July 28th, 2011
02:08 PM ET

U.S. accuses Iran of sheltering al Qaeda network

By CNN's Tim Lister

The United States has accused Iran of providing sanctuary to an al Qaeda network that provides help to jihadists moving between the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Thursday announced the designation of six members of the network, including its alleged leader Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, and described Iran as a “critical transit point for funding to support al-Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“This network serves as the core pipeline through which al-Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia,” the U.S. Treasury said in a statement.

“We are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen. “Today’s action also seeks to disrupt this key network and deny al-Qaeda’s senior leadership much-needed support.”

The effect of designation is to prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in commercial or financial transactions with those named; any assets they may hold under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.

Khalil is described as an al-Qaeda facilitator currently living and operating in Iran. According to U.S. authorities, he moves money and recruits from across the Middle East into Iran, then on to Pakistan for the benefit of senior al-Qaeda leaders. Khalil requires each operative to deliver $10,000 to al-Qaeda in Pakistan, the Treasury says.

The U.S. Treasury says Khalil has collected funding from donors and fundraisers throughout the Gulf and is also responsible for moving significant amounts of money via Iran for onward passage to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last year, Treasury officials told CNN that progress had been made in cutting off al Qaeda sources of funding through co-operation with banking authorities in several Gulf countries.

But U.S, diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks in December 2010 said terrorist funding emanating from Saudi Arabia remained a serious concern.

The cable written earlier in 2010 by U.S. Ambassador James B Smith said Saudi Arabia was "cooperating more actively than at any previous point to respond to terrorist financing concerns raised by the United States, and to investigate and detain financial facilitators of concern."

But it says donors in Saudi Arabia "continue to constitute a source of funding to Sunni extremist groups worldwide, especially during the Hajj and Ramadan." And it adds the kingdom remains "almost completely dependent on the CIA to provide analytic support and direction for its counterterrorism operations."

The U.S. Treasury has led efforts to block sources of terrorist funding, establishing the "Illicit Finance Task Force" and sending specialists to Kabul, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to help follow the money.

But Treasury sources told CNN last year that other Gulf states had been less co-operative than the Saudis. And the latest designations include an alleged al Qaeda financier – Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari – said to be based in Qatar.

The Treasury says “Kuwari has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial support to al Qaeda and has provided funding for al Qaeda operations, as well as to secure the release of al Qaeda detainees in Iran and elsewhere.”

According to interrogation records of several suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Iran was a regular transit route for members of al Qaeda and other jihadist groups. One assessment written in 2008 of a Yemeni member of al Qaeda said: “Detainee traveled to Afghanistan to participate in jihadist combat and stayed at extremist facilities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.”

Another interrogation report – about Yemeni detainee Salem Hussein Mohammed – described him as “an al Qaeda facilitator located in Iran providing travel and false travel documents to Arab extremists attempting to enter Afghanistan.”

And a third – about an Afghan who had been a senior member of the Taliban – is said to have told his interrogators that in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, an “Iranian delegation offered to open the borders to Arabs who wanted to cross into Afghanistan to fight against US and Coalition forces.”

Filed under: Al Qaeda • Iran
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  7. ranger 830

    Another 44 innocent muslims killed by a muslim placed ied.1,427 innocent afghanis killed this year alone by ied's planted by their muslim brothers.Who are funded by Iran and Saudi arabian muslims.Where is the outrage from these people?
    Only 243 civis killed by coalition forces this year in afghanistan.Most are killed while harboring insurgents or in crossfire situations.Some pose as civis while waiting to attack coalition forces.When you hide in populated areas ie mosques schools etc.you can expect civis to be killed or injured.But yet these great and brave muslims continue to wave the flag of radical muslim clerics and support the taliban and al quaida.At this rate they will all kill each other over who is the most devout muslim and we can all go home!!!! Keep supporting these idiots Iran! Because when the us troops pullout these same groups will turn their attention to YOU!!! The leaders of Saudi, Iran etc. will be bitten by the dog they feed every day!!! You socalled moderate muslims are spineless cowards for not standing up to your own people and speaking out against these attrocities.Terrorism is not the savior of the muslim world!! It will only bring more death and destruction upon you.More death and destruction perpetrated by muslim warriors who care not for the lives of other muslims!! Beware of false prophets !!! You have all been dooped by your radical clerics.Like sheep led to the slaughter by your own brothers what a shame! A coward remains silent a brave man speaks and acts. From what I see you are all cowards!!!! A fine line seperates bravery and stupidity!! We try our best to limit civi casualties but when cowards hide among women and childeren what can one expect!! So dont hate the coalition hate the terrorist.Remember we did not come willingly to afghanistan becuse we like shooting muslims.We were brought here by the actions of radical idiots who will eventually be the downfall of islam. Great job keep up the good work the silence of the muslim community speaks volumes to your cowardice!!!

    August 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  8. Imams

    al queda "network" one cell goes down another node takes over the operation.

    July 30, 2011 at 2:13 am | Reply
  9. Imams

    Don't need to accuse. Al Queda doesn't have central location it's branched out into cells under different names. It's loose 'network' of anti-US anti-nonmuslim groups. muslim brotherhood in Egypt is same as al qaeda.

    July 30, 2011 at 2:12 am | Reply
  10. Zee

    Anyone with half a brain would know this is a load of bull. Al-Qaeda is hardline Wahhabi Sunni, while Iran is Shi'ite.
    That means that in Al-Qaeda's opinion, Iranians are heretics who are (Depending on who you ask) worse than the American 'infidels'.

    Seriously, does any body do their research anymore?

    July 30, 2011 at 1:14 am | Reply
    • ukt87

      It doesn't really matter they just want war either way they are going to get one with Iran.

      July 30, 2011 at 1:24 am | Reply
    • Coty

      Ding Ding Ding we have a winner. Unfortunately most people here in the US have no idea what research is. They think because they saw it on Fox or CNN it must be unquestionably true. Anyone saying otherwise is just a nutcase to be watched by DHS. We are so dumb, we will fall for it again. Most Americans know about the censorship that goes on in other countries but then somehow naively convince themselves that that does not occur here.

      August 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  11. Imams

    the only solution is to convert these islam muslim brothers to worship ancient egypt gods instead of this mohmmend god.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:13 am | Reply
  12. Imams

    the christians will be force to leave egypt or be killed

    July 30, 2011 at 1:11 am | Reply
  13. Imams

    no peace. only war. war is the solution.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:11 am | Reply
  14. Imams

    The solution is support the secular gov't and tell the imams and muslim brotherhood to shut up die! full blown street war.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:10 am | Reply
  15. Imams

    All the muslim brotherhood is same as Al queda same people just different name..and all 'volunteers' sponsored by donaations to the mosque from headquarters in saudi arabia and iran.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:08 am | Reply
  16. Marine5484

    This is nothing new for anyone who has deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The Iranian Revolution in 1979 is arguably the worst thing that could of happened since 1933 when the Nazi party came into power. It destroyed relations between the US, destabilized the region, and put a huge target on Israels back. Now i'm not even going to speculate what the best approach to Iran is because at this point the solutions are bad and worse. Embargoes rarely ever work Iran and Cuba are examples of that and diplomatic talks between the west and Iran have failed time and time again.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:08 am | Reply
  17. Imams

    The muslim is just sect of the islamic front headquartered in Iran and saudi arabia..they have branches and sects in egyp and pakistan. All them recieve money from the headquaters..in saudi arabia mosque like the vatican who used to christianized everyone in the world..Islamization is just like Islamization...converting countries and laws based on their book. religous doctrine...

    July 30, 2011 at 1:06 am | Reply
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