US, Turkey target alleged ISIL supporters with sanctions

The joint action comes amid strained relations between the US and Turkey that have complicated the fight against ISIL (ISIS).

The US Treasury building
On Thursday, the United States Treasury Department announced a joint effort with Turkey to sanction a network accused of supporting the ISIL (ISIS) group [File: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]

The United States and Turkey have announced sanctions against a network that they allege has provided support for the ISIL (ISIS) group.

The US Department of the Treasury issued a statement on Thursday that it had imposed the restrictions on four individuals and two firms, all accused of taking part in the management, transfer and distribution of funds for ISIL (ISIS).

“Concurrently, Turkish authorities have implemented an asset freeze against members of this network,” Ned Price, a spokesperson for the US Department of State, said in the statement. The joint sanctions “have disrupted ISIS’s ability to finance its operations”, he explained.

The US considers ISIL (ISIS) a “foreign terrorist organisation”, and it described Thursday’s sanctions as part of its “counterterrorism” activities.

Thursday’s sanctions target Abd Al Hamid Salim Ibrahim Ismail Brukan al-Khatuni, an Iraqi national living in Turkey, as well as his two sons and the Turkish money service business where they worked.

The US State Department alleges that the three men “facilitated money transfers to ISIS through their [Turkey]-based financial entities” with the help of Lu’ay Jasim Hammadi al-Juburi, an ISIL (ISIS) financial facilitator also based in Turkey.

Al-Juburi was also accused of using a business named Sham Express, founded by al-Khatuni in 2020, to transfer funds to ISIS. That business — along with another al-Khatuni enterprise, Wadi Alrrafidayn for Foodstuffs — was also sanctioned.

The sanctions block transactions and restrict trade for the targeted groups within the US and Turkey. Likewise, individuals in those two countries are not allowed to engage in business dealings with sanctioned parties.

Brian Nelson, the US Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that the new round of sanctions underscores the US commitment to degrading ISIS’s “ability to operate globally”.

But the joint announcement comes during a period of strained relations between Turkey and the US.

Turkey has threatened an incursion into Syria to strike Kurdish militants it considers a national security threat. But the US has partnered with Kurdish groups in its campaign against ISIS and expressed concern that Turkey’s plans for military action could hinder the fight.

In mid-November, a powerful explosion in Istanbul killed six people and wounded more than 80. Turkish authorities quickly blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and vowed to retaliate against “those who are responsible for this heinous terror attack”.

The PKK released a statement of condolence for the victims and denied involvement. Turkish authorities noted that they have not ruled out the possibility of involvement by ISIL (ISIS).

About a week after the explosion, Turkey launched air raids in northern Syria and Iraq, stating that they were targeting military bases used to carry out the attack in Istanbul.

But the US government fears that the military escalation could endanger efforts to contain ISIL (ISIS). In early December, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-aligned group that has taken part in such efforts, said that it was suspending anti-ISIS operations in response to Turkey’s bombing campaign.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies