United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

U.S. Targets Iran-based al Qaeda Branch

            On October 18, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned the deputy of an al Qaeda branch operating in Iran. Abdel Radi Saqr al Wahabi al Harbi is responsible for transferring operatives to Afghanistan or Iraq via Iran. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said the United States will “continue targeting this crucial source of al-Qa’ida’s funding and support, as well as highlight Iran’s ongoing complicity in this network’s operation.” The following are excerpts from the U.S. Treasury press release.
 
The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi (al-Harbi), a key member of an al-Qa’ida network operating in Iran and led by Iran-based al-Qa’ida facilitator Muhsin al-Fadhli (al-Fadhli). Today's action, taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, follows Treasury’s designation in July 2011 of Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil (AKA Yasin al-Suri) and five other al-Qa’ida members, and underscores that Iran continues to allow al-Qa’ida to operate a core pipeline that moves al-Qa’ida money and fighters through Iran to support al-Qa’ida activities in South Asia. This network also sends funding and fighters to Syria.
 
“Today’s action, which builds on our action from July 2011, further exposes al-Qa’ida’s critically important Iran-based funding and facilitation network,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.  “We will continue targeting this crucial source of al-Qa’ida’s funding and support, as well as highlight Iran’s ongoing complicity in this network’s operation.”
 
Today’s designation freezes any assets Al-Harbi holds under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with this individual. E.O. 13224 targets terrorists, terrorist organizations, individuals and entities owned or controlled by or acting for or on behalf of designated terrorists or terrorist organizations, and those providing financial, material, or technological support or financial or other services to designated terrorists or terrorist organizations, or for acts of terrorism.
 
Al-Harbi is an Iran-based al-Qa’ida facilitator who serves as the deputy to al-Fadhli. Al-Fadhli took over the Iran-based facilitation network from Yasin al-Suri in late 2011. In his capacity as the deputy to al-Fadhli in Iran, al-Harbi facilitates the travel of extremists to Afghanistan or Iraq via Iran on behalf of al-Qa’ida, and is believed to have sought funds to support al-Qa’ida attacks. Before joining the Iran-based al-Qa’ida network in early 2011, al-Harbi appeared on the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior's Most Wanted List and was charged with traveling to Afghanistan to join al-Qa’ida and providing technical support on the Internet to the terrorist group.
 
In addition to providing funding for al-Qa’ida activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, this network is working to move fighters and money through Turkey to support al-Qa’ida-affiliated elements in Syria. Al-Fadhli also is leveraging his extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors to send money to Syria via Turkey.
 
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