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Kuwait clamps down on terror financing
September 10, 2014, 5:14 pm

Kuwait has vowed to pursue legal action against its nationals designated as “terrorist financiers” as Arab states seek to boost co-ordination against the threat from Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria.

Anas Al Saleh, finance minister, said Kuwait would be joining ranks with the Arab League in a coalition against “all terrorism”, as the state pursues “legal action” against Kuwaitis accused of supporting terrorist groups in Syria.

“We are complying with antiterrorist commitments,” he told reporters at a conference in Kuwait on Tuesday.

US secretary of state John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday as the US seeks to rally Arab support for an international coalition against the rise of Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq. He has been travelling in the region with Chuck Hagel, defence secretary, to build support for military action against Isil.

President Barack Obama will outline his “degrade and destroy” strategy against Isil in a speech on Wednesday.

Gulf states, especially Qatar and Kuwait, are coming under increasing global pressure to limit private financial flows to Islamist militants that control vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.

Last month, the UN placed two Kuwaitis on a list of designated terrorism supporters for allegedly financing the Al Nusra Front in Syria. The individuals have denied the charges, saying they have been raising money for the Syrian people.

Kuwait’s parliament has endorsed an updated financial crimes law that introduces new powers and regulations to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

A law in 2013 criminalised terror financing, including prison sentences of up to 15 years and financial penalties.

The law also provides the authorities with greater powers to freeze assets and funds, as well as mandating more due diligence on clients and restricting the transportation of cash through Kuwait.

“When the UN announced these last individuals, the cabinet recognised that and directed institutions to implement anti-terror laws against them,” he said. “There have been actions taken against them,” he added, declining to specify further.

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