Thursday, July 14, 2005

Sanctioning Kanaan and Ghazali

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has this to say about freezing the assets of Syrian Officials. It's hard to see how this will make for an effective policy. With the growing number of executive orders, embargo restrictions, no ambassador in Syria, and the designation of Syria as a terrorist state, the US and Syria are carrying out low grade, economic and legal battles on an ever expanding front.

By Matthew Levitt and Jamie Chosak

The Treasury Department's ability to freeze the assets of any individual believed to pose a threat to U.S. national security is a result of EO 13224, issued on December 20, 2002. While designations at the outset affect only those financial accounts registered in the United States, EO 13224 also authorizes the department to impose sanctions on any individual, organization, or foreign bank that provides services to SDNs. Furthermore, SDNs and their representatives can be and often are banned from entering the United States.

Kanaan and Ghazali: Supporting Terrorism

Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snow explained that the designations of Kanaan and Ghazali as SDNs were "intended to financially isolate bad actors supporting Syria's efforts to destabilize its neighbors." Indeed, the designations referred in detail to the role these individuals played in Lebanon. In August 2001, the Syrian government feared that an alliance was forming between Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, Lebanese speaker of parliament Nabih Berri, and a Lebanese sectarian leader. To discourage the formation of an anti-Syrian alliance, Damascus sent Kanaan as its representative to impress Syrian interests on Berri. Berri was then asked to convey these interests to all members of the Lebanese parliament. Kanaan also oversaw the entire 2000 Lebanese parliamentary electoral process. In 2002, Ghazali replaced Kanaan as head of Syrian military intelligence, and Ghazali continued the policies of his predecessor by ensuring that the Lebanese political atmosphere matched the interests of the Syrian government.

The current designation statement also makes reference to support by Kanaan and Ghazali for foreign terrorist organizations, including Hizballah. According to the Treasury Department, Kanaan met with Hizballah leaders in May 2001 and obtained their agreement not to execute any military operations without first notifying Syria, but to continue their casing and reconnaissance operations. In 2002, Kanaan is alleged to have personally escorted the delivery of three rockets to Hizballah as part of a convoy that crossed over the Syria-Lebanon border. Kanaan's influence over Lebanon's military and security services was extensive as well. In 2001, for example, a commander in the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) reported that any weapon and security permits for LAF personnel would need to be signed by Kanaan himself to be considered valid. Ghazali maintained similar influence; U.S. authorities believe that he instructed the commanders of the LAF Directorate of Intelligence, Internal Security Forces, and Directorate of General Security to report to him on a daily basis.

Innovative Designation

The U.S. government's action in the case of Kanaan and Ghazali is both atypical and innovative. Although several senior Middle Eastern government officials have in the past been connected to terrorism and other illicit dealings, not one has been designated as an SDN until now. Consider these examples:

--According to U.S. intelligence, Maj. Gen. Muhammad al-Khouli and his aide, Col. Haytham Said of Syria's Air Force Security Directorate, were directly linked to the 1986 Nizar Hindawi affair. These two officials promised Jordanian national Hindawi 250,000 British pounds in exchange for placing a bag of explosives on an El Al flight to Tel Aviv and took part in the planning, financing, training, and recruiting for the operation. The case led Britain to suspend diplomatic relations with Syria. Hindawi, the bomber, was ultimately sentenced to forty-five years in prison by the British High Court.

--Ali Fallahian, then–Iranian minister of intelligence and security, played an active role in the execution of terrorist attacks in several countries, including the infamous 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (also known as the AMIA building) in Buenos Aires.

--In April 1993, Iraqi intelligence operatives attempted to assassinate former president George H. W. Bush during his trip to Kuwait. Two suspects, Raiad Asadi and Wali Abdulhadi Ghazali, both Iraqi nationals, admitted to FBI agents that they had participated in the plot under the leadership of senior Iraqi officials. The two informed U.S. intelligence that on April 12, 1993, they met in Basra with "individuals they believed to be associated with the Iraqi Intelligence Service" and received instructions on how to carry out the assassination.

