Terrorism's Business Partners
Byline: Frank Gaffney Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The recent bombings in London and Egypt confirming the vulnerability of even relatively vigilant societies to Islamofascist terrorism raise a question: Are we serious about fighting this menace with every means at our disposal?
A test of the U.S. Senate's seriousness will be offered as soon as today. Senators will be asked to choose between two amendments to the defense authorization bill (S 1042) bearing on one of this country's most powerful and yet largely unutilized tools: Denying U.S. investment capital, technology and other commercial benefits to state-sponsors of terror.
To be sure, successive administrations have imposed economic and trade sanctions on terrorist-sponsoring states like Iran, Libya, Sudan, Cuba, Syria and North Korea. Existing law - notably, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) - grants the president authority to bar U.S. companies from doing business with nations that do business with terrorists.
Unfortunately, there is a loophole in the law, a loophole some U.S. firms have used to circumvent and undermine U.S. sanctions. By establishing an offshore subsidiary, these companies have engaged in commerce with sanctioned states though the parent is prohibited from doing so.
In some cases, the affront to the letter and spirit of the law has been egregious. Fronts with little more than an offshore post office box are created to do end-runs around official efforts to stem the money flow to those trying to kill us.
This practice has properly inspired bipartisan outrage in the Senate. Last week, two senators - Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, and Susan Collins, Maine Republican and chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee - expressed incredulity and anger at this flouting of the law and outdid each other offering amendments to end it.
Mr. Lautenberg said: "President Bush has made the statement that money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations. He could not be more right. Amazingly, some of our corporations are providing revenue to terrorists by doing business with these rogue regimes. My amendment is simple. It closes a loophole in the law that allows this to happen, that allows American companies to do business with enemies of ours."
Mrs. Collins declared: "The allegations are that these foreign subsidiaries are formed and incorporated overseas for the specific purpose of bypassing U.S. sanctions laws that prohibit American corporations from doing business with terrorist-sponsoring nations such as Syria and Iran. There is no doubt that this practice cannot be allowed to continue. ... The examples we have heard, where American firms simply create new shell corporations to execute transactions they themselves are prohibited from engaging in, are truly outrageous. …