ECJ says actions by armed forces can be terrorist acts for sanctions purposes

The European Court of Justice has just given judgment in the LTTE case, Case C-158/14 A, B, C, D v Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken.  The Court followed the views of Advocate General Sharpston in her opinion (see previous blog). This was a preliminary reference, meaning that the ECJ was answering questions about the interpretation of EU law rather than being asked to invalidate sanctions measures.  The 2 main points in the judgment are that:

  • The preliminary reference was admissible because it was not clear that A, B, C and D would have had standing to bring a direct action in the General Court (since they were not EU-designated) – had they had so they would have had to have brought a direct action not a preliminary reference; and
  • Actions by armed forces during periods of armed conflict within the meaning of international humanitarian law can constitute terrorist offences / terrorist acts for the purposes of the EU’s terrorist asset freezing regime.

EU renews all autonomous counter-terrorism listings

eu-council-1The EU Council has reviewed and decided to continue all of the listings under the EU’s autonomous counter-terrorism sanctions regime, which targets people and groups said to be involved in terrorism around the world, including Hamas, Hizballah, and FARC (the sanctions against FARC were suspended in September 2016, see previous blog).  These sanctions are a separate regime from the regime targeting ISIL & Al-Qaida, which since 20 September last year has also allowed the EU to impose its own listings, whereas previously it could only implement UN or individual Member State listings (see previous blog).

See Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/150 implementing Regulation 2580/2001 and repealing Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1127 and Decision 2017/154 updating Common Position 2001/931/CFSP and repealing Decision (CFSP) 2016/1136.  The EU’s notices to listed people and entities are here and here.  Listed people and entities may submit a request to the Council at any time that the decision to list them be reconsidered.  In order for their requests to be considered at the next review, they should be submitted by 24 March 2017.

US ISIL & Hizballah designations

jakarta-indonesia-1The US State Department has designated Alexanda Kotey, a British national, and Indonesian group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.  Kotey is said to be one of 4 members of a British ISIL cell known as “The Beatles”, which was once headed by SDGT Mohamed Emwazi (Jihadi John).  The cell is said to be responsible for capturing and executing 24 hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and Mr Kotey is also said to have recruited several UK nationals to join ISIL.  JAD, based in Indonesia, is composed of Indonesian extremist groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIL.  In January 2016, 4 people were killed and 25 wounded in Jakarta in an attack attributed to JAD.

In addition, the US Treasury has designated as SDGTs 2 Indonesians and 2 Austrialians for acting on behalf of ISIL, as well as 2 supporters of Hizballah. The details of the listings are here and here.

US sanctions Osama bin Laden’s son

department-of-state-1The US State Department has imposed sanctions on Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, following an announcement by al-Qaida’s leader in August 2015 that Hamza had joined the terrorist organisation.  Hamza has called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals, lone offender attacks against the US, France, and Israel, and violence against Americans in the US and abroad.  In addition, the State Department has designated Ibrahim al-Banna, allegedly a senior member of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula who has served as its security chief and threatened to target US citizens.

EU adds 3 people to its counter-terrorism sanctions

eu-flag-1-commissionThe EU has added 3 people to its new autonomous counter-terrorism sanctions regime, which targets people and groups said to be involved in terrorism around the world, including Hamas, Hizballah, and FARC.  These sanctions are a separate regime from the regime targeting ISIL & Al-Qaida, which since 20 September last year has also allowed the EU to impose its own listings, whereas previously it could only implement UN or individual Member State listings (see previous blog). The new listings add Canadian citizen Hassan Hassan El Hajj, Australian citizen Farah Meliad, and Turkish citizen Dalokay Sanli.

See Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/2373 implementing Regulation 2580/2001 and amending Regulation 2016/1127.

EU Court rejects Al-Ghabra’s annulment application

Mr Al-Ghabra was designated by the UN on its counter-terrorist asset freezing measures in 2006 at the UK’s request. He applied to the General Court of the EU to annul his listing and subsequent re-listings in 2013. The Court has just rejected that application in Case T-248/13 Al-Ghabra v Commission (13 December 2016). The Court found that his application was out of time in so far as it related to his original designation, that the Commission could not be criticised for failure to follow the procedure and legal standards set out in Kadi II (see previous blog) for reviewing UN designations, and that although that review had taken an unreasonable length of time, it had not prejudiced the applicant’s rights of defence. The Court also rejected the applicant’s suggestions that the Commission had not satisfied that the UN had relied on evidence obtained by torture or had failed to gather exculpatory material, and that there was insufficient evidence to justify the EU implementation of Mr Al-Ghabra’s designation.

UK proscribes far-right group National Action as terrorist group

The UK has proscribed neo-Nazi group National Action under the Terrorism Act 2000, making membership of or support for the group a criminal offence.  It is the first far-right group to be proscribed as a terrorist organisation in the UK.  In the Home Office’s press release, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that “National Action is a racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic organisation…proscribing it will prevent its membership from growing, stop the spread of poisonous propaganda, and protect vulnerable young people at risk of radicalisation”.  National Action is also said to have promoted and encouraged acts of terrorism following the murder of UK MP Jo Cox in June 2016.

US Treasury targets ISIL-affiliated money services businesses

syria-flag-1The US Treasury has designated Iraq-based Selselat al Thahab Money Exchange, Syrian ISIL financier Fawas Muhammad Jubayr al-Rawi, and his Syria-based company Hanifa Currency Exchange in Albu Kamal as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.  These are the first US actions specifically targeting ISIL-affiliated money services businesses. The details are here.

Selselat is said to have facilitated the movement of millions of US dollars into accounts belonging to an ISIL’s financier’s company, and used a network of subsidiaries to transfer money on behalf of terrorist groups in Syria to make it appear as though the money was being transferred within the company’s network.  al-Rawi is allegedly an ISIL finance emir and senior financier who operated a branch of Hanifa Currency Exchange in Syria, using it exclusively to hold and transfer large quantities of cash for ISIL, conduct weapons and ammunition deals, and pay ISIL fighters.

In the US Treasury’s press release, Acting Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin said that “we will continue to work aggressively to deny ISIL access to the international financial system”.