US targets informal banks for alleged aid to Taliban
Lalit K Jha Washington, Jun 29 (PTI) To attack the financial underpinnings of Taliban militants, the US today slapped sanctions against a pair of informal money-exchange networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan for alleged terrorist financing. The Department of Treasury slapped sanctions against two exchange houses -- Haji Khairullah Haji Sattar Money Exchange (HKHS) and Roshan Money Exchange (RMX) -- which principally operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for storing or moving money for the Taliban. It also designated the co-owners of HKHS, Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai and Haji Khairullah Barakzai, for donating money and providing financial services to the Taliban. Both HKHS and RMX operate as hawalas and have been used by the Taliban to facilitate money transfers in support of the Taliban's narcotics trade and terrorist operations. Today the United Nations also added Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai, Haji Khairullah Barakzai, HKHS and RMX to its 1988 List of individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with the Taliban in constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan. "Today's action, which coincides with action by the UN, is aimed at disabling two key financial hubs supporting the Taliban. "Whether financial support to the Taliban moves through banks or less formal mechanisms, like the hawalas we are designating in this action, we will continue to work alongside our partners to expose and disrupt this illicit financial activity," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S Cohen. As a result of today's action, all property in the US or in the possession or control of US persons in which HKHS, RMX, Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai (Sattar), or Haji Khairullah Barakzai (Khairullah) have an interest is blocked, and US persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.