Terrorism is insidious. In many cases, covert operatives of extremist groups attempt to infiltrate societies they view as their enemies, and exploit established networks and institutions, such as the global banking or communication systems, to plan and execute acts of terrorism in an effort to further their nefarious goals. If we are to be successful in fighting this scourge, these operatives must be exposed and locked out of the global financial and other systems.
From time to time, the United States identifies individuals who are crucial to the operation or specific agenda of a terrorist organization. Most often these are a part of the leadership, or they help finance terrorist organizations. In all cases, these are people who have committed, or are deemed to pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.
Occasionally, the designated individual is already in custody. That is the case with 26 year old Salah Abdeslam, who was designated by the U.S. Department of State and named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on April 5th, two and a half weeks after his arrest in Brussels, Belgium.
A Belgian-born French national, Abdeslam, an operative of ISIL, was deeply involved in last year’s terrorist attack on Paris that killed 130 people and injured over 350 others.
Identified by witnesses as the driver of a car-full of gunmen that went on to stage murderous attacks at a number of restaurants in Paris, Abdeslam admitted he had later changed his mind about detonating a suicide bomb near the Stade de France sports stadium, where a soccer game was in progress. His DNA was found on a discarded suicide belt there, as well as in a Brussels apartment where another suspected terrorist was killed in mid-March. Abdeslam is believed to be the only survivor from the terrorists who participated in the attack on Paris.
A terrorism designation can expose and isolate organizations and individuals engaged in terrorism. As a result of this designation, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which Salah Abdeslam has any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with Abdeslam.
By naming Salah Abdeslam a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, the United States freezes any holdings or bank accounts he may have, effectively preventing his fellow conspirators from using such funds to support ISIL’s deadly agenda.