Friday, December 17, 2004

Freezing Their Assets Off (or not, as the case may be)

A letter from Baroness Symons of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office brightens the day.

Months ago, before the Ken Bigley case, I had written asking how the financial aspect of the war on terror was going. The FCO had written back saying it was going fine, nothing to worry your little head about, all under control thank you very much.

However, when the horror of the Ken Bigley case was in the news, it was reported that the Government was taking action to freeze the assets of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (misspelt Zaqari in the original post), Ken Bigley’s killer. So the Government officers had not previously taken action against al-Zaqari’s group. Now this was either because either (a) they were ignorant of his existence, or (b) they knew of his existence, but did not see fit to freeze his accounts. I had written to ask which was the case.

Your Baroness writes, “The Government always takes action to freeze the assets of any terrorist or terrorist group, whenever it is apparent that there are clear grounds on which to do so”.

Which is a clear admission (or as clear as Government can get) that they knew of Musab al-Zarqawi’s existence, but did not see fit to freeze his accounts prior to the kidnap of Ken Bigley.

The question now is, how many other terrorist groups of Musab al-Zarqawi’s calibre is the Government aware of, but cannot not see clear grounds to freeze their assets?

In the interests of national security, I will write to Brian Cotter MP putting these questions on your behalf.

And while we are at it, I will ask how the funding of the Department of Freezing Terrorist Assets compares with the military expenditure on the Iraq invasion.

Writing to Government is more fun than playing computer games. The trick is to not forget that you wrote to them. That lets them off the hook. Give them a month to reply, then give them a prod.

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