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U.S.: Bush Orders Banks To Freeze Terrorist Assets

U.S. President George W. Bush today ordered U.S. banks to freeze the assets of 27 individuals and organizations allegedly linked to terrorist organizations. Among groups with suspected terrorist links were a corporation Bush described as a "front for terrorism" and several non-profit organizations. A list of the 27 suspected persons and organizations was released later by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Washington has accused Saudi-born millionaire Osama bin Laden of masterminding the 11 September attacks on the United States. Bin Laden is believed to be the guest of Afghanistan's Taliban ruling militia.

Bush today said bin Laden's Al-Qaeda organization probably had little money in U.S. banks. But he called upon foreign banks to freeze the assets of known terrorists and groups related to them or find their own assets in the U.S. frozen.

"We are putting banks and financial institutions around the world on notice: We will work with their governments, ask them to freeze or block terrorists 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."

The U.S. is considering military action against bin Laden's suspected training camps in Afghanistan.

Bush, who had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the weekend, said the U.S. and Russia could cooperate against terrorism.