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    US chokes Taliban hawala financiers

    WASHINGTON (PAN): The United States on Friday slapped sanctions against two money exchange agencies -- Haji Khairullah Haji Sattar Money Exchange (HKHS) and Roshan Money Exchange (RMX) – involved in terror financing.

    It also designated co-owners of HKHS, Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai  (Sattar) and Haji Khairullah Barakzai (Khairullah), for donating money and providing financial services to the Taliban, the Department of Treasury said.

    It added both firms operated as hawalas and were used by Taliban to facilitate money transfers linked to narcotics trade and terrorist operations. 

    Simultaneously in New York, the United Nations also added both men, HKHS and RMX to its 1988 list of individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Taliban in constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan.

    “Today’s action, which coincides with action by the UN is aimed at disabling two key financial hubs supporting the Taliban.  Whether financial support to the Taliban moves through banks or less formal mechanisms, like the hawalas we are designating in this action, we will continue to work alongside our partners to expose and disrupt this illicit financial activity,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.

    As a result of today’s action, all properties in the US or in the possession or control of US persons in which HKHS, RMX, Sattar or Khairullah have an interest is blocked and US persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

    The Treasury said Sattar is a co-owner and operator of HKHS. 

    Both have co-owned and jointly operated HKHS throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Dubai and managed an HKHS branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. 

    Sattar and Khairullah had an equal partnership in HKHS.  Sattar founded HKHS and customers chose to use HKHS because of Sattar’s and Khairullah’s well-known names.

    “Sattar has donated thousands of dollars to the Taliban to support Taliban activities in Afghanistan and has distributed funds to the Taliban using his hawala.  As of 2010, Sattar provided financial assistance to the Taliban,” the Treasury said. 

    “As of late 2009, Sattar provided tens of thousands of dollars to aid the Taliban’s fight against coalition forces in Marjah, Nad’Ali District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and helped to transport a Taliban member to Marjah.  As of 2008, Sattar and Khairullah collected money from businessmen and distributed the funds to the Taliban using their hawala,” it alleged.

    Khairullah was a hawala operator for Taliban senior leadership and provided financial aid to the group and HKHS was a preferred method for Taliban to transfer money to their commanders in Afghanistan. 

    In late 2011, the HKHS branch in Lashkar Gah, in Helmand, was used to send money to the Taliban shadow governor of the southern province. 

    Taliban personnel used HKHS in 2010 to transfer money to hawalas in Afghanistan, where operational commanders could access the funds.  As of late 2009, the manager of the HKHS branch in Lashkar Gah oversaw the movement of Taliban funds through HKHS.

    According to the Treasury, RMX was one of the primary hawalas used by Taliban officials in Helmand.  In 2011, a senior Taliban member withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from an RMX branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to distribute to Taliban shadow provincial governors. 

    To fund Taliban’s spring offensive in 2011, the Taliban shadow governor of Helmand sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to RMX.   

    “The Taliban also uses RMX to facilitate its role in the Afghan narcotics trade,” the Treasury alleged.

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