The Obama administration said Tuesday that it has identified 15 key Islamic State facilitators with a range of backgrounds — from Yemen to the U.K., Indonesia, Bosnia, Pakistan, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia — and will level sanctions against them with the goal of blocking their and the terrorist group’s access to the international financial system.
The list includes the British-born leader of an all-female police unit of the Syria- and Iraq-based Islamic State. While U.S. officials described her and others as active mainly in Syria and Iraq, the sanctions designations come at a time of rising concern that some 30,000 foreign fighters who’ve joined the group, known as ISIS and ISIL, aim ultimately to bring terror home to their nation of origin.
In announcing the sanctions Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Adam J. Szubin, said American officials “will continue to hinder ISIL’s ability to gain, move and use funds, and will work closely with our partners across the U.S. government and the international community to destroy this brutal organization.”
“Treasury remains relentless about depleting ISIL’s financial strength and denying this violent terrorist group access to the international financial system,” said Mr. Szubin, who announced the sanctions along with officials from the State Department.
State Department officials noted the designations come ahead of a major U.N. meeting on Tuesday aimed at combatting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. Officials also said the sanctions will support efforts of the Counter ISIL Finance Group (CIFG), which was formed in March 2015 in Rome and is co-led by Italy, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The next major CIFG meeting is slated to take place in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 6 and 7.
ISIL female unit
Those targeted with sanctions come from a range of nations. Among the more notable is Aqsa Mahmood, whom U.S. officials have identified as a U.K. national and “member of an ISIL all-female police unit, who as of 2015, used social media to lure foreigners, especially Western women, to travel to Syria and join ISIL.”
A statement circulated by the State Department said that, “in February 2015, Mahmood helped recruit three U.K. minors to travel to Syria, where they joined ISIL.”
“At least one of the three minors had been in direct contact with Mahmood via social media in the days prior to their departure,” the statement said. “As an ISIL recruiter, Mahmood posts practical information and advice to young women interested in joining ISIL on her blog. In blog posts, Mahmood has described the benefits of living under ISIL and urged individuals in the West to travel to Syria before it became difficult, among other topics.”
Also notable is Tarad Mohammad Aljarba, whom U.S. officials say has served as ISIL’s “senior Syria-Turkey border and logistics official” since April 2015, having “facilitated the travel from Turkey to Syria of prospective ISIL fighters from Australia, Europe and the Middle East and managed ISIL’s processing center for new recruits in Azaz, Syria.”
The list also names Tuah Febriwansyah, whom U.S. officials say is the head of an Indonesia-based ISIL-aligned organization and has provided support to ISIL in the areas of recruitment, fundraising and travel.
Bajro Ikanovic, a Bosnian national, is also named. U.S. officials say he has held various leadership positions within ISIL in Iraq and Syria over the past several years and has headed of the largest ISIL training camp in northern Syria since late-2013.