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July 25, 2016

U.S. Government Sanctions Al-Qaeda Terrorists Living In Iran—Media M.I.A

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The U.S. Treasury Department announced on July 20, 2016 that it had sanctioned three high-level operatives of al-Qaeda, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, who are living in Iran. Although U.S.-Iran relations and Islamic terrorism have been the focus of extensive U.S. news media coverage, many outlets failed to report Treasury’s targeting of the Iranian-based al-Qaeda terrorists.

According to a departmental press release, “Treasury designated Faisal Jassim Mohammed al-Amri Al-Khalidi (Al-Khalidi), Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi (Bayumi), and Abu Bakr Muhammad Ghumayn (Ghumayn) as Specially Designated Terrorists…for acting for or on behalf of al-Qaida.” The action was taken to “disrupt the operations, fundraising, and support networks that help al-Qaida move money and operatives from South Asia and across the Middle East.” All three operatives, Treasury noted, are “located in Iran.”

Tehran has a long history of supporting terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, among other U.S.-designated terror groups. Indeed, a June 2016 U.S. State Department report named Iran as the leading country sponsoring terrorism (“State Department report finds Iran is top state sponsor of terror,” CNN, June 2, 2016).

Some U.S. news media did report the most recent sanctions against al-Qaeda members based in Iran. For example, The Chicago Tribune carried an Associated Press brief by reporter Matt Lee that noted the designations (“U.S. hits 3 Iran-based al-Qaida figures with terror sanctions,” July 20). Similarly, Fox News (“US. Hits 3 Iran-based Al Qaeda figures with terror sanctions,” July 20) and The Washington Free Beacon (“U.S. Sanctions Top Al Qaeda Operatives Working in Iran,” July 20), a Washington D.C.-based online publication, informed their audiences of the story.

Yet, many major U.S. news media failed to mention the recent Treasury designation of the al-Qaeda terrorists in Iran. A Lexis-Nexis search of The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today and The Baltimore Sun, among others, showed no mention of Treasury’s announcement.

Iran has frequently provided sanctuary to al-Qaeda. The 9/11 commission report, which investigated the Sept. 11, 2001 al-Qaeda terror attacks—the largest mass casualty terrorist attack in U.S. history—noted that there was “strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of Al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.”

This is not the first time that the U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned al-Qaeda operatives under Iran’s auspices. In July 2011, Treasury designated six al-Qaeda terrorists who were part of a cell “headed by Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, a prominent Iran-based al-Qaeda facilitator, operating under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government,” according to a press release from that U.S. agency (“Treasury targets Iran’s ‘secret deal’ with al Qaeda,” The Long War Journal, July 28, 2011).

Indeed, in January 2009, four al-Qaeda operatives living in Iran were also sanctioned—one of whom was Saad bin Laden, the now deceased son of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. Another, Mustafa Hamid, has been described as “al-Qaeda’s emir in Iran (“U.S. Sanctions senior al-Qaeda members operating in Iran, The Long War Journal, Jan. 16, 2009).”

The failure by many media outlets to report that Iranian-based al-Qaeda figures received U.S. sanctions, is striking; both Iran and Islamic terrorism have received extensive—if sometimes flawed—coverage throughout the past year (see, for example “Where’s the Coverage: Dead Terrorist was al-Qaeda’s “leader in Iran,” CAMERA, July 23, 2015).


Posted by SD at July 25, 2016 11:40 AM

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