Bahrain’s anti-terror funding strategy highlighted

Manama, The Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, stressed that the Kingdom of Bahrain, under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, is making pioneering efforts to combat terrorism and its funding, as its adopts a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy covering a wide range of dimensions, including economic growth, sustainable and human development, as well as the consolidation of coexistence and the strengthening of the rule of law in the framework of a constant and evolving reform process.

This came in the remarks delivered by Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa during the inauguration of the UNCCT National Capacity-Building Workshop for the Kingdom of Bahrain on Safeguarding the Non-Profit Sector from Terrorist Abuse, held for two days, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the National Committee for Follow-up of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s commitment to all UN Security Council resolutions and the Policy Committee for Prohibiting and Combating of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, in cooperation with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.

The Undersecretary for International Affairs noted that this workshop is part of a series of workshops in which it is sought to create a common space and a qualitative partnership to build capacities and skills, exchange ideas and insights on best practices and means to strengthen efforts to counter the threat of terrorism and its funding and contribute to the protection of our sustainable security and our core values.

He also illustrated that if terrorism in all its forms constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, then money is what manifests terrorism. One of its main tributaries is the exploitation of NGOs, non-profit and charitable sectors along with other forms of crime, such as money laundering, drugs, arms trade, trafficking in persons and others.

He added that despite the precautionary measures taken by most countries to dry up the sources of terrorist funding, terrorist organizations were often able to secure their financial needs illegally.

Dr. Shaikh Abdulla pointed out how this is evident in the Middle East, especially with countries such as Iran and Qatar sponsoring armed terrorist organizations and pledging to establish, finance and harbour terrorists, noting in this regard the outcomes of the Iranian Future Bank being regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain, where it deduced that this bank was a terrorist financing center and that it laundered $ 4.7 billion through SWIFT messages, and $ 2.7 billion in an old scheme of sending interbank messages using one-time codes and delivery was done manually, thus, a total of $ 9 billion was found, some of which amounted to terrorist operatives and participants.

The Undersecretary for International Affairs showcased how the International community’s war against terrorism embarked in 1934, when the League of Nations discussed a draft convention for the prevention and punishment of terrorists. In 1963, the United Nations created an international convention to counter terrorism, thus noting the end of the first millennium as crucial to the world in recognizing the close link between the financing of terrorism and the survival and expansion of terrorist groups, hence why the United Nations drafted the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism in 1999, and the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Counter-Terrorism Strategy in September 2006.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was also established in 1989 to implement legal measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, with the issue of drying up the sources of financing of terrorism as the main pillar of any counter-terrorism strategy.

Dr. Shaikh Abdulla exemplified that the legal frameworks for combating the financing of terrorism in the Kingdom of Bahrain are based on many legislations and laws, most notably Law No. (4) of 2001 on banning and countering money laundering and its subsequent amendments, as well as Law No. (7) of 2017 on the ratification of the Arab Convention for Combating Money Laundering, Financing of Terrorism and other Outstanding Legislation. On the external level, the Kingdom of Bahrain actively participates in addressing cross-border terrorism through participation in international and regional alliances, as well as hosting the International Conference to Combat the Financing of Terrorism in 2014.

The Undersecretary for International Affairs noted that as Chairman of the National Committee to follow up the commitment of the Kingdom of Bahrain to all Security Council resolutions, we have sought to follow up the implementation of the international resolutions issued by the Council, especially the fight against terrorism, as part of our vital partnership with the United Nations, we believe in the responsible role they play in achieving a more stable and prosperous world.

Dr. Shaikh Abdulla also affirmed that the Kingdom of Bahrain will continue to contribute actively and resolutely to combating extremism and terrorism in all its forms and to drying up its sources of financing through compliance with established international obligations and its active participation in international and regional arrangements for combating the financing of terrorism, including the normative framework established by the Security Council through a series of important resolutions is accompanied by a periodic review of the mechanisms of action of non-profit and charitable institutions, stressing that an objective and accurate sustainable assessment in the non-profit sector and the establishment of preventive controls to fill the gaps to avoid any exploitation of these organizations as a cover for the financing of terrorism, does not indicate disrupting the legitimate charitable activities of civil society which we value their role and goals.

The Executive Director of Financial Institutions Supervision at Central Bank of Bahrain, Abdul Rahman Al Baker praised the cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Bank of Bahrain in many areas, particularly the issues related to money laundering and terrorist financing, and the application of international standards, especially the FATF standards, noting that all participants will benefit from this vital workshop and build on its results and implement the recommendations.

The Resident Coordinator of the UN System’s Operational Activities in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Amin Al Sharqawi, stated that terrorism and its financing constitute a real obstacle and a major challenge that hinders sustainable development efforts and its 17 goals. He also noted that the UN is working with governments and communities to implement these goals, as they contain work plans and durable solutions that prevent conflict, violence, insecurity, malign extremism and terrorism, whose consequences are devastating not only for their economies but for the global economy as a whole.

He also commended the role played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in financing the fight against terrorism, pointing out that this workshop comes as a result of this aforementioned funding, affirming that these successes bring partnerships, just as sustainable and inclusive development is not possible without cooperation, the fight against all forms and challenges of terrorism is not possible without the unity of the international community.

Source: Bahrain News Agency