--In 1992, U.S. and UN sanctions were imposed on Libya following that country's implication in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. While Libya was subject to sanctions, the accounts of specific individuals were not frozen. On September 12, 2003, the sanctions were finally lifted as the country officially accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and compensated victims' families. Two men suspected of carrying out the bombing were tried before a Scottish court. One suspect, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted of all charges. The other, Abdul Basset Ali al-Merahi, was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison. Neither man was designated on any Treasury Department list, nor were any senior-level Libyan intelligence officials who likely played a direct role in plotting and financing the attack.


Despite the fact that neither Ghazi Kanaan nor Rustum Ghazali is likely to hold a U.S. bank account, their designation is a clear shot across the bow of the Syrian government. The ratcheting up of U.S. pressure on Syria should be seen in the light of that country's continued interference in Lebanon and Iraq, as well as its sponsorship of terrorism. In June, White House spokesman Scott McClellan warned of reports that Syria had developed a "hit list targeting key Lebanese public figures of various political and religious persuasions for assassination." And, speaking at the July G-8 meeting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice challenged Damascus to take more action to prevent cross-border activities that contribute to insecurity in Iraq.

Focusing on individual officials is a creative measure that strongly signals Washington's continued concern with Syria's disruptive activities. But on their own, such designations are more symbolic than substantive. If Syrian behavior with regard to Lebanon, Iraq, terror, and proliferation does not change significantly, additional designations and further measures may well need to be considered.

Matthew Levitt is director of The Washington Institute's Terrorism Studies Program. Jamie Chosak is a research assistant with the program.


At 7/15/2005 06:53:00 AM, Anonymous Tarek said...

Is it me or is the rhetoric by the US on Syria has quieted down a bit in the last couple of weeks? Except for Rice blabbing a bit after the latest suicide bombing in Israel. It has been awfully quiet. Are you we playing along? Or is it just the silence before the next storm?

At 7/15/2005 07:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ignor this stupid Lebanese named Tarek.

At 7/15/2005 07:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did find out tarek surname:

At 7/15/2005 07:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And he is an "IT" SHANTAR HAFANA

At 7/15/2005 07:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree, I would not want to be Lebanease and have this kind of an upbringing. I will be frustrated all my life knowing that my family name SHantar Hafana will not get me more than a labor job at best, with the local help "WASTA" of a notable. I can see the heatred in him.

At 7/15/2005 07:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bitter Lebanese IT dude.

At 7/15/2005 08:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He could be either Ghazali or Kannan illegitimate son.

At 7/15/2005 08:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

seen his photo, he loks like Ghazali son, born to the Whore name Antoinette down on Mergi square.

At 7/15/2005 09:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

these commets are unbeleivable you read a legit inteligent -argument from Tarek just to read isulting remark from anonymous,can you please grow up and offer somthing .naim/usa

At 7/15/2005 10:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shut up Naim and mind your own business. He started the insults and the attack on the previous comment. No one asked him, if you can't handel the heat get out of the fire line.

At 7/15/2005 10:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Notice that this moron name "Naim" is the same letters as "AMIN" in Arabic or "Amen" in Latin. same shit.

At 7/15/2005 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has this to say about freezing the assets of Syrian Officials. It's hard to see how this will make for an effective policy"

It's not stupid and it's not a policy. It's part of a policy. Washingot is simply sending a message: we don't like these people, they are a factor of instability so don't work with them.

At 7/15/2005 11:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the bad languege and isults indicate what kind of people you are, writers from the US argue points not insults like you,naim/USA

At 7/15/2005 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous kingcrane said...

The assets of Rustum Ghazali and Ghazi Kan'an can be frozen? Where please, and how? Tarek is correct; this is rhetoric. It is the kind of stuff that Faux (not a typo, just open a french dictionnary)News comments seriously about. Blabla sanctions, blabla support to terrorism, blabla winds of change. All of it is dratt 'al blatt.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home