The Government of the United States has issued sanctions against three people and two of their Brazil-based companies after having determined they were linked to supporting Al Qaeda, it was announced Wednesday.
The activities of this Brazil-based network demonstrate that Al Qaeda remains a pervasive global terrorist threat, and today's designations will help prevent the group's access to the formal financial system, said US Undersecretary of the Treasury Brian E. Nelson.
The United States is committed to working with our foreign partners, including Brazil, to dismantle Al Qaeda's financial support networks, he added.
According to the US embassy in Brazil, one of the suspects -Haytham Ahmad Shukri Ahmad Al-Maghrabi- had arrived in 2015, and became one of the first members of a network that operates in support of Al Qaeda. He was found to have had frequent contacts and business deals, to include the purchase of foreign currency, with another individual affiliated with Al Qaeda in Brazil.
At the end of 2018, he was reporting on Ahmed Mohammed Hamed Ali - sanctioned by the United States in October 2001 - and he became Al Qaeda's direct contact in Brazil.
The other suspect sanctioned by Washington was Mohamed Sherif Mohamed Awadd, who arrived in Brazil in mid-2018 and began receiving financial bank transfers from other people linked to Al Qaeda in Brazil, and by the end of that year he already played an key role in a local group affiliated with Al Qaeda. Awadd is also singled out for having been involved in printing counterfeit currency. Awadd is the sole shareholder and part of the management of Home Elegance Comercio de Moveis (EIRELI), a São Paulo-based company that sells furniture.
Ahmad Al-Khatib, based in Brazil, was also sanctioned by the United States for his support of Mohamed Ahmed Elsayed Ahmed Ibrahim. Born in the Egyptian city of Gharbeyah, Ibrahim for years has been wanted by the FBI for “his alleged role as an agent and facilitator of Al Qaeda, allegedly involved in planning attacks against the United States and its interests, and for providing support to Al Qaeda since 2013.
However, years ago the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Justice and Public Security of Brazil indicated in a joint statement that Mohamed Ahmed obtained a residence permit, so he is in a regular immigration situation.” He is known to have married a Brazilian woman works in import/export of electronic products.
For two decades Brazil has been a territory highly coveted by Islamic extremism. The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah has also increased its presence and operations there.
As a result of the measure announced by the Department of the Treasury, “all property and interests in property of the persons and entities mentioned above, and of any entity that is owned, directly or indirectly, by 50 percent or more of them, individually, or with other blocked persons, who are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons, must be blocked and reported to OFAC.”
“Unless authorized by or exempted from a general or specific license issued by OFAC, OFAC regulations generally prohibit all transactions carried out by US persons or within the United States that involve property or interests in property of persons designated or blocked for other reasons,” according to a statement from the United States embassy in Brazil.