Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft

(Note: The Attorney General Often Deviates from prepared Remarks)
Press briefing with FBI Director Mueller
FBI headquarters
September 27, 2001

Today we are releasing the photos of nineteen hijackers of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.

This is another step in what in effect is a national neighborhood watch. We have been receiving tens of thousands of tips from individuals across the country.

In fact, this week the combined total of tips from the public over the internet and through our 1-800 hotline surpassed 100,000.

It is our hope that the release of these photos will prompt others who may have seen the hijackers to contact the FBI with any information they may have that would be helpful to the investigation.

I am also able to announce today that the Administration has sent to Congress a another critically important piece of legislation to aid in the financial front that was developed before September 11.

This legislation covers money laundering in a broad sense, but will also help us address the funds that may be flowing to and from terrorist organizations.

The Money Laundering Act of 2001, like the other legislative changes we have asked Congress to enact, contains careful, considered provisions that will give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to identify, track down and neutralize international terrorist groups.

- For example, the ability for terrorist organizations to finance the atrocities they commit in this country with money generated by crimes committed in other countries is critical to their success.

This legislation would make it a crime to launder the proceeds of foreign crimes in the U. S.

- One of the financing mechanisms used by terrorists is the smuggling of large amounts of cash into the country and the transportation of this cash throughout the United States.

We would make it a crime to smuggle more than $10,000 in currency into or out of the country, or to transport more than $10,000 in interstate commerce with the intent to use the money to commit a criminal offense.

- We are also asking for Congress to permit federal courts to restrain the assets of a criminal defendant such as a terrorist pending trial in order to prevent the transfer of his or her assets to others in the terrorist network.

Current law allows post-conviction forfeiture judgements.

We believe it makes sense to allow the freezing of such assets earlier, before a terrorist has the opportunity to protect his assets by transferring them to others.

These and other provisions in the legislation we have sent to Congress will aid law enforcement on the financial front of the war against terrorism launched by the President earlier this week.

These same proposals were introduced in the House of Representatives in the last two congresses, and were passed by the House Subcommittee on Crime with enormous bipartisan support.

Some of these proposals are also part of a bill already introduced by Senators Levin and Grassley. Now, this contribution to our ability to choke off the money supply to terrorist organizations is more needed than ever.

I urge Congress to move quickly to enact these critical changes to the law.