EE.UU. denuncia nuevo incidente marítimo con Irán

WASHINGTON, (VOANOTICIAS).- Cuatro embarcaciones de la Guardia Revolucionaria de Irán navegaron peligrosamente cerca de un destructor de misiles guiados estadounidense en aguas internacionales.

La Armada de Estados Unidos dice que cuatro embarcaciones de la Guardia Revolucionaria de Irán navegaron velozmente cerca de un destructor de misiles guiados estadounidense en aguas internacionales el martes, en un encuentro calificado como "inseguro y poco profesional".

El destructor USS Nitze disparó 10 bengalas de advertencia e hizo sonar sus alarmas a los barcos iraníes, pero no obtuvo respuesta.

El incidente ocurrió en el estratégico Estrecho de Ormuz.

Las cuatro naves se acercaron hasta unos 275 metros del Nitze obligándolo a cambiar su curso para evitar una posible colisión, pese a que plataformas petroleras estaban peligrosamente cerca, indicaron las fuentes de la Armada estadounidense, las que acusaron a Irán de acosar al destructor y violar la ley internacional.

Un vocero de la Marina de Guerra de Estados Unidos dijo el miércoles que dichas acciones pueden llevar a una escalada y a un error de cálculo que podría requerir "medidas defensivas adicionales".

Irán no ha dado explicaciones sobre el incidente. Teherán retuvo brevemente en enero a 10 marineros de Estados Unidos que accidentalmente ingresaron con su nave a aguas iraníes.

http://www.voanoticias.com/a/eeuu-iran-incidente-estrecho-ormuz-armada-denuncia/3488754.html

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Reiterates Terror Finance Risks in Iran, Clarifies “Stablecoin” Guidance, Issues AML/CFT Reports

PARIS.- Today the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) concluded its 31st plenary meeting with a public statement that, among other things, reiterates terrorist financing risks emanating from Iran. The FATF also clarified guidance on “stablecoins” and adopted virtual assets changes, among other reports related to anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

“For more than three years, Iran has repeated empty promises to the international community to stop financing terrorism and fix its corrupt and opaque financial system,” said Marshall Billingslea, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes. “The Financial Action Task Force has determined that enough is enough. More countermeasures on Iran are now in force, and countries will be called upon to impose further financial restrictions to protect the international financial system if Iran hasn’t ratified and fully implemented the key treaties related to fighting money laundering and terrorist financing.”

FATF Re-Imposes Several Counter-Measures on Iran
The FATF re-imposed several counter-measures on Iran designed to protect the international financial system from abuse, and committed to continue monitoring Iran’s Action Plan. It also warned that by February 2020, Iran must ratify the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with FATF standards or the FATF will fully lift the suspension of countermeasures.

FATF Clarifies Guidance on “Stablecoins” and Virtual Assets
As a follow-up to the groundbreaking changes to FATF standards regarding virtual assets adopted under the U.S Presidency (July 2018 – June 2019), the FATF today also adopted changes to its methodology that specify how countries and covered entities will be assessed for their compliance with the relevant recommendations. These changes apply immediately to all future assessments as well as follow-up reports for countries that have already undergone an assessment. The FATF also issued a public statement clarifying that the FATF standards apply to “stablecoins” and their service providers. The FATF is actively monitoring emerging digital assets and agreed to examine their characteristics and risks, and consider further clarifications on how the FATF standards apply to global “stablecoins” and their service providers.

FATF Updates Report on ISIL and Al-Qaeda
To assist FATF members and the FATF global network in combating ISIL and Al-Qaeda financing, the FATF also adopted its eleventh non-public update on the financing of ISIL/Daesh, Al-Qaeda and affiliate groups. This report details the evolving financial relationship between remaining Daesh leadership in Iraq and Syria and its affiliate groups, as well as how Daesh continues to exploit poorly supervised and unregistered money transmitters to move funds to finance its terrorism around the world.

Identifying Countries with Strategic AML/CFT Deficiencies
The FATF also called on all countries to apply countermeasures on North Korea due to the ongoing money laundering, terrorist financing, and weapons of mass destruction proliferation financing risks to the international financial system. In addition, the Plenary identified countries that are working with the FATF to implement an Action Plan and strengthen their domestic frameworks. FinCEN will release an advisory updating financial institutions to the FATF list of jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.

Adoption of Mutual Evaluation Reports of Russia and Turkey
The Mutual Evaluation Reports of Russia and Turkey were also adopted and will be published on the FATF website by the end of the year, representing the culmination of a peer review by FATF members to assess both jurisdictions’ AML/CFT and counter-proliferation financing legal frameworks as well as the measures in place to implement these frameworks effectively.

Outcomes of the FATF Plenary, 16-18 October 2019.

ONU: Nikki Haley convoca a sesión de emergencia sobre Irán

iran kocB U50509273902M3C 624x385RCWASHINGTON, (VOANEWS).- La embajadora de Estados Unidos ante la ONU, Nikki Haley, hizo un llamado al Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU y al Consejo de Derechos Humanos para realizar una sesión de emergencia sobre lo que está sucediendo en Irán.

También lea: Trump acusa al régimen de Irán de "brutal" y "corrupto".

Haley dijo que EE.UU. quiere ayudar a amplificar las voces de los iraníes que han estado protestando alrededor del país por seis días consecutivos.

"La comunidad internacional tiene un papel que jugar sobre lo que está sucediendo en Irán", dijo Haley el martes, agregando que Estados Unidos convocará a una sesión de emergencia en la ONU en los próximos días.

Durante su discurso, Haley catalogó de “valientes” a las personas que están saliendo a las calles de Irán a protestary dijo que “En ninguna parte se prueba más la urgencia de paz, seguridad y libertad que en Irán” y que los funcionarios estadounidenses “aplauden la tremenda valentía del pueblo iraní”.

Continúan las protestas en Irán

Ante la pregunta realizada por la Voz de América sobre algún tipo de acción por parte de Estados Unidos, la embajadora Haley agregó que “EE.UU. no tiene un plan unilateral en Irán por el momento”.

Por su parte, el secretario general de la ONU, Antonio Guterres, también emitió una declaración sobre las protestas en Irán. "El Secretario General está siguiendo atentamente los informes de las protestas en varias ciudades de Irán. Lamentamos la pérdida de vidas y esperamos que se evite más violencia. Esperamos que los derechos a la reunión pacífica y la expresión del pueblo iraní ser respetado ", dijo su portavoz.

