WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Tuesday that the United States and six other Middle East countries are taking action to expose and disrupt terrorist activities being conducted by the Taliban and Iran to undermine the government of Afghanistan.
In the announcement from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Mnuchin said the seven countries had designated nine individuals associated with the Taliban and their Iranian sponsors for sanctions. The seven nations make up the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, which has an operations center in Saudi Arabia.
Mnuchin met with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia on Monday after announcing last week that he would not attend an investment conference in Saudi Araba following the death of a journalist in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
The administration sees Saudi Arabia as a key ally in its sanctions campaign against Iran.
The sanctions announcement by the seven countries came on the same day that Saudi Arabia began the high-profile economic forum which was aimed at drawing more foreign investment into the country. Originally, Mnuchin was to attend the conference in addition to a meeting of the seven-nation anti-terrorism group.
Mnuchin said the sanctions announced against the nine individuals demonstrated the tremendous value of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center to international security by “disrupting and exposing key Taliban members who are involved in suicide attacks and other lethal activities.”
“The United States and our partners will not tolerate the Iranian regime exploiting Afghanistan to further their destabilizing behavior,” Mnuchin said.
Among those sanctioned by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the other nations was Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi, also known as Jalal Vahedi. Treasury said in its statement that he had been sanctioned for assisting in and sponsoring or providing financial, material and technical support for and other services to the Taliban.
The designation by the Saudi-based center was the third coordinated designation made since creation of the center was announced in May 2017.
Mnuchin is on a week-long trip to the Middle East with stops in six nations. Before Saudi Arabia, Mnuchin began his travels with a stop in Israel over the weekend. He is also scheduled to visit Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Jordan and Kuwait.
Mnuchin announced last Thursday that he would not attend the investment conference in Riyahd after a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the on-going investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.