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Designation of Ouni Ali Harzi and Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia


Supporters of the hardline Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia clashed with Tunisian police. (File)

The State Department designated a high-profile operative of Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia, Ali Ouni Harzi, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

One of the most effective ways to make life difficult for those who deliberately cause harm to others, is to take away their ability to use their bank accounts or to raise new funds, and to prevent them from spending those funds still within their possession, to purchase what they need to carry out their nefarious agendas.

So you lock them out of the international banking system, thus taking away their ability to transfer money to vendors and to receive money from donors; you freeze what funds they may have in the banking system; and you ensure that no businesses or manufacturers will trade with them.

That is essentially what happens when the United States designates, under Executive Order 13224, an individual or group deemed to be terrorist in nature, or likely to commit terrorist activity.

Last year, the U.S. Department of State designated Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Ideologically aligned with al-Qa’ida and linked to al-Qa’ida affiliates in North Africa and the Middle East, this group was involved in the September 14, 2012 attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis. It has also been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations frequented by tourists.

On April 14th, the State Department designated a high-profile operative of Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia, Ali Ouni Harzi, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Harzi joined Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia in 2011. He is known for recruiting volunteers, facilitating the travel of the group’s fighters to Syria, and for smuggling weapons and explosives into Tunisia.

Ali Ouni Harzi poses a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism, and is therefore deemed a threat to U.S. interests, to U.S. nationals, and to all people living in the region within which he operates.

By designating Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia and its operative, Ali Ouni Harzi, the United States is taking a decisive step toward ensuring that they find it ever more difficult to carry out their acts of violence.

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