For Immediate Release
Office of the
September 24, 2001
President Freezes Terrorists' Assets
Remarks by the President, Secretary of the Treasury
O'Neill and Secretary of State Powell on Executive Order
the President's Remarks
to the President's Remarks
9:35 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good
morning. At 12:01 a.m. this morning, a major thrust of
our war on terrorism began with the stroke of a
pen. Today, we have launched a strike on the financial
foundation of the global terror network.
Make no mistake about it, I've asked our
military to be ready for a reason. But the American
people must understand this war on terrorism will be fought on a
variety of fronts, in different ways. The front lines
will look different from the wars of the past.
So I told the American people we will
direct every resource at our command to win the war against
terrorists: every means of diplomacy, every tool of
intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial
influence. We will starve the terrorists of funding, turn
them against each other, rout them out of their safe hiding places
and bring them to justice.
I've signed an executive order that
immediately freezes United States financial assets of and prohibits
United States transactions with 27 different
entities. They include terrorist organizations,
individual terrorist leaders, a corporation that serves as a front
for terrorism, and several nonprofit organizations.
Just to show you how insidious these
terrorists are, they oftentimes use nice-sounding, non-governmental
organizations as fronts for their activities. We have
targeted three such NGOs. We intend to deal with them,
just like we intend to deal with others who aid and abet
terrorist organizations. This executive order means that
United States banks that have assets of these groups or individuals
must freeze their accounts. And United States citizens or
businesses are prohibited from doing business with them.
We know that many of these individuals
and groups operate primarily overseas, and they don't have much
money in the United States. So we've developed a strategy
to deal with that. We're putting banks and financial
institutions around the world on notice, we will work with their
governments, ask them to freeze or block terrorist's ability to
access funds in foreign accounts. If they fail to help us
by sharing information or freezing accounts, the Department of the
Treasury now has the authority to freeze their bank's assets and
transactions in the United States.
We have developed the international
financial equivalent of law enforcement's "Most Wanted"
list. And it puts the financial world on
notice. If you do business with terrorists, if you
support or sponsor them, you will not do business with the United
States of America.
I want to assure the world that we will
exercise this power responsibly. But make no mistake
about it, we intend to, and we will, disrupt terrorist
networks. I want to assure the American people that in
taking this action and publishing this list, we're acting based on
clear evidence, much of which is classified, so it will not be
disclosed. It's important as this war progresses that the
American people understand we make decisions based upon classified
information, and we will not jeopardize the sources; we will not
make the war more difficult to win by publicly disclosing classified
And, by the way, this list is just a
beginning. We will continue to add more names to the
list. We will freeze the assets of others as we find that
they aid and abet terrorist organizations around the
world. We've established a foreign terrorist asset
tracking center at the Department of the Treasury to identify and
investigate the financial infrastructure of the international
It will bring together representatives
of the intelligence, law enforcement and financial regulatory
agencies to accomplish two goals: to follow the money as
a trail to the terrorists, to follow their money so we can find out
where they are; and to freeze the money to disrupt their actions.
We're also working with the friends and
allies throughout the world to share information. We're
working closely with the United Nations, the EU and through the
G-7/G-8 structure to limit the ability of terrorist organizations to
take advantage of the international financial systems.
The United States has signed, but not
yet ratified, two international conventions, one of which is
designed to set international standards for freezing financial
assets. I'll be asking members of the U.S. Senate to
approve the U.N. Convention on Suppression of Terrorist Financing
and a related convention on terrorist bombings; and to work with me
on implementing the legislation.
We will lead by example. We
will work with the world against terrorism. Money is the
lifeblood of terrorist operations. Today, we're asking
the world to stop payment.
Now, the Secretary of Treasury would
like to say a few remarks, followed by Secretary Powell, then I'll
answer a few questions.
SECRETARY O'NEILL: Thank you,
Mr. President. This order provides the authority to block
funds of terrorists and anyone associated with a terrorist or
terrorism. The order names specific individuals and
charitable organizations that are funding terrorist
acts. Donors now will know to avoid these charities that
front for terrorists.
