- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Terrorist paymasters

The United States and Saudi Arabia jointly identified two more terrorist financial organizations and one paymaster, the Saudi ambassador said yesterday, as he warned the financiers that they can run but they cannot hide from a new antiterrorist task force.

Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan cited the Vazir organization in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Hochburg AG in Liechtenstein as two groups operating under new names after they were shut down under their old names for financing terrorism. Safet Durguti, a Vazir representative, was cited for bankrolling terrorists, the ambassador said.

“Financiers of terrorism cannot evade us by changing their names or by reinventing their organizations,” Prince Bandar said. “Today, through vast improvements in international cooperation, we can better track terror financing and choke off sources of terror funding.”

Vazir is the successor to the Bosnian branch of the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, which was closed last year after coming under U.S. and Saudi scrutiny for financing terrorist networks like al Qaeda and al-Itihaad al-Islamiya.

Hochburg AG grew out of BA Taqwa, which also was designated as a supporter of terrorism last year.

Prince Bandar said Saudi authorities working with the U.S. Treasury Department designated the terrorist financiers under the authority of a U.N. Security Council resolution designed to track terrorists.

He said a new U.S.-Saudi special task force is operating in both countries to identify terrorist financiers.

“Instead of passing information across three oceans, we pass it across a desk,” he said. “By working closely together, we have been able to achieve greater success in going after terrorist financing.”

Threat in Bahrain

The U.S. Embassy in Bahrain warned Americans in the Arabian Gulf country yesterday of a specific terrorist threat during the year-end holiday season.

The embassy urged the more than 5,000 Americans in Bahrain to stay away from places where Westerners gather, vary their daily schedules and avoid unnecessary travel until Jan. 2. The embassy gave no further details on the nature of the threat.

Bahrain, the headquarters of the Navy’s 5th Fleet, is a one of the strongest U.S. allies in the region.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, “We’re seeking more information about the threat, but the embassy felt it was prudent at this time to put out a general announcement to the American community in Bahrain, since that’s where … this particular threat is centered.”

With the United States in a heightened state of alert, Mr. Boucher added, “I would remind people that there is a worldwide caution. There is worldwide danger for Americans and Westerners.”

Poles mourn officer

The Polish ambassador called the death of the first Polish combat officer in Iraq the “highest sacrifice” for freedom.

“Our worst fears have been confirmed — a Polish officer has been killed in Iraq,” Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski said in the Polish Embassy’s winter newsletter.

Col. Hieronim Kupczyk was killed in an ambush Nov. 6 about 35 miles south of Baghdad when gunmen attacked a convoy of 16 Polish soldiers. None of the others was killed or injured.

“This tragic death reminds us what Poles know precisely from their difficult history,” the ambassador said. “The struggle for our freedom and yours means readiness to pay the highest sacrifice.”

He said Col. Kupczyk and “our numerous American brothers in arms who have been killed by the enemies of Iraqi freedom will remain in our memory, as well as the fallen British and Italians.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected].

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