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Q: financial clampdown effective against terrorist networks? A: RESOUNDING NO!
by Saima Alvi
02 April 2002 12:55 UTC
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02 April 2002  Tuesday  

Sept 11 attacks cost $1m, says report 
By Our Correspondent 

PARIS, April 1: A special report, prepared by Anne Le Lorier for the French 
finance ministry on the financial aspects of international terrorism, 
claims that the cost of organizing the last Sept 11 attacks on the United 
States was "less than US$1 million." 

Le Lorier's report was commissioned by the finance minister Laurent Fabius 
as part of a study of how France, and the European Union, might better 
control financial flows making them less accessible to terrorist 
organizations like Al Qaeda. 

Her 50-page report, which is classified as confidential, is based on 
information obtained from interviews with several dozen high-level 
officials of the finance and justice ministries of France and other 
unidentified European Union member countries, not to mention those of the 
United States, also the secret services of France and other EU countries, 
especially France's three crack agencies that have specialized in anti-
terrorism, the Renseignements Generaux (RG), Direction de la surveillance 
du territoire (DST, the French FBI), and Direction generale de la securite 
exterieure (DGSE, the French CIA). 

Another result of her report was the recent decision by French judicial 
authorities to investigate possible money laundering by financial interests 
linked to the family of Osama bin Laden, notably the several companies 
associated with SICO (Saudi Investment Company), the Geneva-based group 
that is headed by Yeslam Bin Laden, a half-brother of Osama, which manages 
a large part of the holdings of Binladin Group (SBG), which was founded by 
Osama's father. 

As for the cost of organizing the Sept 11 attacks, Le Lorier points out 
that the sum she puts forth is effectively "more than might be expected" 
for the preparation of such operations, "and represents the expense of 
financing the 'double-life' of the terrorists." 

Financing, she points out, had to be provided not only for the attacks on 
the Pentagon and World Trade Center but also for the cost of living of the 
19 participants in the attacks, during the several weeks preceding Sept 11, 
most of whom were living as students in the United States. 

The author of the report notes that a careful watch over international 
financial flows preceding the attack had resulted in revelation of credit 
transfers used to finance Sept 11 - notably one for US$69,985 to the order 
of Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the Al Qaeda group that allegedly 
prepared the attacks. 

Although the transaction was remarked as it made its way through US banking 
circuits, and was signalled to authorities, unfortunately, notes Le 
Lorier, "it got lost in the mass of the 125,000 documents" received 
annually by Finacen, the US agency charged with tracking down suspicious 
financial transfers, usually those that are part of the illegal money-
laundering operations, and was only discovered several days after Sept 11 

According to the Le Lorier report, most terrorist operations cost 
considerably less to finance and organize. For example, the August 1998 Al 
Qaeda attacks on the US embassies at Nairobi (Kenya) and Dar-es-Salaam 
(Tanzania) - which resulted in more than 50 deaths and 1000 injured - cost 
a total of US$100,000 according to the figures she was able to obtain. 

Saima Alvi
Research Assistant
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
Opposite Sector U, DHA, Lahore-54792
Tel.: 5722670-79; Ext.: 2165

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