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With Little Fanfare, Yousef Nada Kept on U.N. Terror Designation List
The Swiss Supreme Court has ruled that Youssef Nada, a leader of the international Muslim Brotherhood, must stay on the list specially designated individuals implemented by the United Nations Security Council in the immediate aftermath of 9-11.

The Nov. 27 ruling by the Swiss court stands in sharp contrast to the decision of the United Nations and the U.S. Treasury Department to delist one of Nada's most active partners in banking and investment around the world, Idriss Nasreddin.

The Swiss ruling denied Nada's motion to be be de-listed under Swiss law because one of the primary cases against him and his web of al Taqwa companies and financial institutions, had been dropped by Swiss prosecutors. The case included Bank al Taqwa, based in Nassau, Bahamas and a key financial institution of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The contrasting views of the UN sanctions regime highlights the growing difficulty of making and keeping them effective.

As my colleague Jonathan Winer noted with Nasreddin,the move to take Nasreddin off the list was a surprising move with no coherent public explanation, particularly given the fact that President Bush personally announced the Nada and Nasreddin designations simultaneously.

According to the Treasury Department statement issued when the Nasreddin de-listing became public, the main reason for Nasreddin's initial designation was his association with Nada.

Nasreddin, Treasury said, had submitted sworn statements that he had severed all his ties ties Nada, a key step in his rehabilitation.

If that is what it takes, many more could be de-listed. But the U.S. and European officials also publicly stated that Nasreddin had funded the Islamic center in Milan, Italy, that served as a way station for global jihadist movement. Was that not true, or how does one explain that away?

The truth, according to UN and US officials, is that the designations process is applied so unevenly and is so easy to get around now, that its main value is to stigmatize the individual, not actually hurt their business ventures.

It is simply too easy to quickly change the paperwork on the ownership of designated businesses in order to leave the the few countries that might actually be willing to freeze assets with nothing to freeze.

This has been done by numerous designated individuals, including Nada and others. If their financial holdings are fundamentally untouched and no one wants to take the massive amount of time and resources to continually monitor the actions of all of the designated individuals, it is fair to ask whether the designation regime has outlived most of its usefulness.

I think it is fair to argue that, in the early days, with a vigorous UN monitoring mechanism, of which my colleague Vic Comras was a member, the measures were somewhat successful.

While incapable of monitoring everything, their reports reflected an active effort to monitor developments, point out weaknesses in enforcement and generally let countries know that there was someone paying attention to compliance.

In part because of the effectiveness, which angered some UN members, the group was watered down, given fewer resources and a mandate that was interpreted more narrowly.

The result has been that the process is greatly weakened and ever-less vigorously enforced.

Perhaps what is needed, rather than a weakening of the efforts, is a strengthening of them. The Swiss ruling acknowledged the important place international sanctions regimes have within the nation's legal structure.

It should not be hard to build on that. But for any process of moving forward to have credibility, the United States will have to make its listing and delisting decisions more transparent. One cannot have the president, on national TV, designate an individual then quietly walk away from that decision four years later.

If the initial designation was wrong, then that should be acknowledged and dealt with. If it is solid, then, as was done in the Nada and Nasreddin cases (jointly), what information that exists that can be declassified should be, and placed in the public domain. If a decision is made to delist someone, then that decision should be explained to the fullest extent possible.

Otherwise, we will continue to have weakened policies that do little.

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