Las protestas fueron provocadas por agravios económicos, pero algunos manifestantes han coreado contra el gobierno y el líder supremo, el ayatola Ali Khamenei.

Hasta el momento se han registrado 21 víctimas mortales y más de 200 detenidos.

Treasury Targets Facilitators Moving Millions to HAMAS in Gaza

WASHINGTON.- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in partnership with the Sultanate of Oman, designated financial facilitators responsible for moving tens of millions of dollars between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and HAMAS’s operational arm, the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza.

OFAC designated Muhammad Sarur, Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal al-Ayy for providing financial, material, technological support, financial or other services to, or in support of, HAMAS. These individuals were designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.

“These facilitators funneled tens of millions of dollars from Iran’s Qods Force through Hizballah in Lebanon to HAMAS for terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip. HAMAS’s continued violent campaign against innocent civilians and the state of Israel is to the great detriment of the people in Gaza,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “This Administration will not falter to hold HAMAS and its Iranian leaders accountable for their violence. Treasury will continue to disrupt terrorist networks by targeting those who generate funds to carry out the Iranian regime’s violent agenda.”

The Lebanon and Gaza-based financial facilitators targeted today are critical intermediaries between the Iranian regime, and the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and end users in the West Bank. At the center of this scheme is a Lebanon-based financial operative, Muhammad Sarur, who has been identified as being in charge of all financial transfers between the IRGC-QF and the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and has an extensive history working at Hizballah’s sanctioned bank, Bayt al-Mal. Bayt al-Mal was designated by OFAC in 2006 for being owned or controlled by, and acting for or on behalf of Hizballah. Also sanctioned today are three Gaza-based individuals who have been integral to providing funding to HAMAS’s prisoner and martyrs infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza.

 

HAMAS was designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in October 1997 and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001. It was also listed as a Specially Designated Terrorist (SDT) in January 1995 in the Annex to E.O. 12947, which targets terrorists who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process.

MUHAMMAD SARUR

Muhammad Sarur (Sarur) provides financial, material, technological support, financial or other services to or in support of, HAMAS.

Sarur, a Beirut, Lebanon-based HAMAS and Hizballah-linked financial operative, is in charge of transferring tens of millions of dollars per year from the IRGC-QF to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. As of 2014, Sarur was identified as in charge of all money transfers from the IRGC-QF to Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. Overall, in the past four years, the IRGC-QF transferred over U.S. $200 million dollars to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. The IRGC-QF, a branch of the IRGC, has provided material support to numerous terrorist groups. The IRGC-QF is a designated FTO and SDGT, and the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades is a designated FTO, SDGT, and SDT.

Sarur served as a middle-man between the IRGC-QF and HAMAS and worked with Hizballah operatives to ensure funds were provided to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. In 2011 and extending through 2016, Sarur worked for Hizballah’s Bayt al-Mal. To transfer funds to HAMAS in Gaza, Sarur coordinated transfers through an individual who served as a Gaza-based HAMAS financial facilitator and money smuggling operations officer.

KAMAL ABDELRAHMAN AREF AWAD

Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad (Awad) provides financial, material, technological support, financial or other services to or in support of, HAMAS.

In early 2018, Awad, a Gaza-based HAMAS financial associate, coordinated with the same Gaza-based HAMAS financial facilitator, leveraged by Sarur, to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits for HAMAS.

As of 2017, the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades worked through Awad to distribute funds to the families of “martyrs” in the West Bank. Also in 2017, Awad coordinated the mismanagement of certain HAMAS prisoner entitlement funds. As of early 2016, HAMAS senior official Salih al-Aruri relied on Awad for detailed information regarding HAMAS prisoners and payments to HAMAS prisoners. Salih al-Aruri was designated by OFAC as an SDGT in September 2015 for acting for or on behalf of, and providing financial support to, HAMAS.

FAWAZ MAHMUD ALI NASSER & MUHAMMAD AL-AYY

Fawaz Muhmud Ali Nasser (Nasser) and Muhammad Kamal al-Ayy (al-Ayy) provide financial, material, technological support, financial or other services to or in support of, HAMAS.

As of mid-2018, Nasser, a Gaza-based HAMAS financial auditor, worked with Gaza-based money exchanger al-Ayy to transfer Iranian funds through Hizballah to HAMAS and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a designated FTO, SDGT, and SDT. Nasser also managed funds related to HAMAS prisoners, including those in the Ofer prison.

As of late 2016, al-Ayy worked with a Gaza-based HAMAS financial facilitator to coordinate funds transfers to HAMAS.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons. In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action.

Treasury Targets Wide Range of Terrorists and Their Supporters Using Enhanced Counterterrorism Sanctions Authorities

WASHINGTON.- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) utilized newly enhanced counterterrorism sanctions authorities to designate a series of terrorist leaders, facilitators, and entities.

Equipped with new tools from President Trump’s recently updated Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which became effective today, Treasury designated 15 leaders, individuals, and entities affiliated with terror groups.

Today’s action targets a wide array of groups, including entities affiliated with HAMAS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qa’ida, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods-Force (IRGC-QF), and combined with actions taken by the State Department amounts to some of the furthest reaching designations of terrorists and their supporters in the past 15 years.

“Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, the U.S. government has refocused its counterterrorism efforts to constantly adapt to emerging threats. President Trump’s modernized counterterrorism Executive Order enhances the authorities we use to target the finances of terror groups and their leaders to ensure they are as robust as possible,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
“These new authorities will allow the U.S. Government to starve terrorists of resources they need to attack the United States and our allies, and will hold foreign financial institutions who continue to do business with them accountable.
These new tools aid our unrelenting efforts to cut off terrorists from their sources of support and deprive them of the funds required to carry out their destructive activities. They serve as a powerful deterrent to radical terror groups and those seeking to aid their nefarious goals.”

History of Post-9/11 Terrorism Authorities
Twelve days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the President signed the original E.O. 13224 to disrupt the financial infrastructure of terrorist groups worldwide. Since then, this authority has become a cornerstone of Treasury’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks by cutting off sources of funding and denying access to the international financial system. Yet terrorists and their supporters are constantly seeking to test and evade our counterterrorism measures.
As the U.S. Government confronts evolving threats of worldwide terrorism, the President has significantly enhanced E.O. 13224 to strengthen the U.S. Government’s ability to disrupt terrorist activity by depriving terrorist supporters of financial, material, and logistical backing worldwide

The U.S. Government has leveraged E.O. 13224 to dismantle networks supporting a broad range of terrorist groups from al-Qa’ida and ISIS to Iranian-backed groups like Hizballah and HAMAS. E.O. 13224 also serves as an important tool in our efforts to drain the financial resources of the Iranian regime’s malign actors including the IRGC, and its foreign expeditionary arm, the Qods Force (IRGC-QF).

ENHANCED E.O. 13224 Provides New Counterterrorism Tools
E.O. 13224, as amended, provides the Treasury and State Departments with new tools that allow the U.S. Government to better identify and designate perpetrators of terrorism worldwide. Specifically, the E.O.:

Contains new designation criteria that allows the U.S. Government to more efficiently target leaders or officials of terrorists groups as well as individuals who participate in terrorist training;
Provides for secondary sanctions against foreign financial institutions that have knowingly conducted or facilitated significant financial transactions on behalf of any person sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13224;
Authorizes Treasury to prohibit a foreign financial institution that has knowingly conducted or facilitated a significant transaction with any Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) from opening or maintaining a correspondent or payable-through account in the United States;
Consolidates U.S. counterterrorism authorities under a single sanctions program by eliminating E.O. 12947 and combining that authority’s goal of defending the Middle East Peace Process with E.O. 13224’s global remit and expanded authorities.
This new authority serves to put all foreign financial institutions on notice that enabling terrorists and their financial backers to rely upon the international financial system to facilitate their malign activities will have consequences. This Administration remains committed to facilitating the peace process in the Middle East and will use this amended authority to sanction those who stand in the way of progress.

ENHANCED Authorities Allow Treasury to Target Broader Range of Terrorists and Activities
These new authorities allow Treasury to target a broad range of new terrorist leaders, supporters, entities, and activities. Below are the terrorists and sympathizers targeted today under these new authorities:

Muhammad Sa’id Izadi (Izadi)
Izadi is a leader or official of the IRGC-QF.

Lebanon-based Izadi is the chief of the Palestinian Office of the IRGC¬QF Lebanon Corp.

Izadi has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, HAMAS.

As of late 2016, Izadi required a HAMAS Political Officer member to get permission from three senior HAMAS leaders in order to receive money directly from him. The HAMAS Political Office member stated Izadi would be sending $1 million dollars in addition to Izadi’s regular allocation, and an additional $1 million dollars earmarked for the HAMAS Political Office member.

Zaher Jabarin (Jabarin)
Jabarin is a leader or official of HAMAS.

Turkey-based Jabarin is the head of HAMAS’s Finance Office. In this capacity, he manages HAMAS’s yearly budget amounting to tens of millions of dollars, is in charge of all HAMAS’s income from various elements around the world, and seeks to obtain additional sources of funding for HAMAS.

Jabarin has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, HAMAS.

In his capacity as head of HAMAS’s Finance Department, Jabarin was focused on developing a financial network in Turkey that would allow HAMAS to raise, invest, and launder money prior to transferring it to Gaza and the West Bank.

In recent years, Jabarin has promoted HAMAS’s terrorist activities in the West Bank and Gaza targeting Israel by transferring hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars in the West Bank to finance HAMAS’s terrorist activity. In addition, Jabarin tries to promote business activity and investments to generate revenue for HAMAS.

Jabarin has served as the primary point of contact between HAMAS and the IRGC-QF. Since 2017, there was growing contact between IRGC-QF and HAMAS officials focused on increased funding from Iran.

Jabarin was involved in the transfer of millions of dollars to HAMAS via Redin Exchange, also sanctioned today and detailed immediately below.

Redin Exchange
Redin Exchange has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, HAMAS.

As of March 2019, the Turkey-based Redin Exchange and Treasury-designated financial facilitator Muhammad Sarur were involved in a $10 million dollar transfer to HAMAS’s operational arm, the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.

As of mid-2018, Redin Exchange was identified as a key part of the infrastructure used to transfer money to HAMAS. Throughout 2017, tens of millions of dollars was transferred to HAMAS with the assistance of Redin Exchange.

In July 2018, Redin Exchange assisted in the transfer of $4 million from the IRGC-QF to HAMAS.

In May 2018, Redin Exchange assisted in the transfer of $2 million from the IRGC-QF and Hizballah to HAMAS.

In July 2017, a senior HAMAS leader transferred $5.5 million to HAMAS finance chief Zaher Jabarin via Redin Exchange.

Marwan Mahdi Salah Al-Rawi (Al-Rawi)
Al-Rawi is a leader or official of Redin Exchange.

Al-Rawi is identified as Redin Exchange’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

In late January 2018, OFAC-designated ISIS financial facilitator Walid Talib Zughayr al-Rawi, was aware of an approximately $500,000 financial transaction of Redin Exchange administrator Marwan al-Rawi.

Ismael Tash (Tash)
Ismael Tash is a leader or official of Redin Exchange.

Tash is Redin Exchange’s Deputy CEO and is in charge of Redin Exchange’s foreign relations.

As of January 2019, Tash was a key player in many financial transfers from Iran to HAMAS, and was highly involved with HAMAS facilitators.

Since at least 2017, Tash has had ongoing contact with a money transfer channel managed by Treasury-designated HAMAS financial facilitator Muhammad Sarur. This channel has transferred IRGC-QF money to Hamas and in particular HAMAS’s operational arm in the Gaza Strip.

SMART Ithalat Ihracat Dis Ticaret Limited Sirketi (SMART)
SMART is owned or controlled by Ismael Tash.

Tash is the owner of SMART.

SMART is an import/export limited company and possible front company associated with Redin Exchange. Both SMART and Redin Exchange share the same Istanbul-based address.

Saksouk Company for Exchange and Money Transfer (Saksouk)
Saksouk has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, ISIS.

In late 2018, Saksouk handled fund transfers on behalf of Syria-based ISIS members.

In mid-2017, an ISIS financial facilitator and U.S. Treasury-designated Fawaz Muhammad Jubayr al-Rawi (Fawaz) and an ISIS commander utilized Saksouk to conduct financial operations throughout the Middle East. ISIS financial facilitators and affiliates were listed as points of contact for Saksouk branch locations in Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey.

In July 2017, the Syria-based ISIS Immigration Logistics Committee (ILC) attempted to transfer money to an ISIS ILC affiliate via Saksouk Company.

Al Haram Foreign Exchange Co. Ltd. (Al Haram Exchange)
Al Haram Exchange has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS.

As of April 2019, ISIS members in Syria received instruction to conduct all financial transactions with Al Haram Exchange.

