Chairman Sarbanes, thank you for holding todayís oversight hearing on our recently enacted International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001. It is important to hold such a hearing early in the implementation process, so that we can ensure that any regulatory actions taken accurately reflect the legislation that we passed.
I would also like to welcome todayís witnesses, and thank them for their efforts in this financial war on terrorism.
In the past, consultation and coordination among the agencies charged with fighting the financial war on terrorist organizations was not effective. The 2001 Act addressed that problem and provided the administration with the weapons it needs to successfully fight the war. In fact, the legislation has resulted in the U.S. seizing more than $34 million in terrorist related assets, and our allies seizing $46 million more. That fact is very important, because no criminal syndicate -- whether itís organized crime, a drug cartel or terrorist cells Ė can survive without extensive financing.
Nor can a war be fought and won without adequate resources. For that reason, I was pleased to hear Deputy Secretary Damís announcement last week that the administration will be requesting a $3.3 million increase for FinCENís budget to $52.3 million. This is of special interest to me because the Deputy Secretary indicated that the budget increase would specifically go toward implementation and enforcement of the money service business regulations Ė which include hawala. I look forward to your testimony, Deputy Secretary, and to hearing an update on the implementation of the money service business regulations.
As I have discussed with Chairman Sarbanes, I intend to hold a hearing in my subcommittee -- the International Trade and Finance Subcommittee -- on another terrorist financing mechanism. That mechanism is the link between Al Qaeda and certain charities and non governmental organizations.
Just last December, Green Quest announced action to block the assets of three entities that provide financial and material support to the terrorist organization HAMAS -- including the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which raises millions of dollars annually that is used by HAMAS. Holy Land supports HAMAS activities through direct fund transfers to its offices in the West Bank and Gaza that are affiliated with HAMAS and transfers of funds to Islamic charity committees and other charitable organizations that are part of HAMAS or controlled by HAMAS members. Holy Land Foundation funds are used by HAMAS to support schools that serve HAMAS ends by encouraging children to become suicide bombers and to recruit suicide bombers by offering support to their families.
We must continue to aggressively seek out every angle that terrorists use to finance their operations, and make sure that every cent of U.S. aid or charity is going to the people who need it the most in developing countries and not to terrorist groups for training and arms. I hope that you will comment of this issue Deputy Secretary Dam.
Thank you Chairman Sarbanes for holding this important hearing, and I look forward to the witnessesí testimony.