WASHINGTON — The United States imposed sanctions Thursday on seven people for allegedly supporting the Islamic State group or al-Qaida, including a member of the IS cell dubbed "The Beatles." The sanctions also targeted a diverse array of individuals from Asia, Europe and New Zealand that the U.S. accuses of being terrorists.
The State Department declared El Shafee Elsheikh, one of the notorious British-sounding captors accused of executing hostages, to be a global terrorist. The U.S. said Elsheikh travelled to Syria in 2012 and first joined al-Qaida's branch there, and then later joined IS, beheading more than 27 hostages and torturing others.
The designations freeze any assets that Elsheikh and others targeted may have in the U.S. and bars Americans from doing business with them.
The U.S. also targeted Anjem Choudary, one of Britain's best-known radical Islamic preachers, who was sentenced last year to 5 1/2 years in prison for encouraging IS. For years, he ran groups in the U.K. under the names al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK and Muslims Against Crusades. Several people who attended his rallies or events have been convicted of violent attacks. The State Department said Choudary has vowed to continue recruiting extremists while in prison.
The latest round of targets indicated the U.S. is attempting to pursue IS followers who have sought to spread the extremist ideology in Southeast Asia and other areas far from Iraq and Syria.
Muhammad Bahrun Naim Anggih Tamtomo, an Indonesian national, was targeted for allegedly helping associates in Indonesia plan attacks. And the U.S. said Muhammad Wanndy Bin Mohamed Jedi, of Malaysia, had ordered an IS cell in Malaysia to carry out multiple attacks there. The U.S. said Wanndy is based in Syria and Iraq, and Naim in Syria.
The sanctions also target a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago believed to be fighting for IS in Syria, in a sign of growing U.S. concern that the Caribbean island nation has unexpectedly emerged as a source of foreign fighters and money for IS. The U.S. said that Shane Dominic Crawford had served as an interpreter for IS, translating the group's propaganda into English.
A New Zealand native, Mark John Taylor, was targeted for fighting for IS in Syria for the last several years. The U.S. said he'd appeared in an IS propaganda video intended to inspire terror attacks in New Zealand and Australia.
A Swedish member of al-Qaida, Sami Bouras, was an unusual addition to the list. The U.S. said Bouras, who is of Tunisian descent, had helped plan suicide attacks.
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Josh Lederman, The Associated Press