As of early 2017, Al Haram Exchange was involved in an ISIS financial transfer between Syria and Belgium.

As of mid-2017, a Syrian-based ISIS facilitator coordinated a money transfer between the Al-Haram Exchange and Fawaz, the owner of the Hanifa Currency Exchange, an entity designated in December 2016 for being owned or controlled by Fawaz.

Al-Khalidi Exchange (Al-Khalidi)
Al-Khalidi has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, ISIS.

As of September 2017, ISIS-affiliated al-Khalidi served as a hawala financial exchange office. All locations were run by two individuals who knowingly assisted ISIS members in financial transfers. Al-Khalidi’s office in Mayadin, Syria also served as an internet café for ISIS members in addition to its function as a hawala money transfer office.

As of early 2017, al-Khalidi in al-Raqqah, Syria, and Gaziantep, Turkey were involved in ISIS's transfer of funds from Iraq through al-Raqqah, Syria, to Gaziantep, Turkey, in support of ISIS. As of 2017, ISIS also transferred money into Syria via al-Khalidi.

As of late 2016, Al-Khalidi was the most important financial transfer office in the region used to move money to fund ISIS-held areas. Al-Khalidi was the largest financial exchange office that dealt with ISIS. Hundreds of thousands of dollars per day passed through the office in Sanliurfa, Turkey.

As of mid-2016, Fawaz al-Rawi, who was subsequently designated in late 2016 as an ISIS financier, arranged for cash shipments to Iraq and Turkey. Fawaz al-Rawi was the owner and operator of Hanifa Currency Exchange in Albu Kamal, Syria, a designated entity, which he used to store ISIS external funds. Fawaz al-Rawi conducted financial transactions with agents and transfer currency-exchanges throughout the region, including al-Khalidi exchanges in Sanliurfa, Turkey.

As of mid-2015, al-Khalidi’s Istanbul, Izmir, and Sanliurfa branches facilitated money transfers and transactions for ISIS. During this same timeframe, ISIS maintained a telephone directory of associates and managers of various ISIS offices, which included Syria-based locations for al-Khalidi Exchange and al-Hebo Jewelry Company, also sanctioned today

Al-Hebo Jewelry Company (al-Hebo)
Al-Hebo has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, ISIS.

As of late 2017, al-Hebo’s location in Gaziantep, Turkey was involved in an ISIS scheme to convert gold into cash to more efficiently and secretly send funds via hawalas in Turkey to ISIS sleeper cells in Iraq and Syria.

As of early 2017, Raqqah-based al-Hebo was a cash transfer business used by ISIS members.

In September 2016, an employee of Raqqah-based al-Hebo likely coordinated a money transfer on behalf of a now-deceased, Syria-based, ISIS senior operations official.

Muhamad Ali al-Hebo (Muhamad)
Muhamad has acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, al-Hebo.

As of late 2016, Turkey-based al-Hebo owner, Muhamad, was involved in procuring precious metals to enable ISIS to produce its own ISIS coinage.

As of late 2016, Muhamad was the General Manager of an al-Hebo location in Raqqah, Syria.

As of early 2016, Muhamad managed the Sanliurfa-based al-Hebo location.

Muhamad has acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, al-Khalidi.

As of early 2017, al-Hebo and al-Khalidi were both under the control and management of Muhamad. During this same timeframe, Muhamad was involved in operating jewelry stores and money exchange/transfer businesses in Istanbul, Urfa, and Gaziantep, Turkey. These businesses operated under the name al-Khalidi.

As of late 2016, Muhamad worked at the Raqqah-based al-Khalidi location.

As of early 2016, Muhamad managed the Sanliurfa-based al-Khalidi location.

Mohamad Ameen (Ameen)
Ameen has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K).

Ameen is an ISIS-K recruiter who encouraged people to join ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K). Ameen told a Maldivian citizen and digital media member of ISIS-K to go to Afghanistan because the ISIS-K media group needed him. The ISIS-K digital media member was told he would receive $700 monthly in salary and was responsible for translating material for Ameen.

Additionally, as of April 2019, Maldives-based Ameen was actively engaged in leading ISIS recruitment through his close lieutenants. Ameen’s subordinates were holding roughly 10 recruitment sessions per week under the guise of Islamic classes at several Malé, Maldives-based locations, including Ameen’s home. Ameen and his group continued to recruit on behalf of ISIS from various Maldivian criminal gangs.

Additionally, Ameen is a recruiter and key leader for ISIS in Syria, Afghanistan, and the Maldives. Ameen used to direct terrorist fighters to Syria, but now sends them to Afghanistan.

Mohamed Ahmed Elsayed Ahmed Ibrahim (Ibrahim)
Ibrahim has acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, al-Qa’ida.

Ibrahim, a Brazil-based member of al-Qa’ida, provided facilitation support to al-Qa’ida members and material support to al-Qa’ida.

Almaida Marani Salvin (Salvin)
Salvin has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, ISIS-Philippines.

In April 2019, Salvin was arrested in Zamboanga City, Philippines, based on her suspected unlawful manufacture, sale, acquisition, disposition, importation, or possession of an explosive or incendiary device. During the raid, the Philippine authorities recovered improvised explosive device components, as well as bank accounts and passbooks for Salvin linked to ISIS-Philippines (ISIS-P) funding.

As of early 2019, Philippine authorities determined Salvin, who was the wife of an ISIS-P leader, conducted financial transactions, procurement, transportation of firearms and explosives, and facilitated the recruitment and travel of foreign fighters to the Philippines.

Muhammad Ali Sayid Ahmad (Ahmad)
Ahmad has participated in training related to terrorism that was provided by ISIS.

In an October 2018 public interview, Ahmad recounted his journey to join ISIS. He stated that he left Toronto to join ISIS in April 2014 and attended basic training as a new ISIS recruit. In basic training, he learned how to use small arms. Later he joined a sniper and reconnaissance unit where he received advanced sniper and reconnaissance training.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons. In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individual designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action.

Furthermore, pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended today, all SDGTs are now subject to secondary sanctions. OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for any SDGT, or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, a SDGT.

Identifying information related to today’s action .

Trump Reimposes Iranian Economic Sanctions

WASHINGTON, (VOANEWS).- The United States has reimposed economic sanctions on Iran that were originally put in place to pressure the country to limit its nuclear program and later lifted under a 2015 international agreement.

President Donald Trump has been a frequent critic of that deal and withdrew the United States from the agreement three months ago, setting in motion the reimposition of the sanctions effective at midnight Monday.

