On October 23, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned nine individuals associated with the Taliban, including Iranian supporters. The United States acted in partnership with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, the other member states of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), established in mid-2017. “The TFTC has again demonstrated its tremendous value to international security by disrupting and exposing key Taliban members who are involved in suicide attacks, and other lethal activities. We are also targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism,” he added.
In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed that the sanctions were merely a diversion to draw attention away from the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul at the Saudi consulate and the ongoing crisis in Yemen.
To deflect from headlines on Saudi brutality in Istanbul and across Yemen, US Treasury—while in Saudi Arabia, no less—sanctions Iran for "supporting" anti-Iran Taliban. Conveniently omitting that US is negotiating with the very same Taliban now& its clients have long backed it. pic.twitter.com/JECIlwc1Jv— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) October 24, 2018
In the 1990s, the Taliban and Iran were bitter enemies. Tensions peaked in 1998, when the Taliban killed nine Iranian diplomats working at consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan. After the 9/11 attacks Iran cooperated with the United States and regional powers to establish a new Afghan government free of the Taliban. But Tehran later began to provide limited support to the Taliban to counter U.S. influence in Afghanistan and on its border. The following is the full text of the U.S. Treasury press release.
Treasury and the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center Partners Sanction Taliban Facilitators and their Iranian Supporters
RIYADH – Today, the seven member nations of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) took significant actions to expose and disrupt Taliban actors and their Iranian sponsors that seek to undermine the security of the Afghan Government. The TFTC Member States designated nine individuals associated with the Taliban, including those facilitating Iranian support to bolster the terrorist group. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated these key Taliban members and their Iranian regime sponsors in partnership with the other TFTC Member States: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The TFTC has again demonstrated its tremendous value to international security by disrupting and exposing key Taliban members who are involved in suicide attacks, and other lethal activities. We are also targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism. The United States and our partners will not tolerate the Iranian regime exploiting Afghanistan to further their destabilizing behavior. Iran’s support to the Taliban stands in stark violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions and epitomizes the regime’s utter disregard for fundamental international norms.”
Specifically, OFAC, together with TFTC Gulf partners, designated Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi (also known as Jalal Vahedi), Esma’il Razavi, Abdullah Samad Faroqui, Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, Abdul Rahim Manan, Abdul Aziz (also known as Aziz Shah Zamani), Sadr Ibrahim, and Hafiz Majid pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. In addition, TFTC Member States also designated Naim Barich, who is managing the Taliban’s relationship with Iran. Naim Barich was previously designated by the United States under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) on November 15, 2012.
This is the third coordinated TFTC designation action since the Center was announced on May 21, 2017. The TFTC is a bold and historic effort to expand and strengthen the seven member states’ cooperation to counter the financing of terrorism. The TFTC facilitates coordinated disruptive actions, sharing of financial intelligence information, and member state capacity-building to target terrorist financing networks and related activities that pose national security threats to TFTC members.
These designations support President Trump’s South Asia Strategy by exposing and disrupting actors seeking to undermine the Afghan government, and disrupting terrorist safe havens in South Asia. We will continue to actively target those providing financial support to the Taliban until there is a negotiated peace settlement. The inclusion of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) members supporting Taliban elements in this action highlights the scope of the Iranian regime’s malign activities and regionally destabilizing behavior, and furthers the U.S. maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi (Owhadi)
Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi was designated for acting for or on behalf of IRGC-QF and for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the Taliban.
In 2017, Owhadi, an IRGC-QF officer assigned to Birjand, Iran, reached an agreement with the Taliban Deputy Shadow Governor for Herat Province, Abdullah Samad Faroqui (Samad), also designated today, that the IRGC-QF would provide Samad’s forces with military and financial assistance in return for Samad’s forces attacking the Afghan government in Herat Province, Afghanistan. This agreement was made in Birjand, Iran, and included the IRGC-QF providing training to Samad’s militants at IRGC-QF training facilities near Birjand. As of mid-2017, both parties appeared to be honoring their commitments, with the IRGC-QF providing a basic military training program for Samad’s forces.
In 2016, Owhadi worked with Samad to discuss Iranian support to the Taliban. This included a compound built in Iran to house Taliban fighters and their families that had been injured or killed. Owhadi also inquired with the Taliban about progress on sending personnel to Iran for training.
As of 2014, Owhadi was the second deputy at the IRGC-QF base in Birjand, Iran, and was in charge of providing weapons and ammunition to opponents of the Afghan Government.
As of 2008, Owhadi was an official at an IRGC base in Nehbandan, Iran, where several youth between the ages of twelve and fifteen years old were being trained in terrorist and suicide attacks. Officials stationed at Nehbandan were subordinate to IRGC officials in Birjand.
Esma’il Razavi (Razavi)
Esma’il Razavi was designated for acting for or on behalf of IRGC-QF and for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the Taliban.
