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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
UK targets terrorist finances
Workmen at the World Trade Center in New York
The recovery operation continues after the New York attacks
Lists of people thought to have been involved in the US terror attack are being circulated around international banks and financial institutions in a bid by the UK government to target terrorist cash.

The move came as Prime Minister Tony Blair embarked on a round of shuttle diplomacy including talks with Irish premier Bertie Ahern at Downing Street and with President George W Bush in the US.

We want joint action to cut off the supply of funds to terrorists

Gordon Brown
Mr Blair is due to meet German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder later on Wednesday and French President Jacques Chirac on Thursday before flying to America.

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown vowed an international effort to freeze the assets of terrorist organisations.

"It is necessary to create that wider obligation on international institutions and equally it's necessary to have a system of reporting so that there is not only no safe haven for terrorists but no hiding place for terrorism," he told BBC News.

"We closed down a particular bank account in Britain yesterday but there are countries around the world that are not taking this kind of action and we must make sure the weakest links are dealt with as well.

"We want joint action to cut off the supply of funds to terrorists. They are being financed somewhere and get their money through bank accounts which we can stop."

Greater powers

Among proposed measures are more police powers to track suspicious bank accounts even without evidence of a terrorist link - as already happens in Northern Ireland.

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown has vowed to go after terrorist money
The National Criminal Intelligence Service will get more powers and money to track terrorist funds.

It is understood that Mr Brown will press EU leaders to implement urgently the money laundering directive being considered by the European Parliament.

And Britain is calling for global watchdog the Financial Action Task Force to press all countries to report transactions suspected of being linked to terrorism, even when the money comes from legitimate sources.

The UK will also urge the United Nations to be more vigorous in its sanctions against Afghanistan to prevent money being taken across its borders.

Bin Laden probe

Some action has already been taken by Mr Brown and the UK financial institutions.

Osama Bin Laden
Did Bin Laden speculate on the stock market to profit from the attack?

An updated list of suspected terrorists is being sent to US financial institutions so they can check for links to Osama Bin Laden - suspected of carrying out the attacks.

Muslim clerics in Afghanistan are currently deciding whether they should continue to harbour Bin Laden.

On Tuesday Mr Blair told the BBC World Service: "The Taleban either cease to help or harbour those that are fomenting terrorism or they will be treated as part of the terrorist apparatus themselves.

"They should consider very, very carefully the consequences that they face at this moment of choice," he said.

Barclays Bank agreed to freeze an account used by a suspected associate of Bin Laden who is currently awaiting extradition from the UK to the US - although Mr Brown said the account had not been used for some time.

Investigations are under way into unusual share price movements in the weeks before the attacks.

It is thought Bin Laden, or some of his supporters, may have carried out trades designed to profit from falls in stocks likely to be affected, such as reinsurance, airlines and armaments.

Rate cuts

The international community is also acting to try to bolster the global economy after the attacks.

A Japanese businessman looks at a dollar/yen chart
The international community is acting together to bolster the global economy

On Tuesday the Bank of England followed the US and many other European countries in cutting interest rates.

Mr Brown acknowledged that the global economy was facing "testing times".

But he said there was determination around the world to maintain financial stability.

Meanwhile, the European Commission too is proposing its own package of counter-terrorist measures to increase security in Europe in the wake of last week's atrocities.

The plans, which include fast-track extradition procedures and the possibility of European-wide arrest warrant, will be discussed by EU justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels on Thursday.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown
"We need to maintian conditions for stability and growth"
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"The NCIS will get more powers and cash to track terrorist funds"
See also:

19 Sep 01 | Europe
EU acts on terrorism
18 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair strides world stage
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