Homeland Security

U.S. Places Terrorist Designation on Belgian ISIS Cell Member

The State Department designated Salah Abdeslam, the ISIS cell member implicated in the Paris attacks who was arrested shortly before the Brussels attacks, as terrorist today.

The Specially Designated Global Terrorist order “imposes sanctions and penalties on foreign persons that have committed, or pose a serious 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.”

“As a result of this designation, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which Abdeslam has any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with him,” the announcement said.

The designation calls Abdeslam an “operative” for ISIS.

Abdeslam is believed to have been the driver of the car carrying gunmen who opened fire at Paris restaurants on Nov. 13, 2015. He reportedly claimed to have been designated as a suicide bomber outside the national stadium in Paris but backed out.

A little over a week later, the State Department declared a worldwide travel alert and suspended consular services in Brussels based in part on concern that Abdeslam returned to his native country and associated ISIS cells or plots in the country may have been activated.

He was captured on March 18, accelerating an ISIS plot that was carried out against the Brussels airport and a metro station on March 22.

“Today’s action further notifies the U.S. public and the international community that Abdeslam was actively engaged in terrorism,” the State Department said. “Terrorism designations is one of the ways the United States can expose and isolate organizations and individuals engaged in terrorism, impose serious sanctions on them, and enable coordinated action across the U.S. government and with our international partners to disrupt the activities of terrorists, including by denying them access to the U.S. financial system and enabling U.S. law enforcement actions.”