Bahrain to set up committee to counter money laundering and terrorism

The new body will report to the country’s cabinet

Cityscape of the hotels, skyscrapers and development along the 'Al Corniche' and the 'Diplomatic Area' of Manama in Bahrain illuminated at night.
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Bahrain will form a committee to counter extremism, money laundering and terrorism, under a royal decree announced on Sunday.

Official media said the interior minister, Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, will head the committee, which will propose to the government individuals and entities to be blacklisted.

The degree said the committee will be also tasked with “studying all issues related to extremism and counter-terrorism, funding of terrorism and money laundering”.

The committee will report to the council of ministers. Among its members will be the religions affairs minister, governor of the central bank, and heads of intelligence and police.

Bahrain, which has a population of 1.6 million is a Middle East banking centre.

The decree said the committee will specialise in streamlining the government’s anti-terrorism efforts and “assessing the dangers of extremist thought.”

The committee will work on “proposing laws and special regulations to counter extremism and terrorism and its funding, and combat money laundering,” the decree said.

Gulf countries have stepped up measures in recent years to prevent terror financing and money laundering.

Bahrain is a member of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre that brings together UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar along with the US.

The TFTC was established in 2017 to co-ordinate US and Gulf sanctions on terrorist groups and members and has so far sanctioned scores of individuals and entities.

Major targets for the group include ISIS and Al Qaeda. In December 2019, Bahrain joined other TFTC countries in designating Iranian backed terror groups as sanctioned parties. It also added Hezbollah of Bahrain, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the 14 February Youth Coalition, Al Ashtar Brigades, People’s Resistance Brigades, Al Mukhtar Brigades and Bahrain Freedom Movement to its terror list, the US annual report on terror financing reported.

Bahrain also has a counter national counter-extremism plan in line with the UN secretary general’s roadmap and the country has numerous projects targeted at the youth.