Sanctions on Ghali….Wanted Dead or Alive

On Tuesday, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added three (3) individuals and one (1) entity to the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List) pursuant to Executive Order 13224. OFAC found one these parties, 28 year old, Mullah Ahmed Shah Noorzai (Ahmed Shah) to be engaged in providing money exchange services on behalf of the Taliban and and their narcotics trade. Ahmed Shah operates the Roshan Money Exchange (RMX) which is designated pursuant to both United Nations and U.S. sanctions. In addition to Ahmed Shah, another Pakistani individual, Malang Wazir, a Pakistani organization, Commander Nazir Group, and a Mali National, Iyad ag Ghali, were also designated. These three parties were also designated pursuant to Executive Order 13224, however, their designation was made by the United States Department of State. Malang Wazir is the leader of the Commander Nazir Group, a group believed to train terrorists and to have carried out attacks in Afghanistan. Iyad ag Ghali, is (or was) the leader of the Ansar Dine organization, an Al-Qaeda linked group, seeking the overthrow of the Government of Mali and the imposition of Sharia law. Iyad ag Ghali was reportedly killed in fighting in early January of this year, but given his designation, its possible that the reports were made in error.

Executive Order 13224 allows for the imposition of sanctions on those involved in terrorism and those providing material support for those terrorist activities. It also allows both Treasury and State to make designations pursuant to its authority. It’s usually difficult to tell who made the designation, however, one key indicator is who issued the press release on a particular designation. For example, Treasury announced the Ahmed Shah designation with making no mention of the Wazir or Ghali designations. Likewise, State issued the press releases on Wazir, the Commander Nazir Group, and Ghali.

The designation of Ghali is interesting to me. It is important to note, that just because a party is dead does not mean that they can not or will not be targeted for U.S. sanctions. The goal with U.S. sanctions is to stem the flow of money related to parties engaged in nefarious activity. As such, if Ghali is truly dead, it could very well be the that State was concerned that any funds belonging to Ghali prior to his death could be moved around to other parties engaged in terrorist activities as part of the disposition of his estate, if he does indeed have an estate to leave behind. Therefore, this meets one of the underlying policies of economic sanctions, namely stopping the flow of money related to illicit purpose. However, the overall policy is one of changing the behavior of parties targeted for sanctions by applying economic pressure on them. Of course, its hard to change behavior of a targeted party when they are dead, but without the targeted party alive to contest the designation, then no one is going to be overly concerned with that aspect of it…unless of course there are non-terrorists entitled to a portion of the targeted person’s estate.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or

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