US and GCC states sanction Iran Quds Force members for aiding Taliban

Those designated are accused of providing military and financial assistance to the terror group

FILE- In this Oct. 16, 2018, file photo Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin leads a meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council at the Treasury Department in Washington. Mnuchin announced Tuesday, Oct. 23, that the United States and six other Middle East countries are taking action to expose and disrupt terrorist activities being conducted by the Taliban and Iran to undermine the government of Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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The United States, the UAE and its five fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member states on Tuesday sanctioned more than half a dozen individuals who have aided Iranian support to the Taliban in Afghanistan or held senior roles in the militant group.

The seven members of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre (TFTC), which includes Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, designated the nine individuals as terrorist actors or supporters of terrorism, a joint statement issued from Riyadh said.

Those sanctioned include members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, accused of supporting Taliban fighters in a bid to destabilise the Western-backed Afghan government. The designations also include top Taliban figures involved in suicide attacks and other lethal activities.

“The TFTC has again demonstrated its tremendous value to international security by disrupting and exposing key Taliban members.  We are also targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who had travelled to Riyadh to meet with Saudi officials and regional partners.

“Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism.  The United States and our partners will not tolerate the Iranian regime exploiting Afghanistan to further their destabilising behavior.

He said that Tehran’s support of the Taliban was a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and showed the Islamic republic’s disregard for international norms.

Mr Mnuchin met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman on Monday to discuss bilateral issues with the heir to the kingdom’s throne in the face of international outrage surrounding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, of which Riyadh has denied any knowledge.

The designation is the third such action since the centre was created in May 2017. The centre facilitates coordinated disruption of terrorist financing networks and sharing of financial intelligence information to protect the members’ national security.


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The individuals on the latest TFTC list were named as Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi (also known as Jalal Vahedi), Esma’il Razavi, Abdullah Samad Faroqui, Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, Abdul Rahim Manan, Abdul Aziz (also known as Aziz Shah Zamani), Sadr Ibrahim, and Hafiz Majid.

The ninth, and most notable figure, on the list is Naim Barich, who is charged with managing the Taliban’s relationship with Iran as the militant group’s shadow foreign minister. He was previously sanctioned by the US in 2012 in relation to narcotics trafficking as the “shadow governor” of Helmand province, the southern territory that produces the largest amounts of opium in Afghanistan.

One individual, Owhadi, is accused of being a Quds Force officer who struck a deal with Samad, another designated individual on Tuesday, to supply money and arms to the Taliban in return for his forces attacking the Afghan government in the Afghan province of Herat. He also built a compound in Iran to house Taliban fighters and their families.

Another accused Quds Force member on the list, Razavi, led a training centre for Taliban forces that gave training, intelligence and arms to the militant group’s fighters in the provinces of Farah, Ghor, Badhis, and Helmand.

The UAE cabinet added all nine names to its list of terrorists and terror organisations and told the Central Bank to deal with their bank accounts in an appropriate manner to stop them funding terrorism.

The update is part of the UAE’s efforts to disrupt all terror-related networks and sponsors of terrorist activities, Wam reported. All member states of the TFTC have added the nine men to their terrorism lists.