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US, Algeria Hold Meetings on Anti-Money Laundering

US and Algerian officials concluded high-level meetings in the capital city of Algeria on Thursday after discussing trends in financial crimes and money laundering activities.

The collaboration between Algeria and Washington underscores joint efforts in detecting the illicit flow of funds and countering extremist activities across online platforms and social media channels.

More than 25 officials representing the Algerian Ministry of Justice and five officials from the US Department of Justice held a five-day workshop from February 11 to 15 on trends in financial crimes and countervailing investigative techniques, the US Embassy in Algeria said on its website.

“The event served to strengthen the security partnership between the US and Algeria through dialogue, exchange of expertise, and bilateral cooperation. Both parties explored multifaceted approaches to preventing terrorist financing and shared techniques to detect money laundering,” the statement read.

Secretary General Mohamed Regaz of the Algerian Ministry of Justice and US Ambassador to Algeria Elizabeth Moore Aubin delivered remarks on the final day of the workshop, highlighting the joint US-Algeria commitment to combating criminal organizations and illicit financing.

“Our two countries have made great progress in the fight against terrorist financing. As threats have become more complex, more interconnected, and more technically advanced, our cooperation and mutual legal assistance becomes ever more important,” Ambassador Aubin stated.

In recent years, bilateral collaboration to combat money laundering and disrupt the financial networks fueling terrorism, particularly in the Sahel region, has intensified. The FBI engaged in discussions with investigators from various Algerian law enforcement agencies, including the National Gendarmerie, the National Police, and Customs, as well as representatives from entities such as the Financial Inquiry Processing Cell (under the Ministry of Finance) and government and private banks.

The focus of these meetings was to equip Algerian investigators with the latest strategies to confront militant groups’ fundraising activities, enhance their operational capabilities, and improve their ability to trace public funds tainted by corruption and bribery that have been illicitly transferred abroad.

Algeria’s legislative framework for countering terrorist financing has seen significant revisions since the enactment of its initial law in 2005. There exists a robust coordination mechanism with European counterparts to monitor the activities of terrorist organizations, particularly their potential ties to clandestine migration networks originating from Sahel nations south of the Sahara toward Southern Europe via North African territories.

Algerian government sources have indicated that the discussions between officials from the Ministry of Justice are part of the broader “comprehensive strategic dialogue” between Algeria and the US. While previous bilateral cooperation primarily centered on American energy investments in the Algerian Sahara’s oil and gas sector, the emergence of terrorist groups in the region, notably since 2007 with the inception of “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” prompted both governments to bolster security and military collaboration.

The US and Algeria conducted a Joint Military Dialogue in Washington from December 4 to 6 in the framework of the continued bilateral defense cooperation. Algerian Major General Mounir Zahi and Acting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Jennifer Zakriski led the two countries’ delegations.

The Joint Military Dialogue focused on advancing a draft Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation between Algeria and the United States in preparation for a planned signing in early 2024.

“We are very open to hearing from Algeria about what Algeria needs for its national defense… If US industry could be part of the answer to ensure Algeria has what it needs to defend itself, of course, we want to be part of that conversation,” US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for North African Affairs Joshua Harris said when he visited Algeria last year.

Source: Asharq Al-Awsat