- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bolstering the growing air and ground assault against Islamic State and al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Iraq, the Obama administration named 11 new global terrorism suspects Wednesday, claiming that each has played a role in helping to finance and provide foreign fighters for the extremist movements in the Middle East.

Officials at the U.S. Treasury Department, which announced the new terrorist designations, said those named come from “range of terrorist organizations” not just in the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but as far off as Indonesia.

“Today’s broadly scoped designations will disrupt efforts by [the Islamic State], al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda, and Jemaah Islamiya to raise, transport, and access funds that facilitate foreign terrorist fighters,” Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“These steps, taken the same day as the adoption of a new United Nations Security Council Resolution, affirm the commitment of the United States and our partners to degrade and destroy terrorist access to financing,” Mr. Cohen said.

With the goal of thwarting their ability to move money electronically and to travel across international borders around the world, the Treasury Department said that the 11 men named Wednesday are being added to the official U.S. list of “Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”

U.S. officials said two of those named are already high-level members of the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIL or ISIS. One of the two is Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, a Georgian national who has held top positions in ISIL in recent years and was named in May 2013 by the groups leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to head all Islamic State forces in northern Syria.

Also named was Tariq Bin-Al-Tahar Bin Al Falih Al-‘Awni Al-Harzi, whom the Treasury Department says has played a lead role in “recruiting and facilitating the travel of fighter for ISIL since 2013,” including that of Western Europeans who’ve joined the extremist group in recent months.

Since last year Al-‘Awni Al-Harzi has served under al-Baghdadi as the “Amir for the border region between Syria and Turkey,” according the Treasury Department statement circulated Wednesday.

“In this capacity, he was tasked by ISIL with receiving new foreign fighter recruits,” the department said. “Specifically, he facilitated the movement of Europeans to Turkey, and eventually Syria. For example, he and several other ISIL border group members assisted foreign fighters from the U.K., Albania, and Denmark.”

No mention of Khorasan

There was no specific mention in Wednesday’s announcement of the Khorasan Group — the outfit that U.S. intelligence and military officials have described in recent days as a secretive clutch of senior al Qaeda operatives who were targeted by U.S. airstrikes on Monday night.

However, the Treasury Department designations do offer a fresh window into intelligence surrounding men believed to be involved with the Khorasan Group.

At a minimum, they show U.S. officials were developing intelligence on high-level al Qaeda coordination and strategic developments around the world — even as President Obama made public claims between 2011 and 2013 that the original core al Qaeda founded by Osama Bin Laden was “decimated.”

That narrative is now in the rear view of mounting new war on terror operations being led by the Obama administration and followed by various U.S. allies worldwide.

Wednesday’s designations come after weeks in which counterterrorism police in Europe, Australia, Indonesia and other nations have launched successive raids against groups suspected of extremist ties — or of attempting to join or recruit for ISIL from their homelands.

Six of those designated Wednesday were men the Treasury Department described as direct members of the original al Qaeda core, with varying ties to al Qaeda’s Middle East affiliates, including the Al-Nusrah Front.

The front, referred to as ANF, has risen in Syria over the past three years and is described by intelligence officials as being at odds with al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State movement, despite both having drawn inspiration from Bin Laden’s original group.

Among those identified was ‘Abd al-Aziz Aday Zimin al-Fadhil, described by the Treasury Department as a “Kuwait-based facilitator” who “has coordinated the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars” to ANF during recent years. He is also believed to have channeled money from Kuwaiti donors to the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Treasury also named Umar al-Qatari, a Jordanian held by Lebanese authorities in Beirut since May 2012 when he was arrested while attempting to leave Lebanon for Qatar. “At the time of his arrest he was carrying thousands of dollars intended for al Qaeda,” according to Wednesday’s Treasury statement.

“Despite his detention, he remained a communications conduit between detainees in Lebanon and ANF fighters located in Syria and Lebanon,” the department said. “As of early 2013, ANF members were attempting to facilitate the release of Umar al-Qatari from prison in Lebanon.”

Treasury said al Qatari spent time in an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in 2012 and was later “responsible for providing recruitment and logistical support for al Qaeda members in the Middle East,” traveling throughout the region, as well as through “Southeast Asia for his work with al Qaeda.”

Exposing the true scope of U.S. intelligence on al Qaeda-linked operations worldwide, Wednesday’s designations also cast light on activity in Southeast Asia, where an al Qaeda branch known as Jemaah Islamiya has been active since prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The group carried out the horrific 2002 bombing of a nightclub frequented by Westerners on the Indonesian island of Bali. It’s former leader and the alleged mastermind of that attack — Riduan Isamuddin, better known as “Hambali” — was arrested in 2003 and placed at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

On Wednesday, Treasury pointed to recent activities by three terrorist suspects in Southeast Asia, most notably Wiji Joko Santoso, also known as Abu Seif, who is said to have helped Asians travel to Turkey in recent years to then cross the border and train with militants inside Syria.

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