In early June, the U.S. Department of State announced the designation of the extremist group Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224.
This means that any assets belonging to the group’s members or affiliates that are within U.S. reach are immediately frozen, and Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade is effectively locked out of the global financial network. No U.S. citizen or company may conduct business with this group, or any of its affiliates. Further, no U.S. entity or citizen may knowingly provide, or even attempt to provide, material support or resources to the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade.
The group formed four years ago in the south Syrian city of Deraa. Active primarily in southern Syria and along the country’s borders with Jordan and Israel, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade was responsible for a number of kidnappings, particularly targeting UN personnel. In March 2013, the group abducted 21 Filipino UN peacekeepers. Two months later, they kidnapped another four Filipino peacekeepers from the Golan Heights.
For the first two or three years of its existence, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade teamed up with other groups, particularly the al-Nusrah Front, to conduct a series of operations. This includes the take-over of an air defense base, a number of military checkpoints and a border crossing near Deraa, which gave the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade control of the border from Golan Heights to Jordan.
In late 2015, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade had a falling out with al-Nusrah, and declared its allegiance to ISIL, also known as Da’esh, which was eager to gain influence in southern Syria.
The imposition of sanctions by the United States against terrorists is a powerful tool. Today’s action serves notice to the U.S. public and the international community that the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade is actively engaged in terrorism.
By designating the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, the United States is taking a decisive step toward disrupting the group’s ability to execute its deadly agendas.