U.S. sanctions two Yemenis, charity tied to al Qaeda in Yemen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States imposed sanctions on two Yemeni men and a Yemen-based charity on Wednesday as part of its ongoing efforts to disrupt the financial and support networks of the Islamist militant group al Qaeda’s powerful Yemen branch, the U.S. Treasury said.

The Treasury added Al-Hasan Ali Ali Abkar, Abdallah Faysal Sadiq al-Ahdal and the Rahmah Charitable Organization to its list of specially designated nationals and entities that support or engage in terrorism. It said the Rahmah Charitable Organization acted as a “front organization” for the group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

“The facilitators and front company designated today are responsible for supporting AQAP’s violent terrorist activities,” John Smith, acting director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement.

The department’s action prohibits U.S. citizens from engaging in any transactions with the two men and the charity and blocks any property they may have in U.S. jurisdictions.

“Today’s action not only exposes their illicit activities but also aims to disrupt and dismantle AQAP’s financial and support networks,” Smith said.

Ali Ali Abkar has provided support to AQAP since 2014, including helping to supply money, weapons and ammunition to AQAP forces, the department said. As of 2015, he also was an AQAP commander responsible for Yemen’s Marib and al-Jawf regions, it said.

Sadiq al-Ahdal has supported AQAP since 2009, the department said. As of this year, he was a senior tribal leader in Hadramawt district, it said. He has managed foreign AQAP fighters and has raised funds for AQAP from Gulf businesses under the cover of his charity, the Rahmah Charitable Organization, which was also placed on the Treasury’s list, the department said.

(This version of the story corrects name in sixth paragraph, Abkar instead of Akbar)

Reporting by Timothy Ahmann; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Will Dunham