For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 24, 2001
Remarks by the President,
Secretary of the Treasury O'Neill And
Secretary of State Powell
on Executive Order
the Rose Garden
9:35 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good
morning. At 12:01 a.m. 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
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.
So 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, rout them out of their safe hiding places and
bring them to justice.
I've 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
Just to show you how insidious these
terrorists are, they oftentimes use nice-sounding, non-governmental
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, ask
them to freeze or block terrorist's 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 bank's 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
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 a
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've 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're also working with the 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
We will lead by example. We
will work with the world against terrorism. Money is the
lifeblood of terrorist operations. Today, we're asking the
world to stop payment.
Now, the Secretary of Treasury would like
to say a few remarks, followed by Secretary Powell, then I'll answer a
SECRETARY O'NEILL: Thank you,
Mr. President. This order provides the authority to block
funds of terrorists and anyone associated with a terrorist or
terrorism. The order names specific individuals and
charitable organizations that are funding terrorist
acts. Donors now will know to avoid these charities that
front for terrorists.
With the signing of this executive order,
we have the President's explicit directive to block the U.S. assets of
any domestic or foreign financial institution that refuses to cooperate
with us in blocking assets of terrorist organizations. This
order is a notice to financial institutions around the world, if you
have any involvement in the financing of the al Qaeda organization, you
have two choices: cooperate in this fight, or we will freeze
your U.S. assets; we will punish you for providing the resources that
make these evil acts possible.
Many of our allies around the world have
already stepped forward to cooperate in destroying terrorism's
financial infrastructure. I will be in contact with my G-7
colleagues again tomorrow to further coordinate our joint effort to
shut down the financial underpinnings of terrorism.
Today's executive order gives us a new
weapon to deny terrorists access to funds. The foreign
terrorist asset tracking center that we announced last week is up and
running, coordinating information from among government agencies with
the express purpose of identifying and stamping out the financial
network that funds terrorism. And we're working with the G-7
nations, and many others, to attack all parts of a global
infrastructure that finances these acts of evil.
Together, we will succeed in starving the
terrorists of funding and shutting down the institutions that support
or facilitate terrorism.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you,
Mr. President and Secretary O'Neill. As the President said,
the campaign has begun. We're going after al Qaeda. We're
going after terrorism. And this is an indication of how
we're going to use all the elements of our national and international
power to do it. Terrorists require a financial
infrastructure. They require safe-havens. They require
places that will get them succor and comfort. We're going
after all of them in every way that we can.
And we're focusing this morning on the
financial infrastructure of terrorism. We're going to take
this initiative into the United Nations and try to get additional
resolutions that will serve similar purposes. We're working
with the European Union. We're working with the G-7 and G-8,
as Secretary O'Neill and the President have mentioned. We're
going to be working with Congress, as the President has mentioned, to
get these two U.N. conventions ratified, and the implementing
legislation in place.
I'm very, very pleased at the level of
cooperation that we are receiving from around the world. All
civilized nations in the world understand that the civilized world has
to go after terrorism. The World Trade Center, America
suffered a grievous blow. But the whole world did -- some
almost 80 nations suffered losses at the World Trade
Center. And that's why the whole world is joining with
us. Nations such as the United Arab Emirates, which declared
the Taliban no longer welcome and broke diplomatic
relations. All of these are part of the campaign.
It's a campaign that will be fought with
persistence and with perseverance, and will be fought until, as the
President has said, we have prevailed and we have won. Thank
THE PRESIDENT: Bill.
Q Mr. President,
when will you publish the paper which Secretary Powell mentioned
yesterday, outlining some of the proof that you have of the involvement
of bin Laden and al Qaeda and others?
THE PRESIDENT: The Secretary
said that he'd be glad to talk about the paper. Let me first
tell you that I gave a speech to the nation last Thursday in which I
spent a great deal of time talking about the al Qaeda organization as
the first terrorist organization that we're going to deal
with. And the reason I did is there is a lot of classified
information that leads to one person, as well as one global terrorist
But for those of you looking for a legal
peg, we've already indicted Osama bin Laden. He's under
indictment for terrorist activity. Our war is against
terrorism. Those who would conduct terrorist acts against
the United States, those who sponsor them, those who harbor them, those
who challenge freedom wherever it may exist.
And, Mr. Secretary, if you'd like to make
a comment on that.
SECRETARY POWELL: I just might
point out that he has been under indictment for the bombings of our
embassy. And as we gather information, and as we talk to our
friends and allies around the world, and as we get more cooperation,
more information is coming in with respect to his activities and the
activities of this network. Most of it is classified, and as
we look through it, we can find areas that are unclassified and it will
allow us to share this information with the public, we will do so.
