Gulf states join U.S.-led sanctions on Taliban sponsors; Iran accuses Saudis of Khashoggi distraction

by WorldTribune Staff, October 24, 2018

Two Iranian military officers were among nine individuals tied to Afghanistan’s Taliban who have been blacklisted by an international organization set up to combat the financing of terrorism.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Oct. 23 said the seven-nation Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) blacklisted the individuals in order to “expose and disrupt [the] Taliban…and their Iranian sponsors that seek to undermine the security of the Afghan government.”

Saudi security services have blacklisted Iran Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, who the U.S. said was complicit in the 2011 assassination plot against then-Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Adel Al-Jubeir.

The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates make up the TFTC.

Also on Oct. 23, Saudi security services announced that they were blacklisting Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s foreign military operations, known as the Quds Force.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the TFTC’s blacklist targets “Taliban members who are involved in suicide attacks, and other lethal activities.”

“We are also targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban,” Mnuchin said. “Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Teheran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism.”

Two officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force – Muhammad Ebrahim Owhadi and Esmail Razavi – were designated on the list.

Six senior members of the Afghan Taliban on the blacklist are Abdullah Samad Faroqui, Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, Abdul Rahim Manan, Naim Barich, Sadr Ibrahim, and Hafiz Majid.

Businessman Abdul Aziz, described by the Treasury Department as “a Pakistan-based narcotics trafficker,” was blacklisted on allegations of setting up international firms to carry out illegal smuggling operations that finance the Pakistan-based Taliban – including the Quetta-based leadership of Afghan Taliban known as the Quetta Shura.

The assets of those on the blacklist are to be frozen in the United States and the six Gulf states that are members of the TFTC.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on Oct. 23 added the IRGC and senior officers from its Quds Force to their lists of people and organizations suspected of involvement in terrorism, according to Saudi state news agency SPA.

Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, was on the list along with Quds Force officers Hamed Abdollahi and Abdul Reza Shahlai, Saudi security services said.

In 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Soleimani, Abdollahi, and Shahlai amid allegations that they were linked to a failed plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, who is currently the Saudi foreign minister.

Iran said Saudi’s move of joining the U.S. sanctions and blacklisting the Quds Force officials was meant to distract from news of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

“Saudi Arabia is in a quagmire it cannot easily come out of…. Saudi rulers are trying to distract the world and the region from the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist, in their consulate in Turkey,” IRGC deputy security chief Brig. Gen. Esmail Kowsari was quoted as saying by Iran’s Mehr news agency on Oct. 23.

“They should know that this crime cannot be washed away easily or by these methods,” Koswari said. “Saudi leaders should be held accountable for their actions.”

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