Arabian Gulf states and US hit 25 funders of Iran and Hezbollah with sanctions for backing terrorists
The seven-country Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre in Riyadh sanctioned 25 targets linked to Iran and Hezbollah in the largest single designation to date.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the US singled out businesses and people tied to “the Iranian regime’s terror-support networks in the region”.
Those sanctioned on Wednesday support Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Tehran’s regional proxy, Hezbollah.
The US Treasury said that several of the businesses provide financial support to the Basij Resistance Force, which it described as “a paramilitary force subordinate to the IRGC that have long been used as shock troops by the regime to oppress domestic opposition with displays of violence, while recruiting, training and deploying fighters to fight in IRGC-fuelled conflicts across the region”.
US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions were “a powerful demonstration of Gulf unity”.
“This action demonstrates the unified position of the Gulf nations and the United States that Iran will not be allowed to escalate its malign activity in the region,” he said. “We are proud to join forces with our TFTC partners to expose and condemn the Iranian regime’s gross and repeated violations of international norms, from attacking critical oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia to fomenting strife in neighbouring countries through regional proxies such as Hezbollah.”
“This co-ordinated action is a concrete step towards denying the Iranian regime the ability to undermine the stability of the region.”
US Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo welcomed the TFTC’s move to reimpose additional countermeasures on Iran over its “failure to uphold international anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism standards”.
“Iran deliberately ensures there is no transparency in its economy so it can continue to export terrorism,” Mr Pompeo said. “The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps continues to engage in large-scale, illicit, financing schemes to fund its malign activities.”
He said that the international community had made it clear that Iran must live up to its commitments to behave “like a normal nation”.
Mr Pompeo also said the US supported the decision by the Financial Action Task Force – an intergovernmental body set up in 1989 to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism – to protect the international financial system.
He called on FATF members to hold Iran accountable for its “serious and continuing acts of terrorism and terrorism finance”.
Twenty-one of the 25 entities targeted by the US and Gulf sanctions fund the Basij.
The US Treasury said they used a network of shell companies and other measures to mask their control of “multibillion-dollar
business interests in Iran’s automotive, mining, metals and banking industries, many of which have significant international dealings across the Middle East and Europe”.
The entities were previously designated as global terrorists by Washington’s Office of Financial Asset Control on October 16, last year.
The Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre in Riyadh was set up in 2017 to bring together regional countries to stop the funding of militants and proxies.
Four of the designates were Hezbollah-affiliated individuals who lead and co-ordinate the group’s operational, intelligence and financial activities in Iraq, the US Treasury said.
The move “highlights the degree to which Hezbollah operates as a clandestine, terrorist arm of the Iranian regime by smuggling oil for Iran, raising funds for Hezbollah, and sending fighters to Syria for the IRGC-Quds Force on behalf of Qassem Suleimani [the IRGCQuds force head]”.
The men were Shibl Muhsin Ubayd Al Zaydi, Yusuf Hashim, Adnan Hussein Kawtharani and Muhammad Abd Al Hadi Farhat. Ofac previously designated them as global terrorists on November 13, last year.
Iran’s leaders, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, above, are accused of failing to heed anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism rules