Earlier in the day he assailed Iran as "a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence and chaos."

Trump said the new sanctions target the Islamic Republic's automotive sector, its trade in gold and other precious metals, along with its currency, the Iranian rial, and other financial transactions.

hat on Nov. 5, the United States would also resume sanctions against Iran's energy-related transactions, as well as business conducted by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.

Trump renewed his attack on the international nuclear pact, calling it "a horrible, one-sided deal" that "failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb," while giving it "a lifeline of cash" when earlier sanctions were lifted.

"Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased," Trump said. He said Iran has used "the windfall of newly accessible funds" it received "to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond."

He added, "To this day, Iran threatens the United States and our allies, undermines the international financial system, and supports terrorism and militant proxies around the world."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a speech broadcast on state television, said the United States cannot be trusted because it withdrew from the international pact, whose other signatories still support it. He said Tehran has always believed in resolving disputes diplomatically.

Rouhani said that Trump's call for direct negotiations with Iran were "only for domestic consumption in America... and to create chaos in Iran."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, like Trump a long-time opponent of the accord, congratulated him on the new sanctions.

"This is an important moment for Israel, the U.S., the region and the entire world," Netanyahu said.

In Washington, senior administration officials said that while critics of Trump's withdrawal from the Iran pact predicted that the threat of unilateral sanctions reimposed by the United States would be ineffective, the reality has shown the opposite.

"Three months out, we have a very different picture in front of us," with higher unemployment, "widespread protests, social issues and labor unrest," one Trump official said.

One of the officials said that nearly 100 international firms have announced their intention to leave the Iranian market, particularly in the energy and finance sectors.

The official said the United States expects Iran will blame it for any new hardships, saying, "They've been doing it for almost 40 years. Now, it's there. It's their modus operandi. But I think you can see the Iranian people start to see through that. We would like to see a change in the regime behavior, and I think the Iranian people are looking for the same thing."

EU takes action

The European Union, which remains a supporter of the three-year-old nuclear pact with Iran, said it is taking counter-measures to blunt the impact of the sanctions Trump has reinstituted.

The EU said it is simultaneously implementing a "blocking statute" as the new sanctions take effect, stopping European companies from complying with the U.S. sanctions unless they have permission to do so. It also blocks the effect of any U.S. court actions in Europe related to the sanctions.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and the French, German and British foreign ministers said they deeply regretted Trump's action.

They called the international agreement "a key element of the global nuclear nonproliferation architecture, crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world."

In his statement, Trump said the United States "is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions, and we will work closely with nations conducting business with Iran to ensure complete compliance. Individuals or entities that fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences."

The two other signatories to the 2015 pact — Russia and China — also continue to support it. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is monitoring the implementation of the deal, has said in 11 consecutive reports that Iran is in compliance and that the agreement has allowed for greater verification of Iran's nuclear activities.

The 2015 agreement called for Iran to sharply curb its uranium enrichment program and other nuclear activity in exchange for the end of most sanctions. Iran has repeatedly denied its nuclear program was aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

https://www.voanews.com/a/iran-sanctions-trump/4516800.html

Trump Says Killing of Iran’s Quds Force Commander Overdue

BAGDAD, (JEFF SELDIN-VOANOEWS).- U.S. President Donald Trump is defending the U.S. airstrike that killed one of Iran's most powerful generals, brushing aside threats from Tehran that it will exact a harsh revenge.

In his first comments since defense officials confirmed the U.S. carried out the airstrike near Baghdad International Airport in Iraq early Friday (local time), Trump blamed the Quds Force commander for the deaths of thousands of Americans, and said the strike was long overdue.

Burning debris are seen on a road near Baghdad International Airport, which according to Iraqi paramilitary groups were caused…
US Kills Commander of Iran’s Elite Quds Force

General Qassem Soleimani was among at least seven killed outside Baghdad International Airport
"General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more," Trump tweeted Friday.

"Soleimani was both hated and feared," the president added. "He should have been taken out many years ago!"

General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more...but got caught! He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number....

 "He was actively plotting in the region to take actions — a big action, as he described it — that would have put dozens, if not hundreds, of American lives at risk," Pompeo said of the Quds Force commander. "We know it was imminent."

Pentagon officials confirmed the strike on Soleimani in a statement late Thursday (local time), saying the action was carried out on Trump's order.

It further described the strike as a "decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad," and warned, "The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world."

Iraqi officials have said the strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. They said other top officials may have been killed, as well.

Iran Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called for three days of national mourning and has promised a harsh response.

"All Enemies should know that the jihad of resistance will continue with a doubled motivation, and a definite victory awaits the fighters in the holy war," he said in a statement carried on Iranian television.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif labeled the U.S. strike an "act of terrorism," tweeting it was an "extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation."

How or when Iran may respond to the strike is unknown. U.S. defense and intelligence officials have long warned about Iran's penchant for using asymmetric techniques, like terrorism and cyber attacks, to target the U.S. and Western nations.

But in the hours since images of Qassem Soleimani first started spreading on social media, U.S. officials have been reaching out to allies to prepare for what may come next.

The State Department said Pompeo phoned British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to discuss the "defensive action to eliminate" Soleimani, and thanked them for their "recent statements" recognizing the continuing aggressive threat from Iran and its Quds force. The secretary of state also spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Chief of Staff General Bajwa on Friday.

"I don't think Iran would want that to happen. It would go very quickly," President Trump told reporters Tuesday.

Still, defense officials have been preparing for new attacks.

The U.S. has already deployed 750 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division to Kuwait to help bolster the defense of U.S. bases and personnel in the region. Defense officials said Thursday more troops would be sent as needed.

VOA's VOA Persian Service and White House Correspondent Steve Herman contributed to this report.

https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/voa-news-iran/trump-says-killing-irans-quds-force-commander-overdue

Trump takes UN Security Council gavel, knocks Iran further

UNITED NATIONS, (STEVE HERMAN-VOANEWS).- Taking the gavel of the Security Council at the United Nations on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump devoted the bulk of his remarks on the theme of nonproliferation to criticism of Iran.

Labeling Iran the "world's leading sponsor of terrorism," Trump claimed that "Iran's aggression only increased" after the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was signed. The Trump administration withdrew from the deal earlier this year.

Trump repeated his frequent assertion that the JCPOA, reached under his predecessor, Barack Obama, was a "horrible, one-sided" deal benefiting Iran.

