Counterterrorism for U.S. Department of State
Counterterrorism: Designations of Foreign Terrorist Fighters
As part of the effort to counter the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters, the Department of State has designated ten individuals and five groups, and amended the designations of two additional groups as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions and penalties on terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. Also today, the Treasury Department concurrently announced the designation of 15 key Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorism facilitators pursuant to E.O. 13224, for a total of 35 new U.S. terrorism designations issued today. As a result of these designations, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which these individuals or groups have any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them or to their benefit.
The Department of State’s designations today, and those carried out by the Treasury Department, highlight the scope of the foreign terrorist fighter challenge facing the international community. At the same time, these U.S. sanctions also underscore our resolve to counter the threat posed to international peace and stability by foreign terrorist fighters. The Counter-ISIL Coalition has taken a number of steps to address the flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters, but it is clear that more work remains to be done.
Credible reports published recently on the topic of foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq have provided first-hand accounts of the barbaric injustices and nihilistic violence perpetrated by ISIL – the result of which has been defections from ISIL. The United States will continue to work closely with its partners and multilateral bodies to apply sanctions against ISIL’s tyranny of violence and oppression.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Caucasus Province (ISIL-CP) became ISIL’s newest regional group on June 23, 2015 when the spokesman for ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released an audio recording accepting the sworn allegiance of the fighters of four Caucasus regions – Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria. The statement also appointed Rustam Aselderov as the emir of the new ISIL-CP. On September 2, 2015, ISIL-CP claimed responsibility for an attack on a Russian military base in Magaramkent, southern Dagestan, which resulted in the deaths and injuries of a number of Russian citizens.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Khorasan’s (ISIL-K) formation was announced in an online video on January 10, 2015. The group is led by former Tehrik-e Taliban (TTP) commander Hafiz Saeed Khan, and consists of former Pakistani and Afghan Taliban faction commanders who swore an oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. On January 26, 2015, ISIL spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani announced ISIL’s expansion into Khorasan by reporting that Baghdadi had accepted Khan’s pledge and appointed him as Governor of Khorasan.
Rustam Aselderov is a former commander of the North Caucasus extremist group Caucasus Emirate, a designated SDGT, and the current leader of ISIL-CP. Aselderov defected from Caucasus Emirate, and swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in early December 2014. A spokesman for al-Baghdadi accepted this pledge of allegiance and appointed Aselderov as the “emir” of ISIL-CP, which conducted its first attack in September 2015, which resulted in the deaths of Russian citizens.
French citizen Emilie Konig traveled to Syria in 2012 to join and fight for ISIL. While in Syria, Konig directed individuals in France to attack French government institutions. In a video posted on May 31, 2013, Konig was shown training with weapons in Syria.
French citizen Peter Cherif is a foreign fighter and member of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In 2004, he was captured while fighting for al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) near Fallujah. He was convicted in Baghdad in July 2006 for illegally crossing the border, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He escaped in March 2007 after an insurgent attack and prison break, and traveled to Syria. He was later arrested in Syria, extradited, and served 18 months in jail in France. He was released pending trial and fled the country to Yemen. Cherif was sentenced to five years in prison, in abstentia, for being a member of a terrorist organization.
ISIL member and foreign fighter Boubaker Hakim appeared in an ISIL video where he claimed responsibility for the assassinations of two Tunisian political leaders in 2013. Previously, Hakim was reported to have ties with U.S. designated FTO Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (AAS-T) and to have worked with related associates to target Western diplomats in North Africa.
Maxime Hauchard is a French national who traveled to Syria to join ISIL in August 2013. Hauchard was identified among the ISIL fighters who appeared in the November 2014 execution video which depicted the beheadings of several Syrian soldiers and showed the severed head of an American hostage.
Tarkhan Ismailovich Gaziyev is a North Caucasian foreign terrorist fighter who has been involved in the Chechen insurgency since 2003. In 2007, he became the Caucasus Emirate Commander of the Southwestern Front of the Province of Chechnya, and carried out numerous attacks in this role. Gaziyev later split from the group in 2010 and then entered Syria through Turkey, where he now leads an ISIL-linked group known as Tarkhan Jamaat.
Shamil Izmaylov is a well-known Russian foreign terrorist fighter currently in Syria. Before arriving in Syria in 2012, Izmaylov trained in—and later set up his own—training center in Egypt. In mid-2013, Izmaylov established his own Russian-speaking ISIL faction in Raqqa. In addition to participating in combat in Syria, Izmaylov has also been associated with Caucasus Emirate.
Nasser Muthana traveled to Syria from his home in Cardiff, UK in November 2013, to fight for ISIL. In June 2014, Muthana was featured in an ISIL video where he admits to having participated in battles in Syria.
British citizen Sally Jones traveled from the UK to Syria in 2013 to join ISIL and fight alongside her husband, deceased ISIL hacker Junaid Hussain. Jones and Hussain targeted American military personnel through publication of a “hit list” online to encourage lone offender attacks. Jones has used social media to recruit women to join ISIL. In August 2015, Jones encouraged individuals aspiring to conduct attacks in Britain by offering guidance on how to construct homemade bombs.
Jund al-Khilafah in Algeria (JAK-A) emerged on September 13, 2014, when senior al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) military commanders broke away from the group and announced its allegiance to ISIL. JAK-A is best known for its abduction and subsequent beheading of French national Herve Gourdel in September 2014.
Mujahidin Indonesian Timur (MIT) is an ISIL-linked terrorist group operating in Indonesia. MIT members have ties to other U.S. Department of State designated FTOs, including Jemmah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) and Jemaah Islamiya (JI). In July 2014, MIT’s leader, Abu Warda Santoso, pledged allegiance to ISIL. MIT has become increasingly bold in its attacks on security forces, which includes the use of explosives and shootings.
Former Tajikistan special operations colonel, police commander, and military expert Gulmurod Khalimov is a Syria-based ISIL member and recruiter. Khalimov was the commander of a special paramilitary unit in the Tajikistan Ministry of Interior. Khalimov appeared in a propaganda video confirming that he fights for ISIL.
In addition to the E.O. 13224 designations listed above, the Department of State has designated Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al Naqshabandi (JRTN) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under E.O. 13224, and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). JRTN is a terrorist group that first announced insurgency operations against Coalition Forces in Iraq in December 2006 in response to the hanging of Saddam Hussein. JRTN claimed numerous attacks on Coalition Forces until their withdrawal in 2011. JRTN’s other goals include overthrowing the government of Iraq for a Ba’athist or similar regime. JRTN played an important role in some of ISIL’s most significant military advances, including the seizure of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.
Also under the FTO and E.O. 13224 authorities, the designations of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) have been amended to add several aliases, including ISIL Sinai Province (ISIL SP). In November 2014, ABM pledged allegiance to ISIL, and has since used ISIL Sinai Province as its primary name. ISIL leadership accepted ABM’s pledge that same month. ISIL Sinai Province continues to attack Egyptian targets.