On Thursday September 15th, the U.S.
Treasury Department designated two men based in
Turkey as ISIS financial facilitators and imposed sanctions against them. The
sanctions applied to the two men, Mohamad Alsaied Alhmidan and Hussam Jamous,
will freeze their U.S. held assets and will block U.S. citizens from engaging
in business with them. According to the Treasury’s announcement, Alhmidan and
Jamous have not only served as financial intermediaries and moved tens of
thousands of dollars to ISIS, but they have also both facilitated the movement
of foreign fighters for ISIS. In announcing the sanctions, acting Treasury
undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Adam Szubin stressed the
important role of non-military tools in the campaign to defeat ISIS.
The new sanctions, which publically declare U.S.
awareness of ISIS supporters on Turkish soil, come during a period of
increasingly precarious and complex U.S.-Turkish relations. While the
relationship between D.C. and Ankara was strained by accusations of involvement
in the Turkish-coup attempt and of harboring the Gülen movement, the ongoing
Syrian war has since served as a theatre for delicate cooperation. When Turkey
sent its troops to push ISIS away from its border last month, the U.S.
provided air support and has even deployed
Special Operations Forces (SOF) to fight alongside
Turkish troops. However, ongoing U.S. assistance to Syrian Kurds fighting ISIS
has provoked Turkish
displeasure while relations with Turkish-led
opposition groups have flared.
While the U.S. has exposed and isolated supporters
of terrorism in Iran,
and many other states, the announcement of Turkey-based facilitators of
terrorism is rare although not
unprecedented. The public nature of such an announcement
does, however, make one wonder if geopolitical influences tied to recent
developments in the U.S.-Turkey relationship prompted the public release. While
the U.S. and others have not shied away from the use of sanctions for
geopolitical leverage in the past, it seems most likely that Thursday’s
announcement was an adherence to U.S. Treasury policy regardless of its larger implications.
isolate [Alhmidan] and [Jamous] from the global financial system and expose
their activities to the world,” said Adam Szubin, acting Treasury
undersecretary for terrorism and financial Intelligence.
“Today’s action marks the latest step
in Treasury’s efforts to cut off ISIL’s finances and underscores that ISIL
financial facilitators are not beyond the reach of the international campaign
to defeat ISIL,” said Szubin, using the Obama administration’s preferred
acronym for the terrorist group.”
Both Alhmidan and Jamous have helped
move money and foreign fighters for ISIS, according to the announcement.”