"They needed cash," Trump said. "We gave it to them."

Trump added that Iran, "a regime with this track record, must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon," and warned that Washington would pursue even tougher sanctions against Tehran.

Speaking immediately after Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron said there needed to be a long-term strategy to manage the Iran issue and that it could not be done with just sanctions and containment.

Macron added that all countries shared the objective of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

 

Rouhani reacts

Speaking at a news conference shortly after the Security Council session, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the meeting, which he did not attend, showed how isolated the United States was in its decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal.

"And today in the U.N. Security Council it became clear that America is alone," Rouhani told reporters. "All the countries that spoke in the U.N. Security Council supported the JCPOA, either directly or indirectly, and referred to the American action as an incorrect action."

Rouhani dismissed additional sanctions Trump said would go into effect in early November, saying there was "not much left" for the U.S. to do. He urged nations to "trample upon" the sanctions and ignore them, because they would be "illegal" and would contradict the U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the nuclear deal as international law.

 

Commitment to preservation

"The most important substance of the discussion is that nearly all other council members reiterated their commitment to preserving the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action, despite U.S. opposition, while several members (notably the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Sweden) expressed their strong concern about Iran’s other destabilizing activities," said Thomas Countryman, former assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation and now chair of the board of the directors of the Arms Control Association.

In addition to controlling the spread of nuclear weapons, Trump — in his remarks on the stated theme of the council's meeting — said, "We must never forget the risk posed by biological and chemical weapons."

The U.S. president noted action he had taken to respond to Syria's use of chemical weapons against civilians during that country's protracted civil war and said, "The Syrian regime's butchery is enabled by Russia and Iran."

 

But Trump expressed gratitude to Iran, Russia and Syria for slowing attacks in Idlib, saying, "Get the terrorists, but I hope the restraint continues."

Trump told the Security Council that "many things are happening behind the scenes" between the United States and North Korea as they pursue denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Trump predicted that very good news would be coming out of North Korea "in coming days and years."

Earlier Wednesday, Trump said his administration was planning a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"I'll be meeting with Chairman Kim," Trump told reporters arriving at the General Assembly. He said a date and location would be announced soon.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was planning the summit and that it might take place after October. The State Department announced Pompeo would visit Pyongyang next month.

"We're working diligently to make sure we get the conditions right so that we can accomplish as much as possible during the summit. But we hope it will be soon," Pompeo told the program CBS This Morning. "It may happen in October, but more likely sometime after that."

Pompeo's remarks came one day after Trump touted his relationship with North Korea, telling the General Assembly it had helped ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

"The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction, nuclear testing has stopped; some military facilities are already being dismantled," Trump said.

Trump added that "much work remains to be done" with North Korea and said, "The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs."

His comments about North Korea were in sharp contrast to those he delivered at the assembly last year, when he threatened to "totally destroy" the country and ridiculed Kim as "Rocket Man," saying he was on a "suicide mission."

South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, personally relayed a message to Trump on Monday, telling him that Kim wanted to meet him again soon to make progress on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Wednesday's Security Council meeting, with a U.S. president taking the gavel for only the third time (Obama did it twice), came one day after Trump called on world leaders during his address before the General Assembly to "isolate Iran's regime as long as its aggression continues."

 

Margaret Besheer and Wayne Lee contributed to this report.

Steve Herman
Steve Herman is VOA's White House Bureau Chief.

https://www.voanews.com/a/un-security-council-to-discuss-iran-weapons-of-mass-/4587787.html

Trump Warns Iranian President 'Never Threaten the US'

WASHINGTON, (VOANEWS).- U.S. President Donald Trump has warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to "never threaten the United States," in a Twitter comment that came shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech critical of Iran's leaders.

"To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!" Trump posted late Sunday.

He appeared to be responding to reports earlier in the day quoting Rouhani warning Trump, "don't play with the lion's tail, this would only lead to regret."

"America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars," Rouhani said.

Gen. Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar, a senior officer in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, dismissed Trump's statement as "psychological warfare" and said Trump would not take action against Iran.

Pompeo told an audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California that the government in Iran has become a nightmare for the Iranian people.

The top U.S. diplomat said the United Sates is not afraid to pressure the Iranian government at its highest level as he urged all U.S. allies to join in financially suppressing the government.

"This especially goes for our allies in the Middle East and Europe, people who have themselves been terrorized by the violent regime's activity for decades," Pompeo said.

He said the Trump administration will not stay silent against what he calls the numerous crimes and abuses of the Iranian government. This includes kleptocracy, with Pompeo saying those at the top have squandered the people's wealth on terrorism and theft and a zeal to spread the Islamic revolution to other nations.

Pompeo said the Iranian economy is "going great," but only for the elite, accusing the ayatollahs and senior leaders of lining their pockets to the tune of billions of dollars while a third of Iranians live in poverty.

"Judging by their vast wealth, they seem more concerned with riches than religion," he said. "These hypocritical holy men have devised all kinds of crooked schemes to become some of the wealthiest men on Earth while their people suffer."

While Pompeo was speaking about the lack of free speech in Iran, he was interrupted by a heckler. The secretary stood by calmly before remarking that Iranians should have the same kind of freedom of expression.

The secretary also announced that the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, is taking new steps to help Iranians get around internet censorship. The BBG is also launching a new 24/7 Farsi-language channel across television, radio, digital, and social media formats.

He said the goal of the United States is to see Iranians inside their own country live the same kind of life Iranians in the United States enjoy.

https://www.voanews.com/a/us-iran-pompeo/4494408.html

United States Disrupts Large Scale Front Company Network Transferring Hundreds of Millions of Dollars and Euros to the IRGC and Iran’s Ministry of Defense

WASHINGTON . – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action against 25 individuals and entities, including a network of Iran, UAE, and Turkey-based front companies, that have transferred over a billion dollars and euros to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), in addition to procuring millions of dollars’ worth of vehicles for MODAFL.

Today’s action exposes an extensive sanctions evasion network established by the Iranian regime, which it increasingly relies on as the United States’ maximum pressure campaign severely constricts the regime’s sources of revenue. OFAC also designated Iran’s MODAFL pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 for its role in assisting the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), as well as an Iran-based bank for providing banking services to the IRGC-QF.

“We are targeting a vast network of front companies and individuals located in Iran, Turkey, and the UAE to disrupt a scheme the Iranian regime has used to illicitly move more than a billion dollars in funds,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The IRGC, MODAFL, and other malign actors in Iran continue to exploit the international financial system to evade sanctions, while the regime funds terrorism and other destabilizing activities across the region.”

