New US sanctions target Iran, ISIS, others

The United States slapped a new wave of counterterrorism sanctions designating a “series of terrorist leaders, facilitators, and entities” from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Palestinian group Hamas, the Islamic state (ISIS), and al-Qaeda, the US Department of the Treasury announced on Tuesday in a statement.

A total of 15 leaders were designated for sanctioning including, the Turkey-based Zaher Jabarin, the head of Hamas’s financial office and Muhammad Sa’id Izadi, the chief of the IRGC-Quds Force’s Palestinian office in Lebanon.

“Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, the U.S. government has refocused its counterterrorism efforts to constantly adapt to emerging threats,” the US treasury department quoted Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin as saying a day before the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. “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,”

The sanctions come amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the West since Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal last year and re-imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran. This prompted Tehran to suspend some of its commitments under the deal, creating fears amongst the remaining European parties to the deal that the landmark agreement could collapse.

The targets also included a Brazil-based al-Qaeda member, a Maldivian national who recruits for ISIS’ Afghanistan branch, and an operative of the ISIS affiliate in the Philippines, the statement said.

The sanctions mean any property the targets may have in the US would be blocked and American citizens would generally be prohibited from having business dealings with them.

According to the US Treasury Department, the new wave of sanctions 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.”

The sanctions will also “serve as a powerful deterrent to radical terror groups and those seeking to aid their nefarious goals,” the department said.

In early April, US officials designated the IRGC and its extraterritorial Quds Force a foreign terrorist organization, piling further US pressure onto the Islamic Republic.

The IRGC is a paramilitary organization answering only to the Ayatollah – Iran’s supreme leader. It was formed during Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and operates independently of the regular armed forces.

Tehran responded to the move by designating the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the US military’s command center for operations in the Middle East, a foreign terrorist organization.