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US and Gulf countries impose sanctions on six Islamic State-linked financiers

US, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE levy new round of sanctions against targets involved in helping fund IS group
Tractor clears debris from Battle of Mosul, when Iraqi forces and allied militias took back northern Iraqi city from Islamic State group in June 2017 (AFP/File photo)
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A multilateral terror finance initiative, which includes the US and six Gulf states, has designated six targets believed to be involved in projects that help fund the Islamic State (IS) group. 

The US Treasury Department said in a statement on Wednesday that the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) - which includes the US, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE - had imposed sanctions on several money service businesses, an Afghan charity and one individual. 

"The actions taken today serve as a further warning to individuals and businesses who provide financial support or material assistance to terrorist organisations," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a separate statement on Wednesday.

Pompeo said the three money service businesses - al-Haram Exchange, Tawasul Company, and al-Khalidi Exchange - had been "funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars" to IS group leaders.

Specifically, al-Haram Exchange is believed to have been responsible for all of the financial transactions made by IS members in Syria since April 2019, according to the Treasury Department.

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The Tawasul Company was charged with transferring money among IS fighters, while al-Khalidi Exchange "knowingly assisted" IS members with financial transfers, the department said. 

Abd-al-Rahman Ali Husayn al-Ahmad al-Rawi, who is accused of being a senior IS group financial facilitator, was also sanctioned by the TFTC. 

"Abd-al-Rahman was one of a few individuals who provided ISIS significant financial facilitation into and out of Syria," the Treasury Department said, using another acronym for the IS group. "He entered into a secret business relationship with a Turkey-based individual who specialized in conducting large-sum hawala transfers from the Gulf, including funds intended for ISIS". 

Meanwhile, Afghanistan-based Nejaat Social Welfare Organization and its director, Sayed Habib Ahmad Khan, were sanctioned for operating "under false pretenses". 

The Treasury Department said the charity had been "used as a cover company to facilitate the transfer of funds and support the activities" of an Afghan affiliate of Islamic State (ISIS-K), and had collected donations on behalf of IS from individuals in the Gulf and the Levant. 

The sanctions levied against the six targets will freeze any of their US assets and those under American jurisdiction will be prohibited from dealing with them.

Wednesday's sanctions are the fifth rounds of joint designations levied against more than 60 individuals and entities accused of terrorist activities that the TFTC has implemented since it was established in 2017.