U.S. sanctions Australian gemstones dealer for supporting al-Qaida

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Oct. 20 (UPI) -- The Trump administration has targeted an Australia-based gemstones dealer for acting as a financial facilitator for the terrorist group al-Qaida.

The Treasury said Monday it has sanctioned Ahmed Luqman Talib and his Talib and Sons gemstones company in Melbourne for providing assistance in moving people and finances around the world to further the objectives of al-Qaida, a militant organization the United States designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 1999.

"Terrorist groups such as al-Qaida use financial facilitators to move money around the world to help carry out terrorist activity," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement. "The Treasury Department remains committed to disrupting al-Qaida's financial activities and networks around the world and appreciates the collaboration with our Australian partners."

The Treasury accused Talib of using his gemstones business to move funds for al-Qaida around the world including in Brazil, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Turkey and the Gulf.

The sanctions freeze all property and assets Talib has in the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move Monday is the continuation of the United States' efforts to disrupt the financial and logistical networks that support al-Qaida's operation.

"The United States has made significant progress in degrading AQ's support networks around the world," the United States' top diplomat said in a statement. "We will not relent in our efforts to target AQ's terrorist activities and those who support them."

The move follows the Justice Department's announcement in August that it had seized $2 million in cryptocurrency from al-Qaida. Federal officials said the seizure was the largest-ever confiscation of cryptocurrency connected to terrorism.

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