Razavi was in charge of the training center at the IRGC-QF base in Birjand, Iran, which as of 2014, provided training, intelligence, and weapons to Taliban forces in Farah, Ghor, Badhis, and Helmand Provinces, Afghanistan. In 2017, Razavi traveled to Farah Province, Afghanistan, where he encouraged the Taliban to conduct attacks in the border region of Afghanistan. In addition, he ordered a Taliban commander to disrupt the ongoing construction of a dam in western Afghanistan and appointed Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, also designated today, to find two suicide bombers to assassinate someone working on behalf of the Afghan government in the southwestern provinces of Afghanistan. Razavi also promised to provide Abdul Rahim Manan, the Helmand Shadow Governor also designated today, with anti-aircraft weapons.
In 2008, as the senior IRGC-QF official in Birjand, his base supported anti-coalition militants in Farah and Herat Provinces.
Abdullah Samad Faroqui (Samad)
Abdullah Samad Faroqui was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.
As of early 2018, Samad, the Taliban’s Deputy Shadow Governor for Herat Province, Afghanistan, was one of several Taliban officials maintaining a relationship with IRGC-QF officials based in Birjand in order to accept weapons and military aid from Iran for the Taliban. As of early 2018, Samad received thousands of kilograms of explosives from the IRGC that he planned to distribute to Taliban commanders throughout Herat Province, Afghanistan. Samad visited a training camp in Birjand, Iran, where the IRGC was training Taliban fighters to attack a proposed pipeline that would run through Afghanistan. Samad promised to distribute Iranian provided funds to the fighters’ families.
In early 2006, Samad was part of a group of Taliban leaders that traveled to Zahedan, Iran, to meet with Iranian intelligence officials. Samad was a representative of Mullah Obaidullah, a now deceased Senior Taliban leader. The Iranian officials gave money and equipment to the group of Taliban leaders, who agreed to carry out terrorist attacks targeting reconstruction efforts in western Afghanistan.
Additionally, in mid-2017, Samad received money from the IRGC through a hawala in Herat, City, Herat Province, Afghanistan.
Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil (Daoud)
Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.
As of late 2017, Daoud, the former Taliban Deputy Shadow Governor for Helmand Province Afghanistan, had been appointed the Shadow Governor for Farah Province, Afghanistan. In early 2017, Daoud was appointed as leader of the Taliban’s Quetta Military Commission.
Abdul Rahim Manan (Rahim)
Abdul Rahim Manan was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.
Rahim is the Taliban’s Shadow Governor for Helmand Province, Afghanistan, who provided a large number of Taliban fighters to attack Afghan government forces. As of early 2018, Rahim was a Taliban leader responsible for coordinating and organizing Taliban operations in Afghanistan and has ties to the IRGC.
In late 2007, Rahim oversaw the logistics of lethal aid transfers from the IRGC-QF to the Taliban. Rahim, a senior Taliban commander, worked with Iran’s primary interlocutor with the Taliban to request supplies and coordinate lethal aid shipments.
Naim Barich (Barich)
Naim Barich was designated by TFTC Member states for action for or on behalf of the Taliban. Barich was designated by OFAC on November 15, 2012, pursuant to the Kingpin Act, for the significant role he plays in international narcotics trafficking. Barich also appears on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1988 Sanctions List due to his support for the Taliban.
As of late 2017, Barich was the Taliban shadow minister of foreign affairs and managed Taliban relations with Iran.
Since at least 2006, IRGC-QF officers provided weapons to Barich.
Abdul Aziz (Aziz)
Abdul Aziz was designated for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of the Taliban.
As of early 2017, Abdul Aziz had a business relationship with two Taliban commanders whereby he arranged for these commanders’ narcotics to be transported from Afghanistan, through Pakistan and Iran, to Europe and Africa. In exchange, these Taliban commanders provided protection for one of Abdul Aziz’s narcotics processing facilities in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. As of late 2016, he provided financial support to Taliban senior leadership in Pakistan and paid certain travel expenses for Taliban commanders. Aziz has narcotics trafficking partners in Europe, Africa, and East Asia. Previously, Aziz smuggled precious gemstones from Afghanistan for international sale and donated a large portion of these profits to Taliban senior leadership in Pakistan. Aziz provides funds to the Taliban’s Quetta Shura every year and travels to the Gulf to collect money from other international narcotics dealers to provide to the Taliban Quetta Shura.
In addition, in late February 2017, Aziz planned to travel to China to establish a company, probably related to a marble quarrying venture in Pakistan. Aziz had traveled recently to review the marble venture. As of late July 2017, Aziz planned to bring a collection of green, white, and pink onyx with him when he traveled to the UAE.
Aziz, a Pakistan-based narcotics trafficker, has served as a middleman for the sale of opium from Afghan farmers to Iranian and Turkish narcotics traffickers.
Sadr Ibrahim (Ibrahim)
Sadr Ibrahim was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.
For the past four years, Ibrahim served as the leader of the Taliban’s Military Commission. He previously served on the Taliban’s Peshawar Military Commission and as a Defense Ministry official during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.
In 2018, Iranian officials agreed to provide Ibrahim with monetary support and individualized training in order to prevent a possible tracing back to Iran. Iranian trainers would help build Taliban tactical and combat capabilities.
Hafiz Majid (Majid)
Hafiz Majid was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.
Majid is a Taliban senior Shura and Military Commission Member, and oversees all suicide attacks in Afghanistan.
Majid was an advisor to now deceased former leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar. During the Taliban regime era, Majid was the Taliban’s security chief (Chief of Police) for Kandahar Province.