Terrorism

US sanctions strike at al-Qaeda's financial networks

By Al-Mashareq

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A Tahrir al-Sham element holds the flag of the extremist alliance in Idlib, Syria, on August 20. [Omar Haj Kadour/AFP]

WASHINGTON -- New sanctions slapped on financial facilitators for al-Qaeda in late July are part of wider US efforts to dry up terrorist groups' sources of revenue and hamstring their activities worldwide.

The United States on July 28 designated one Turkey-based al-Qaeda financial facilitator for materially assisting al-Qaeda, and one Syria-based terrorist fundraiser and recruiter for providing material support to Tahrir al-Sham.

Tahrir al-Sham is an alliance of extremist factions operating primarily in northern Syria that is dominated by the former al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda aligned group that rebranded itself in an attempt to gain credibility in the political process.

Al-Qaeda and Tahrir al-Sham have engaged in continued efforts to exploit the global financial system to support their violent extremist activities, the US Treasury said in a statement.

The latest designations highlight the "need for continued vigilance against terrorist fundraising and recruitment on the internet", it said.

They underscore the commitment to "disrupting support networks of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups that seek to attack the United States and its allies", said Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control director Andrea Gacki.

Disrupting al-Qaeda's financing

The latest sanctions targeted Hasan al-Shaban, a Syria native whom the Treasury accuses of serving as a conduit for funneling money for al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda elements used bank accounts associated with al-Shaban to co-ordinate the movement of money from associates across North Africa, Western Europe and North America, the Treasury said.

The group also used al-Shaban to co-ordinate the transfer of funds to Turkey.

"Al-Shaban's banking information was provided by an al-Qaeda fundraiser to prospective donors as a way for them to send money to support al-Qaeda military efforts", including in Syria, it said.

The Treasury also sanctioned Tajik-born Farrukh Furkatovitch Fayzimatov for recruiting new members, soliciting donations and disseminating propaganda using social media on behalf of Tahrir al-Sham.

"Fayzimatov organised community fundraising campaigns to purchase equipment for the benefit of [Tahrir al-Sham], including motorbikes," it said.

In 2016, Tahrir al-Sham chief Abu Mohammad al-Jolani publicly severed ties with al-Qaeda. But many regarded the split as a strategic move, rather than a true ideological difference.

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