Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 - Romania

The Romanian Government had strong comprehensive internal mechanisms to combat terrorism, including a National Antiterrorism Strategy and guidelines to prevent the use of Romanian financial institutions, including its banking system, to finance terrorist-related activities. In 2008, the Supreme Council for National Defense updated the General Protocol for the National System for Preventing and Countering Terrorism.

Romania made its airspace, ground infrastructure, and naval facilities available to U.S. and NATO forces. Approximately 500 Romanian troops were serving in Iraq and 820 in Afghanistan as part of coalition and NATO Alliance efforts to combat terrorism and promote peace and stability. The Romanian troops in Afghanistan represented a 300-plus increase over 2007. In June, the Supreme Council for National Defense confirmed Romania's commitment of troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2009.

Romanian also ratified the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, the Protocol amending the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, and the Council of Europe Convention on laundering, search, seizure, and confiscation of the proceeds from crime and on the financing of terrorism.

The Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) operated as the technical coordinator for 11 Ministries of the Romanian Government; three other special Services (the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Protection and Guard Service, and Special Telecommunications Service); three other governmental agencies (the National Agency for Export Controls, the National Committee for Control of Nuclear Activities, and the National Office for Prevention and Control of Money Laundering); the National Bank of Romania; and the Prosecutor's Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. There were 54 prosecutors assigned to the Directorate to Investigate International Criminal Organizations and Terrorism.

Bucharest is also the headquarters for the Southeast European Cooperation Initiative (SECI) Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime (SECI Center), a regional center that provided law enforcement training and intelligence sharing on transborder criminal activities, including terrorist-related activities, for the 12 member countries in South Eastern and Central Europe, including Romania. Romania participated in the SECI Center's Antiterrorism task force, which Turkey chaired.

In February, the High Court of Cassation of Justice reconfirmed the 20-year prison sentence for Omar Hayssam who was convicted of terrorism in the 2004 kidnapping case of four Romanian journalists in Iraq (the Syrian-born Romanian citizen Hayssam fled Romania following his conviction and remained at large).

On May 15, Romania ratified the September 2007 Bucharest Protocol to the May 1999 U.S.-Romania Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. The Protocol enhanced mutual assistance on the identification of banking information regarding money laundering and terrorism activities, as well as other criminal activities on which the United States and Romania subsequently agree. Notable cases of U.S.-Romania law enforcement cooperation in this area included the extradition of Tareq Al Ghazi and Luis Moreno to the United States to stand trial on terrorism and money laundering charges related to their efforts to sell weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); significant assistance related to Viktor Bout, the renowned international arms trafficker known as the "Merchant of Death" who agreed to sell weapons to the FARC; and the case of Yeyha Ali Zeiter, who was arrested on drug-related terrorism charges.

On June 4, the government issued Executive Order 594/2008 which approved the rules to enforce the provisions of the law 656/2002 in conformity with EU regulations on preventing and sanctioning money laundering, as well as on establishing some measures to prevent and counter the financing of terrorist activities.

On June 25, the National Securities Commission issued Order 83/2008, to institute measures to prevent and fight money laundering and terrorism financing via the capital market. The order was published in the Official Gazette 525 on July 11.

The National Bank of Romania issued its own internal regulations regarding customer due diligence procedures in order to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing. The regulations were published in the Official Gazette on July 14.

The Financial Intelligence Unit submitted a restructuring program in order to implement more effectively the provisions of the Governmental Emergency Ordinance no. 53/2008 and the Governmental Decision no. 594/2008, to check against possible terrorist-related financing activities, including a new cooperation protocol for the National Office for Prevention and Combating of Money Laundering and the National Agency of Exports Control, as well as law enforcement and intelligence services, which enhances intra-governmental cooperation within the National System for Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.

The Romanian Government's Emergency Decision no. 202/2008, which was published in the Official Gazette on December 8, provides a mechanism for the implementation of international sanctions to prevent and counter terrorism, including empowering the National Office for Prevention and Control of Money Laundering, reporting on suspicious transactions, blocking funds, and obliging institutions to conduct due diligence in establishing the bona fides of clients.

December 31marked the official implementation of the new electronic passport protocols under Government Decision no. 557/2006 and in accordance with the provisions of the EC Regulation no. 2252/2004 on the standards for integrating security and biometric elements in passports and travel documents.


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