Treasury Chief Touts Customs Defense of U.S. O'Neill Pays Visit to Naval Station

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Davis, Times-Union staff writer

U.S. Customs workers at Jacksonville Naval Air Station received an update yesterday on the war against the funding of terrorism from the nation's chief financial officer.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill visited the Jacksonville aircraft hangar yesterday to thank customs officers for their role in homeland defense and elaborate on the government's pursuit of terrorists' financial assets.

The secretary also was expected to visit Blount Island yesterday.

O'Neill said the Treasury Department identified 21 more individuals yesterday as financiers of terrorism and squelched their organization's assets. The group has been identified as the Basque Fatherland and Liberty, a terrorist organization based in Spain.

The group, rooted in Marxism, finances its terrorist activities through kidnapping, robberies and extortion. It usually targets Spanish government officials, security and military forces, politicians and judicial figures.

Although O'Neill said he did not believe this organization was a direct threat to the United States, yesterday's blocking action represented a unification among countries, in this case the United States and Spain, to combat terrorism. …


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