US slaps sanctions on alleged new Daesh financiers

A sign marks the US Treasury Department in Washington, U.S., August 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 15 April 2019
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US slaps sanctions on alleged new Daesh financiers

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on financiers with bases in Belgium, Kenya and Turkey on charges they funneled money internationally for the Daesh extremist group.
The Treasury Department said it had pinpointed successors to Fawaz Muhammad Jubayr Al-Rawi, who was killed in a US-led coalition air strike in Syria in 2017 after allegedly sending millions of dollars earmarked for the jihadists.
The United States imposed sanctions on seven people including Mushtaq Talib Zughayr Al-Rawi, who as of late 2018 was living with his family in Belgium, according to the Treasury Department.
Forces seized evidence during a raid on the Daesh group last year that showed Mushtaq was helping fund them by exploiting the Iraqi government’s electronic payment machines designed to distribute payments to public employees and retirees, the Treasury Department said.
“Treasury is dedicated to ensuring the enduring defeat of Daesh by cutting off all remaining sources of their terror funding around the globe,” said Sigal Mandelker, the department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Rawi’s network dates from the 1990s in Iraq, when it used the region’s hawala system, the informal network of money transfers conducted through face-to-face guarantees, to evade biting international sanctions on the country then ruled by Saddam Hussein.
The Treasury Department also sanctioned a money exchange company, Al-Ard Al-Jadidah, said to connect Iraq’s hawalas with the northern Turkish city of Samsun.
An Daesh member in Iraq allegedly received $1 million through the exchange last year, it said.
Also targeted in the latest sanctions was Kenya-based Halima Adan Ali, who the Treasury Department said was part of a network that moved more than $150,000 through the hawala system to Daesh fighters in Syria, Libya and central Africa.
She has been arrested twice by Kenyan authorities and also served as a recruiter for Somalia’s Al-Shabab militants, according to the Treasury Department.
With the announcement, the United States will seize any assets it finds which belong to the sanctioned individuals and bar any Americans from financial dealings with them.


US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

Updated 19 April 2019
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US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

  • A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend
  • The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group

KABUL: The US envoy for peace in Afghanistan expressed disappointment on Friday after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed some of the deep divisions hampering efforts to end the war.
A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend. The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.
“I’m disappointed Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, said on Twitter. “I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.”
The collapse of the meeting before it had even started, described as a “fiasco” by one senior Western official, laid bare the tensions that have hampered moves toward opening formal peace negotiations.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-born diplomat, has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives but the insurgents have so far refused to talk to the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.
The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the US-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.
President Ashraf Ghani’s office blamed Qatari authorities for the cancelation, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans.”
“This act is not acceptable for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Friday.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Qatar, which had been facilitating the meeting, said there was no disagreement about the agenda.
“Rather, there is insufficient agreement around participation and representation to enable the conference to be a success,” he tweeted.
Preparations had already been undermined by disagreements on the government side about who should attend, as well as by suspicions among rival politicians ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September.
The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party.” Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend.
The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.