U.S. Seems Set to Brand Militant Group as ‘Terrorist’

September 1, 2012

The New York Times on August 31, 2012 released the following:

“By ERIC SCHMITT

WASHINGTON — Risking a new breach in relations with Pakistan, the Obama administration is leaning toward designating the Haqqani network, the insurgent group responsible for some of the most spectacular assaults on American bases in Afghanistan in recent years, as a terrorist organization.

With a Congressional reporting deadline looming, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and top military officials are said to favor placing sanctions on the network, which operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to half a dozen current and former administration officials.

A designation as a terrorist organization would help dry up the group’s fund-raising activities in countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, press Pakistan to carry out long-promised military action against the insurgents, and sharpen the administration’s focus on devising policies and operations to weaken the group, advocates say.

But no final decision has been made. A spirited internal debate has American officials, including several at the White House, worried about the consequences of such a designation not only for relations with Pakistan, but also for peace talks with the Taliban and the fate of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier known to be held by the militants.

Perhaps the most important consideration, administration and Congressional officials say, is whether the designation would make any difference in the group’s ability to raise money or stage more assaults as the American-led NATO force draws down in Afghanistan. Several Haqqani leaders have already been designated individually as “global terrorists,” so the issue now is what would be gained by designating the entire organization.

An administration official involved in the debate, who declined to speak on the record because of the continuing decision-making process, said, “The optics of designating look great, and the chest-thumping is an understandable expression of sentiment, but everyone has to calm down and say, ‘What does it actually do?’ ”

Mrs. Clinton, in the Cook Islands at the start of a trip to Asia, declined to discuss the internal debate but said she would meet the Congressional deadline in September. “I’d like to underscore that we are putting steady pressure on the Haqqanis,” she said. “That is part of what our military does every day.”

A National Security Council spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, would not comment on the administration’s internal deliberations, but hinted in an e-mail on Friday at the White House’s preferences for using other means to pressure the group. “We’ve taken steps to degrade the Haqqani Taliban network’s ability to carry out attacks, including drying up their resources, targeting them with our military and intelligence resources, and pressing Pakistan to take action,” the e-mail said.

Critics also contend that a designation by the Treasury Department or the United Nations, or under an existing executive order, could achieve the same result as adding the network to the much more prominent State Department list, with far fewer consequences.

The internal debate has been so divisive that the United States intelligence community has been assigned to prepare classified analyses on the possible repercussions of a designation on Pakistan. “The whole thing is absurd,” said one senior American official who has long favored designating the group, expressing frustration with the delay.

The administration has debated the designation for more than a year, with senior military officers like Gen. John R. Allen, commander of American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, and many top counterterrorism officials arguing for it.

This year, bipartisan pressure in Congress to add the group to the terrorist list has grown. “It is well past time to designate this network as a terrorist group,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, said in July.

With virtually unanimous backing, Congress approved legislation that President Obama signed into law on Aug. 10 giving Mrs. Clinton 30 days to determine whether the Haqqani network is a terrorist group. If she says it is not, she must explain her reasoning in a report to lawmakers by Sept. 9.

On one level, the decision seems clear-cut. Since 2008, Haqqani suicide attackers in Afghanistan have struck the Indian Embassy, hotels and restaurants and the headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the American Embassy.

A recent report by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point described how the Haqqani network had evolved into a “sophisticated, diverse and transnational crime network.”

In a paper for the Heritage Foundation, Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the foundation and a former C.I.A. analyst on South Asia, said, “The U.S. should stand by its counterterrorism principles and identify this deadly terrorist organization for what it is.”

American officials confirmed this week that a senior member of the Haqqani family leadership, Badruddin Haqqani, the network’s operational commander, was killed last week in a drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Opponents cite several reasons that designating the Haqqani network a terrorist organization could further complicate relations between the United States and Pakistan, just as relations are getting back on track after months of grueling negotiations that finally reopened NATO supply routes through Pakistan.

One reason, officials said, is that such a move would seem to bring Pakistan a step closer to being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. American officials say the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate is covertly aiding the insurgents. Pakistani officials have said that the agency maintains regular contact with the Haqqanis, but deny that it provides operational support. They contend that the Obama administration is trying to deflect attention from its own failings in Afghanistan.

In his meetings at the Central Intelligence Agency in early August, Pakistan’s new spy chief, Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam, told the C.I.A. director, David H. Petraeus, that his country would not protest the designation, if it was given. Two other Pakistani officials said this week that the decision was “an internal American issue.” American analysts believe Pakistan would be reluctant to publicly protest the designation because to do so would substantiate American beliefs that Pakistan supports the Haqqanis.

Critics also voice concern that designating the Haqqani network could undermine peace talks with the Taliban and complicate efforts to win the release of Sergeant Bergdahl.

The main American effort to open negotiations with the Taliban remains centered on the talks in Qatar, where Taliban representatives are supposed to be opening an office. But those talks were suspended by the insurgents in March, largely over a delayed prisoner swap for Sergeant Bergdahl, held by the Haqqani network since 2009. The United States would have released five insurgents from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to win his release.

“A designation makes negotiating with the Taliban harder, and would add another layer of things to do to build confidence in order to restart negotiations,” said Shamila N. Chaudhary, a South Asia analyst at the Eurasia Group who was the director for Pakistan and Afghanistan at the National Security Council.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Insiders: Designate Haqqani Network a Foreign Terrorist Organization

July 17, 2012

National Journal on July 16, 2012 released the following:

“$16 billion in development aid pledged to Afghanistan is money well-spent, Insiders say.

By Sara Sorcher

A wide majority of National Journal’s National Security Insiders said the State Department should designate as a foreign terrorist organization the Haqqani network, the extremist insurgent group under the Taliban umbrella that takes sanctuary in Pakistan’s tribal area.

“Since the Haqqani network frequently targets and kills Americans in Afghanistan, not to declare it a foreign terrorist organization risks undermining the credibility and perceived objectivity of U.S. terrorist designations,” said one Insider among the 82 percent of the pool of national-security and foreign-policy experts who called for the official designation.

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation is pending on the floor of the House that would pressure the Obama administration into designating the network, which has launched spectacular suicide attacks on U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan, as a foreign terrorist organization. In November, the State Department said it was in the midst of a “final formal review” to determine whether the group should be designated as such. Some officials are reportedly concerned that listing the network could disrupt negotiations with the Taliban or upset already tenuous relations with Pakistan.

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation is pending on the floor of the House that would pressure the Obama administration into designating the network, which has launched spectacular suicide attacks on U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan, as a foreign terrorist organization. In November, the State Department said it was in the midst of a “final formal review” to determine whether the group should be designated as such. Some officials are reportedly concerned that listing the network could disrupt negotiations with the Taliban or upset already-tenuous relations with Pakistan.

With the Haqqani network believed to be responsible for last year’s high-profile attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, the truck bombing that injured scores of U.S. troops in Wardark, and the siege on the U.S. Embassy and NATO compound, one Insider said the havoc wreaked by the Haqqani network “unquestionably makes [it] a foreign terrorist organization…. Designating them as such would help tighten the screws on some despicable actors.”

“It’s time to call a spade a spade,” another Insider added. “If it looks like a terrorist group, acts like a terrorist group, and attacks and kills soldiers and civilians like a terrorist group, then it’s a terrorist group.”

Another 18 percent did not support listing the group, citing concerns about potential consequences for negotiations as the United States prepares to withdraw troops. “Negotiation is the only plausible way out of this. Yes, the Haqqanis are awful, and perhaps the threat of designation could be a useful bit of negotiating leverage with them or their Pakistani patrons,” one Insider said. “But a straightforward terror designation that complicates talks makes things worse, not better.”

On Afghanistan, 60 percent of Insiders said the $16 billion that countries pledged in development aid for the next four years in the name of security was well-spent—with a few caveats. “This will be well-spent if the proper strategic goals are pursued,” one Insider said. “If we think $16 billion will make Afghanistan a safe place for development of good governance and economic systems, that would be foolish. But if the international community is willing to continue to pay attention to this region, then the world will be better off with some form of regional stability rather than risk losing it from a neglected Afghanistan.”

Another Insider said the United States “made a huge mistake getting sucked into Afghan nation-building.”

“You can’t take a 15th-century tribal society and turn it into a modern 21st-century democracy. But we are where we are,” the Insider said. “The entire region is more unstable today than in 2003, and Afghanistan is in the middle of it. These funds are [the] best chance to encourage stability.”

