US targets group linked to Taliban

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 21, 2012 02:20 hrs

Washington, Nov 21 (IANS) The Obama administration has hit an entity and two individuals with sanctions for their alleged links to the Taliban.

The Department of Treasury blacklisted Rahat Ltd, a "hawala" group whose branches in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran have been allegedly used by the Taliban to facilitate their illicit financial activities, Xinhua reported.

"Hawala" is a traditional system of transferring money used in Arab countries and the Indian subcontinent, whereby the money is paid to an agent who then instructs an associate in the relevant country or area to pay the final recipient.

The treasury department also targeted Mohammed Qasim, the owner of Rahat Ltd, and Musa Kalim, the owner and manager of the business's branch in Quetta, Pakistan.

"Rahat Ltd has been used extensively by senior Taliban leadership to finance their violent activities," the department said in a statement.

It said the entity helped in facilitating millions of dollars of transactions to support Naim Barich, the Taliban shadow governor in Afghanistan's Helmand province who has been added to the UN Security Council 1988 List.

Washington imposed sanctions on Barich last week for his "extensive narcotics production and distribution activities".

Tuesday's action "demonstrates our continued efforts to target and disrupt financial activity linked to the Taliban's use of hawalas", said David Cohen, under−secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

"We will continue exposing these illicit networks and deprive the Taliban of their sources of funding no matter where they turn," he added.

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