US, Gulf states sanction Yemen IS, al-Qaeda leaders

US, Gulf states sanction Yemen IS, al-Qaeda leaders
Top Islamic State and al-Qaeda figures in Yemen were slapped with sanctions after a joint decision by the United States and six Gulf states on Wednesday.
2 min read
26 October, 2017
Washington regards Yemen's al-Qaeda branch as the most dangerous worldwide [AFP]

The United States and six Gulf states announced sanctions on top Islamic State and al-Qaeda figures in Yemen on Wednesday, in the first joint action under the US- and Saudi-led Terrorist Financing Targeting Center.

The sanctions' targets include Abu Sulayman al-Adani, identified as the overall leader of the growing Islamic State operation in Yemen.

It also included the IS group's alleged assassinations chief, Radwan Muhammad Husayn Ali Qanan, and its main financier, Sayf Abdulrab Salem al-Hayashi, who owns a chain of supermarkets.

The move aims to freeze the assets across the Gulf and in US jurisdiction of 11 individuals and two entities which the countries say are key to the Yemen operations of the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

"This bold and innovative multilateral approach is needed because terrorism poses a threat to all of our nations. It is critical that we come together to combat this," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a speech in Riyadh.

"We coordinated this action with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar, who designated these advocates of terror under their own domestic authorities. This is the largest ever multilateral designation in the Middle East."

The TFTC was announced on May 21 as a joint effort to pursue the financial resources of officially designated "terror" groups across the region.

Officials see the Islamic State group as spreading its influence and operations as US-backed military operations eliminate its bases in Syria and Iraq.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, Trump administration officials told journalists the announcement on Wednesday was well choreographed in advance between banks, central banks, the finance industries, and the intelligence services of the US and the six Gulf countries. 

"We went after every asset they have in the Gulf simultaneously this morning," one official said.

He would not describe, however, any of the assets seized.

The official said that TFTC cooperation was strong despite the broader political dispute between Qatar and the other five Gulf states involved.

"It's significant that given the ongoing Gulf dispute where some of these countries have ostracised Qatar, we were able to thread that needle and keep this whole Gulf action intact," the official said.

"That's not a minor thing.”

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut off diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups across the region.

Qatar vehemently denies the allegations.