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December 7, 2021 4:57 pm

New GOP Taylor Force Bill Targets Palestinian ‘Martyr Payments’ Routed Through US Financial System

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

The US Capitol dome is seen in Washington, US, December 17, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Erin Scott

A group of Republican senators led by Tom Cotton on Monday introduced a bill that would allow the US government to sanction foreign banks using the American financial system to facilitate so-called “martyr payments” to families of Palestinian terrorists.

“Radical Islamic terrorists shouldn’t be rewarded for killing innocent people, and banks should be held responsible for processing any sort of ‘martyr payments,’ Cotton stated at a press conference Monday introducing the new bill.

The bill, named the “Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act of 2021,” seeks to ensure “Palestinian terrorists don’t benefit financially for committing these senseless murders,” Cotton added.

The legislation builds on the Taylor Force Act, which was passed with bipartisan support in 2018 to restrict non-humanitarian US aid to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to make payments to security prisoners and their families.

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The Act was named in memory of a former American army officer stabbed to death in 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv.

“The legislation has made a difference, but our work is not yet finished. Reporting has revealed that foreign banks in the Middle East in the Mediterranean, continue to process the so-called martyr payments, sometimes in US dollar-denominated transactions,” Cotton said. “They have escaped sanctions by avoiding an official US presence, while maintaining correspondent accounts in the United States.”

The legislation is sponsored by Cotton and Republican Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Todd Young (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

It would give the US Treasury Department authority to designate foreign banks as institutions of primary money laundering concern, and sanction them for using correspondent accounts in the US to facilitate or promote payments to terrorists.

“In the years since our son Taylor was killed in 2016, we have been dedicated to making certain that at least some good emerges from our loss,” Stuart Force, Taylor’s father, said at the press conference. “Our first mission was the enactment of the Taylor Force Act 2018. We have recently come to the realization that the job is half done. The truth is that martyr payments have continued and those responsible have not been held accountable.”

Force explained that the draft bill, if passed, will provide the US government with an “important new tool to dis-incentivize banks from being part of the martyr payment program and deny them access to the US financial system until they stopped doing it.”

Force cited federal court complaints about Qatari banks — Qatar National Bank and Masraf Al Rayan — who allegedly “move millions of dollars through New York in part to fund martyr payments.”

“No foreign bank, even one from a friendly country like Qatar, which participates in rewarding those who kill innocent Americans like Taylor, should be able to evade responsibility,” Force urged.

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