Terrorism: January 3, 2002


The arrival of the new Euro as the standard European currency in 12 countries on 1 Jan 2002 is creating a nightmare for police and anti-terrorist security forces. With a standard currency, anyone with a pile of cash can take it across borders without leaving a paper trail from the currency exchange counter at a local bank. There are few border controls in the EU, and the few police on borders do not have time to check for cash transfers. Criminal groups in the Balkans have already faked the "counterfeit-proof" holograms. The Euro comes in a new higher denomination (500 Euros) than almost all European currencies, allowing large quantities of cash to be carried in smaller packages. The mass movement of the new currency to banks has sparked a series of armored car robberies, most of them unsolved. Millions of Europeans will be taking sacks of currency to their banks over the next month to exchange it for Euros (far more than the supposed record-keeping requirements can deal with), and police will have no way to tell if some of those exchanging large quantities of banknotes are terrorists.--Stephen V Cole


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