Open Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan
(New York, July 29, 2003)
Statement by Ambassador Luis Guillermo Giraldo, Permanent Representative of Colombia
We thank the Permanent Representative of Chile, Mr. Heraldo Muñoz, Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) of the Security Council, for submitting this report.
While congratulating the Committee for the accomplished work in the last year, the government of Colombia will refer to various recommendations that appear in the report presented in the month of June by the Monitoring Expert Group established by resolution 1455 (2003). These are contained in Chapter IV, related to Freezing of Financial and Economic Assets of the Terrorist Al- Qaida network.
The good news regarding the significant decrease in the funding of this terrorist network, and that international cooperation made it more difficult to acquire funds from sympathizers and transfer them around the world, is blurred by the serious evidence that points out that these terrorists are using more frequently, international drug traffic, as their financial source. Of the six billion dollars in profits produced last year from narcotrafficking, one point two billion were produced from the traffic of opium and heroine from Afghanistan. These profits are left in the hands of the Warlords of that country, some of who are residues of the Taliban Al-Qaida network. But these figures result alarming if we have into account that in all the world, until now, no economical assets have been frozen; yet, only one hundred and twenty five million dollars, that correspond to financial assets, mostly from banking accounts, have been frozen, and that only fifty one point two million belonged to the network and its associates.
The report of the Monitoring Expert Group pointed out that the profit of illicit drug trade not only funded the activities of the Al-Qaida in Afghanistan, where the forces of the Coalition have suffered a total of one hundred and sixty seven terrorist attacks this year, but also in Chechnya, Georgia and other areas of Central Asia. If we have into account that the report recognizes that Al-Qaida has developed new techniques to acquire, use and distribute funds around the world, it should be investigated if the money from illicit drugs also financed the terrorist attacks in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, as well as its associated terrorist groups in Argelia, Kenya and Philippines, inter alia.
The experts also report that the traffic in Afghanistan and in its neighboring countries, channels its revenues through the "hawala" remittance systems. Around eighty thousand million dollars are handled through these "hawala" systems annually, worldwide. In an Asian country for example, three thousand million enter annually through the system, while only one million enter through the formal banking system. These numbers offer us an idea of the quantity of money from drug trafficking that is at the disposal of terrorists.
But this link between illicit drugs and terrorism is not only found in this region of the world and in the Al-Qaida network and its associates. This link exists around the world and in one third of the international terrorist organizations that are included in the list of the Department of State of the United States. These links are natural, both happen in poverty struck regions or zones where the States control is difficult, and develop into transnational phenomena, which gain from globalization, free trade and integrated financial systems.
That is why Colombia insists in the imperious need of promoting activities to combat terrorism, that will result in the strengthening of the mechanisms to detect and block the links between terrorism and illegal drug traffic, within this organization and specifically, through the Committees of the Security Council established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1373 (2001), responsible for fighting against terrorism.
In the particular case of the 1267 Committee, we suggest to broaden the guidelines for the preparation and submission of the national reports with information related to suspicious transactions in a manner that the due attention is given to those coming from the illicit drug traffic. Effective measures should be taken to control these transactions in the national and international banking systems. There is also a need to strengthen international cooperation to combat money laundering, control the sale of chemical precursors and to fight against the traffic of explosives and small arms and light weapons. This is a logical result of the many resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and by the Security Council, insisting in the link between terrorism and illicit drug traffic.
That is why, Mr. President, we support the proposal made by the Chairman of the Committee pursuant to the resolution 1267 (1999), Ambassador Muñoz, regarding the need to strengthen the technical capacity of the Committee. This will enable an effective evaluation of the implementation of the related resolutions by the States Parties, particularly with regard to the freezing of financial and economic assets. To this effect, the time has arrived to further investigate the serious evidence that exists related to the financing of the Al-Qaida network with money from the illicit drug traffic.