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Regional News
Jan 10, 2008
US blacklists Iranian commander, Syrian-based TV station

Washington - The US Treasury said Wednesday it had blacklisted a top-ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer and a Syrian-based television station for allegedly "fueling" insurgent acts in Iraq.

The Treasury said its financial sanctions targeted Ahmed Foruzandeh who it said was a brigadier general in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Qods Force, as well as Syrian-based Al-Zawra television.

US officials accused Foruzandeh of helping foment attacks in Iraq against Iraqi government officials and American troops.

Al-Zawra was said to have broadcast messages through patriotic songs to the Islamic Army of Iraq group which Washington labels a Sunni terrorist group.

The Treasury's actions also targeted three Iraqi men identified as Abu Mustafa Al-Sheibani, Ismail Hafiz Al Lami and Mish'an Al-Jaburi.

The government agency said, however, that the Iranian brigadier general and the three Iraqis all had numerous aliases.

The US sanctions against the top-ranking Iranian military officer come amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran.

US President George W. Bush, currently on a trip to the Middle East, warned Iran of "serious consequences" if it attacked US warships, following an encounter between US and Iranian vessels in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend.

"Iran and Syria are fueling violence and destruction in Iraq. Iran trains, funds, and provides weapons to violent Shia extremist groups, while Syria provides safe-haven to Sunni insurgents and financiers," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Levy urged America's allies to support the sanctions which freeze the assets of targeted individuals under US jurisdiction, as well as barring US citizens from conducting financial deals with those affected.

The Treasury said Foruzandeh "leads terrorist operations" against US and Iraqi forces in Iraq, which borders Iran, and claimed he was responsible for managing assassinations of Iraqi citizens.

US officials believe the Iranian officer has based his operations in the former US embassy compound in Tehran.

They claimed Foruzandeh had set up training courses in Iran for Iraqi militias which include lessons on guerilla warfare and of how to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have been responsible for the deaths of US troops.

Al-Zawra television is owned and controlled by one of the Iraqis cited on the updated blacklist, Mish'an Al-Jaburi, according to the Treasury.

Washington said the television station broadcasts "graphic" videos of insurgent attacks against US troops based in Iraq, as well as urging Iraqis to fight US forces.

US officials believe Mish'an Al-Jaburi is based in Syria, which also borders Iraq, and that the other two Iraqis cited are living in Iran.

The Treasury said Abu Mustafa Al-Sheibani and Ismail Hafiz Al Lami led different groups which seek to fight US forces and harm Iraqi officials and citizens.

The Treasury has ratcheted up its financial sanctions against various Iranians and the Iranian government, including large banks, in the past year as relations between the two countries have hardened.

Tehran has vigorously denied backing violence in Iraq.

Washington has also been seeking to win broader United Nations sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

US officials say Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but Tehran says it nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

(Source: "US blacklists Iranian commander, Syrian-based TV station", Tukishpress, 10 January 2008)

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