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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U.S. not ready to remove Iranian group from terror list

May 9, 2012

CNN on May 8, 2012 released the following:

“By Jamie Crawford

An Iranian dissident group on the U.S. government’s list of terrorist organizations is showing signs of cooperation, but the United States has not decided whether to remove it from the list, a Department of Justice attorney told a federal appeals court panel Tuesday.

An attorney for Mujahedin-e Khalq urged a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to issue a writ of mandamus, essentially an order compelling the State Department to comply with a previous order, and to make a decision on delistment in a timely manner.

MEK is seeking the enforcement of a 2010 ruling by the same court ordering the State Department to review the group’s status on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. In its ruling, the District Court gave the State Department 180 days to review the request from MEK to be removed from the terror list.

Robert Loeb, who argued the case on behalf of the administration, said the lack of total unfettered access to the MEK’s base inside Iraq demands more deliberation and time be given to the decision. Loeb argued questions still remain whether “hard core” elements of the group harbor weapons inside the base and thus retain the “capacity” to launch attacks.

Once the base is completely emptied, a decision on MEK’s status could be made within 60 days, the U.S. government has said. In court, Loeb stipulated that 60-day period could be subject to extension based on anything learned within that period.

The group has been on the terror list since 1997 because of the deaths of Americans during the 1970s. The group was granted refuge in Iraq by Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. The MEK supports the overthrow of the Iranian theocracy.

The Obama administration has argued it needs to assess the MEK’s move from its previous base of operations at Camp Ashraf in Iraq to a processing center at a former U.S. base in Iraq before making its decision. The move is being conducted under U.N. auspices after the Iraqi government ordered the camp closed at the end of 2011.

Mark Toner, deputy State Department spokesman, released a statement this past weekend praising the “continued cooperation” of Camp Ashraf residents. Over half of the approximately 3,000 residents of Camp Ashraf have been relocated to Camp Hurriya, Toner said, with the goal of eventually settling in countries outside Iraq.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate panel last year that the way the transfer was carried out would influence the eventual decision on removing the group from the terror list.

Loeb said the administration understands the “duty” to make a timely decision on MEK’s status, but said the administration also has a duty to the public to “get it right.”

The group is also known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran.

Viet Dinh, a former Justice Department lawyer representing the MEK, said the group no longer poses a military threat because the U.S. Army peacefully disarmed the group after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The U.S. government treated MEK members as protected people under international law until the U.S. turned over responsibility to the Iraqi government.

Dinh told the court the State Department’s delay in making a decision is a violation of MEK’s due process rights, and liberties granted under the U.S. Constitution.

“The secretary has recognized (MEK’s) renunciation of violence and is legally bound to delist the organization,” Dinh wrote in a filing in February.” She cannot pocket veto (MEK’s) application for revocation of its terrorist status.”

Col. Wes Martin, who served as base commander of Camp Ashraf in 2006 and was present for Tuesday’s proceedings, called Loeb’s argument “nonsense.” Martin, who supports MEK’s removal from the terror list, told CNN he was certain Camp Ashraf has been completely disarmed.

The MEK enjoys the support of prominent high-ranking officials from past Democratic and Republican administrations who speak out against the group’s continued presence on the terror list.”

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

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

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?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call: mcnabb.mcnabbassociates

           Office Locations

Email: