On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at a press briefing, outlined the Trump administration’s moves to up their game against terrorism as he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed the president’s new executive order titled “Modernizing Sanctions to Combat Terrorism” as well as the departure of National Security Advisor John Bolton, who resigned on Tuesday. The two cabinet members firmly stated that Bolton’s departure did not mean the Trump administration would take a softer approach toward the despotic Iranian regime.
Mnuchin started by stating that the administration had designated more than 230 individuals and entities in 2018, the most designation in the last 15 years.
Mnuchin continued, “Among other provisions, the EO allows the U.S. government to better target terrorist group leaders; provides new tools to pursue individuals who participate in terrorist training; authorizes secondary sanctions on foreign financial institutions that have knowingly conducted or facilitated significant financial transactions with sanctioned persons; and targets those actors for, or on behalf of, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.”
Mnuchin noted that the new order allowed the Treasury Department to sanction over 11 terror organizations, including Iran’s Qods Forces, Hamas, ISIS, and al Qaeda.
Pompeo added significantly, “Today’s action amends Executive Order 13224 by adding clauses that allow the Departments of State and Treasury to first directly target leaders of terrorist groups and their associated entities without having to tie terrorist leaders to specific acts. Second, it more effectively and efficiently targets individuals and entities who participate in terrorist training, and provides new authorities to impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly do business with terrorists.”
Pompeo got specific and named names:
Today, the Department of State announces the designation of 12 terrorist leaders. They include: ISIS Wali of Iraq and former amir of improvised explosive devices; four senior members of Hizballah’s Jihad Council; and leaders from Hamas, Palestinian-Islamic Jihad, ISIS-Philippines, ISIS-West Africa, and TTP in Pakistan. Further, we’re announcing the designation of Hurras al-Din, an al Qaeda-affiliated jihadist group in Syria, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity.
Asked whether the departure of national security advisor John Bolton heralded a softer approach toward Iran, Mnuchin answered, “I would say Secretary Pompeo and myself and the President are completely aligned on our maximum pressure campaign. I think you know we’ve done more sanctions on Iran than anybody. And it’s absolutely working.” Pompeo added, “I don’t think any leader around the world should make any assumption that because some one of us departs, that President Trump’s foreign policy will change in a material way.”
As Foreign Policy reported, “Trump’s impromptu plan to invite leaders of the Afghan insurgent group to the presidential retreat at the same time as the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks set off heated deliberations last week between the members of his national security team, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supporting the move and National Security Advisor John Bolton arguing against it. The internal discussions leading up to the president’s last-minute decision to scrap the meeting this weekend shed light on the evolving dynamic among the members of Trump’s national security team since Defense Secretary Mark Esper was confirmed to the top Pentagon job in July.”