assets of these same terrorists in the United States.”
Though Mr. Powell made the decision in accordance with an executive order President Bush issued in September, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control posted the groups’ names on its Web site yesterday.
Willy Helain, spokesman for the European Union diplomatic mission in Washington, described the actions as a “totally coordinated effort.”
“We exchanged information [with the United States] immediately after September 11, and it’s been continuing ever since,” Mr. Helain said.
The administration’s action marks another step in widening the scope of its asset-seizure activities undertaken since September 11. It acted first against Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network before moving against other groups from the Islamic world, notably a U.S.-based foundation thought to have links to the terrorist group Hamas.
Last week, the administration added several Pakistani groups to its list of terrorist groups facing financial sanctions. Yesterday’s action brought the first distinctly European groups onto the U.S. list.
Mr. Bush’s executive order stated that the United States would go after terrorist organizations “with a global reach.”
Five of the groups named yesterday have been active in Britain: Continuity IRA, Loyalist Volunteer Force, Orange Volunteers, Red Hand Defenders, and the Ulster Defence Association, also known as the Ulster Freedom Fighters. The sixth organization named, First October Antifascist Resistance Group, originated in Spain.
The Treasury official said it is “too early to tell” whether these groups have assets in the United States that could be frozen.
In Europe, the list will allow European magistrates to jail people whose names appear on membership lists using Europe-wide arrest warrants, something the EU lacked until it created them after September 11.