UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 15 -- The United States today proposed easing U.N.
financial sanctions on suspected associates of Saudi exile Osama bin Laden
and his al Qaeda network to enable them to pay for food, medicine, rent,
taxes and other basic expenses.
The move follows months of criticism from European governments and
human rights advocates that individuals whose assets were ordered frozen
by the Security Council were deprived of the means to meet their daily
living expenses or to hire lawyers to help them challenge the charges.
The 15-member council voted in January to reinforce a travel, arms and
financial embargo on al Qaeda and erstwhile members of the Taliban, the
former Afghan rulers who once harbored bin Laden and his followers, to
prevent them from mounting new attacks against the United States and its
The proposed U.S. draft resolution, which was distributed to Security
Council members today, has broad support from European Union members,
American and European diplomats say. The United States is planning to put
the resolution up for a vote next week.
The resolution would grant governments the authority to determine how
much money their nationals would need to meet their "basic expenses,
including payments for foodstuffs, rent or mortgage, medicines and medical
treatment, taxes, insurance premiums, and public utility charges." It
would also allow them to use their personal funds to pay for legal
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the council backed
an American initiative to add scores of names to a list of more than 260
individuals and organizations that are targeted by the sanctions. At the
time, the United States supplied virtually no evidence to support its
Since then, Sweden, Canada and other U.N. members with nationals on the
list have questioned whether the United States has provided sufficient
evidence that their citizens deserve to be punished.
They have also sought, with limited success, to persuade the United
States to require that governments furnish evidence that individuals are
responsible for knowingly abetting terrorists before adding their names to
the U.N. sanctions list. U.S. officials say that providing such proof
could compromise sensitive intelligence sources.
Canada recently secured the removal from the list of Liban M. Hussein,
a Somali-born Canadian who operated a branch of the Barakat money-transfer
company with alleged links to bin Laden, challenging American claims that
he knowingly aided terrorist activities.
Swedish authorities and lawyers are talking with the United States
about removing three Somali-born Swedes from the list.
"Their only association with a terrorist network is that they were
managers of the al-Barakat network," said Anders Kruse, a senior official
in the Swedish Foreign Ministry. "No one has alleged that there was any
direct link between Sweden's al-Barakat and the al Qaeda network."