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In UNSC, US's Counter-Terrorism Draft Adopted, Now Rex Tillerson Speaks, Here

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photo

UNITED NATIONS, December 21 – The UN Security Council adopted a US-drafted resolution on foreign terrorist fighters on December 21; the afternoon before the Administration held a background press call to promote the draft. Inner City Press asked about safeguards on governments which call their opponents terrorists, as has recently happened for example in Cameroon with the assistance of the UN, whose envoy Francois Fall calls all secessionists “extremists.” An Administration official - Nathan Sales, Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism - said it is a question of concern and that the draft is sprinkled through with references to human rights. (A largely EU-funded publication attributes these references to France, Italy and Sweden.) After the adopting, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, "Today, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a new resolution that will help Member States detect and counter the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), especially those returning from the conflict zone in Iraq and Syria.  Resolution 2396 is particularly timely, given the collapse of ISIS’s false caliphate and its continuing efforts to commit terrorist attacks around the world. Building on the positive legacy of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2178, which was adopted in 2014 and obliged all states to criminalize FTF-related activities, the Security Council today directed members to take additional steps to address the terrorist threat as it has evolved over the last three years. Working with our partners, the United States led the negotiation of this new set of international obligations and commitments.  UNSCR 2396 requires all UN members to use Passenger Name Record (PNR) data and Advanced Passenger Information (API) to stop terrorist travel.  It also requires members to collect biometric data and develop watchlists of known and suspected terrorists, including foreign terrorist fighters.  In addition, the new resolution calls for stricter aviation security standards and urges UN members to share counterterrorism information with each other. These tools—which the United States has been using for years and which have now been embraced by the international community—will be critical in preventing the movement of ISIS fighters and other terrorists across the globe. The successful adoption of UNSCR 2396 demonstrates the United States’ unwavering commitment to the complete defeat of ISIS.  It also shows that the Security Council—along with the 66 countries that co-sponsored the resolution—remains firmly, unquestionably united in the face of the common threat of transnational terrorism.  We look forward to working with countries, UN bodies, civil society, and the private sector to implement this groundbreaking resolution."  Amid talk of increased enforcement of sanctions on North Korea - including now U.S. President Trump's announced that he's putting the country back on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list -  the US Comptroller of the Currency has "rescued" a Japanese bank from a sanctions violation investigation, see below, including Inner City Press' scoop on no-notice. Trump on November 20 said, " Today, the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.  It should have happened a long time ago.  It should have happened years ago. In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil. As we take this action today, our thoughts to turn to Otto Warmbier, a wonderful young man, and the countless others so brutally affected by the North Korean oppression.  This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons, and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime that you've all been reading about and, in some cases, writing about. Tomorrow, the Treasury Department will be announcing an additional sanction, and a very large one, on North Korea.  This will be going on over the next two weeks.  It will be the highest level of sanctions by the time it's finished over a two-week period. The North Korean regime must be lawful.  It must end its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development, and cease all support for international terrorism -- which it is not doing." Inner City Press then asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if this meant the UN's World Property Organization would stop helping North Korea with cyanide patents. It's just a US thing, he said. So's this: a November 13 letter from the New York State Department of Financial Services cites Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi for “continuing compliance failures in Hong Kong, which has a 'repeat transaction' program for certain high risk clients in Chinese cities bordering North Korea. The repeat transaction program results in not more but less scrutiny of these clients transactions.” The NYSDFS letter also notes that BTMU has processed transaction through its New York branch for “Burmese parties” on the OFAC sanctions list. How did Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi react to the New York regulator's investigation of these issues? It applied on October 30 to switch to the more lax Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and had its application approved in a mere week, then threw the state regulators out of its New York branch on Sixth Avenue. All this just a few blocks from the United Nations whose Security Council, on which Japan has a seat until the end of the year, has imposed rounds of sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear weapons program, and was set to vote for a new UN Special Envoy on Myanmar, or Burma, on November 16. What's going on? Now Inner City Press can exclusively report a further outrage, not included in the NYSDFS letter nor a Wall Street Journal article which quoted it. The OCC gave its approval in a week even while belatedly listing Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi's filings under "THESE APPLICATIONS APPEARED INCORRECTLY IN A PRIOR WEEKLY BULLETIN." Photo here; link to Bulletin here. The public, as is the trend under the OCC, was cut out. The face savings compliance agreement, here, does not cure or address this. The OCC is lax not only in sanctions compliance and absurdly short comment periods on corporate applications - it also markets itself to banks as being “flexible” on other compliance issues including the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act. Recently the OCC announced that even a rare less than satisfactory CRA rating would not bar approval of a bank's application, click here for that Inner City Press coverage. A new Comptroller, Joseph Otting formerly of OneWest Bank, is set to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate this week, even while the OCC has refused to answer a pending Press (and CRC) request under the Freedom of Information Act. A lawsuit has now been filed. What will a FOIA request into the OCC's communications with Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi yield? Watch this site.


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