Today the US Treasury Department has designated as global terrorists five men based in Afghanistan and Pakistan who are linked to al Qaeda as well as to various other terror groups, including the Taliban and its subgroup, the Haqqani Network, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami.
Treasury identified the terrorist commanders as Hajji Faizullah Khan Noorzai, a Taliban and al Qaeda financier and trainer; Hajji Malik Noorzai, a Taliban financier; Abdur Rehman, a Taliban and al Qaeda facilitator who also served as a commander in both the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami; Abdul Aziz Abbasin, a Haqqani Network leader; and Fazal Rahim, an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and al Qaeda trainer and financial facilitator.
The designations were made under Executive Order 13224, which allows the US to freeze the assets of the five terrorist leaders, prevent them from using financial institutions, and prosecute them for terrorist activities.
Today’s designations highlight the interconnectedness of the various terror groups based in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Four of the five leaders are connected to at least two terror groups.
Hajji Faizullah Khan Noorzai
Treasury described Faizullah as a “prominent Taliban financier with whom senior Taliban leaders invested funds.” In this capacity, he “has collected more than $100,000 for the Taliban from donors in the Gulf and in 2009 gave a portion of his own money to the Taliban.” He directly supports a Taliban commander in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, “and has provided funding to assist with training Taliban and al Qaeda fighters who were to conduct attacks against coalition and Afghan military forces.”
Faizullah also “supplied weapons, ammunition, explosives, and medical equipment to Taliban fighters from southern Afghanistan,” as well as “anti-aircraft missiles.” In addition, he housed and facilitated the movement of Taliban suicide bombers “from Pakistan into Afghanistan.”
He has operated a madrassa, or religious school, “near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border,” and raised “tens of thousands of dollars” to support Taliban operations. His “madrassa grounds were used to provide training to Taliban fighters in the construction and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and as of late 2007, his madrassa was used to train al Qaeda fighters who were later sent to Kandahar Province.”
Faizullah’s activities are not limited to supporting the Afghan Taliban. According to Treasury, he “facilitated Taliban suicide bombing operations and has given radios and vehicles to Taliban members in Pakistan.”
Treasury listed Faizullah’s residence as “Boghra Road, Miralzei Village, Chaman, Baluchistan Province, Pakistan.” Chaman is a known forward command and control center for the Taliban. [See LWJ report, Senior Taliban commander based in Pakistan detained in Kandahar.] Al Qaeda operatives are known to use the border crossing to transit between Afghanistan and Pakistan. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda operatives detained in Karachi.]
Hajji Malik Noorzai
Malik is Faizullah’s brother. Treasury described Malik as “a Pakistan-based businessman who, with his brother Faizullah, has invested millions of dollars in various businesses for the Taliban.” He has “personally contributed tens of thousands of dollars and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Taliban, some of which was collected from donors in the Gulf region and Pakistan.” He also “handled a hawala account in Pakistan that received tens of thousands of dollars transferred from the Gulf every few months to support Taliban activities.”
He also has served as “the chief caretaker of a madrassa near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border that was used by the Taliban to indoctrinate and train recruits.” It is unclear if this is the same madrassa that is run by his brother.
Rehman is described as “a Taliban facilitator since at least 2008, and as of mid-2009, [who] claimed himself to be a member of the Taliban who had conducted at least one attack in Afghanistan.” He manages a “religious school in Karachi, Pakistan, and center for recruiting, indoctrinating, meeting, and facilitating funding for militants” that supports the Taliban.
Additionally, Rehman “has housed al Qaeda facilitators in Pakistan and has been used by al Qaeda and Taliban leaders to pass information to each other.” He also has moved funds for the Taliban and al Qaeda from donors in the Gulf to accounts in Pakistan.
He served as a commander and fundraiser for the Pakistan-based Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and as a ” former provincial-level” leader for the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). He once served “as the primary point of contact for JEM in Karachi.” Both terror groups have close ties to both al Qaeda and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. He also served as a fundraiser and manager for the Al Akhtar Trust, another terrorist front group based in Pakistan. Rehman “distributed [the funds] to extremist groups.”
Abdul Aziz Abbasin
Abbasin is described as “a key commander in the Haqqani Network” who is currently the Taliban’s shadow governor for Orgun district in Paktika province, Afghanistan. He was appointed by and receives direct orders from Sirajuddin Haqqani, the terror group’s operation commander.
In addition to commanding a group of fighters in Orgun, Abbasin “has assisted in running a training camp for foreign fighters based in Paktika Province.” US officials use the term ‘foreign fighters’ to describe members of al Qaeda and other terror groups based outside of Afghanistan. Orgun is known to host foreign fighters; on April 12, the International Security Assistance force captured a commander who “operated for both the Haqqani Network and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan as a facilitator.”
Since 2008, the US has added five other top Haqqani Network leaders to the list of specially designated global terrorists; three of them have been designated in the last year. All five of the commanders have been directly linked to al Qaeda. [See LWJ report, US State Department adds Mullah Sangeen to terrorist list.]
Rahim served as a “financial facilitator for al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,” prior to being arrested by Pakistani authorities in May 2010. He worked with Tahir Yuldashev, the former IMU leader who was killed in a Predator airstrike in South Waziristan in August 2009.
“Rahim received funds from Gulf-based associates for the IMU since at least 2007, which he used to fund Yuldashev in Pakistan,” Treasury stated. “Rahim also funded an IMU affiliate’s militia in Afghanistan. In late 2007, he instructed an al Qaeda associate to dispense funds to an IMU-affiliated militant in Afghanistan.”
The IMU is known to operate suicide training camps in northern Afghanistan, and has integrated its operations with the Afghan Taliban there. Senior IMU commanders serve in the Taliban’s shadow government in the north. [See LWJ report, Special operations forces hunt IMU’s top commander in Afghan northeast.]
Additionally, Rahim recruited IMU fighters and helped them travel to Pakistan, provided a safe house in Peshawar, and aided in their training “at an IMU camp located in Pakistan.” The IMU is known to operate training camps in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan.