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October 22, 2020: OFAC-a-Rama: Designations & updates to counter terror, Iran, election interference, non-proliferation and Syria sanctions programs

Earlier today (sorry!), OFAC added the following entities:

BAYAN RASANEH GOSTAR INSTITUTE (a.k.a. BAYAN GOSTAR MEDIA INSTITUTE; a.k.a. BAYAN RASANE GOSTAR INSTITUTE), Iran; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions [ELECTION-EO13848] (Linked To: ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (IRGC)-QODS FORCE). 
 
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF VIRTUAL MEDIA (a.k.a. IUVM), Iran; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions [ELECTION-EO13848] (Linked To: ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (IRGC)-QODS FORCE). 
 
ISLAMIC RADIO AND TELEVISION UNION (a.k.a. IRTVU), Iran; Beirut, Lebanon; Kabul, Afghanistan; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions [ELECTION-EO13848] (Linked To: ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (IRGC)-QODS FORCE). 

to its Foreign Interference in U.S. Election sanctions program.

They also added the following persons:

AL-BAGHDADI, Hassan (Arabic: حسن بغدادي) (a.k.a. AL-BAGHDADI, Sheikh Hassan; a.k.a. BAGHDADI, Sheikh Hassan; a.k.a. “AL-BAGHDADI, Sheikh”), Lebanon; DOB 05 Oct 1961; citizen Lebanon; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions Pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations; Gender Male (individual) [SDGT] (Linked To: HIZBALLAH). 
 
MASJEDI, Iraj, Iraq; DOB 1957; nationality Iran; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions; Gender Male (individual) [SDGT] [IRGC] [IFSR] (Linked To: ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (IRGC)-QODS FORCE). 
 
QAOUK, Nabil (Arabic: نبيل قاووق) (a.k.a. KAWOUK, Nabil; a.k.a. QAWOOK, Sheikh Nabil; a.k.a. QAWOUK, Sheikh Nabil; a.k.a. QAWUQ, Nabil Yahy), Ebba, Nabatieh, Lebanon; DOB 20 May 1964; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions Pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations; Gender Male (individual) [SDGT] (Linked To: HIZBALLAH). 

to its global counter-terrorism sanctions program (Masjedi was also added to the IFSR and IRGC Iran sanctions program).

Also, the following entity listings:

ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (a.k.a. AGIR; a.k.a. ARMY OF THE GUARDIANS OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION; a.k.a. IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS; a.k.a. IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS; a.k.a. IRG; a.k.a. IRGC; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTION GUARDS CORPS; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY CORPS; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS CORPS; a.k.a. PASDARAN; a.k.a. PASDARAN-E INQILAB; a.k.a. PASDARN-E ENGHELAB-E ISLAMI; a.k.a. REVOLUTIONARY GUARD; a.k.a. REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS; a.k.a. SEPAH; a.k.a. SEPAH PASDARAN; a.k.a. SEPAH-E PASDARAN ENGHELAB ISLAMI; a.k.a. SEPAH-E PASDARAN-E ENGHELAB-E ESLAMI; a.k.a. SEPAH-E PASDARAN-E ENQELAB-E ESLAMI; a.k.a. THE ARMY OF THE GUARDIANS OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION; a.k.a. THE IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS), Tehran, Iran; Syria; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions [FTO] [SDGT] [NPWMD] [IRGC] [IFSR] [IRAN-HR] [HRIT-IR]. -to- ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (a.k.a. AGIR; a.k.a. ARMY OF THE GUARDIANS OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION; a.k.a. IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS; a.k.a. IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS; a.k.a. IRG; a.k.a. IRGC; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTION GUARDS CORPS; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY CORPS; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS CORPS; a.k.a. PASDARAN; a.k.a. PASDARAN-E INQILAB; a.k.a. PASDARN-E ENGHELAB-E ISLAMI; a.k.a. REVOLUTIONARY GUARD; a.k.a. REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS; a.k.a. SEPAH; a.k.a. SEPAH PASDARAN; a.k.a. SEPAH-E PASDARAN ENGHELAB ISLAMI; a.k.a. SEPAH-E PASDARAN-E ENGHELAB-E ESLAMI; a.k.a. SEPAH-E PASDARAN-E ENQELAB-E ESLAMI; a.k.a. THE ARMY OF THE GUARDIANS OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION; a.k.a. THE IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS), Tehran, Iran; Syria; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions [FTO] [SDGT] [NPWMD] [IRGC] [IFSR] [IRAN-HR] [HRIT-IR] [ELECTION-EO13848]. 
 
ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (IRGC)-QODS FORCE (a.k.a. AL QODS; a.k.a. IRGC-QF; a.k.a. IRGC-QUDS FORCE; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS-QODS FORCE; a.k.a. JERUSALEM FORCE; a.k.a. PASDARAN-E ENGHELAB-E ISLAMI (PASDARAN); a.k.a. QODS (JERUSALEM) FORCE OF THE IRGC; a.k.a. QODS FORCE; a.k.a. QUDS FORCE; a.k.a. SEPAH-E QODS; a.k.a. SEPAH-E QODS (JERUSALEM FORCE)), Tehran, Iran; Syria; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions [FTO] [SDGT] [SYRIA] [IRGC] [IFSR] [IRAN-HR]. -to- ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (IRGC)-QODS FORCE (a.k.a. AL QODS; a.k.a. IRGC-QF; a.k.a. IRGC-QUDS FORCE; a.k.a. ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS-QODS FORCE; a.k.a. JERUSALEM FORCE; a.k.a. PASDARAN-E ENGHELAB-E ISLAMI (PASDARAN); a.k.a. QODS (JERUSALEM) FORCE OF THE IRGC; a.k.a. QODS FORCE; a.k.a. QUDS FORCE; a.k.a. SEPAH-E QODS; a.k.a. SEPAH-E QODS (JERUSALEM FORCE)), Tehran, Iran; Syria; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions [FTO] [SDGT] [SYRIA] [IRGC] [IFSR] [IRAN-HR] [ELECTION-EO13848]. 

were updated. They’re all under the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) program, the global terrorism program (SDGT), the election interference program, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) program, the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations (IFSR) program, the Iran human rights program (IRAN-HR)…. Among others…

And the State Department issued two press releases – one for Iraj Masjedi:

For many years, the Iranian regime and its primary tool of regional destabilization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), have exploited Iraq to advance their own interests at the expense of the Iraqi people.  The IRGC-QF’s activities in Iraq continue to undermine Iraqi security, sovereignty, and prosperity.

Today, the United States is taking another step to protect the Iraqi people from malign IRGC-QF influence by designating Iraj Masjedi, a senior IRGC-QF general in Iraq who also serves as Iran’s ambassador to Iraq.  Masjedi has helped direct a variety of IRGC-QF activities in Iraq for many years, including training and providing support for Iraqi militia groups and facilitating large-scale financial transactions involving the IRGC-QF.  Acting in a nefarious fashion for the IRGC-QF’s benefit, Masjedi has exploited his diplomatic position to facilitate financial transfers in Iraq for the IRGC-QF, concealing the group’s interest in the funds.  Moreover, Masjedi has publicly acknowledged the IRGC-QF’s role in training militia groups in Iraq and Syria.  The United States is designating Masjedi pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended, for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.  The United States previously designated the IRGC, including the IRGC-QF, as Foreign Terrorist Organization as it supports, finances, and directs terrorist activities around the world.

In his decades of service with the IRGC-QF, Masjedi has overseen a program of training and support to Iraqi militia groups, undermining the Iraqi government, increasing sectarianism, and targeting peaceful Iraqi citizen protesters with violence.  He has directed or supported groups that are responsible for attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.  Today’s action is another reminder that the United States will continue to counter the Iranian regime’s malign behavior in the region.

