Bush: 'We will starve the terrorists'
(CNN) -- President Bush on Monday announced he had signed an executive order freezing the U.S. assets of 27 entities with links to terrorism, and prohibiting U.S. transactions with them. Here is a partial transcript of his remarks:
At 12:01 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.
As 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, root them out of their safe hiding places and bring them to justice.
I have 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 often times use nice sounding nongovernmental 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 and ask them to freeze or block terrorist 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 banks' 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 information.
And by the way, this list is just the 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 have established a foreign terrorist asset tracking center at the Department of the Treasury to identify and investigate the financial infrastructure of the international terrorist networks.
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 are also working with our 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 life-blood of terrorist operations. Today, we're asking the world to stop payment.
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