That would be our intent. But most of it is classified.
But there's no question that this network,
with this gentleman at the head -- if one can call a terrorist a
gentleman, just for purposes of illustration -- this guy at the head of
this network -- the chairman of this holding company of terrorism, is
the one who is responsible.
And as we are able to provide information
that is not sensitive or classified, I think we will try to do that in
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Helen.
Q Mr. President,
how much cooperation are you getting from Russia? And is Saudi Arabia
going to allow us to use its air base, or aren't you allowed to talk
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, I
had an hour-long discussion -- nearly an hour-long discussion with
President Putin on Saturday. He was very forthcoming in his
willingness to work closely with the United States in our efforts to
battle terrorism. I was very pleased with my discussion,
Helen. I found him to be a person who -- first of all,
understands the vision that we've entered into a new conflict in the
You need to know that when I was on Air
Force One and ordered alerts -- increased alert status for our troops,
President Putin was the first call I got. And he made it
clear that he would stand down their troops. In other words, to me it
was a moment where it clearly said to me, he understands the Cold War
is over. In the past, as you well know, that had the
President put the -- raised the DEF CON levels of our troops, Russia
would have responded accordingly. There would have been
Along those -- the reason I bring that up
is that Vladimir Putin clearly understands that the Cold War is over,
and that the United States and Russia can cooperate. We can
cooperate with a new strategic arrangement. We can cooperate
in the battle against terrorism. We talked about a lot of
areas of the world. We talked about the Central Asian
republics. And as you know, they have been forthcoming in
their statements about their understanding of a potential
campaign. And I told him I appreciated his willingness to
work with us in that area.
And so it was a very constructive
dialogue. He also understands that terrorist activity is
going to require a -- to fight terrorist activity is going to require a
broad front, and that his nation, like ours, is subject to terrorist
As far as the Saudi Arabians go -- and,
again, the Secretary can comment on this, he's had more recent contact
with them than I have -- but they've been nothing but
cooperative. Our dialogue has been one of -- as you would
expect friends to be able to discuss issues. And my
discussion with the Foreign Minister, as well as the Ambassador, have
been very positive. And there's been no indication, as far
as I'm concerned, that the Saudis won't cooperate once they understand
exactly our mission.
SECRETARY POWELL: That's
exactly right, Mr. President. They have not turned down any
requests that we have presented to them.
Q Mr. President,
are you asking Congress for the power to waive military restrictions on
countries -- on all countries that help us, including those we've
considered as rogue nations? And, if so, why?
THE PRESIDENT: No, you're -- I
think you're referring to -- first of all, we've waived the sanctions
on Pakistan and India, as related to the Glenn Act. But I
think you're referring to a report that we were going to ask for a
blanket -- blanket exceptions, or blanket waivers for -- and the answer
is no, we're not. That's an erroneous report.
Q -- just
case-by-case now, is that idea, like --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, where
given the -- where the law allows, I will do it
case-by-case. But we don't intend to ask Congress for a
blanket waiver, as reported in one of the journals.
Q Mr. President,
last week you condemned the Taliban regime, and said that if they did
not comply with your demands, they would share the fate of the
terrorists. That raises the question, what is your
administration and other coalition members planning to do to maintain
stability and order in Central Asia? Are we supporting this
exiled King, the northern insurgence, some U.N.
administration? What are our goals there, if the Taliban are
to be removed?
THE PRESIDENT: Terry, I --
first of all, we were mindful that every action could have a
consequence. And as you know, we have spent a lot of time
and effort and focus on Pakistan. I just talked about the
waiving of sanctions with Pakistan and India. We believe
that will bring stability to that part of the world. We have
talked to other friends about how to make sure that the Musharraf
presidency is a stable presence in that part of the world.
In terms of activities within Afghanistan,
I'm not going to talk about those. I will not jeopardize our
mission in any way by talking about military or in-country
plans. We have a responsibility as an administration to
speak as candidly as we can to the American people, but without
jeopardizing life. And so, therefore, we will be willing to
discuss that very important question at an appropriate time, and now is
not the appropriate time.
Q Mr. President, to
put some perspective into all of this, how much -- can you tell us a
rough estimate of how much the al Qaeda network is worth domestically,
and perhaps and/or worldwide?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think in
my statement I made it clear that we don't anticipate many assets to be
frozen here in the United States, and that most of the assets will be
overseas. And one of the jobs that the Secretary of Treasury
is going to do is to help us identify the size of the organization's
I can't give you a rough estimate right
Q -- hundreds of
THE PRESIDENT: But let's put it
this way -- enough to fund terrorist activity that threatens
freedom. And there are -- take, for example, the
non-governmental organizations. They run a fair amount of
money through their organizations, and we're beginning, as you can tell
from the list we've laid out, or will be able to tell from the list,
that we're beginning to set priorities of those most egregious and
their serving as fronts for terrorist activities. I don't
know the full amount of their cash flows, but one dime of money into a
terrorist activity is one dime too much.
