US designates Turkish based financial network of al Qaida

The emblem of the US Department of the Treasury. (Photo: AFP)
The emblem of the US Department of the Treasury. (Photo: AFP)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) — The US Treasury Department on Thursday named five members of al Qaida, who are based in Turkey, as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” describing them as an “al Qaida financial network.”

Such a designation blocks any assets the individuals may have in the US and prohibits Americans from dealing with them. It also puts other governments on notice about those individuals. Finally, it provides insight into the US understanding of the activities of the organization with which they are affiliated.

The Biden administration maintains that the threat of terrorism from Islamic extremists has “metastasized” and spread far beyond Afghanistan—hence its withdrawal of US forces from that country.

Thursday’s designations are consistent with that perspective. Indeed, they suggest significant al Qaida activity within Turkish territory, while some details suggest that activity is linked to Ankara’s intervention in Syria, where it uses Islamic extremists as proxy forces.

This, however, is a problem for the U.S. As Andrea Gacki, a senior Treasury Department official affirmed, “We will continue working with our foreign partners, including Turkey, to expose and disrupt al Qaida’s financial support networks.”

Al Qaida’s Financial Network in Turkey

In addition to three Turkish nationals, two Egyptians were also designated as part of al Qaida’s financial network. Their presence in Turkey goes back a decade,

Until 2011, when he was ousted in the so-called Arab spring, Hosni Mubarak had been president of Egypt In 2012, the Moslem Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi, was elected president. However, in 2013, following popular protests, Abdul Fatah al-Sisi led a military coup, which, in turn, ousted Morsi.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan then welcomed members of the Moslem Brotherhood and others from Egypt’s Islamic parties, precipitating a years’-long break in Turkish-Egyptian ties. Since May the two countries have been holding discussions to renew their relations, although those talks have not yet produced concrete results.

Egyptians Designated as Part of al Qaida’s Network

Majdi Salim was among those designated on Thursday by the U.S. Treasury Department. A lawyer, he is the most senior figure in al Qaida’s Turkish-based financial network.

Salim formerly headed Egyptian Islamic Jihad and is now “one of the primary facilitators of a range of al Qaida activities in Turkey,” according to a Treasury Department statement.

Muhammad Nasr al-Din al-Ghazlani is another Egyptian designated by the Treasury Department, which described him as “a Turkey-based financial courier who used cash transfers to support al Qaida.”

“Al Qaida used Turkey-based financial couriers, like Muhammad Ghazlani, to facilitate funds transfers,” the Treasury Department said, including “providing money to the families of imprisoned al Qaida members.”

The statement gave no details as to where those al Qaida members are imprisoned or where their families are located, although further details suggest that the activity relates to Syria.

Turks Designated as Part of al Qaida’s Network

Nurettin Muslihan, 47, is the oldest of the three Turks designated by the U.S. He is an “al Qaida financial facilitator who maintained contact with al Qaida senior leadership,” the Treasury Department statement said.

Muslihan “worked to establish communications with al Qaida extremists, including now deceased al Qaida senior leader Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abd al-Rahman.” Abd al-Rahman used the alias Abu Khayr al-Masri, suggesting that he was Egyptian, while he “operated in Syria,” the statement said.

Cebrail Guzel, 28, “worked with and provided material support” to Muslihan, as “part of Muslihan’s efforts to support al Qaida,” including Muslihan’s work “to facilitate the network’s relationship” with Abd al-Rahman,” it added.

Soner Gurleyen, 33, “provided another al Qaida violent extremist with assistance in preparation for the latter’s travel,” according to the statement.