“Central to this network and sanctioned today pursuant to our counterterrorism authority is Iran's IRGC-controlled Ansar Bank and its currency exchange arm, Ansar Exchange, both of which used layers of intermediary entities to exchange devalued Iranian rial ultimately for dollars and euros to line the pockets of the IRGC and MODAFL.

This vast network is just the latest example of the Iranian regime’s use of deceptive practices to exploit the global financial system and divert resources to sanctioned entities,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker. “This once again exposes to the international community the dangerous risks of operating in an Iranian economy that is deliberately opaque.”

Ansar Bank’s Sanctions Evasion Scheme
Through IRGC-controlled Ansar Bank, the Iranian regime established a layered network of front companies based in Iran, Turkey, and the UAE to bypass sanctions, gain access to the international financial system, and exchange devalued Iranian rial for dollars and euros. Ansar Bank also used international free zones to establish front companies.

As part of this scheme, Ansar Bank used its Iran-based foreign currency arm, Ansar Exchange and its network, to convert Iranian rial ultimately to hundreds of millions of dollars and euros. To provide this funding to Ansar Bank, MODAFL, and the IRGC, Ansar Exchange relied upon a network of front companies and agents in Turkey and the UAE. In just the last year-and-a-half, four front companies- UAE-based Sakan General Trading, Lebra Moon General Trading, and Naria General Trading, as well as Iran-based Hital Exchange, all designated today — provided the equivalent of approximately $800 million in funds to Ansar Exchange. Additionally, Turkey-based Atlas Doviz acted as a secondary foreign currency provider for Ansar Exchange.

These front companies are witting to Iran’s sanctions evasion. For example, as of 2019, Ansar Exchange Managing Director Alierza Atabaki worked closely with one central procurement agent, Reza Sakan, to avoid the scrutiny of Emirati authorities regarding Ansar Exchange’s financial dealings with UAE-based Sakan General Trading and other identified Ansar Exchange intermediaries.

Ansar Exchange network image

View the chart in Farsi describing Ansar Bank’s sanctions evasion scheme.

MODAFL, Ansar Bank, and Its Iran-Based Subsidiaries
MODAFL

MODAFL, first designated in 2007 pursuant to E.O. 13382 for supporting persons involved in Iran’s proliferation activities, supervises Iran’s development and production of missiles, including those used by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen against coalition forces. Today, OFAC designated MODAFL for providing logistic support to the IRGC-QF and its regional proxy groups. Specifically, MODAFL was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF.

As of 2017, MODAFL used funds from the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) that were earmarked for the IRGC-QF.

As a part of this scheme, multiple UAE-based firms were involved in the acquisition of hundreds of vehicles by MODAFL, an endeavor that also involved Iran-based Zagros Pardis Kish and Reza Heidari, who was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 on November 20, 2017 for acting for or on behalf of, and for providing support to, the IRGC-QF as a part of a large-scale IRGC-QF counterfeiting ring. Payment for these vehicles was made to Lebra Moon General Trading. Naria General Trading was also involved in the vehicle acquisition.

Ansar Bank and Ayatollah Ebrahimi

IRGC-controlled Ansar Bank was previously designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 in 2010. Today, OFAC designated Ansar Bank pursuant to E.O. 13224 for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF, and for being owned or controlled by the IRGC. With 1,081 branches throughout Iran, Ansar Bank procured hundreds of millions of dollars in the last three years on the IRGC’s behalf.

As recently as 2019, Ansar Bank officials maintained close associations with senior IRGC-QF officials and financial facilitators who use accounts at Ansar Bank to keep the equivalent of millions of dollars. For example, Treasury-designated IRGC-QF financial facilitator Meghdad Amini held funds at Ansar Bank.

Ansar Bank also extended the equivalent of millions of dollars as a loan to an IRGC-QF front company. IRGC-QF officials’ salaries also have been paid using Ansar Bank, and Ansar Bank is used by the IRGC-QF to pay the salaries of its foreign fighters, particularly those based in Syria. On October 16, 2018, Treasury designated two of these Syria-based, IRGC-QF-backed militias, the Fatemiyoun Division and Zainabiyoun Brigade, which are comprised of foreign fighters, including child soldiers as young as 14 years old.

Ayatollah Ebrahimi, who was recruited into the IRGC at the age of 14, has been the managing director of Ansar Bank since 2005. In this capacity, Ebrahimi worked directly with IRGC-QF officials to facilitate their financial activities, including the conversion of euros or the UAE dirham for the terrorist group. Ayatollah Ebrahimi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of Ansar Bank.

Treasury is also taking action against a number of Iranian firms owned, or under the control of, Ansar Bank. Specifically, Iranian Atlas Company, Ansar Bank Brokerage Company, and Ansar Information Technology are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned or controlled by Ansar Bank.

Ansar Exchange and Its Network of Procurement Agents
Ansar Exchange

Central to this foreign currency procurement network is Iran-based Ansar Exchange, which conducted significant volumes of foreign currency exchange services for sanctioned Iranian entities, including Ansar Bank, MODAFL, and the IRGC. Ansar Exchange is wholly owned and controlled by Ansar Bank.

Since 2016, Ansar Exchange conducted currency exchange services for Ansar Bank totaling over one billion dollars. Over the past few years, Ansar Exchange also directly provided MODAFL with the equivalent of approximately 100 million in dollars and euros, in addition to the equivalent of approximately 130 million dollars’ worth of goods and services ultimately destined for the benefit of the IRGC.

As recently as 2019, Ansar Exchange maintained a close association with senior IRGC-QF officials. Ansar Exchange is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned or controlled by Ansar Bank, and for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Ansar Bank. Ansar Exchange is also being designated for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF, and for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC.

Alireza Atabaki

Alireza Atabaki is the managing director of Ansar Exchange. He co-owns Zagros Pardis Kish with Reza Heidari, an individual designated by Treasury in 2017 for acting for or on behalf of, and providing support to, the IRGC-QF. As recently as early 2019, Atabaki has worked with the IRGC-QF and coordinated transactions using an identified IRGC-QF front company.

Alireza Atabaki is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of Ansar

Exchange.

