The measure, which was drafted before Sept. 11, criminalizes laundering the proceeds of foreign crimes in the United States, forbids taking more than $10,000 in cash into or out of the country and transporting more than $10,000 in interstate commerce with the intent to use it to commit a criminal offense, and permits federal courts to restrain the assets of a criminal defendant in order to prevent the transfer of assets to a terrorist network.
Bin Laden Asked to Leave
In Pakistan today, a group of religious leaders is preparing to travel to Afghanistan to try to persuade the Taliban to turn over bin Laden, who the Bush administration calls the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks, to the United States.
The delegation will be led by Mufti Shamezai, a spiritual mentor to many of the Taliban leaders, who called for a holy war against Americans in 1998 after U.S. rocket attacks on camps in Afghanistan. Now, he is expected to try to convince the Taliban to be more cooperative with the United States.
Today, Taliban representatives reportedly said the regime has already asked the indicted terrorist to leave.The Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, said the edict handed down last week by a council of Islamic clerics asking bin Laden to leave Afghanistan has been delivered to him, according to The Associated Press.
According to the report, the ambassador said Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar "endorsed" the clerics' decision.
"Osama has now received the Ulema council's recommendations and their endorsement," the ambassador said. "We have not lost Osama, but he is out of sight of the people."
Zaeef did not say how the message was conveyed nor where bin Laden was hiding. He also did not indicate bin Laden's reaction to the message.
Taliban Information Minister Qudrutullah Jamal told Reuters news service today that he believed the message had been hand-delivered. "The edict had to be delivered by a messenger," Jamal said. "It's not like we can pick up the phone and talk to Osama, or fax a message to him. He has no such facilities, so the message had to be sent through a messenger who probably took some time to find him."
Since the Bush administration identified bin Laden as the lead suspect in the attacks, the Taliban has said it did not know where the Saudi dissident was hiding and that he had already left the country.
Today Jamal contradicted those earlier statements. "I have no reason to believe that Osama has left Afghanistan. He is still here," he said. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in Afghanistan, fearing a U.S. attack on the country. Refugees have massed on the borders with Pakistan and Iran, and opposition forces in the north and west have been receiving promises of aid and arms from Russia and the West.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked today for $584 million in humanitarian aid for Afghans, who he said are facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
More Diplomatic Maneuvering