MODERATOR: All right, everybody. I’m glad we have a chance to go a little bit further on a background briefing now with [Senior State Department Official One] and [Senior State Department Official Two]. They are here to talk to us a little bit more about the announcement today regarding security assistance to Pakistan. This is on background, attributable to a senior State Department official.
In far too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief. Today, a number of governments infringe upon individuals’ ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion or belief, worship in accordance with their religion or beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief.
Engineers attached to the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve led the effort, which allows the Raqqah Internal Security Force to provide security to the people of Raqqah and facilitates greater humanitarian assistance and relief efforts there.
Washington – Today, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned five Iran-based entities subordinate to a key element of Iran's ballistic missile program. Shahid Kharrazi Industries, Shahid Sanikhani Industries, Shahid Moghaddam Industries, Shahid Eslami Research Center, and Shahid Shustari Industries are being designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 for being owned or controlled by Iran's Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group (SBIG).
The Department of State has designated Muhammad al-Ghazali, Abukar Ali Adan, and Wanas al-Faqih as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. These designations impose strict sanctions on foreign persons determined to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. Among the consequences of these designations, all of their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.
This is not a blame game, as some would say. This is really our effort to communicate clearly to Pakistan that our relationship can no longer bear the weight of contradictions, and that we have to really begin now to work together to stabilize Afghanistan. And in a way, that would be a huge benefit to Pakistan, as well. What’s frustrating at times is we see Pakistan operating against the interests of its own people by going after these groups only selectively, by providing safe havens and support bases for Taliban and Haqqani network leadership that operate out of Pakistan as they perpetuate hell in portions of Pakistan and in Afghanistan.
Throughout 2017, the Counterterrorism Bureau (CT) led the State Department’s diplomatic efforts to defeat ISIS, al-Qa’ida, Hizballah, and other global terrorist groups. We did this by strengthening bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism partnerships, building the capacity of frontline states, improving information sharing and border security to stanch the flow of foreign terrorist fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, opposing Iranian-supported terrorism, designating more terrorists and cutting off their funding, and countering terrorist ideology and recruitment.
In the New Year, our hopes and prayers are with the millions of people who are suffering terribly from oppressive governments in North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and especially in Iran, where the long-repressed Iranian people are now finding their voice.
We are following reports of multiple peaceful protests by Iranian citizens in cities across the country. Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran's leaders are Iran’s own people.
First, we congratulated the Government of Iraq for the full liberation of Iraqi territory from ISIS control. The difficulty of this achievement cannot be overstated and was a direct result of the strong leadership of Prime Minister Abadi and the heroic efforts of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga, many of whom lost their lives fighting ISIS on behalf of us all. As a Coalition, we have been proud to support our Iraqi partners throughout this hard-fought campaign, including training more than 126,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces, and supporting stabilization and humanitarian initiatives in the wake of military operations.