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US Treasury Sanctions Network Financing Houthi Aggression and Instability in Yemen

US Treasury Sanctions Network Financing Houthi Aggression and Instability in Yemen

Thursday, 10 June, 2021 - 17:30
Houthi supporters in Sanaa, Yemen, February 2019. (Getty Images)

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Thursday the designation of members of a a smuggling network that helps fund Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and the Houthi militias in Yemen.

Led by Iran-based Houthi financier Said al-Jamal, this network generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue from the sale of commodities, like Iranian petroleum, a significant portion of which is then directed through a complex network of intermediaries and exchange houses in multiple countries to the Houthis in Yemen, said the Treasury.

“This network’s financial support enables the Houthis’ deplorable attacks threatening civilian and critical infrastructure in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. These attacks undermine efforts to bring the conflict to an end and, most tragically, starve tens of millions of innocent civilians,” said Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea M. Gacki.

“Ending the suffering of millions of Yemenis is of paramount concern to the United States, and we will continue to hold accountable those responsible for widespread misery and deny them access to the global financial system.”

Since the onset of the conflict in Yemen, the Houthis have relied on support from the IRGC-QF to wage their campaign against the internationally-recognized Yemeni government and the Saudi-led Arab coalition.

Despite growing calls for peace, the Houthis have continued to escalate their lethal attacks inside Yemen and in the region, with dire consequences for Yemeni civilians and Yemen’s neighbors, continued the Treasury.

The Houthis have used ballistic missiles, explosives, naval mines and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to strike military targets, population centers, infrastructure, and nearby commercial shipping in Saudi Arabia, along key international trade routes.

Al-Jamal directs a network of front companies and vessels that smuggle Iranian fuel, petroleum products, and other commodities to customers throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

A significant portion of the revenue generated from these sales is directed through a complex international network of intermediaries and exchange houses to the Houthis in Yemen.

This revenue helps fund the destabilizing regional activities of the Houthis, IRGC-QF, and others, including Hezbollah. Al-Jamal’s network has generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue through the sale of Iranian commodities to those willing to evade sanctions. He also maintains connections to Hezbollah and has worked with the group to send millions of dollars to support the Houthis.

Turkey-based Houthi-affiliate Abdi Nasir Ali Mahamud, a key business partner of al-Jamal, acts as a financial intermediary and has coordinated the smuggling of petrochemicals for the network. Mahamud has leveraged his position as managing director of UAE-based Adoon General Trading FZE to facilitate the transfer of millions of dollars on behalf of al-Jamal.

Hani Abd-al-Majid Muhammad Asad, a Turkey-based Yemeni accountant affiliated with the Houthis, manages al-Jamal's finances and has used multiple bank accounts to send and receive millions of dollars in payments for al-Jamal’s shipping operations, as well as to facilitate transfers to the Houthis in Yemen.

Since 2017, Jami Ali Muhammad, a Somali businessman and Houthi and IRGC-QF associate, has assisted al-Jamal’s efforts to procure vessels, facilitate shipments of Iranian fuel, and transfer funds for the benefit of the Houthis.

At the direction of al-Jamal, Turkey-based Syrian national Talib Ali Husayn Al-Ahmad al-Rawi and Greece-based Syrian national Abdul Jalil Mallah have facilitated transactions worth millions of dollars to Swaid and Sons, a Yemen-based exchange house associated with the Houthis. Al-Jamal has used Swaid and Sons to send millions of dollars to IRGC-QF officials deployed in Yemen.

Mallah has facilitated the shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria. Mallah has worked with al-Jamal to send millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian crude oil to Hezbollah. Al-Rawi has worked with al-Jamal to transfer millions of dollars from Qatirji Group purchases of Iranian petroleum products to Swaid and Sons in Yemen.

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