Yemeni money exchange, owners sanctioned for aiding AQAP -U.S. Treasury

WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - A currency exchange business suspected of supporting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the its two owners have been added to the U.S. Treasury Department’s list targeting those who aid U.S.-designated terrorist groups, the department said on Tuesday.

Said Salih Abd-Rabbuh al-Omgy and Muhammad Salih Abd-Rubbuh al-Omgy were placed on the Treasury Department’s specially designated nationals list along with their firm, the Al Omgy Exchange, which has been used by AQAP for financial transactions for several years, the department said in a statement.

The action by the Treasury Department bars U.S. citizens from engaging in transactions with the al-Omgy brothers and their exchange. It also blocks access to any of their property subject to U.S. jurisdiction, the Treasury said.

The Treasury Department said AQAP uses accounts at the Al Omgy Exchange to disperse funding throughout Yemen and receive deposits, including extortion payments from Yemeni businesses.

It said AQAP earlier this year ordered a Yemeni petroleum firm in Hadramawt province to transfer $1 million to the Al Omgy Exchange to support the al Qaeda affiliate’s activities.

The Treasury Department statement said Said al-Omgy owned an unknown number of money exchanges or money transfer organizations known as hawalas in Aden, Yemen, and used those institutions to conduct financial activity for AQAP.

In 2005, he was involved in fundraising to help train and equip Yemenis to join the insurgency in Iraq, the Treasury said.

The Treasury said Mohammad al-Omgy was a co-owner of the Al Omgy exchange and also a member of AQAP. He has engaged in weapons smuggling and helped AQAP obtain arms and financing, the Treasury said.

Reporting by David Alexander; Editing y Steve Orlofsky