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Targeting Al-Qaida's Remaining Leadership


Pashtun men read local newspapers reporting the arrest of senior al Qaeda leader Younis al- Mauritani at roadside tea shop in Quetta.

From time to time, the United States identifies certain individuals as crucial to the operation of terrorist organizations.

From time to time, the United States identifies certain individuals as crucial to the operation of terrorist organizations. Most often these are top leaders, 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.

When such an individual is identified, the U.S. Government places that person's name on the Specially Designated Nationals List. His assets within U.S. reach are immediately frozen, and he is locked out of the global financial network. No U.S. citizen or company may conduct business with a designated individual. In this way, the United States disrupts the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organizations.

On September 7th, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated three such individuals. All three are senior members of al-Qa’ida, based in Pakistan. They are leader and commander Abu Yahya al-Libi; senior leader Abd al-Rahman Ould Muhammad al-Husayn Ould Muhammad Salim, also known as Younis al-Mauritani; and al-Qa’ida facilitator, courier and operative Mustafa Hajji Muhammad Khan.

Abu Yahya al-Libi is a senior al-Qa’ida leader and commander in Pakistan responsible for the supervision of other senior al-Qa’ida officials. As al-Qa’ida’s propaganda chief, al-Libi is one of the group’s most prominent public figures and plays a key role in al-Qa’ida’s media operations.

Younis al-Mauritani was in charge of al-Qa’ida’s external operations and as such, participated in the formation of the al-Qa’ida affiliate organization al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb. Just days before his designation, he was captured in Quetta, Pakistan. The designation will keep his assets out of the hands al-Qa'ida terrorists.

Mustafa Hajji Muhammad Khan has acted as an al-Qa’ida facilitator, courier and operative since at least 2003. He has facilitated the travel of al-Qa’ida members, helped al-Qa’ida reestablish logistic support networks in Pakistan and helped move operatives and money between the Gulf countries and Pakistan on behalf of Al-Qa'ida.

As Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said, "We are targeting two of al-Qa’ida’s top strategists and commanders in Pakistan, as well as a senior facilitator, striking at the heart of al-Qa’ida’s remaining leadership and its operations in Pakistan."

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