ABC News' Kirit Radia (@KiritRadia_ABC) reports:
The United States today accused the Iranian government of entering into a “secret” deal with al Qaeda to funnel money and fighters to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Treasury Department slapped sanctions on six individuals operating in a network that they said “serves as the core pipeline through which al Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia, including to Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a key al Qaeda leader based in Pakistan, also designated today.”
“Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. By exposing Iran’s secret deal with al Qaeda allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in a statement announcing the sanctions.
“Today’s action also seeks to disrupt this key network and deny al Qaeda’s senior leadership much-needed support,” Cohen added.
Among the individuals sanctioned today is Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, described by the Treasury Department as “an Iran-based senior al Qaeda facilitator currently living and operating in Iran under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government.”
The Treasury Department says Khalil has been allowed to stay in Iran since 2005 and funnels money and recruits from around the Middle East into Iran and then to al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The US says Khalil has collected funds from donors in the Persian Gulf, and that each recruit is required to deliver $10,000 to al Qaeda in Pakistan.
“As al Qaeda’s representative in Iran, Khalil works with the Iranian government to arrange releases of al Qaeda personnel from Iranian prisons. When al Qaeda operatives are released, the Iranian government transfers them to Khalil, who then facilitates their travel to Pakistan,” the Treasury Department said.