WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday imposed sanctions on an Australian-based businessman and his gemstone firm for serving to Al Qaeda transfer cash throughout the globe to maintain its operations.
Treasury officers mentioned Ahmed Luqman Talib traded in treasured stones, permitting him to “transfer funds internationally” for Al Qaeda. Mr. Talib’s enterprise is predicated in Melbourne, however he works around the globe, together with in Brazil, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Turkey and the Persian Gulf area, the Treasury Division mentioned in a press release.
Terrorist teams proceed to make use of monetary facilitators to assist perform their actions, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin mentioned in a press release. The division remained dedicated to disrupting these monetary actions and networks, he added, expressing appreciation for “the collaboration with our Australian companions.”
The results of the sanctions on Mr. Talib are unclear. The measure freezes property he holds in america and prohibits American corporations or people from doing enterprise with him.
Treasury officers didn’t disclose whether or not Mr. Talib held property or property in america. In 2010, he was a pupil activist in Australia who was shot when Israeli naval commandos killed 9 activists on a ship that was carrying help to Gaza.
The American motion in opposition to Mr. Talib was notable, consultants mentioned, as a result of it confirmed that the federal government was nonetheless involved about how extremist teams like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State proceed to creatively elevate and distribute cash for his or her operations, regardless of navy, intelligence and authorized pressures which have dealt important blows to their exercise.
“It goes to indicate that Al Qaeda nonetheless retains these sort of networks,” mentioned Charles Lister, the director of the Countering Terrorism and Extremism Program on the Center East Institute, a suppose tank. “Despite the fact that the U.S. has completed an excellent job in pressuring the networks to such an extent that they’re sort of a miniature model of 10 or 15 years in the past.”
Mr. Talib’s use of gem stones to maneuver funds for Al Qaeda was a departure from what had turn into a norm in terrorist financing, consultants mentioned, which was to stray from transnational funding towards creating revenue streams in nations the place they maintained a presence. However terrorism consultants famous the event with curiosity.
“Governments and personal sector have made it more durable to maneuver funds by way of formal and casual monetary techniques,” mentioned Matthew Levitt, the director of counterterrorism and intelligence at The Washington Institute. “It’s fascinating to see terrorists counting on gem stones, that are simple to maneuver and maintain worth.”
For the reason that Sept. 11, 2001, assaults, Al Qaeda’s affect the world over has diminished. Key leaders, together with Osama bin Laden, have been killed. The group’s lone ideological chief, Ayman al-Zawahri, is growing old, and U.S. intelligence consultants don’t see him as a potent menace.
Regardless of that, the group continues to seek out ingenious methods to finance its operations.
In August, america authorities seized about $2 million in Bitcoin and different sorts of cryptocurrency from accounts that had despatched or acquired funds in alleged financing schemes for 3 overseas terrorist organizations, together with Al Qaeda.
Different teams, just like the Islamic State, have additionally discovered methods to depend on strategies similar to kidnapping for ransom, non-public donations and crowdsourced on-line fund-raising, in line with a United Nations report. ISIS at the moment has monetary reserves estimated at almost $100 million, the U.N. discovered.
“ISIS taught us lately that worldwide financing of terrorist actions isn’t essentially the most sustainable method to go,” Mr. Lister mentioned. “That was a giant lesson, and it positively remodeled the way in which Al Qaeda operates.”