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U.S. Adds French Suspect to List of ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorists’ - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Washington-The United States on Tuesday named a French veteran of the Foreign Legion as a suspect in the planning of bloody attacks in Paris and Brussels.

The U.S. sanctioned Abdelilah Himich, also known as Abu Suleiman al-Faransi, a Moroccan-born French national accused of plotting the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris on behalf of ISIS.

“Himich created the Tariq Ibn Ziyad Battalion in 2015, a European foreign terrorist fighter cell that has provided operatives for ISIS attacks in Iraq, Syria, and abroad,” the State Department said in a press release, explaining the designation.

According to the release, Himich was involved in planning both the Paris attacks and the March 2016 Brussels attacks.

The U.S. State Department stated that Himich was added to its list of “specially designated global terrorists.”

The designation said he founded 300-strong ISIS “European foreign terrorist fighter cell” and reportedly helped plan the deadly attacks.

Himich, 27, has fought in the French Foreign Legion in Afghanistan before traveling to Syria and joining ISIS.

In November 2015, ISIS militants attacked the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, sprayed cafes with bullets and set off bombs outside a soccer match. In all 130 people died, and hundreds more were hurt.

Then in March, suicide bombers attacked Brussels airport and a metro station, killing 32 more.

Moreover, the U.S. Department of the Treasury introduced sanctions against Abdullah Ahmed Al-Meshedani, one of the most senior ISIS members, who is reportedly the terrorist group’s “cabinet” member and is responsible for foreign fighters and suicide bombers transport.

“Abdullah Ahmed al-Meshedani is an Iraqi ISIS leader who manages arriving foreign terrorist fighters, handles guesthouses for them, and transports suicide bombers on behalf of ISIS,” the U.S. State Department said in a press release, explaining the designation.

The release added, “He is also reportedly an advisor who reports to ISIS senior leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

The U.S. also sanctioned Basil Hassan, a Lebanese-born Danish national accused of plotting ISIS’ external operations and murdering a Danish writer.

In 2014, Hassan was arrested in Turkey in connection with the shooting death of 70-year-old Lars Hedegaard, a Danish writer and critic of Islam.

“After being arrested in Turkey in 2014, he was released as part of an alleged exchange for 49 hostages held by the ISIS,” the State Department said in a press release explaining the sanctions.

In a common matter, ProPublica News Agency reported that U.S. intelligence believes Himich was a “conceiver” of the Paris attacks.

However, details of his activities remain unclear, especially because several ISIS militants use the same nickname as he does.

French investigators first became aware of Himich in early 2014 during the surveillance of suspects in Lunel, a picturesque town near Montpellier that has been a hotbed for radicalized young people to join the jihad in Syria, ProPublica said.

The son of Moroccan immigrants, Himich went to high school in Lunel.

He joined the French Foreign Legion on November 13, 2008—seven years to the day before the Paris attacks, according to court documents.

Court documents stated that he served with that legendary fighting force in Afghanistan, earning two medals, but then deserted in 2010.

On the other hand, the Department of Justice is investigating Seaboard Corp. about whether the food processing giant did business with people and a company on the U.S. government’s designated-terrorist list, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Seaboard, the Kansas-based firm known for its Butterball turkey brand in the United States, did not return Reuters’ calls or emails seeking comment on the media report.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the agency does not confirm or deny whether a matter is under investigation.

The newspaper’s front-page story reported that, as part of a broad criminal probe, federal investigators are looking at whether Seaboard “tried to mask wheat-flour sales to firms linked to a Lebanese businessman and his family in the years after he and two brothers were put on the government’s terror blacklist in 2009 and 2010.”

A Treasury Department memo from 2010 said Kassim Tajideen, his brothers and business partners had financial ties to Lebanon’s co-called Hezbollah, according to the Journal’s report.

Seaboard, according to the Journal’s story, denied the allegations.

“Penalties for companies working with anyone on the list range from fines to prison under laws intended to starve terror groups of cash to carry out attacks,” according to the story.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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