A European high court put another anti-terrorism weapon in the European Union's arsenal on Wednesday, when it allowed the Union to freeze the assets of suspected terrorists.
The EU can now feeze bank assets
The Court of First Instance allowed the European Union to implement the UN directive against a list of suspected terrorists passed in early summer, and rejected a complaint by two men and an Islamic foundation mentioned on that list.
Swedish resident Ahmed Ali Yusuf, and Yassin Abdullah Kadi, who lives in Saudi Arabia, along with the Al Barakaat International Foundation in Holland, complained to the court that such action fell outside of the European Union's jurisdiction. They also fought their mention on the United Nations list of people suspected of ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban. But the high court dismissed their claims, saying that the EU -- which has the power to hang economic sanctions on third countries -- also has the power to freeze the assets of individuals.
"It is within the powers of the European Community to order the freezing of individuals' funds in connection with the fight against terrorism," according to the Court.
More punch in anti-terror fight
The decision, coupled with a new information system introduced by the international police agency Interpol, has added some much-needed punch in the European Union's anti-terror fight. European police investigators routinely complain about a lack of cross-border communication needed to rooting out and arresting terrorist suspects. The new information system by Interpol should go some distance in solving the problem.
At the organization's general meeting in Berlin on Wednesday, Ulrich Kersten (photo), Interpol's representative at the UN Security Council, said that the computer system included data on 328 people and 119 groups and was available to all of the United Nations' 184 member states, including the European Union.
The United Nations directive that provided the basis for such a system also called for member states to be able to freeze the bank accounts of the people mentioned in the database in July. According to the UN, the potential frozen assets could amount to $90 million worldwide. "As they are required by the Security Council ... these measures fall for the most part outside the scope of judicial review," said the court in its decision. "They do not infringe the universally recognized fundamental human rights."