The United States announced the imposition of sanctions Friday on businessman Rizwaan Sabir, who is one of the founders of the charitable organization, Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith International, and is wanted by the United Nations on terrorism charges. The sanctions are the latest move in a seven-year effort by the U.S. government to disrupt financing for al-Qaeda’s financial network.
Mr. Sabir, 44, has been under scrutiny by U.S. and European agencies since late 2016, when Mr. Sabir was named on a list of individuals and entities that the United Nations Security Council deems to be illicitly supporting terror groups, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). As of last year, he was not a dual citizen of either the United States or the United Kingdom, which blocked his assets at that time.
Last year, he moved to Dubai.
Mr. Sabir was released from jail in 2012 and extradited to the United Arab Emirates by the United States after his name was mentioned in the same U.N. sanctions list. He was released from prison after two years due to insufficient evidence and because he had diplomatic immunity in Dubai. He has always denied any wrongdoing.
But he has remained under pressure and remains a wanted man. Earlier this year, U.S. authorities also froze the assets of several businessmen and financial institutions in the Gulf who had allegedly helped Mr. Sabir.
After the government of President Emile Hawa Yousafzai of Pakistan allegedly admitted to providing financial support to Mr. Sabir during his 2010 trial in that country, the United States was able to prove to the U.N. Security Council that Mr. Sabir also had links to senior Pakistan military and government officials.
This past June, in response to the enhanced pressure and the propaganda he received in Pakistan, Mr. Sabir gave up the fight for his life in favor of political survival. Pakistan released him on humanitarian grounds from prison on July 18.
“Mr. Sabir is well aware of the consequences of such actions,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday. “Mr. Sabir is part of the very terrorist organizations for which he’s been arrested, listed, and targeted by our government.”
Those responsible for leading the anti-Jihadist effort have been told repeatedly that they are working in Afghanistan and Pakistan.