Syrian Official Linked to Terror

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The White House on Wednesday for the first time named a Syrian official as having “directly contributed” to support for the insurgency in Iraq, as the United States moved to freeze his assets.

The charge came after the US Treasury Department slapped the financial sanctions on the official, Syrian military spy chief Asset Shawkat, the brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad.

“Mr. Shawkat, as Syria’s chief of military intelligence, has directly contributed to Syria’s support for terrorism, including the insurgency in Iraq, Palestinian terrorist groups given shelter in Damascus, and Hezbollah and other terrorist groups in Lebanon,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Shawkat “has also been deeply involved in Syria’s ongoing interference” in Lebanon, he added. “Today’s action is a significant signal that those, like Mr. Shawkat, who support Syrian terrorism will be held to account.”

Two US officials said that, while Washington has repeatedly accused Damascus of siding with insurgents targeting Iraqi and US troops in Iraq, it was the first time it had tied a Syrian official directly and by name to the violence.

Earlier, the Treasury Department placed Shawkat on a list of “specially designated nationals” under a presidential anti-terrorism order, freezing any US assets he holds and barring US citizens from transactions with him.

Stuart Levey, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the director of the powerful Syrian Military Intelligence (SMI) agency had been “a key architect of Syria’s domination of Lebanon.”

Shawkat was also “a fundamental contributor to Syria’s long-standing policy to foment terrorism against Israel,” Levey said in a statement.

In addition, Levey said, Shawkat “has access to the highest levels of the Syrian power structure” by virtue of his marriage to Bushra al-Assad, the president’s sister.

Shawkat is a close confidant of Assad and an important member of his inner circle of advisors, the Treasury said.

The action comes after the Treasury in June blacklisted Syria’s Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan and Rustum Ghazali, its former spymaster for Lebanon, under the same anti-terrorism order.

Original source:
Could it be that we are finally seeing some steel backbone in or government’s dealings with these terror laden tyrannies in the Mid East? Could it be that the Bush administration is steering from Foggy Bottom’s insistence on being nice to those who have boldly announced that they wish us harm?

I certainly HOPE that this is the case. For far too long we allowed the delicacies of “practical” foreign relations to govern our tiptoeing around the obscenities ushered from the festering gobs of Iran, Lebanon, not to mention China and their ilk. We have allowed the professional class of our diplomatic corps, people who rarely seem to back up their own country but too often seem to fall all over themselves to offer apologia for the USA on the international scene, to lead with their moral ambiguities.

Let us hope that Bush has finally seen he cannot trust our diplomats. Keep those Predator drones and black ops, Special Forces missions rolling!

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