Donor countries at the Tokyo conference earlier this month said their support depends on Afghanistan continuing to make progress in reducing corruption and poverty, improving governance, protecting human rights, and providing security. A portion of the U.S. aid could ultimately depend on Afghanistan meeting benchmarks for such reforms, but each donor could decide how to condition its individual contributions. “This money is well-spent only if the rhetoric about using it conditionally to create incentives for governance reform is real,” one Insider said. “It hasn’t been to date.”

Another 40 percent said the money would be better spent elsewhere. “That $16 billion will line the coffers of the highest Karzai government officials and all their cronies,” one Insider said. “The United States should send a strong message to Afghanistan that the corruption that riddles that government is simply unacceptable—and not worth a single American life.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

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OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

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Enforcing existing sanctions on Iran

November 6, 2011

The Washington Times on November 4, 2011 released the following:

By Avi Jorisch -The Washington Times

“U.S. empowered to crack down on business with regime’s central bank

In recent years, the United States has imposed a punishing sanctions regime on Iran’s banking sector. To further increase Tehran’s level of financial pain, a great number of congressional and advocacy groups have repeatedly called on the White House to blacklist the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). Doing so, the thinking goes, would seriously hamper the Islamic republic’s ability to abuse international markets in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Yet unbeknownst to most lawmakers and Washington policymakers, the U.S. Treasury actually hasblacklisted the CBI, and not once, but twice in recent years. The real question is why the U.S. government has not enforced its own sanctions regime.

The CBI has been accused of helping fund Iran’s nuclear weapons program, facilitate money transfers to terrorist organizations and proliferate weapons of mass destruction. The Treasury Department has publicly declared that between 2001 and 2006, the CBI facilitated a $50 million payment for Hezbollah. Treasury also has disclosed that the bank engaged in “deceptive practices,” including helping Iran’s Sepah and Melli banks, two financial institutions blacklisted by the United Nations, the European Union and United States for their role in facilitating illicit international transactions.

The United States maintains a number of “blacklists” sponsored by different agencies, including but not limited to the Departments of State, Treasury and Commerce. The Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list is a broad compilation of persons and entities – a “list of lists” – administered by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Those on the SDN list include not only persons and entities involved in terrorism, but also weapons proliferators, drug traffickers and those designated under country-specific sanctions programs.

Today, the SDN list has more than 6,000 entries, includingthe Central Bank of Iran. Unless specifically exempted, all U.S. persons and entities must block any property in which an SDN has an interest and report the action to OFAC. Blocked property may not be “transferred, withdrawn, exported, paid, or otherwise dealt in” without prior authorization from OFAC. If OFAC thinks a person or institution has violated the law, it has several options at its disposal, including cease-and-desist orders, civil penalties, suspension or revocation of licenses, and criminal charges.

The Treasury Department’s Web page clearly shows that the Central Bank of Iran appears on the SDN list of June 16, 2010, under the Iran country sanctions program. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network also took action against the CBI; in March 2008, it issued a banking advisory that fingered the bank for the “money laundering threat involving illicit Iranian activity.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner recently wrote to Congressthat “all options to increase the financial pressure on Iran are on the table, including the possibility of imposing additional sanctions against the CBI.” But the United States does not need new sanctions; it just needs to implement the existing regime, which could be a very potent tool for pursuing Iranian financial activity around the globe.

At this point, concerned parties should advocate a number of measures. The United States should ask banks that provide services of any kind to the Central Bank of Iran to cease doing so immediately. If they refuse to comply, the U.S. government should take immediate legal action in accordance with the PATRIOT Act and the U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 981, freezing any U.S.-based assets they hold and blocking their access to American markets.

Moving against the Central Bank would necessitate indirect action because the bank does not appear to possess assets in America. However, the U.S. government does have the power to freeze the funds deposited in a foreign bank on behalf of the Central Bank if the foreign bank maintains an account (known as an “interbank” or “correspondent account”) at a U.S. financial institution or has actual operations or property in the United States.

Washington should begin implementing the SDN as soon as possible. At a minimum, Treasury should designate one or a number of the biggest offenders among those engaging in business transactions with Iran’s Central Bank. This would likely cause many, if not most, of the companies and banks currently doing business with, or on behalf of, the Central Bank to cut their ties.

Policymakers in Washington are now keenly interested in imposing greater financial costs on the Iranian regime in an effort to derail its nuclear program. To do so, the need to target Iran’s Central Bank should be readily apparent. So, too, should the fact that levying real pressure on Iran’s most important economic construct is simply a matter of enacting already-existing restrictions and penalties. The Obama administration should do so without delay.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

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OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.