WASHINGTON: The US Department of the Treasury has officially designated three al Qaeda leaders Abu Yahya al-Libi, Younus al-Mauritani aka Abd al-Rahman Ould Muhammad al-Husayn Ould Muhammad Sali and Mustafa Hajji Muhammad Khan. All three leaders, according to the Treasury Department, are currently present in Pakistan.
Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen said in a statement that, “We are targeting two of al Qaeda’s top strategists and commanders in Pakistan, as well as a senior facilitator, striking at the heart of al Qaeda’s remaining leadership and its operations in Pakistan.”
Under the order issued by the Treasury Department, US citizens are barred from having transactions with the designees. Assets, if any, held by the three al Qaeda leaders under US jurisdiction also stand frozen.
Describing al-Libi as a senior AQ leader and commander in Pakistan, the press release said that he is AQ’s propaganda chief, and was “second in public visibility only to Ayman al-Zawahiri. As an authoritative voice for al Qaeda, al-Libi has urged Pakistanis to attack their government.” Al-Libi was also Atiyah Abd al Rahman’s deputy, who was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan last month.
Younis al-Mauritani, who was arrested by the Pakistani authorities earlier this week in a move that was also hailed by US officials, has also been designated by the Treasury Department. According to the press release, since mid-2010, al- Mauritani has been in charge of AQ’s external operations. He prepared a plan to damage Europe’s economy – and in late 2010, Osama Bin Laden allegedly devoted a substantial amount of AQ funds to this plan. “As of mid-2010, Salim was in Pakistan to speak to individuals regarding their participation in al Qaeda operations in Europe.”
The third person on the list, Mustafa Hajji Muhammad Khan, has been an AQ facilitator, courier and operative since 2003. “As of 2010, Khan facilitated activities for senior Pakistan-based al Qaeda operatives. Khan has also been active in facilitating the travel of al Qaeda members, including escorting an individual to meet with another al Qaeda member in 2009. On al Qaeda’s behalf, Khan recruited a facilitator who helped him move people and money between Gulf countries and Pakistan. In 2007, Khan helped al Qaeda reestablish logistic support networks in Pakistan.”
In July this year, the Treasury Department has also announced the designation of six members of an al Qaeda network headed by the Iran AQ facilitator Ezeden Abdel Aziz Khalil. According to the press release issued at the time, Khalil was “operating under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government.
Today’s action, taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, pinpoints Iran as a critical transit point for funding and support to al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This network serves as the core pipeline through which al-Qa’ida moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia, including to Atiyah Abd al-Rahman”. Atiyah Abd al-Rahman was reportedly killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan earlier this year.