Iran postpones debate on terror financing

Fighters from the Iraqi Shiite Hezbollah Brigade walk into the Wadi al-Salam cemetary in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on December 10, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2018
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Iran postpones debate on terror financing

TEHRAN: Iran's parliament voted Sunday to suspend discussion of joining the UN Terrorism Financing Convention for two months, while it waits to see whether its nuclear deal with world powers will survive.
There has been an often furious debate among Iranian lawmakers over whether to join the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which requires members to pass numerous laws against terrorism financing and money-laundering.
Iran and North Korea are currently the only countries on the FATF black-list, adding to their difficulties in accessing global banking.
But many conservative lawmakers argue the new laws -- in the works since last year -- will cut off Iranian support to Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas -- whose military wings are designated as terrorist organisations by the United States and European Union, among others.
They say the legislation will also condemn members of the Revolutionary Guards listed as terrorists by the US, including the head of its external operations, Qassem Soleimani.
But Abbas Araghchi, deputy foreign minister, defended the efforts to join the FATF, saying it was firmly in Iran's interests.
"This very parliament was the victim of Daesh terrorism this time last year... Without international cooperation and joining international conventions, it is impossible to confront it," said Aragchi.
"Inside the country there are some holes and weaknesses in banking networks, which unfortunately facilitates terrorist groups and drug-smuggling," he added.
Daesh carried out twin attacks last June on Iran's parliament and the tomb of revolutionary founder Ruhollah Khomeini, killing 17.
Iran, a majority Shiite country, is considered a primary enemy by extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh -- and has directly fought these groups in Syria and Iraq.
But with the US pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal last month and ordering full sanctions to be reimposed on Iran, many say it is pointless to join the FATF.
The other parties to the nuclear deal -- Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia -- are working to salvage the deal and maintain trade ties, but most international banks already refuse to work with Iran for fear of US penalties.
On Sunday, lawmakers voted 138 to 103 (with six abstentions) on suspending the discussion around the Terrorism Financing Convention for two months, while they wait to see how the nuclear deal discussions play out, according to ISNA.


How a Qatari financier helped blacklisted terrorists by using UN loopholes

Updated 8 min 41 sec ago
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How a Qatari financier helped blacklisted terrorists by using UN loopholes

  • UN officials accuse countries such as Qatar of not sufficiently monitoring blacklisted terrorists living within its borders
  • The UN has publicly alleged that a series of disclosures showed Al-Subaiy, a former Qatar central-bank official, continuing to finance terrorists and their activities through 2013

DUBAI: Lenient monitoring and loopholes within the United Nations’ Security Council sanctions procedures have allowed blacklisted terrorists with Al-Qaeda and Daesh gain access to frozen bank accounts, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Among those sanctioned, but gaining access to their accounts, is Qatari financier Khalifa al-Subaiy, who the US says provided significant financial support to Al-Qaeda and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Al-Subaiy, who was added to the UN terror blacklist in 2008, has been withdrawing funds up to $10,000 from frozen accounts for “basic necessities.” Home countries of blacklisted individuals apply for UN exemptions to sanctions that allow access to small amounts of money in order to pay for living expenses and food.

However, the exemptions procedure is “too loosely structured and lacks oversight,” the report added.

UN officials accuse countries such as Qatar of not sufficiently monitoring blacklisted terrorists living within its borders.

“Exemptions are granted to virtually anyone who asks and for amounts that are sometimes seen as unjustifiably large; requests don't adequately detail needs as required; and there are no spending audits,” the report by the WSJ read.

The UN has publicly alleged that a series of disclosures showed Al-Subaiy, a former Qatar central-bank official, continuing to finance terrorists and their activities through 2013.

“I would be hard-pressed to find someone more prominent than him in the whole terrorism financing side,” said Hans-Jakob Schindler, a senior director at the Counter Extremism Project and former adviser to the UN Security Council, told WSJ.