US Treasury designates Al Qaeda support network in Brazil

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US remains committed to working with worldwide partners to 'disrupt Al Qaeda’s financial support networks'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca the 76th UN General Assembly in New York, earlier this year. AFP

The US Treasury Department designated on Wednesday members of a Brazil-based network of Al Qaeda-affiliated individuals and their companies as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

In a statement the department names Haytham Ahmad Shukri Ahmad Al-Maghrabi as one of the initial members of an Al Qaeda support network in Brazil, saying that he had frequent contact and business dealings, to include the purchase of foreign currency, with another Al Qaeda-affiliated individual based in Brazil.

Others being designated by the US are Mohamed Sherif Mohamed Awadd, who had received bank transfers from other Al Qaeda associates in Brazil and played a significant role in a Brazil-based Al Qaeda-affiliated group; Ahmad Al-Khatib, who is based in Brazil as well as their respective companies.

“The activities of this Brazil-based network demonstrate that Al Qaeda remains a pervasive global terrorist threat, and today’s designations will help deny the group’s access to the formal financial system,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian E. Nelson.

“The United States is committed to working with our foreign partners, including Brazil, to dismantle Al Qaeda’s financial support networks.”

The Office of Foreign Assets Control's statement also contained strongly-worded implications of sanctions of anyone having any financial dealings with the named individuals.

“Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account of a foreign financial institution that knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant transaction on behalf of a Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” the statement read.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement in response to Wednesday’s actions, indicating that maintaining a stranglehold on any entities associated with or otherwise funding Al Qaeda.

“As Al Qaeda generates almost all its revenue outside of the United States, the US government has aggressively utilized financial tools to limit Al Qaeda’s funding streams globally. This includes designating nearly 300 individuals and entities affiliated with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf, Africa, and other regions,” Mr Blinken’s statement read.

Mr Ahmad Al-Khatib is the sole shareholder in and part of the management for Sao Paulo-based furniture business Enterprise Comercio de Moveis e Intermediacao de Negocios EIRELI, according to the department.

Mr Al-Maghrabi arrived in Brazil in 2015, where he was one of the initial members of an Al Qaeda network where he had frequent contact and business dealings, to include the purchase of foreign currency, with another Al Qaeda-affiliated individual based in Brazil.

Others being designated are Mohamed Sherif Mohamed Awadd, who had received bank transfers from other Al Qaeda associates in Brazil and played a significant role in a Brazil-based Al Qaeda-affiliated group; Ahmad Al-Khatib, who is based in Brazil; as well as Awadd and Al-Khatib’s companies.

These designations are being taken pursuant to Executive Order 13224.

"The continued activities of this Brazil-based network demonstrate that Al Qaeda remains a global terrorist threat. The United States is committed to working with our partners, including Brazil, to disrupt Al Qaeda’s financial support networks," said Mr Blinken.

Updated: December 23rd 2021, 2:19 PM