State Department Terrorist Designations of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Mohamed Abrini
The Department of State has designated Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Mohamed Abrini as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions on foreign persons and groups determined to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. As a result of these designations, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Abrini have any interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Abrini.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) is a splinter group of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. The group, founded by a former TTP leader in August 2014, has staged multiple attacks in the region targeting civilians, religious minorities, military personnel, and law enforcement, and was responsible for the killing of two Pakistani employees of the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar in early March 2016. In late March 2016, JuA carried out the suicide assault at the Gulshan-e-Iqbal amusement park in Lahore, Pakistan that killed more than 70 people—nearly half of them women and children—and injured hundreds more. The Easter Sunday attack was the deadliest terror attack in Pakistan since December 2014.
Mohamed Abrini is a member of the Europe-based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) cell responsible for the November 2015 Paris attacks and March 2016 Brussels attacks. Since his arrest on April 8, 2016 by Belgian authorities, Abrini has been identified as being “the man in white”—also known as “the man in the hat”—seen with two identified suicide bombers at Brussel’s Zaventem airport on March 22, just minutes before the attack that killed 16 people. Abrini is also believed to have taken part in the pre-attack surveillance for the November 2015 Paris attacks and to have assisted in planning attacks in the UK and Germany.
The imposition of sanctions by the United States against terrorists is a powerful tool. Today’s action notifies the U.S. public and the international community that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Mohamed Abrini are actively engaged in terrorism. Designations of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and result in denial of access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist or complement the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and other governments.