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Anti-terrorist official warns against complacency

Gurulé said in Zurich that his team was closing in on "serious financiers of terror"

(Keystone Archive)

US anti-terrorist official Jimmy Gurulé has wrapped up a visit to Switzerland with a warning against complacency in the fight against terrorism.

Gurulé insisted that his team were closing in on a number of "serious financiers of terror" but that they needed ongoing help from the private sector.

"I can't tell you much about these individuals," Gurulé told swissinfo. "And certainly not their names or their nationalities because I don't want to give them any warning, but I can say that these are very important people with regard to our [anti-terrorism] strategy."

The US treasury department official is making his way through five European countries, where he is holding talks on how financial institutions can help to combat the financing of terrorism.

Following talks in Zurich on Monday with Swiss federal prosecutor Valentin Roschacher, Gurulé returned to Switzerland's financial capital on Tuesday for a discussion with leading bankers.

A treasury department spokesman said Gurulé had used the opportunity to stress that the war on terrorism was not just a matter for national governments, but also the responsibility of private organisations and individuals.

Detailed talks on newly introduced US banking regulations were also said to have taken place.

Happy with Swiss help

Prior to Tuesday's meeting, Gurulé told swissinfo that he was satisfied with the level of assistance offered to the US by Switzerland. The treasury official also stressed that Switzerland's banking secrecy laws had not caused his investigation any problems.

Despite the recent bombings in Bali, Gurulé also argued that the "war" was no longer being won by the terrorists.

"I don't think they're winning," Gurulé told swissinfo. "We've certainly made it more difficult for al-Qaeda to raise money. Donors are becoming increasingly reluctant to give [to the terrorist network] because of fear that they themselves will be added to the US or UN lists and see their own assets being frozen.

"Our strategy is having a disruptive effect on the terrorists," Gurulé concluded, "but there is still a long way to go. What happened in Bali can certainly happen elsewhere in the world including Europe and including Switzerland. So we can't afford to be lax or lackadaisical."

Following the completion of his trip to Switzerland and neighbouring Liechtenstein, the treasury official was due to continue his tour with visits to Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden.

swissinfo, Mark Ledsom in Zurich

Key facts

Jimmy Gurulé is holding talks on how financial institutions can help combat terrorism.
Gurulé is happy with the level of assistance offered by Switzerland.
He said that Switzerland's banking secrecy has not caused problems to his investigation.

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