Vol. 5 Num 652 Wed. March 29, 2006  

Terror financing trails
Rather long on exposť but short on action
The issue of alleged involvement of some foreign NGOs in funding terrorist acts is nothing new. Quite sometime back our intelligence agencies identified a few foreign-based NGOs with suspected funding support from some Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia. There has also been considerable hue and cry about taking action against such NGOs, both in the media and various public fora. Despite an embargo on release of funds on one such Kuwait-based NGO, defiance of the ban is said to be continuing. One of the leading Bengali dailies has reported the active existence of yet another NGO, called Tawhid Trust. Most of the operating accounts of both NGOs continue to be maintained and operated through two banks, namely, Islami Bank and the Al-Arafa Bank. The report published in the Bengali daily has even quoted the actual account numbers held in Al-Arafa Bank, through which large sums of money were transacted including the names of the branches involved.

All these call for further scooping investigations.

It is also to be noted that as early as 28 January, 2004 Bangladesh Bank had issued a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make queries on possible flow of funds for terror acts in the country by one Saudi-based funding organisation called Harmain Islamic Foundation and suggested its possible banning. Based on the ministry's response Bangladesh Bank subsequently in March of the same year sent a letter to all commercial banks all over the country asking for existence and details of suspected dubious accounts. Apparently only one bank responded. Later, however, Bangladesh Bank through its exclusive enquiry found a wider existence of such accounts.

We are concerned at these developments and their likely impact on the administration's anti terror campaign. Unless and until any recalcitrant financing operation is effectively checkmated there can be no sustainable success in combating and uprooting the curse of terrorism.