With the signing of this executive
order, we have the President's explicit directive to block the U.S.
assets of any domestic or foreign financial institution that refuses
to cooperate with us in blocking assets of terrorist
organizations. This order is a notice to financial
institutions around the world, if you have any involvement in the
financing of the al Qaeda organization, you have two
choices: cooperate in this fight, or we will freeze your
U.S. assets; we will punish you for providing the resources that
make these evil acts possible.
Many of our allies around the world have
already stepped forward to cooperate in destroying terrorism's
financial infrastructure. I will be in contact with my
G-7 colleagues again tomorrow to further coordinate our joint effort
to shut down the financial underpinnings of terrorism.
Today's executive order gives us a new
weapon to deny terrorists access to funds. The foreign
terrorist asset tracking center that we announced last week is up
and running, coordinating information from among government agencies
with the express purpose of identifying and stamping out the
financial network that funds terrorism. And we're working
with the G-7 nations, and many others, to attack all parts of a
global infrastructure that finances these acts of evil.
Together, we will succeed in starving
the terrorists of funding and shutting down the institutions that
support or facilitate terrorism.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you,
Mr. President and Secretary O'Neill. As the President
said, the campaign has begun. We're going after al Qaeda.
We're going after terrorism. And this is an indication of
how we're going to use all the elements of our national and
international power to do it. Terrorists require a financial
infrastructure. They require safe-havens. They require
places that will get them succor and comfort. We're going
after all of them in every way that we can.
And we're focusing this morning on the
financial infrastructure of terrorism. We're going to
take this initiative into the United Nations and try to get
additional resolutions that will serve similar
purposes. We're working with the European
Union. We're working with the G-7 and G-8, as Secretary
O'Neill and the President have mentioned. We're going to
be working with Congress, as the President has mentioned, to get
these two U.N. conventions ratified, and the implementing
legislation in place.
I'm very, very pleased at the level of
cooperation that we are receiving from around the
world. All civilized nations in the world understand that
the civilized world has to go after terrorism. The World
Trade Center, America suffered a grievous blow. But the
whole world did -- some almost 80 nations suffered losses at the
World Trade Center. And that's why the whole world is
joining with us. Nations such as the United Arab
Emirates, which declared the Taliban no longer welcome and broke
diplomatic relations. All of these are part of the
It's a campaign that will be fought with
persistence and with perseverance, and will be fought until, as the
President has said, we have prevailed and we have
won. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Bill.
Q Mr. President,
when will you publish the paper which Secretary Powell mentioned
yesterday, outlining some of the proof that you have of the
involvement of bin Laden and al Qaeda and others?
THE PRESIDENT: The Secretary
said that he'd be glad to talk about the paper. Let me
first tell you that I gave a speech to the nation last Thursday in
which I spent a great deal of time talking about the al Qaeda
organization as the first terrorist organization that we're going to
deal with. And the reason I did is there is a lot of
classified information that leads to one person, as well as one
global terrorist organization.
But for those of you looking for a legal
peg, we've already indicted Osama bin Laden. He's under
indictment for terrorist activity. Our war is against
terrorism. Those who would conduct terrorist acts against
the United States, those who sponsor them, those who harbor them,
those who challenge freedom wherever it may exist.
And, Mr. Secretary, if you'd like to
make a comment on that.
SECRETARY POWELL: I just
might point out that he has been under indictment for the bombings
of our embassy. And as we gather information, and as we
talk to our friends and allies around the world, and as we get more
cooperation, more information is coming in with respect to his
activities and the activities of this network. Most of it
is classified, and as we look through it, we can find areas that are
unclassified and it will allow us to share this information with the
public, we will do so. That would be our intent. But most
of it is classified.
But there's no question that this
network, with this gentleman at the head -- if one can call a
terrorist a gentleman, just for purposes of illustration -- this guy
at the head of this network -- the chairman of this holding company
of terrorism, is the one who is responsible.
And as we are able to provide
information that is not sensitive or classified, I think we will try
to do that in every way.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Helen.
Q Mr. President,
how much cooperation are you getting from Russia? And is Saudi
Arabia going to allow us to use its air base, or aren't you allowed
to talk about it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, I
had an hour-long discussion -- nearly an hour-long discussion with
President Putin on Saturday. He was very forthcoming in
his willingness to work closely with the United States in our
efforts to battle terrorism. I was very pleased with my
discussion, Helen. I found him to be a person who --
first of all, understands the vision that we've entered into a new
conflict in the 21st century.
