The Envoy
  • In testimony to Congress earlier this year, incoming CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus highlighted Iran's interactions with al Qaeda cells. (AP)The U.S. Treasury Department today announced that it has designated as terrorists six members of an al Qaeda network whose head operates in Iran. This action marks the first time the U.S. government has so explicitly accused Iranian authorities of collaborating with an al Qaeda cell, which it alleged serves as a financial pipeline between al Qaeda fundraisers in the Persian Gulf and operatives in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Notable, however, is that three of the men designated today are based in Qatar and Kuwait, which were not similarly accused by the Treasury Department with harboring al Qaeda. Indeed, only one of the six new designees, Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, appears to be based in Iran.

    "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 of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in a Treasury Department press release Thursday.

    The six figures whose designations were unveiled today are members of an al Qaeda cell headed by Khalil, the Treasury Department said. It described the Syrian-born Khalil as a prominent Iran-based al Qaeda facilitator, "operating under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government," who has been in Iran since 2005.

    The two Qatar-based figures designated are: Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid Al-Kuwari -- said by Treasury to have "provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial support to al-Qaeda" -- and Ghanim Mafuz Muslim Al-Khawar. The Kuwait-based designee is 'Ail Hasan 'Ali al-'Ajmi, said by Treasury to have "collected money from individuals in Gulf countries and provided these funds to AQI [al Qaeda in Iraq] facilitators as well as to the Taliban."

    A fourth designee, Atiya Abd al-Rahman, originally from Misrata, Libya and known by his al Qaeda moniker "al Libi," is a senior al Qaeda commander based in Pakistan's tribal areas.

    Though the United States announced two previous rounds of designations of al Qaeda members based in Iran in 2009, prior to today's announcement it had not so definitively accused Iran of actively permitting the country to be used by al Qaeda money men.

    Incoming CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, in testimony to Congress last year, highlighted al Qaeda's use of Iran as a "facilitations hub," but described Iran's behavior towards the group as "unpredictable," noting it "periodically disrupted" the network.

    Some counter-terrorism analysts stressed such designations as those unveiled today are not made casually, and take considerable time and review to be worked through the U.S. bureaucratic process.

    That said, "let's not get hysterical," said former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Intelligence Matthew Levitt, in an interview with the Envoy:

    Read More »from U.S. accuses Iran of “secret deal” with al Qaeda financier cell
  • Tim Gunn mocks Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits

    The Twitterverse was abuzz at the undiplomatic critique leveled this week at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's pantsuits-favoring fashion sense by style expert Tim Gunn.

    "Why must she dress that way?" Gunn lamented, in an appearance on TBS' "Lopez Tonight" Tuesday, after host George Lopez asked for Gunn's judgment on the style of various U.S. female politicians. "I think she's confused about her gender [with] all these big, baggy menswear tailored pantsuits."

    Read More »from Tim Gunn mocks Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits
  • First Lady Michelle Obama visits João at Walter Reed Medical Center on Memorial Day 2011. (Arnaldo da Silva/joaosilva.photoshelter.com)• India falls in love with Pakistan's first female foreign minister. (The Independent)

    • An in-depth report probes whether the 9/11 attacks had state support from Saudi Arabia. (Vanity Fair)

    • Bipartisan working group calls on Egypt military leaders to allow international monitors for elections. (Working Group on Egypt)

    • U.S. law is preventing aid from getting to drought-stricken parts of Somalia under militant al-Shebaab control. (Sarah Margon)

    • Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former chief of U.S. State department policy planning, launches a foreign-policy column for the Atlantic. (Atlantic)

    • Joao Silva, the photojournalist who lost his legs when he triggered a landmine in Afghanistan, publishes photos of that day and his recovery afterward at Walter Reed Hospital, which closed yesterday. (New York Times)

    Read More »from News of the World: new Pakistani Foreign Minister woos India

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