The United States on Thursday slapped sanctions on two Afghan men it accused of supporting the Taliban, as it seeks to tighten a financial noose around the Afghan insurgency.
The US Treasury said it had imposed sanctions on Abdul Baqi Bari and Bakht Gul "for providing financial support for, and/or financial services to, the Taliban," a US-designated terrorist group.
Bari has served as a Taliban "money launderer" and financial manager since at least 2001, in some cases using Pakistani banks to secure money given to him by Taliban sources, the Treasury said in a statement.
In 2002, Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden gave Bari and an associate $500,000 to purchase a factory for the company, and Taliban personnel subsequently set up satellite offices throughout Afghanistan, the Treasury said.
During the Taliban regime, the Taliban transferred $2.8 million from an account in Europe to Bari for fear that their accounts would be frozen, and essentially used him as the Taliban's bank, the Treasury alleged.
Bari kept the money in bank accounts outside of Afghanistan so that the accounts would not be frozen by the new Afghan government. He also has served as a go-between in procuring weapons for the Taliban.
Gul is a communications official who works directly for Badruddin Haqqani, a Haqqani Network commander who was targeted for US sanctions in 2002, the Treasury said.
Gul's responsibilities include relaying reports from commanders in Afghanistan to senior Haqqani Network officials, Taliban media officials, and legitimate media outlets in Afghanistan, the Treasury said.
"By designating these individuals today, Treasury is taking another step to ensure all those who perpetuate ongoing violence and terrorist activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue to be marginalized and cut off from the international financial system, and they will find it increasingly difficult to carry out their objectives," said Adam Szubin, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The sanctions freeze any assets the two men may have in the United States and prohibit US citizens from doing business with them.
Source: AFP American Edition