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U.S. blacklists ISIS-K leaders as terrorist organization's threat grows

U.S. blacklists ISIS-K leaders as terrorist organization's threat grows
The U.S. flag flies at half-staff above the White House in Washington, DC, on August 27, after a suicide bomber from ISIS-K killed more than 100 people, including 13 US troops, outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan a day prior. File Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The Biden administration blacklisted a key financial facilitator for the Islamic State's Afghanistan branch as it targets the terrorist organization as its threat to the United States grows.

The Treasury sanctioned Ismatullah Khalozai, accusing him of being an international financial facilitator for the Islamic State-Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K.

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The federal department said Khalozai has operated a Turkey-based business for the past two years that has transferred funds to finance ISIS-K operations. Prior to that, he operated a United Arab Emirates-based scheme that supported ISIS-K through sending luxury items to international locations for re-sale, the Treasury said, adding he is also accused of carrying out human smuggling operations for the terrorist organization.

"Today's designation underscores the United States' determination to prevent ISIS-K and its members from exploiting the international financial system to support terrorist acts in Afghanistan and beyond," Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement.

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To coincide with the Treasury's move, the State Department on Monday also blacklisted three ISIS-K leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, prohibiting U.S. persons from doing business with them and blocking all of their U.S.-based assets and interests in property.

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The move follows the threat of the terrorist organization in Afghanistan continuing to grow following the U.S. military's exit from the country in late Summer.

Late last month, the Pentagon warned that within as little as six months ISIS-K could launch attacks against the United States outside of the Middle Eastern country.

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"We are fairly certain that they have the intention to do so," Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahlo told the Senate armed services committee on Oct. 26. "We have considerable evidence that they have the intent. The question at the moment is the capability."

The terrorist organization has been behind a slew of attacks in Afghanistan, including the suicide bombing that killed 13 service members and more than 100 Afghans near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul amid the U.S. military withdrawal from the country in August and a blast last month at an Afghanistan mosque that killed more than 50 people.

"We are committed to using all of our counterterrorism tools to counter ISIS-K and ensure that Afghanistan cannot again become a platform for international terrorism," Staes Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a Monday press briefing.

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