You need to know that when I was on Air
Force One and ordered alerts -- increased alert status for our
troops, President Putin was the first call I got. And he
made it clear that he would stand down their troops. In other words,
to me it was a moment where it clearly said to me, he understands
the Cold War is over. In the past, as you well know, that
had the President put the -- raised the DEF CON levels of our
troops, Russia would have responded accordingly. There
would have been inevitable tension.
Along those -- the reason I bring that
up is that Vladimir Putin clearly understands that the Cold War is
over, and that the United States and Russia can
cooperate. We can cooperate with a new strategic
arrangement. We can cooperate in the battle against
terrorism. We talked about a lot of areas of the
world. We talked about the Central Asian
republics. And as you know, they have been forthcoming in
their statements about their understanding of a potential
campaign. And I told him I appreciated his willingness to
work with us in that area.
And so it was a very constructive
dialogue. He also understands that terrorist activity is
going to require a -- to fight terrorist activity is going to
require a broad front, and that his nation, like ours, is subject to
As far as the Saudi Arabians go -- and,
again, the Secretary can comment on this, he's had more recent
contact with them than I have -- but they've been nothing but
cooperative. Our dialogue has been one of -- as you would
expect friends to be able to discuss issues. And my
discussion with the Foreign Minister, as well as the Ambassador,
have been very positive. And there's been no indication,
as far as I'm concerned, that the Saudis won't cooperate once they
understand exactly our mission.
SECRETARY POWELL: That's
exactly right, Mr. President. They have not turned down
any requests that we have presented to them.
Q Mr. President,
are you asking Congress for the power to waive military restrictions
on countries -- on all countries that help us, including those we've
considered as rogue nations? And, if so, why?
THE PRESIDENT: No, you're --
I think you're referring to -- first of all, we've waived the
sanctions on Pakistan and India, as related to the Glenn
Act. But I think you're referring to a report that we
were going to ask for a blanket -- blanket exceptions, or blanket
waivers for -- and the answer is no, we're not. That's an
Q -- just
case-by-case now, is that idea, like --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, where
given the -- where the law allows, I will do it
case-by-case. But we don't intend to ask Congress for a
blanket waiver, as reported in one of the journals.
Q Mr. President,
last week you condemned the Taliban regime, and said that if they
did not comply with your demands, they would share the fate of the
terrorists. That raises the question, what is your
administration and other coalition members planning to do to
maintain stability and order in Central Asia? Are we
supporting this exiled King, the northern insurgence, some U.N.
administration? What are our goals there, if the Taliban
are to be removed?
THE PRESIDENT: Terry, I --
first of all, we were mindful that every action could have a
consequence. And as you know, we have spent a lot of time
and effort and focus on Pakistan. I just talked about the
waiving of sanctions with Pakistan and India. We believe
that will bring stability to that part of the world. We
have talked to other friends about how to make sure that the
Musharraf presidency is a stable presence in that part of the world.
In terms of activities within
Afghanistan, I'm not going to talk about those. I will
not jeopardize our mission in any way by talking about military or
in-country plans. We have a responsibility as an
administration to speak as candidly as we can to the American
people, but without jeopardizing life. And so, therefore,
we will be willing to discuss that very important question at an
appropriate time, and now is not the appropriate time.
Q Mr. President,
to put some perspective into all of this, how much -- can you tell
us a rough estimate of how much the al Qaeda network is worth
domestically, and perhaps and/or worldwide?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think
in my statement I made it clear that we don't anticipate many assets
to be frozen here in the United States, and that most of the assets
will be overseas. And one of the jobs that the Secretary
of Treasury is going to do is to help us identify the size of the
organization's balance sheet.
I can't give you a rough estimate right
Q -- hundreds of
THE PRESIDENT: But let's put
it this way -- enough to fund terrorist activity that threatens
freedom. And there are -- take, for example, the
non-governmental organizations. They run a fair amount of
money through their organizations, and we're beginning, as you can
tell from the list we've laid out, or will be able to tell from the
list, that we're beginning to set priorities of those most egregious
and their serving as fronts for terrorist activities. I
don't know the full amount of their cash flows, but one dime of
money into a terrorist activity is one dime too much.
