WASHINGTON – Today, members of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) sanctioned 16 individuals, entities, and groups affiliated with a variety of regional terrorist organizations. All of these targets have been previously designated by the United States. The targets included three individuals associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), four ISIS-associated individuals and one company, six Boko Haram financiers, and terrorist groups Saraya al-Ashtar and Saraya al-Mukhtar. This TFTC designation action marks the fifth year of coordinated TFTC sanctions actions targeting terrorist financing.
The Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) was created to enhance multilateral efforts among the United States and the Gulf countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — to counter regional money laundering and terrorist financing networks. TFTC members counter these networks through three primary lines of effort: identifying, tracking, and sharing information about terrorist financing networks; coordinating joint disruptive actions; and offering capacity-building training and assistance in countering the financing of terrorism.
“Over the past five years, TFTC member states have addressed a broad range of terrorist financing activity in the Arabian Peninsula, with the goal of strengthening regional defenses and capabilities to counter terrorist financing,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The TFTC’s actions today signal the determination and commitment of TFTC member states to continue to work towards these goals, as well as unity in the commitment to root out the full scope of terrorist financing activity. The TFTC is a clear demonstration of the Biden-Harris Administration’s multilateral approach to strengthening the reach of our sanctions through coordination with key partners.”
Ali Qasir, Meghdad Amini, and Morteza Hashemi are part of two networks directed by and providing financial support to the IRGC-QF and its terrorist proxy Hizballah. These complex networks of intermediaries allow the IRGC-QF to obfuscate its involvement in selling Iranian oil. The IRGC-QF also relies on these individuals to launder money for Hizballah officials and front companies and to broker associated contracts.
IRGC-QF and Hizballah financial facilitators Amini and Qasir direct a network of nearly 20 individuals and front companies, located in multiple countries and jurisdictions, that has facilitated the movement and sale of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of gold, electronics, and foreign currency in support of Hizballah and the IRGC-QF.
Hashemi controls multiple companies based out of Hong Kong and mainland China and has used his access to the international financial system to launder vast sums of money for the IRGC-QF and Hizballah. He has directed People’s Republic of China nationals to establish bank accounts and serve as straw owners for his companies. On Hashemi’s behalf, these individuals also purchased U.S.-origin, dual-use products for onward shipment to Iran.
Meghdad Amini was designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in May 2018 pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for his role in helping the IRGC-QF transfer cash out of Iran to the UAE for conversion into U.S. dollars. Ali Qasir was previously designated by OFAC in September 2019 pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for acting for or on behalf of IRGC-QF official Rostam Ghasemi, who oversaw a vast network involved in oil sales on behalf of the IRGC-QF. Morteza Hashemi was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF and Hizballah. More details are available here.
IRGC-AFFILIATED TERRORIST GROUPS
TFTC members also designated Saraya al-Mukhtar and Saraya al-Ashtar, two terrorist groups affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Saraya al-Mukhtar is an Iran-backed terrorist organization based mainly in Bahrain but with links to other similar groups elsewhere, reportedly receiving financial and logistic support from the IRGC. Saraya al-Mukhtar’s self-described goal is to pave the way for Iran to exert greater influence in Bahrain and beyond. The group has plotted attacks against U.S. personnel in Bahrain and has repeatedly offered cash rewards for the assassination of Bahraini officials.
The Department of State designated Saraya al-Mukhtar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) on December 15, 2020. More information is available here.
Saraya al-Ashtar, also known as al-Ashtar Brigades (AAB), is another group with distinct ties to the IRGC. Established in 2013, AAB is an Iran-directed terrorist organization aimed at destabilizing the region. AAB has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks against police and security targets in Bahrain. In March 2014, AAB conducted a bomb attack that killed two several police officers. AAB also calls for violence against the Bahraini, British, Saudi Arabian, and U.S. governments on social media.
In January 2018, AAB changed its logo and flag to formally adopt Iran’s IRGC branding and in a public statement reaffirmed its loyalty to Tehran to reflect its role in an Iranian network of state and non-state actors that operates against the United States and its allies in the region. Additionally, AAB members have received weapons and explosives from Iran as well as training at IRGC-funded camps in Iraq, and senior members have taken refuge in Iran and elsewhere to evade prosecution by Bahraini authorities.
The Department of State designated AAB as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a SDGT in July 2018, as well as two of its leaders as SDGTs in March 2017. More information is available here.
ISLAMIC STATE AND ITS BRANCHES
The TFTC designations included four individuals associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its branches, as well as a company that worked directly with ISIS representatives to provide oil products for ISIS.
Ismatullah Khalozai is an international financial facilitator for the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K). Khalozai has provided support to ISIS-K’s operations in Afghanistan by facilitating international financial transactions that fund human trafficking networks and facilitating the movement of foreign fighters who seek to escalate tensions in Afghanistan and the region. For a period of two years, Khalozai operated a Turkey-based hawala business to transfer funds to finance ISIS-K operations. He has also carried out human smuggling operations for ISIS-K, including personally smuggling an ISIS-K courier from Afghanistan to Turkey.
OFAC designated Ismatullah Khalozai on November 22, 2021, pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS-K. More details are available here.
Alaa Khanfurah served as a key intermediary in facilitating financial transfers between senior ISIS leaders in 2017 and 2019. Throughout 2019 and 2020, Khanfurah’s Turkey-based money service business transferred funds to ISIS members throughout Syria, in part through the direct financial ties Khanfurah maintained with ISIS financial facilitators. This included Khanfurah sending thousands of dollars to an ISIS financial facilitator, as well as indirect money transfers sent through individuals who worked for Khanfurah.
Khanfurah was designated by OFAC on May 27, 2021 pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS-K. More details are available here.
TFTC members also designated two individuals from the Syria-based Qatirji network that facilitated oil sales to ISIS, and their business Al-Qatirji Company. Muhammad al-Qatirji facilitated fuel trade between the Syrian regime and ISIS, including providing oil products to ISIS-controlled territory. Muhammad al-Qatirji is the CEO of Al-Qatirji Company. Hussam al-Qatirji was involved in the oil and wheat trade with ISIS. Beginning in 2014, Hussam al-Qatirji started brokering oil and wheat trade deals between the Assad regime and ISIS.
Syria-based Al-Qatirji Company is a trucking company that has also shipped weapons from Iraq to Syria. Additionally, in a 2016 trade deal between the Government of Syria and ISIS, Al- Qatirji Company was identified as the exclusive agent for providing supplies to ISIS-controlled areas, including oil and other commodities.
OFAC designated Muhammad al-Qatirji and his company Al-Qatirji Company on September 6, 2018 pursuant to E.O. 13582. More details are available here.
Hussam al-Qatirji was designated by OFAC on November 9, 2020, pursuant to E.O. 13573 for being a senior official of the Government of Syria. More details are available here.
TFTC members designated six individuals connected to Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram. Abdurrahman Ado Musa, Salihu Yusuf Adamu, Bashir Ali Yusuf, Muhammed Ibrahim Isa, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, and Surajo Abubakar Muhammad were found guilty of establishing a Boko Haram cell in the UAE to raise funds for and provide material assistance to Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria. The UAE Federal Court of Appeals in Abu Dhabi convicted these individuals in 2019 and designated them in September 2021 for transferring $782,000 from Dubai to Boko Haram in Nigeria.
OFAC designated these six individuals on March 25, 2022, pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, which targets terrorists, leaders, and officials of terrorist groups, and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. More details are available here.