Iran rejects law banning terrorist financing

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Iran's Revolutionary Guard commander Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks during a rally in front of the former US Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 2018, marking the 39th anniversary of the seizure of the embassy by militant Iranian students. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Iranian people burn the American flag as they mark the anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran Nov 4, 2018. (Tasnim News Agency /Handout via REUTERS)
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Demonstrators walk on a banner showing altered images of US banknotes with a picture of President Donald Trump on the ground during a rally in front of the former US Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Iran rejects law banning terrorist financing

  • As US sanctions begin, Tehran chooses to fund Hezbollah, Hamas
  • Previous legislation on money-laundering and organized crime has also been delayed by higher authorities, including the Guardian Council, after being approved by Parliament

JEDDAH: Iran’s powerful Guardian Council on Sunday rejected legislation to join the UN convention against terrorist financing, just a few hours before the reintroduction of tough US sanctions on Tehran’s oil trade and banking sector.

Joining the convention is crucial to Iran’s hopes of obtaining European support in evading the sanctions, which came into effect at midnight on Sunday. But conservative hawks on the council fear it would prevent them from funding groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, by forcing greater financial transparency.

The council said aspects of the bill were against Islamic law and the constitution and sent it back to Parliament for revision. The legislation “has flaws and ambiguities,” spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaie said.

The bill, narrowly passed by Parliament last month, is one of four proposed by President Hassan Rouhani’s government to meet demands set by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors countries’ efforts to tackle money-laundering and terrorist financing.

Rouhani’s government says the law is vital after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions. The other parties to the deal — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — have demanded that Iran accede to the FATF if it wants to maintain trade.

“Neither I nor the president can guarantee that all problems will go away if we join the UN convention, but I guarantee that not joining will provide the US with more excuses to increase our problems,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during the parliamentary debate last month.

Previous legislation on money-laundering and organized crime has also been delayed by higher authorities, including the Guardian Council, after being approved by Parliament.

The council is made up of six clerics appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six lawyers appointed by the judiciary.

Iran’s failure to pass the FATF “is only symptomatic of the larger issue of Iran’s support for extremist and terrorist groups and organizations,” the security analyst Dr. Ted Karasik told Arab News.

“The legislation is good for domestic consumption by particular groups of officials, but the whole process is of course a sham.

“Its funding for terrorist militias and its acts of espionage make Iran, and specifically the Quds Force, simply unqualified for FATF status.”


Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.