In 2018, Iran-based Atlas Exchange — also designated today — at the behest of Atabaki, paid hundreds of thousands of euros and dirham to companies in Europe and the UAE. In 2018 and 2019, Atabaki worked closely with UAE-based Iranian financial facilitator Reza Sakan and UAE-based Mohammad Vakili, both of whom are being designated today. Vakili is affiliated with UAE-based companies Best Leader General Trading LLC and Golden Commodities General Trading LLC. Since at least 2015, Atabaki, in coordination with Iranian financial facilitator Assadollah Seifi, used Vakili and his UAE-based companies as foreign currency procurement and financial facilitation agents to procure and transfer millions of dollars, including in cash.

Zagros Pardis Kish

Ansar Exchange’s Managing Director Atabaki and Reza Heidari are registered as the co-owners of Zagros Pardis Kish, a company that is wholly owned by Ansar Bank. Ansar Exchange lists Zagros Pardis Kish as one of its major foreign currency customers.

Zagros Pardis Kish was involved in MODAFL’s acquisition of hundreds of vehicles shipped from the UAE to Iran. Multiple UAE-based firms were used to pay for and ship the vehicles. Reza Heidari and Zagros Pardis Kish manager Iman Sedaghat were involved in this endeavor. Zagros Pardis Kish is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of MODAFL, and for being owned or controlled by Alireza Atabaki.

In his capacity as manager of Zagros Pardis Kish, Iman Sedaghat coordinated the purchase of the hundreds of vehicles for MODAFL through the UAE for millions of dollars. Iman Sedaghat was previously involved in working with the IRGC-QF. Iman Sedaghat is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of Zagros Pardis Kish, and for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, MODAFL.

UAE- and Turkey-Based Front Companies
Sakan General Trading and Reza Sakan

Among the UAE-based companies sanctioned today, UAE-based Sakan General Trading provided the most foreign currency exchange support to Ansar Exchange, and is owned by UAE resident and Iranian national Reza Sakan and his Iran-based firm Sakan Exchange, also known as Joint Partnership of Reza Sakan Dastgiri and Associates. Sakan General Trading was involved in financing the purchase of military aircraft tires by Iran’s Pars Aviation Service Company for the Syrian Air Force.

Sakan General Trading recently changed its name to Royal Credit General Trading.

Sakan General Trading is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Ansar Exchange. Reza Sakan is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being otherwise associated with Sakan General Trading, as he owns or controls Sakan General Trading. Sakan Exchange is also being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned or controlled by Reza Sakan.

Hital Exchange and Seyyed Mohammad Reza Ale Ali

Hital Exchange, also known as Seyyed Mohammad Reza Ale Ali Currency Exchange, provided a significant volume of euros and dollars to Ansar Exchange. It is owned by Iranian national Seyyed Mohammad Reza Ale Ali who worked directly with Ansar Exchange Managing Director Alireza Atabaki to convert foreign currency.

From October 2016 to March 2018, Mohammad Reza Ale Ali, using Hital Exchange, provided Ansar Exchange with the equivalent of approximately $180 million in euro and U.S. dollar banknotes.

Today, Mohammad Reza Ale Ali is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Ansar Exchange. Hital Exchange is also being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned or controlled by Mohammad Reza Ale Ali.

Atlas Exchange and Mohammad Vakili

Ansar Exchange also used Iran-based Atlas Exchange and its brokers to procure foreign currency. During the latter half of 2018, Ansar Exchange directed Atlas Exchange to transfer hundreds of thousands of euros and dirham to an Iranian company in the UAE and four companies in Europe. As of early 2019, Atlas Exchange solicited business with sanctioned Iranian banks. Atlas Exchange is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Ansar Exchange.

Atlas Exchange is owned by Mohammad Vakili, who resides in the UAE and collaborated with Assadollah Seifi to use two UAE-based companies – the Best Leader General Trading and Golden Commodities General Trading – to evade sanctions. Since at least 2015, Attabaki (Ansar Exchange’s managing director) in coordination with Assadollah Seifi used Vakili and his affiliated UAE-based companies, the Best Leader General Trading and Golden Commodities, to procure and transfer millions of dollars including in cash. The Best Leader General Trading recently changed its name to Wilmington General Trading.

As recently as late 2018, Atabaki (Ansar Exchange’s managing director) coordinated closely with Mohammad Vakili on financial matters. Vakili effectuated multiple transfers worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to entities in the UAE and Turkey on behalf of Atabaki, who has instructed Vakili to increase certain deposits for companies affiliated with the scheme. Mohammad Vakili is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of Alireza Atabaki.

Asadollah Seifi, Golden Commodities General Trading, and The Best Leader General Trading

Asadollah Seifi used UAE-based Golden Commodities, which is under his supervision, and UAE-based company The Best Leader General Trading, to obfuscate millions of dollars’ worth of transactions benefiting the Iranian regime. Seifi also manages Atlas Exchange, and his procurement of U.S. dollars involved the transfer of funds through U.S.-designated banks such as Bank Mellat and Europaisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG. In August 2018, Seifi also facilitated the purchase of gold by the Iranian regime after U.S. sanctions on Iranian gold had been reimposed.

Seifi has also facilitated the purchase of foreign currency for the IRGC.

Assadolah Seifi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of Atlas Exchange. Golden Commodities General Trading LLC is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned or controlled by Asadollah Seifi. The Best Leader General Trading is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned or controlled by Asadollah Seifi.

Suleyman Sakan and Atlas Doviz Ticaret A.S.

Since 2017, Turkey-based Suleyman Sakan, who is affiliated with Turkish firm Atlas Doviz Ticaret A.S., provided millions of U.S. dollars in foreign currency exchange services to Ansar Exchange, including through Turkey-based Atlas Doviz. Suleyman Sakan is an associate of Reza Sakan and UAE-based Sakan General Trading. Since at least 2017, Suleyman Sakan worked with Reza Sakan to expand their business activities to Oman using the Omani financial sector.

Suleyman Sakan is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Ansar Exchange.

Atlas Doviz Ticaret A.S. is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned or controlled by Suleyman Sakan.

Ali Shams Mulavi

Since 2017, another Ansar Exchange intermediary agent, Turkey-based Iranian financial facilitator Ali Shams Mulavi, has used Naria General Trading to purchase foreign currency on behalf of Ansar Exchange. In 2019, Ali Shams Mulavi procured and transferred U.S. dollar banknotes for Ansar Exchange.

Ali Shams Mulavi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Ansar Exchange.

Sanctions Implications
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals and entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action. Furthermore, unless an exception applies, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transactions for any of the individuals or entities designated today could be subject to U.S. sanctions.

Photo: Pixabay.