And one for the Hizaballah-affiliated individuals:

Today, the United States is designating two Hizballah officials to maintain pressure on the group and impede its ability to operate in the financial system.  The United States is designating Nabil Qaouk and Hassan Al-Baghdadi pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended, for being officials or leaders of Hizballah, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist.  Qaouk and Al-Baghdadi are members of Hizballah’s Central Council, a group of senior Hizballah officials that elects the terrorist group’s Shura Council, Hizballah’s highest decision-making body.  Qaouk has also served on Hizballah’s Executive Council, which oversees the group’s social and economic activities.

Hizballah remains a terrorist threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests in the Middle East and around the world.  It is essential that countries take steps to restrict Hizballah’s activities and disrupt the terrorist group’s facilitation networks.

These designations reinforce other recent U.S. designations of Hizballah officials, entities, and others who have provided support or services to it, including certain political enablers.  These designations also expose their actions, which all too often prioritize their own interests or those of Tehran ahead of the Lebanese people.  As the United States commemorates the 37th anniversary of Hizballah’s heinous attack on the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, we reaffirm our commitment to take action to disrupt Hizballah’s operations and promote accountability for its terrorist acts.  All responsible nations must take appropriate steps to restrict Hizballah’s activities and constrain its influence.

Similarly, Treasury issued two press releases – this one:

PRESS RELEASES

Treasury Sanctions Iranian Ambassador to Iraq

Iraj Masjedi, a senior officer in the IRGC-Qods Force, continues to try to destabilize Iraq

Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating Iraj Masjedi, a general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq, for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF. A close adviser to former IRGC-QF Commander Qassem Soleimani, Masjedi played a formative role in the IRGC-QF’s Iraq policy. In his decades of service with the group, Masjedi has overseen a program of training and support to Iraqi militia groups, and he has directed or supported groups that are responsible for attacks that have killed and wounded U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. In his current capacity, Masjedi has exploited his position as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq to obfuscate financial transfers conducted for the benefit of the IRGC-QF.

“The Iranian regime threatens Iraq’s security and sovereignty by appointing IRGC-QF officials as ambassadors in the region to carry out their destabilizing foreign agenda,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States will continue to employ the tools and authorities at its disposal to target the Iranian regime and IRGC-QF officials that attempt to meddle in the affairs of sovereign nations, including any attempts to influence U.S. elections.”

Masjedi is being designated pursuant to the counterterrorism authority Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF. The IRGC-QF was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 in 2007 for support to numerous terrorist groups. The IRGC, including its external arm, the IRGC-QF, was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on April 8, 2019.

A LONG-RUNNING THREAT TO IRAQI SECURITY

Iran’s ambassador to Iraq since 2017, Masjedi has publicly admitted the IRGC-QF’s role in special operations and the training of militia groups in Iraq, Syria, and beyond. He claims credit for organizing and supporting regional militias to advance Iran’s interests throughout the Middle East an enterprise that has spawned untold destruction and corruption, robbing Iraq of a stable, prosperous future.

Masjedi has facilitated financial transfers for the benefit of the IRGC-QF in coordination with IRGC-QF financial facilitator Hushang Allahdad, acting at the direction of former IRGC-QF Commander Soleimani and his successor, Esma’il Ghani. Soleimani was designated pursuant to multiple authorities, including E.O. 13224, in 2011, while Allahdad and Ghani were designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Since 2018, Masjedi has helped the IRGC-QF obtain foreign currency in Iraq, in return for equivalent sums that the IRGC-QF in Iran has transferred to relevant entities. Most recently, Masjedi has provided direct assistance in obtaining tens of billions of dinars on behalf of the IRGC-QF in Iraq.

