Al-Qaida suspects may be added to U.N. sanctions list

Sunday, November 2, 2003

UNITED NATIONS -- The Security Council will evaluate a list of 225 suspected al-Qaida members handed over by Iran and decide whether to impose sanctions on the terror suspects, a U.N. ambassador said.

The U.N. committee monitoring sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban expects to circulate the list on Monday, the committee chairman, Chile's U.N. ambassador Heraldo Munoz.

The council will determine whether the individuals named should be added to a list of those subject to U.N. sanctions, which include an arms embargo, a travel ban and the freezing of assets.

The Iranian list includes 147 individuals arrested on Iranian territory and returned to their countries of residence, and another list of 78 people who may still be detained in Iran.

The sanctions list currently contains the names of 143 individuals and 1 entity linked to the Taliban and 129 individuals and 98 groups linked to al-Qaida, he said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said today in Tehran that the 225 people on the list given to the United Nations were all returned to the countries from which they came. But Munoz said some were still detained and being investigated.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi confirmed for the first time in July that Iran was holding "a large number of small and big-time elements of al-Qaida." But Asefi denied reports of specific al-Qaida operatives being in Iran.

The U.S. administration said Wednesday the United States is open to talks with Iran on a limited basis, but insisted that any improvement in relations would require Tehran to hand over terror suspects.

In Iran, government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said that if the United States wants better relations, it could start by ending accusations that Iran supports terrorism. "They have to avoid making irrelevant accusations against us," he said.

Munoz, who briefed U.N. reporters during a trip to Afghanistan, expressed concern that the Taliban and al-Qaida have adapted to sanctions.

Al-Qaida is "no longer using front companies or enterprises that deposit money in financial centers, or if they're doing that they're disguising it better," he said. It also bypassed banks in transferring $35,000 to Jemaah Islamiyah for last year's Bali nightclub bombings, which killed 202 people, mostly foreigners, he said.

Al-Qaida is increasingly using informal systems for transferring money and couriers, Munoz said.

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