- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2002

Terrorist puzzle
Switzerland is determined to do its part in the fight against terrorism, especially by preventing terrorists from laundering money through its banks, said Swiss Attorney General Valentin Roschacher.
"Swiss banking secrecy does not and will not protect criminal and terroristic actions. There is no such thing as banking secrecy in a criminal investigation in Switzerland," he said on a visit to Washington last week.
Mr. Roschacher said he has the authority to freeze any suspect bank account without going before a judge.
He also proposed the creation of a U.S.-Swiss working group to share information on terrorists and to track their money.
"Investigative work is like an international puzzle," he said in a speech to the Congressional Legislative Staff Association. "Any part in our hand might fit with any part in the hand of a prosecuting authority in another country. This is why international cooperation is so essential."
Mr. Roschacher said Swiss authorities acted immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks to track suspect bank accounts. Authorities have blocked 42 accounts holding about $15 million. A Swiss anti-terrorist task force has received more than 900 leads.
Terrorist financing is different from traditional money laundering, where money from illegal activities is funneled through bank accounts into legitimate enterprises.
"What we are facing … is reversed money laundering," he said.
Terrorism is often funded through "legal actions" such as charity fund raising that then is transferred to terrorists.
He expressed relief that the investigation so far has found no Swiss connection to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"We are not only interested in draining terrorist networks financially," he said. "We want to uncover terrorist networks as well."

Finn to Afghanistan
President Bush has nominated an Islamic specialist to serve as ambassador to Afghanistan.
Robert Patrick John Finn, a professor of Turkish studies at Princeton University, served as ambassador to Tajikistan from 1998 until 2001. He was deputy coordinator of the State Department's Kuwait task force during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, and opened the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan in 1992.
Meanwhile, the State Department told Americans that the newly opened U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan can do little to help them if they ignore a travel warning and visit the unstable country.
A travel warning issued last week emphasized the embassy's "severely limited capability to provide consular services." The embassy can provide no passport or visa services and little emergency aid.
"The security threat to all American citizens remains high," the warning said.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Today
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who meets President Bush tomorrow. He is accompanied by Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, Information Minister Safwat El Sherif and Nabil Osman, director of the State Information Service.
Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who meets Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to discuss energy issues in the Caspian and Caucasus region.
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, who meets President Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell tomorrow.
Arie Arazi, Israel's director of international aid programs, who meets Andrew Natsios, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, members of Congress, and officials at the World Bank and at the Organization of American States.
Ambassador Yoav Biran, deputy director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who meets State Department officials to discuss regional issues in the Middle East and North Africa.
Tomorrow
Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, who heads a delegation that includes Sen. Jerry Grafstein and Joe Comuzzi, a member of the House of Commons.
Wednesday
Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, who meets President Bush.


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