In the decades prior to his ambassadorial appointment, Masjedi was a senior figure overseeing IRGC-QF activities in Iraq, which included attacks targeting U.S. and coalition personnel, as well as kidnappings and the assassination of Iraqi provincial officials who sought to curb Iranian influence in Iraq. The IRGC-QF provided training for Iraqi recruits, often inside Iran. The Iraqi recruits hailed from groups loyal to, and supported by, the IRGC-QF, which help maintain Iranian influence in Iraqi politics and security. The IRGC-QF also manufactured and distributed weapons, including explosively formed penetrators, that killed and wounded hundreds during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Masjedi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

All property and interests in property of the individual designated today, subject to U.S. jurisdiction, are blocked, and U.S persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with him or the blocked property. In addition, foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate significant transactions for, or persons that provide material or certain other support to, the individual designated today risk exposure to sanctions that could sever their access to the U.S. financial system or block their property and interests in property under U.S. jurisdiction.

and this one:

PRESS RELEASES

Treasury Targets High-Ranking Hizballah Officials

Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two members of Hizballah’s Central Council. The Central Council is responsible for identifying and electing the group’s highest decision-making body, the Shura Council, which formulates policy and asserts control over all aspects of Hizballah’s activities, including its military activities. Specifically, OFAC designated Nabil Qaouk (Qaouk) and Hassan al-Baghdadi (Baghdadi) for being leaders or officials of Hizballah.

“Hizballah’s senior leaders are responsible for creating and implementing the terrorist organization’s destabilizing and violent agenda against U.S. interests and those of our partners around the world,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “We must continue to hold Hizballah accountable for its horrific actions as we approach the 37th anniversary of Hizballah’s bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.”

Qaouk and Baghdadi were designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorists, leaders or officials of terrorist groups, and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. 

NABIL QAOUK AND HASSAN AL-BAGHDADI

Nabil Qaouk and Hassan al-Baghdadi are leaders or officials of Hizballah, a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended.

Qaouk has served on Hizballah’s Executive Council, which oversees the group’s social and economic activities, as well as its Central Council. In recent years, he has spoken publicly on behalf of Hizballah, threatening war with Israel, denouncing the U.S. presence in the region, and lauding Hizballah’s use of guerrilla warfare, which serves only to erode security in Lebanon. Qaouk has also delivered speeches on behalf of Hizballah at several ceremonies commemorating deceased Hizballah terrorists, including the former Hizballah External Security Organization chief Imad Mughniyah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) commander Qasem Soleimani, both of whom were responsible for the deaths of countless Americans. Mughniyah was designated in October 2001 for his ties to Hizballah, and Soleimani was designated in October 2011 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF.

Baghdadi, who has publicly identified himself as a Hizballah official, has participated in political events and delivered speeches on behalf of Hizballah. In several speeches, he praised Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and defended Hizballah’s targeting of Americans. In 2020, Baghdadi attended a symposium in Lebanon during which he commended the IRGC and fighters in Syria and Iraq for attacking U.S. military bases. OFAC and members of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) designated Nasrallah in May 2018 for acting for or on behalf of Hizballah, which he has led since 1992. OFAC previously designated Nasrallah in January 1995 for threatening to disrupt the Middle East peace process and in September 2012 for providing support to the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.

In 2015, Baghdadi attended a ceremony in Tehran, Iran, with Naim Qassem and several other ranking officials, during which Qassem unveiled his book and praised Hizballah’s war with Israel. OFAC and the TFTC designated Qassem, the Deputy Secretary General of Hizballah, in May 2018 for acting for or on behalf of Hizballah.

The TFTC is an initiative between the United States, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, which is designed to counter the financing of terrorism.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

The Treasury Department continues to prioritize disruption of the full range of Hizballah’s illicit financial activity, and with this action has designated over 95 Hizballah-affiliated individuals and entities since 2017. OFAC took this action pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, which targets terrorists, leaders or officials of terrorist groups, and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. Hizballah was designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997 and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001. 

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution of funds, goods or services from any such person.

Furthermore, engaging in certain transactions with individuals designated today entails risk of secondary sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, and the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implement the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, as amended by the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2018. Pursuant to these authorities, OFAC may prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for Hizballah or on behalf of a designated terrorist group, or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, Hizballah.

Links:

OFAC Notice

State Department Press Releases – Iraj Masjedi, Hizballah

Treasury Department Press Releases – Iraj Masjedi, Hizballah

Categories: Election Intereference Sanctions Human Rights Sanctions Iranian Sanctions OFAC Updates Sanctions Lists Syrian Sanctions

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