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U.S. targets alleged Qatari militant backers

The U.S. treasury department has imposed sanctions on two Qatari men who they say raised funds for al-Nusra and al-Qaeda

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The U.S. Department of Treasury has imposed on Wednesday sanctions on two Qatari men who were allegedly involved in financial support for al-Qaeda and its Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front.

Saad bin Saad Mohammed Sharyan al-Kaabi and Abdul Latif Bin Abdallah Salih Muhammad al-Kawari were designated as "global terrorists" under a law that allows the ministry to freeze the assets of those involved with terrorism and prevents Americans from doing business with them.

A U.S. official said that al-Kaabi and al-Kuwari ran large networks of funding and that sanctions against the Qatari men would hopefully have a significant impact on their ability to raise any further funds in the region.

The official also added that while the U.S. Treasury is focusing on cutting off international funding to ISIS, “that does not mean that we are neglecting other terrorist groups."

U.S. officials told reporters on Wednesday that Kaabi set up a website to solicit money for extremist groups in Syria, but that the Qatari government has since shut it down.

'Disrupt the funding schemes'

“These sanctions target two major facilitators of the Nusra Front and al-Qaeda,” said Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam J. Szubin. “Treasury remains committed to using our financial intelligence and authorities to unravel and disrupt the funding schemes exploited by terrorist groups.”

The treasury said that Kaabi had set up donation campaigns in Qatar to aid with fundraising in response to a request from a Nusra Front associate to raise funds for weapons and food.

During that same period, a Nusra Front official requested Kaabi to act as an intermediary in collecting a ransom for a hostage being held by the group.

The treasury said Kawari collected financial support for al-Qaeda and that he had served as an al-Qaeda security official.

In early 2012, he had worked with Qaeda facilitators to coordinate the delivery of funding from Qatari financiers intended to support the extremist group.

The ministry did not mention the amount of funds collected by the Qatari men or the names of the hostages who were freed through Kaabi’s ransom. Officials also refused to answer a question on whether the Qatari government itself may have contributed to the financing of ransoms for any kidnapped persons.

Sanctions come after the Nusra Front kidnapped a group of U.S. trained Syrian opposition fighters, but U.S. official have denied that any link between the two issues.

The U.S. treasury has previously blamed Qatar of creating a tolerant atmosphere that allows the raising of funds and support of extremist organizations, especially those operating in Syria.

Officials said on Wednesday that cooperation with Qatar is improving, but "we still have concerns with respect to terrorist financing in Qatar."