Gulf states sanction Iranian IRGC, Hezbollah financiers, proxies

The Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), consisting of six Gulf states, issued sanctions against several individuals, entities and groups affiliated with the Iranian IRGC’s (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) Quds Force, Hezbollah and the Saraya al-Ashtar and Saraya al-Mukhtar groups.

The TFTC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The sanctions targeted Ali Qasir, Meghdad Amini and Morteza Hashemi, members of two networks directed by and supporting the Iranian IRGC Quds Force and Hezbollah. The networks allow the Quds Force to cover up its involvement in selling Iranian oil, according to a statement by the US Treasury Department.

Qasir, Amini and Hashemi also launder money for Hezbollah officials and front companies. Amini and Qasir are in charge of a network of nearly 20 people and front companies in multiple countries that works to move and sell tens of millions of dollars’ worth of gold, electronics and foreign currency for the IRGC and its proxies.

Hashemi, meanwhile, runs several companies based out of Hong Kong and mainland China and uses his access to the international financial system to launder large sums of money for the Quds Force and Hezbollah. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China established bank accounts and served as straw owners for Hashemi’s companies. They also purchased dual-use products from the US for Iran on Hashemi’s behalf.

Saraya al-Mukhtar and Saraya al-Ashtar, two IRGC-affiliated groups based in Bahrain, were also designated by the TFTC on Monday.

Saraya al-Mukhtar reportedly receives financial and logistic support from the IRGC. According to the US Treasury, the group’s self-described goal is to “pave the way for Iran to exert greater influence in Bahrain and beyond.” The group has also plotted attacks against US personnel in Bahrain and offered cash for the assassination of Bahraini officials.

Saraya al-Ashtar is an “Iran-directed terrorist organization aimed at destabilizing the region,” according to the US Treasury. It has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks against police and security targets in Bahrain and calls for violence against the Bahraini, British, Saudi Arabian and US governments on social media. The group receives equipment and training from the Iranian IRGC.

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