Feds sanction Australian gem trader accused of helping Al Qaeda

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The feds slapped sanctions on an Australian gem dealer who allegedly helped move money around the world for al Qaeda, the notorious terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks.

The Treasury Department accused Ahmed Luqman Talib of working as a financial facilitator for al Qaeda, saying his work dealing gemstones gave him “the ability to move funds internationally” for the Muslim extremist group’s benefit.

The Treasury on Monday sanctioned both Talib — who did business in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Turkey and other countries — and his Melbourne-based gemstone company, Talib and Sons. The move bans Americans from doing business with them and freezes their assets in the US.

“Terrorist groups such as [al Qaeda] use financial facilitators to move money around the world to help carry out terrorist activity,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The Treasury Department remains committed to disrupting [al Qaeda’s] financial activities and networks around the world and appreciates the collaboration with our Australian partners.”

The feds did not release further details about Talib’s alleged connections to al Qaeda or whether he had assets or other business dealings in the US. But experts told the New York Times that the sanction suggests terrorists are using creative methods to finance their nefarious operations.

“Governments and private sector have made it harder to move funds via formal and informal financial systems,” Matthew Levitt, the Washington Institute’s director of counterterrorism and intelligence, told the paper. “It is interesting to see terrorists relying on gemstones, which are easy to move and hold value.”

Monday’s sanctions came about two months after the Department of Justice in August seized roughly $2 million in cryptocurrency that aided militant groups including al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Officials at the time called it the biggest-ever seizure of virtual currencies tied to terrorism.

“The United States has made significant progress in degrading [al Qaeda’s] support networks around the world,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday. “We will not relent in our efforts to target [al Qaeda’s] terrorist activities and those who support them.”

With Post wires

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