Two T&T nationals, identified as Emraan Ali and Eddie Aleong, have been designated by the United States and sanctioned for being financiers of the ISIS terror network, as regionally co-ordinated investigations seek out certain targets between T&T, Suriname and other areas.
High-level local officials leading T&T’s effort in the regional matter spoke about the situation after the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) yesterday designated and sanctioned Ali and Aleong.
The sanction announcement came via press release from the US Department of the Treasury (USDT).
The release said Aleong, 38, was based in T&T is also known as “Ishmael Mohammed,” “Ishmail Muhammed” and “Isma’il Ali Yong” while Ali, 51, was based in Syria.
It said: “As of March 2018, Trinidad-based Aleong facilitated money transfers to ISIS members in ISIS-controlled territory. As of January 2017, a Trinidadian ISIS supporter possibly planned to work with Eddie Aleong, to transfer funds to Emraan Ali, who would then provide the funds to Trinidadian ISIS fighters in Syria.”
As a result of yesterday’s action, all property and interests in property of the two men, subject to US jurisdiction, are blocked and US persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them, the USDT stated.
The designations of the two were part of the US government’s ongoing efforts to disrupt ISIS-related financial activities around the globe. The USDT said while coalition efforts have led to the collapse of ISIS’s self-declared caliphate, the Treasury continues to “aggressively target financiers supporting ISIS’s radical agenda.”
The USDT designated Ali for acting for/on behalf of ISIS. He was described by the department as a “Syria-based, dual US and Trinidadian national.” It said Ali has been involved in money transfers from T&T to Syria in support of ISIS.
“As of January 2017, Ali would receive and provide funds to Trinidadian ISIS fighters. For several years, a number of citizens of Trinidad and Tobago in Syria received money transfers through Ali. In the summer of 2015, Ali lived at an ISIS guest house in Syria and had been assigned to Raqqah, Syria.”
The USDT said Aleong was designated for “assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of ISIS.”
Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker added, “We’re sanctioning individuals involved in financial facilitation to obstruct and deter ISIS financial operations in regions across the world.”
T&T officials working on the matter told T&T Guardian last evening that while Ali was said to be based in Syria, Aleong, who was described as Trinidad- based, is not in custody. Both cases are under “active management” by T&T’s Anti Terrorism Unit and the Financial Intelligence Bureau (FIB), they said. They added that the regional investigation involves T&T, Suriname and other players and has been ongoing “very carefully for many months.”
The T&T officials said the designations resulted from amendments to T&T’s anti-terrorism law which were proclaimed a month ago and whose operationalisation gave T&T the ability to act on suspected terrorists/financiers in a regionally co-ordinated way. The amendments allow Government to receive requests on behalf of other countries regarding records of a case, which is probed.
Contacted on the issue last evening, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi confirmed the ongoing probe.
“Following a request from and evidence provided by T&T, one jurisdiction has now designated two individuals in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1373, freezing their assets.
“Amendments to our anti-terrorism law prescribe a particular course in these matters. I can confirm, the Anti-Terrorism desk of the AG’s office is engaged in all such action as it should be,” Al-Rawi said.
This morning the US Embassy will present the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) with equipment to assist in probing suspicious transactions.