US Treasury designates two Syria rebels 'global terrorists'
WASHINGTON - The US government officially designated as "global terrorists" Wednesday two figures from rival jihadist groups in Syria, warning other rebel factions in the war-torn country to stay away from both men.
The US Treasury added Saudi-born Abd Al-Rahman Muhammad Zafir Al-Dubaysi al-Juhni and Iraq native Abd Al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
The two were cited for their ties to, respectively, Al-Qaeda operations in Syria, and Qaeda breakaway group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Al-Juhni is part of a group of senior Qaeda operatives in Syria formed to attack Western targets outside the country and also to mediate tensions between ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front, the local Qaeda affiliate, the Treasury said.
Al-Qaduli is a senior ISIL official who joined Qaeda 10 years ago and previously worked for leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, formerly the Qaeda commander in Iraq.
The designation aims to limit their access to financial and business networks by banning any American or American business from dealings with them and freezing any US assets.
Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said it sends a message to other Syrian rebels to not work with them.
"We are very concerned about Al-Qaeda networks moving money and fighters to extremist groups in Syria," he said in a statement.
The action "sends a strong warning to the legitimate Syrian opposition and those who wish to support it that they must reject the attempts of Al-Qaeda, ISIL, and Al-Nusra to elicit support for their cause by preying on the sympathies of the international community for the plight of the Syrian people."
Also Wednesday, the State Department amended its list of terror groups to make ISIL the primary name of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and list the Al-Nusra Front as a separate entity, reflecting their split.
"These adjustments do not represent a change in policy," it said. "We review our designations regularly and, as needed, make adjustments to ensure we remain current with nomenclature and other changes."