U.S. Embassy Sponsors Lebanon-U.S. Terrorist Designations Workshop with the Central Bank

This morning, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Richard H. Jones and Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh delivered opening remarks at the Lebanon-U.S. Terrorist Designations Workshop, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in collaboration with the Central Bank.  The two-day event brings together representatives from Lebanon’s legal and security institutions and the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice to discuss the shared U.S-Lebanese commitment to combatting international terrorist finance.

The workshop facilitates an exchange of ideas and best practices on the role of terrorist designations in upholding rigorous international standards to prevent the funding of terrorist organizations.  Sessions include an overview of designations authorities and protocols, as well as hands-on exercises creating mock designation packages.  Participants will learn how to work in partnership with the international community to list terrorists domestically and at the United Nations.

Below are the Ambassador’s remarks as prepared for the event:

Good morning.  It is a pleasure to join you today.  Thank you to Governor Salameh and the Banque du Liban for hosting this two-day event.  Thank you to everyone who agreed to participate in this joint U.S. and Lebanon Designations Training and Workshop.  We are also pleased to be joined by our U.S. facilitators from the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice, some of whom are visiting Beirut for the first time.  We are confident that this important dialogue between our two countries will improve our understanding of each other’s designations processes and will enhance our coordination on designations and UN listings in the future.

The United States and Lebanon have stood with one another to confront terrorism here and abroad.  In my continuing discussions with Lebanon’s leaders, we have discussed the importance of our counterterrorism relationship and agreed on the need to strengthen that partnership.  Well known is our assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces, including vital equipment, munitions, and training.  This help has supported Lebanon’s fight against Da’esh in Aarsal and along Lebanon’s border over the past several years.  We know Lebanon faces tremendous challenges, and we remain committed to supporting its safety and security.  Our strong partnership, our resolve, and our resilience are our greatest strengths in this battle.

Over the past few years, the threat from terrorism has been heightened by the rise of Da’esh and the changing nature of the global terrorist threat.  It has forced the international community to look differently at the way terrorist organizations operate – including how they secure funding to finance their operations and the use of social media in recruitment.   This is why the United Nations and governments around the world created and uphold legal frameworks to protect the international financial system from abuse by these groups.

Our efforts to counter the financing of terrorism are predicated on the use of international standards, institutions and best practices from the UN, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), regional FATF style bodies, the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), and similar entities.  When the Lebanese Parliament passed a package of anti-money laundering and terrorist finance legislation last November, it was a major step to safeguard the integrity of the banking sector in accordance with these standards.

Terrorist designations play a vital role in our overall approach to counter the financing of terrorism.   They protect our economic systems from terrorist attack and abuse.  They uphold the integrity of the worldwide financial system and ensure that it is used for legitimate economic activities, rather than aiding international terrorism.  Additionally, designations help to prevent the travel of known terrorists, thereby safeguarding the region’s aviation, maritime, and other transportation systems that are critical to travel and trade.

Designations, both domestic and international, can help stem the flow of economic support to terrorists operating throughout the region and the world by identifying and focusing attention on which organizations and individuals to take financial counter-measures against.  This process is not haphazard but follows a precise legal framework.  It involves a multitude of domestic and international political and law enforcement institutions that uphold rigorous standards.

Over the course of this dialogue, our U.S. experts will share how the U.S. designations process works, how we meet our international obligations at the UN, and how designations fit into international efforts to combat terrorist finance.  We are eager to learn from you how similar actions are taken in Lebanon.  We look forward to sharing techniques, best practices, policies and experiences, both positive and negative that help build skills and increase our ability to work bilaterally, regionally and internationally.  Working together, we will be able to gain a better understanding of each other’s information needs, which will ultimately lead to greater collaboration on future designations and UN listings.

Again, thank you to Governor Salameh and the Central Bank for hosting this important workshop.  And thank you to all of you for participating.  It is yet another indication of the strength of the American-Lebanese partnership.