The US Treasury Department has designated six al Qaeda members who work for a terrorist headquartered in Iran. The Treasury Department explained that the six operatives are members of an al Qaeda network "headed by Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, a prominent Iran-based al Qaeda facilitator, operating under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government."
Atiyah Abd al Rahman. Image from the Rewards for Justice website.
Today's designation is the second time in less than three years that al Qaeda's network inside Iran has been targeted by the Treasury Department.
"Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. By exposing Iran's secret deal with al Qaeda allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran's unmatched support for terrorism," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen is quoted as saying in a press release. "Today's action also seeks to disrupt this key network and deny al Qaeda's senior leadership much-needed support."
The Treasury Department said Iran is "a critical transit point for funding to support al Qaeda's activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
The designation notes that "Iranian authorities maintain a relationship with Khalil and have permitted him to operate within Iran's borders since 2005." Khalil's activities include moving "money and recruits from across the Middle East into Iran, then on to Pakistan," where they serve senior al Qaeda leaders.
The Treasury Department hints at the double-game Iranian authorities play in detaining al Qaeda members. Khalil "works with the Iranian government to arrange releases of al Qaeda personnel from Iranian prisons." After they are released, "the Iranian government transfers them to Khalil, who then facilitates their travel to Pakistan."
One of the al Qaeda leaders working with Khalil, according to the Treasury Department, is Atiyah Abd al Rahman, who was also included in today's designation. Rahman is al Qaeda's "overall commander in Pakistan's tribal areas and as of late 2010, the leader of al Qaeda in North and South Waziristan, Pakistan." The Treasury Department adds: "Rahman was previously appointed by Osama bin Laden to serve as al Qaeda's emissary in Iran, a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials."...