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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 17:32 GMT
US reward to combat terror funding
Dollar bills and laptop
Freezing terrorist funding has proved difficult
The United States plans to offer a reward of up to $5m for information that helps smash networks which fund terrorist organisations, as a new initiative in its war against terror.

The Treasury and State departments are expected to announce the move on Wednesday.

The plan would mark an extension of the State Department's "Rewards for Justice" programme, which has paid out millions to people who helped foil terror attacks since it was established in 1984.

Osama Bin Laden
Al-Qaeda still receives money from Bin Laden
The new offer comes as US Congressional leaders hammer out a deal on the creation of a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.

Paralysing the groups that finance terrorist organisations is one of the priorities of President George W Bush's administration.

The reward would be offered for "information leading to the dismantling of any system or scheme used to finance a terrorist organisation," said a Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official also said it would be given for "information leading to the arrest or conviction of those who planned or aided in any act of terrorism against US persons or property".

Assets frozen

Earlier this year, the US State Department put up a reward up to $25m for information leading to the capture of Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaeda network.

In the wake of the 11 September attacks in the US, Mr Bush's government has campaigned ferociously to put a squeeze on the money funding the terrorists.

World Trade Center under attack
Homeland Security was conceived after 11 September

Assets belonging to al-Qaeda and its associates, which amount to about $112m, have been frozen worldwide.

However, it has proved difficult to track all of the money and in the summer experts from the United Nations warned that al-Qaeda is gaining funds from charities and supporters as well as Bin Laden's own personal fortune.

It is hoped that the new plan will help the government "gain new information and insights into how terrorist financiers are moving money for deadly purposes," the official said.

Since its establishment, the "Rewards for Justice" programme has paid out more than $9.5m to 23 people.

Security measures

On Wednesday US Congressional leaders announced that they had reached an agreement with the White House on establishing the new Homeland Security Department.

"Homeland security legislation will be on the House floor today," House Speaker Dennis Hastert said.

"Discussion will start today as well" in the Senate, said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, adding, "I have every expectation that we can finish within a week."

The new department was planned after the 11 September attacks to plug gaps between the government's various intelligence and security agencies.

It will pull together agents from the CIA, the FBI, military intelligence and scores of other security agencies and employ about 170,000 people.

Legislation approving the department had fallen into trouble because of a dispute over labour rights, with employer's union protesting that worker's would lack proper job protection.

But support for the department was given a boost by Republican success in the recent US mid-term election which gave the president's party control of both the Senate and House of Representatives.


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See also:

20 Nov 01 | South Asia
08 Nov 02 | Americas
26 Aug 02 | Americas
01 Sep 02 | September 11 one year on
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