Designations of Foreign Terrorist Fighters
As part of the effort to counter the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters, the Department of State has designated ten individuals and two groups as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions and penalties on terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. As a result of the designations, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which these individuals or groups have any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them or to their benefit.
Formed in February 2013, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JAMWA) is a Chechen-led terrorist organization based in Syria that consists primarily of foreign fighters. Cooperating with other violent extremist organizations in Syria, including al-Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), JAMWA has launched deadly assaults against civilian communities, and kidnapped civilians and other foreigners in Syria.
Formed in August 2013, Harakat Sham al-Islam (HSI) is a Moroccan-led terrorist organization operating in Syria principally composed of foreign fighters. HSI has carried out terrorist attacks and engaged in kidnappings against civilians with other violent extremist organizations in Syria, including al-Nusrah Front.
As of mid-July 2014, Amru al-Absi was selected as ISIL’s provincial leader for Homs, Syria, in the Aleppo region. As a principal leader of ISIL in Syria, he has been in charge of kidnappings.
Salim Benghalem is a Syria-based French extremist and ISIL member, who carries out executions on behalf of the group. In 2007, Salim was convicted and sentenced to prison in France for a 2001 murder. Today, Benghalem is the subject of a European arrest warrant because of his activities on behalf of ISIL.
In May 2013, Mohammed Abdel-Halim Hemaida Saleh was arrested in Egypt by authorities for plotting to attack Western embassies in Cairo. Saleh is a member of al-Qa’ida and believes in conducting attacks against American and Israeli interests. As of mid-2013, Saleh had been recruiting suicide bombers to send to Syria and had been planning terrorist activities against unspecified targets in Europe.
Lavdrim Muhaxheri is a Kosovar Albanian foreign fighter for ISIL who operates in both Syria and Iraq. Muhaxheri made international headlines in July 2014 after uploading to Facebook graphic photos of himself beheading a young man.
Murad Margoshvili is a well-known Chechen leader in Syria who built a terrorist training base in Syria near the Turkish border, where newly arrived foreign fighters received combat training. He is also the leader of Junud al-Sham, a militant group that fights alongside other extremist groups in Syria.
Nusret Imamovic is a Bosnian terrorist leader operating in Syria. After his arrival, Imamovic actively supported violent extremism, and is now believed to be fighting with al-Nusrah Front.
Muhannad al-Najdi is a Syria-based al-Qa’ida facilitator of Saudi nationality. Prior to traveling to Syria in 2013, al-Najdi was involved in facilitation and operational planning in support of attacks in Afghanistan. Since at least 2010, al-Najdi has also been involved in the development of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for use in Afghanistan and Syria.
Abdessamad Fateh, also known as Abu Hamza, is a member of a Scandinavia-based network of extremists allegedly linked to al-Qa’ida, and has traveled to Syria.
Abd al-Baset Azzouz has had a presence in Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, and Libya. He was sent to Libya in 2011 by al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to build a fighting force there, and mobilized approximately 200 fighters. He is considered a key operative capable of training al-Qa’ida recruits in a variety of skills, such as IED construction.
Maalim Salman was chosen by now-deceased al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed (aka Godane) to be the head of African foreign fighters for al-Shabaab. He has trained foreign nationals who were seeking to join al-Shabaab as foreign fighters, and has been involved in operations in Africa targeting tourists, “entertainment establishments,” and churches.
Additionally, the Department of State has nominated several previously-designated foreign terrorist fighters and related entities at the UN 1267/1989 al-Qa’ida Sanctions Committee, including Abdallah Azzam Brigades, Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia, Seifallah Ben Hassine, Ibrahim Suleiman Hamad Al-Hablain, Ahmed Abdullah Saleh al-Khazmari al-Zahrani, Azzam Abdullah Zureik Al-Maulid Al-Subhi, and Anders Cameroon Ostensvig Dale. Maalim Salman was also listed at the UN Somalia Sanctions Committee today.