WASHINGTON Aug 6 The United States on Wednesday
imposed sanctions on three men it said funneled money from
Kuwait to Islamic militant groups in Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. Treasury Department said two of the men raised and
delivered money for the Nusra Front, a Syrian rebel group linked
to al Qaeda. A third man helped to transfer money from Kuwait to
Syria for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and
also helped smuggle fighters to join insurgents in Afghanistan
ISIL, now known simply as the Islamic State, has taken over
large swathes of Iraq in the past two months and seeks to impose
a caliphate to rule over all Muslims.
"We and our international partners, including the Kuwaiti
government, need to act more urgently and effectively to disrupt
these terrorist financing efforts," David Cohen, Treasury's
undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in
Kuwait has been one of the biggest humanitarian donors to
Syrian refugees through the United Nations, but it has also
struggled to control unofficial fundraising for opposition
groups in Syria by private individuals.
Treasury's sanctions freeze any assets the three men may
hold in the United States and prohibit American people and firms
from dealing with them.
Unlike some other Gulf states, U.S. ally Kuwait is against
arming rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad. But it has tolerated fundraising in private houses,
mosques and on social media.
Earlier this year, Treasury's Cohen accused Kuwait's former
justice minister of promoting terrorism funding and calling for
jihad. The minister subsequently quit.
In a speech in Washington in March, Cohen said Kuwait and
Qatar in particular needed to do more to prevent humanitarian
donations from getting channeled to militant groups.
(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Grant McCool)