UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United Nations has not kept an up-to-date list of al-Qaida and Taliban leaders targeted by international sanctions, harming both the fight against terrorism and efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, a key U.N. counterterror official said Friday.
Several dozen important al-Qaida and Taliban figures have not been placed on a list of 490 people and businesses subject to a U.N. travel ban, arms embargo and assets freeze put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, said Richard Barrett, coordinator of the monitoring team for the U.N.'s Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee.
The gaps in the list are allowing al-Qaida and Taliban figures to carry out activities such as training fighters and organizing attacks that sanctions could help prevent, he said.
"It is a real international concern. It is not just symbolic," he told The Associated Press.
The outdated list is making it less likely that countries responsible for enforcing the measures will actually carry them out, Barrett said.
"If you lack credibility, you lack implementation," he said.
Barrett attributed the lags in updating the list partly to the structure of the sanctions committee, which requires consensus among its 15 members to add or remove someone from the list. He called the delays an unintended consequence of the legitimate need for consensus.
U.N. member nations are responsible for suggesting additions and subtractions. They have been slow to do so, he said, partly because lags in updating the list have created a sense among member nations that the process is stalled, Barrett said.
Barrett said that the list should contain the names of perhaps a dozen Taliban leaders who have recently assumed key roles in the Afghan insurgency. It also should include an estimated two dozen al-Qaida figures who could be affected by the ban because they may travel internationally, use the world banking system and play key roles in training and arming al-Qaida fighters, he said.
"It's useful to put young commanders, a new generation of Taliban leaders, on our list," he said.
Lags in updating the Taliban section, he said, also harm the fight against al-Qaida.
"It's an issue of momentum," he said. "The more our list looks outdated or irrelevant in the Taliban area, the less the whole list is seen as credible."
Properly updated with the latest al-Qaida and Taliban names, he said: "The list would look very different ... It would look more recognizable to people around the world who are dealing with this problem."
The committee also has not decided to remove former Taliban figures who have assumed positions in the Afghan government as part of a national reconciliation process, Barrett said. That has provoked concern from some in the Afghan government and international aid donors.
For example, Barrett said, Abdul Hakim Monib, the former Taliban deputy minister of frontier affairs, remains on the list even though he has become governor of Uruzgan province. His presence on the list, rightly or wrongly, could be seen as weakening the reconciliation process, Barrett said, and also complicates international efforts to aid his province.
Barrett declined to offer other specific figures or names because of the confidential nature of the committee's deliberation.
Belgian Ambassador Johan Verbeke, the committee chairman, said during the meeting that the list of Taliban figures had not changed since 2003, and it was clear that political events in Afghanistan made a fresh assessment necessary.
"They should be reflected in the list," he said.