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U.S. imposes sanctions on members of Iran-based al-Qaeda network

Washington, July 30 (): The U.S. Department of the Treasury Thursday described Iran as a “critical transit point for funding to support al-Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” U.S. Treasury said in a statement that the Iranian government had entered into an agreement with an off-shoot of al-Qaeda to allow Iranian soil to be used as a transit point for funneling money and people from the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen. “Today’s action also seeks to disrupt this key network and deny al-Qaeda’s senior leadership much-needed support.”

The effect of designation is to prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in commercial or financial transactions with those named; any assets they may hold under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. American officials have identified Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil as a “prominent Iran-based al-Qaeda facilitator” to be operating in Iran under an agreement between al-Qaeda and the government.

The U.S. Treasury says Khalil has collected funding from donors and fundraisers throughout the Gulf and is also responsible for moving significant amounts of money via Iran for onward passage to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rahman, who was also designated in the U.S. list, is believed to have recently ascended to the No. 2 position in al-Qaeda, reporting directly to the organization’s new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over after the death of Osama bin Laden. The U.S. accusation comes in the wake of reports that part of slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s family had fled to Iran after U.S. intervention in Afghanistan in 2001.

“By exposing Iran’s secret deal with al-Qaeda allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism,” David Cohen, the Treasury under-secretary for terrorism said.

Besides Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil and Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, others targeted include Umid Muhammadi, a key al-Qaeda military planner in Iraq, Salim Hasan Khalifa and Abdallah Ghanim Mafuz Muslimj al-Khawar, Qatar-based financers and Ali Hassan Ali al-Ajmi, a Kuwait-based fund raiser for al-Qaeda and Taliban.