And we know that these organizations
cannot function if we're able to -- the way they want to -- if we're
able to chop off their monies. And we intend to do
so. And we've got a big task ahead. In Europe,
for example, there are probably going to need to be some laws
changed in order for those governments to react the way we expect
them to. That's why I said in my comment, while we now --
while the Secretary of Treasury now has the option of providing some
draconian measure, we will look at it in on a case-by-case
basis. We expect there to be a complete and full effort
to join us in affecting terrorist organizations in all ways, shapes
The reason why we held this statement in
the Rose Garden is it helps the American people understand we are
waging a different kind of war. It is a war that is going
to take a while. It is a war that will have many
fronts. It is a war that will require the United States
to use our influence in a variety of areas in order to win
it. And one area is financial.
We know there are some banks, for
example, that provide easy access money for terrorist
organizations. We will deal with them. And if
we can't deal with them individually, we will call upon our friends
to deal with them.
One of the interesting things that the
Secretary can tell you -- both Secretaries will tell you -- is a lot
of nations and their representatives have asked, how can we help;
what can we do to join the effort. Some nations will feel
comfortable providing troops. Some nations will feel
comfortable providing intelligence. Some nations will
only feel comfortable helping us wage the battle on the financial
front. And that's fine by us, because we understand how
important it is to stop the flow of funds.
Q Mr. President,
one question on the economy. How concerned are you about
consumer confidence right now? People are afraid to fly,
they're not traveling. And are you, at this point,
concerned that the economy has already dipped into a recession?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm -- I
haven't seen -- I'm not a statistician, but I've got enough
anecdotal evidence to tell you there are people hurting, and there
are a little too many layoffs. And any time somebody
loses a job in America, I'm concerned.
And I'm concerned about the shock this
has had on our economy, and I'm concerned about, obviously, the
effect of the airlines, for example, the weakness in the airline
sector has had on the economy. That's why I signed the
bill as soon as Congress passed it, to provide some non-recourse
loans to the airlines, to keep them up and running right now.
But I want to assure the American people
that the fundamentals for growth are very strong. That
which made us unique in the world existed prior to September -- that
existed prior to September 11th exists today. We're still a nation
of entrepreneurs and small business vitality. We're still
a nation of innovation. We've got a very good tax
There is no question the attacks have
affected America, but I think when the investors sit back and take a
hard look at the fundamentals of the economy, they'll get back in
the market. I think that consumers will realize life is
going on. I think people appreciate the fact that our
government has come together to act in a very significant way, to
provide monies where necessary, for -- whether it be to help rebuild
New York or whether it be to provide a financial basis for airlines
to stay in business. We'll come out of this, and we'll
come out of it strong.
See, these terrorists thought they could
affect the United States. They thought they could diminish our
soul. They just strengthened our country. And
while the numbers aren't going to look too good in the short-run,
we'll be a stronger nation as a result of this. And
they've miscalculated. They made a terrible
mistake. They thought somehow they could affect the
psyche of our country. They're wrong.
And not only that, we'll prove them
wrong. They have roused the ire of a great
nation. And we're going to smoke them out of their caves,
and get them running. And we're going to use every means
at our disposal to do so. And this is going to require
patience and focus and discipline on behalf of the -- by the
American people and by my administration.
No, I understand six months from now
we'll be sitting around talking about some statistic, or something
-- maybe there will be an argument in Congress about some issue or
something like that. But the American people have got to
understand that when I held up that badge, I meant
it: this war on terrorism is my primary
focus. Of course I'm concerned about people being laid
off. Of course I'm concerned about the pieces of
legislation that may be stalled.
But we are talking about a campaign
against people who hate freedom. And the legacy that this
administration and this generation can leave for future generations
is a legacy that is so vital for the underpinnings of this nation
and others who love freedom.
And so I -- we're a great nation, and
the world has seen how great we are. And you bet there
are problems with our economy short-run, but not
long-run. And you bet there's a concern about whether or
not we'll be able to wrap up every financial instrument used to fund
But make no mistake about it, we're
going after them all. And we'll win, we're going to
win. Terrorists are going to realize they can't face down
freedom. Terrorists are going to realize they made a big
mistake, they miscalculated America. And I think they
miscalculate a lot of our allies and friends, too. There
is a determined will, and we accept the challenge in this
Thank you all.