From time to time, the United States identifies certain individuals as crucial to the operation of terrorist organizations. These include persons who have committed, or are deemed to pose a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism.
When such an individual is identified, the U.S. government places that person's name on the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. Their assets within U.S. reach are immediately frozen and the designated person is locked out of the U.S. financial network. Additionally, U.S. persons are not allowed to conduct business with a designated person. In this way, the United States works to disrupt financial support networks for terrorists and terrorist organizations.
In a push to disrupt the operations of the terrorist group al-Nusra Front, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Iyad Nazmi Salih Khalil and Bassam Ahmad al-Hasri under Executive Order 13224. This action took place the day after the United Nations added these individuals to the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida Sanctions List, obligating its member states to freeze their assets, including locking these individuals out of the international financial system, prohibit their travel, and prevent them from acquiring weapons.
The al-Nusra Front, formed five years ago as a subsidiary of al-Qa’ida, is a jihadist group fighting in Syria, with the goal of setting up an Islamist regime in that country.
Since 2016, Iyad Nazmi Salih Khalil has been the al-Nusra Front’s third highest officer. As such, he has participated in senior leadership discussions regarding the al Nusra Front’s overall strategy. In his prior position as emir of Dar’aa, Syria, Khalil presided over the group’s security and intelligence operatives.
Bassam Ahmad al-Hasri has long-standing ties with al-Qa’ida. In the past, he has served as a religious adviser of the al-Nusra Front, and since June 2016, has been the group’s emir of Dar’aa.
“From overseeing militant operations to developing al-Nusrah Front’s strategy, these senior Al-Nusrah Front leaders and al-Qa’ida terrorists are responsible for providing key support to the violent terrorist group,” said John E. Smith, Acting OFAC Director. “The Treasury Department, in line with actions just taken by the United Nations, is cutting off their access to the international financial system to further disrupt al-Nusra Front’s ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks.”