U.S. sets bounty for Iran-based al Qaeda financier
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday announced it was establishing a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to Yasin al-Suri, who is accused of operating from Iran as a facilitator and financier for al Qaeda.
The bounty is the first offered for an al Qaeda financier and is aimed at disrupting a financial network that has operated from within Iran's borders since 2005, said Eytan Fisch, a senior Treasury Department official.
Robert Hartung, a senior State Department official, said that under an agreement between al Qaeda and the government of Iran, al-Suri had helped move money and recruits through Iran to al Qaeda leaders in neighboring countries.
Hartung said al-Suri, who is originally from Syria, also was known as Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil.
The U.S. Treasury Department in July blacklisted al-Suri and five other members of his network, exposing what the United States says are direct links between Tehran and the al Qaeda network.
Hartung said al-Suri's network serves as an important conduit for channeling both money and fighters from around the Middle East to al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
"He is a dedicated terrorist working in support of al Qaeda with the support of the government of Iran," Hartung said. "As a key fundraiser for the al Qaeda terrorist network, he is a continuing danger to the interests of the United States."
Since 1984 the U.S. Rewards for Justice program has paid more than $100 million to more than 70 people who provided credible information that either prevented terrorist attacks or helped bring accused terrorists to justice, the State Department's Hartung said.