July 30, 2003 9-11 Report
The 9-11 Report prepared by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees on intelligence community activities before and after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, currently receiving much attention in the press (in part because of redacted findings regarding Saudi cooperation), discusses Treasury's involvement in counterterrorism efforts.
The Report states that prior to the attacks, "no single U.S. Government agency was responsible for tracking terrorist funds, prioritizing and coordinating government-wide efforts, and seeking international collaboration in that effort. Some tracking of terrorist funds was undertaken before September 11. For the most part, however, these efforts were unorganized and ad-hoc, and there was a reluctance to take actions such as seizures of assets and bank accounts and arrests of those involved in the funding. A U.S. Government official testified before the Joint Inquiry, for example, that this reluctance hindered counterterrorist efforts against Bin Ladin: 'Treasury was concerned about any activity that could adversely affect the international financial system . . . ].' "
Treasury, in turn, pointed the finger back at the intelligence community, stating that the Central Intelligence Agency had never asked Treasury to perform an analysis of Osama bin Ladin, or of associated terrorist financing.
FinCEN's capabilities are discussed in the Report: "FinCEN started doing linkage analysis of terrorist financing in April 1999 and first identified an account with a direct link to Bin Ladin in February 2001. FinCEN has the advantage of being able to work with law enforcement and intelligence information, which it combines with Bank Secrecy Act information and commercial data to produce a product useful to the Department of Treasury and others in seizing, blocking, and freezing terrorist assets. These capabilities and databases at FinCEN, the Drug Information Center, and across the Intelligence Community enabled the FBI and FinCEN to connect almost all 19 hijackers within days after September 11 by linking their bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, addresses, and telephone numbers."
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