U.S. sanctions Fly Baghdad CEO and figures linked to Kata’ib Hizballah
BAGHDAD, Jan 22 — U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad, its CEO Basheer Abdulkadhim Alwan al-Shabbani, and key figures of the Iran-aligned militia Kata’ib Hizballah (KH). This move comes amid a surge of attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria, particularly in the Kurdistan Region’s capital, Erbil, and northern Iraq.
Fly Baghdad and CEO Alwan al-Shabbani are accused of aiding the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) by transporting weapons and militants. The Treasury also targets Hossein Moanes Al-Ibudi and Awqad Muhsin Faraj Al-Hamidawi of KH for their roles in the group’s operations. The Quds Force is a branch of the IRGC tasked with unconventional warfare and overseas operations.
“Iran and its proxies have sought to abuse regional economies and use seemingly legitimate businesses as cover for funding and facilitating their attacks,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson. “The United States will continue to disrupt Iran’s illicit activities aimed at undermining the stability of the region.”
Since October 2023, KH has launched over 130 attacks on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria, inflicting numerous injuries on U.S. servicemembers. A recent Iranian ballistic missile attack in Erbil, claimed by the IRGC, killed four civilians. Many attacks by Iraqi militias linked to Iran have targeted the airbase in Erbil housing U.S. and Iraqi military forces.
“The use of Iraqi territory by foreign-backed groups to launch attacks is a clear violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” stated an Iraqi government spokesperson. “These actions threaten the stability of the region.”
The implications of these sanctions may be significant. All property and interests in property of the designated individuals and entities in the U.S. are now blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. This may even hobble the operational and financial capabilities of Fly Baghdad and KH.