Washington: The US government officially designated as global terrorists on Wednesday two figures from rival jihadist groups in Syria, warning other rebel factions in the war-torn country to stay away from both men.
The US Treasury added Saudi-born Abd Al Rahman Mohammad Zafir Al Dubaysi Al Juhni and Iraq native Abdul Rahman Mustafa Al Qaduli to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
The two were cited for their ties to, respectively, Al Qaida operations in Syria, and Al Qaida breakaway group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
Al Juhni is part of a group of senior Al Qaida operatives in Syria formed to attack Western targets outside the country and also to mediate tensions between Isil and the Al Nusra Front, the local Al Qaida affiliate, the Treasury said.
Al Qaduli is a senior Isil official who joined Al Qaida 10 years ago and previously worked for leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, formerly the Al Qaida commander in Iraq.
The designation aims to limit their access to financial and business networks by banning any American or American business from dealings with them and freezing any US assets.
Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said it sends a message to other Syrian rebels to not work with them.
“We are very concerned about Al Qaida networks moving money and fighters to extremist groups in Syria,” he said in a statement.
The action “sends a strong warning to the legitimate Syrian opposition and those who wish to support it that they must reject the attempts of Al Qaida, Isil, and Al Nusra to elicit support for their cause by preying on the sympathies of the international community for the plight of the Syrian people.”
Also on Wednesday, the State Department amended its list of terror groups to make Isil the primary name of Al Qaida in Iraq, and list the Al Nusra Front as a separate entity, reflecting their split.
“These adjustments do not represent a change in policy,” it said. “We review our designations regularly and, as needed, make adjustments to ensure we remain current with nomenclature and other changes.”