And we know that these organizations
cannot function if we're able to -- the way they want to -- if we're
able to chop off their monies. And we intend to do
so. And we've got a big task ahead. In Europe,
for example, there are probably going to need to be some laws changed
in order for those governments to react the way we expect them
to. That's why I said in my comment, while we now -- while
the Secretary of Treasury now has the option of providing some
draconian measure, we will look at it in on a case-by-case
basis. We expect there to be a complete and full effort to
join us in affecting terrorist organizations in all ways, shapes and
The reason why we held this statement in
the Rose Garden is it helps the American people understand we are
waging a different kind of war. It is a war that is going to
take a while. It is a war that will have many
fronts. It is a war that will require the United States to
use our influence in a variety of areas in order to win
it. And one area is financial.
We know there are some banks, for example,
that provide easy access money for terrorist
organizations. We will deal with them. And if we
can't deal with them individually, we will call upon our friends to
deal with them.
One of the interesting things that the
Secretary can tell you -- both Secretaries will tell you -- is a lot of
nations and their representatives have asked, how can we help; what can
we do to join the effort. Some nations will feel comfortable
providing troops. Some nations will feel comfortable
providing intelligence. Some nations will only feel
comfortable helping us wage the battle on the financial
front. And that's fine by us, because we understand how
important it is to stop the flow of funds.
Q Mr. President,
one question on the economy. How concerned are you about
consumer confidence right now? People are afraid to fly,
they're not traveling. And are you, at this point, concerned
that the economy has already dipped into a recession?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm -- I
haven't seen -- I'm not a statistician, but I've got enough anecdotal
evidence to tell you there are people hurting, and there are a little
too many layoffs. And any time somebody loses a job in
America, I'm concerned.
And I'm concerned about the shock this has
had on our economy, and I'm concerned about, obviously, the effect of
the airlines, for example, the weakness in the airline sector has had
on the economy. That's why I signed the bill as soon as
Congress passed it, to provide some non-recourse loans to the airlines,
to keep them up and running right now.
But I want to assure the American people
that the fundamentals for growth are very strong. That which
made us unique in the world existed prior to September -- that existed
prior to September 11th exists today. We're still a nation of
entrepreneurs and small business vitality. We're still a
nation of innovation. We've got a very good tax structure.
There is no question the attacks have
affected America, but I think when the investors sit back and take a
hard look at the fundamentals of the economy, they'll get back in the
market. I think that consumers will realize life is going
on. I think people appreciate the fact that our government
has come together to act in a very significant way, to provide monies
where necessary, for -- whether it be to help rebuild New York or
whether it be to provide a financial basis for airlines to stay in
business. We'll come out of this, and we'll come out of it
See, these terrorists thought they could
affect the United States. They thought they could diminish our
soul. They just strengthened our country. And
while the numbers aren't going to look too good in the short-run, we'll
be a stronger nation as a result of this. And they've
miscalculated. They made a terrible mistake. They
thought somehow they could affect the psyche of our
country. They're wrong.
And not only that, we'll prove them
wrong. They have roused the ire of a great
nation. And we're going to smoke them out of their caves,
and get them running. And we're going to use every means at
our disposal to do so. And this is going to require patience
and focus and discipline on behalf of the -- by the American people and
by my administration.
No, I understand six months from now we'll
be sitting around talking about some statistic, or something -- maybe
there will be an argument in Congress about some issue or something
like that. But the American people have got to understand
that when I held up that badge, I meant it: this war on
terrorism is my primary focus. Of course I'm concerned about
people being laid off. Of course I'm concerned about the
pieces of legislation that may be stalled.
But we are talking about a campaign
against people who hate freedom. And the legacy that this
administration and this generation can leave for future generations is
a legacy that is so vital for the underpinnings of this nation and
others who love freedom.
And so I -- we're a great nation, and the
world has seen how great we are. And you bet there are
problems with our economy short-run, but not long-run. And
you bet there's a concern about whether or not we'll be able to wrap up
every financial instrument used to fund terrorism.
But make no mistake about it, we're going
after them all. And we'll win, we're going to
win. Terrorists are going to realize they can't face down
freedom. Terrorists are going to realize they made a big
mistake, they miscalculated America. And I think they
miscalculate a lot of our allies and friends, too. There is
a determined will, and we accept the challenge in this administration.
Thank you all.