Donald Trump administration imposes sanctions on six Taliban, Haqqani militants

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Washington | Updated: January 26, 2018 2:29:15 PM

The Trump administration today slapped sanctions on six Taliban and the Haqqani network leaders and pressed Pakistan to work with the US to deny militants safe havens on its soil and aggressively target their fund-raising activities.

Donald Trump, Trump Administration, US Treasury, Haqqani Network, Taliban, US sanctions, Pakistan, US Pakistan relations, Pakistan insurgency, Trump imposes sanctionsAs a result, all property and interests in property of these persons subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and the US citizens are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. (Reuters)

The Trump administration today slapped sanctions on six Taliban and the Haqqani network leaders and pressed Pakistan to work with the US to deny militants safe havens on its soil and aggressively target their fund-raising activities. The Haqqani network has carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan. It has also been blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people. In a scathing attack on Pakistan, US President Donald Trump, in his first tweet of 2018, had accused it of “lies and deceit” and of fooling US leaders while sheltering terrorists. The latest action by the US was taken against four Taliban leaders — Abdul Samad Sani, Abdul Qadeer Basir Abdul Baseer, Hafiz Mohammed Popalzai and Maulawi Inayatullah — and two Haqqani leaders Faqir Muhammad and Gula Khan Hamidi. All the six militants have been designated as global terrorists by the US’ Department of Treasury. As a result, all property and interests in property of these persons subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and the US citizens are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. “We are targeting six individuals related to the Taliban or Haqqani network who have been involved in attacks on coalition troops, smuggling of individuals, or financing these terrorist groups,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

The action supports Trump’s South Asia Strategy by disrupting terrorist organisations and publically exposing individuals who facilitate their activities, he said. Mandelker said: “The Pakistani government must work with us to deny the Taliban and the Haqqani network sanctuary and to aggressively target their terrorist fund raising”. In early 2017, Sani sent weapons to Taliban members who later attacked an Afghan National Police (ANP) patrol, killing an ANP officer and wounding two others. In 2015, Sani was a member of the ‘Taliban Senior Shura’ and had received funding to purchase supplies and ammunition for Taliban commanders and fighters engaged in combat in Afghanistan. He was personally involved in appointing special representatives to serve as Taliban fundraisers abroad. Sani served as the Taliban’s deputy finance commissioner, and also as the governor for the Afghan Central Bank during the Taliban regime.

Last year, Baseer provided Taliban commanders with tens of thousands of dollars for attacks in Kunar province of Afghanistan. In 2016, he hosted meetings with leaders of the Taliban to convince them to support then supreme leader of the Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur. He served as the treasurer for the Taliban in Peshawar. He was the financial advisor to the Taliban’s Peshawar Military Council and head of the Taliban’s Peshawar Financial Commission in 2010. He personally delivers money from the Taliban’s leadership Shura to Taliban groups in Pakistan. During the Taliban regime, Baseer was the general consul of the Taliban in Islamabad and according to the UN, he also served as the Taliban regime’s military attaché at the Taliban embassy in Islamabad.

Popalzai has served for several years at the Taliban Finance Commission and was in-charge of the Taliban’s finances for southern and western Afghanistan, including Qandahar, Helmand, Nimroz, Herat, Zabul, Uruzgan and Farah provinces. In mid-2011, the Taliban was paid 10 million euros for the release of hostages it was holding. The Taliban arranged for money to be deposited into an account at an Afghan bank in Qandahar. The account, which ultimately belonged to Ishakzai, was held in a false name. Inayatullah has been a Taliban military affairs member in charge of multiple Afghan provinces, and was a member of the Taliban Peshawar Shura. In 2016, he operated as the overall Taliban member responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Kabul. He received a large sum of money from a contact and gave it to a courier to provide it to al-Qaeda militants.

For several years, Faqir has been a major fundraiser for the Haqqani network. He was designated for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the Haqqani network. In 2014, Hamidi agreed to facilitate travel for a Haqqani network-affiliated Uzbek extremist and his associates from Pakistan to Turkey. In 2014, he likely facilitated the transfer of funds from the Haqqani network to a Pakistan-based Uzbek extremist. Hamidi planned to send funds to Germans located with the Haqqani network in Pakistan, US authorities said.

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