Pompeo and Mnuchin at lectern taking questions from reporters (© Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announce a stronger sanctions authority September 10. (© Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration made it easier for the U.S. to sanction terrorist leaders and their shadowy support networks with the most significant update to the government’s terrorist designation authority since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that they risk sanctions if they knowingly conduct or facilitate any significant transactions with designated terrorists and terrorist enablers,” President Trump said in a September 10 statement regarding changes to Executive Order 13224. President George W. Bush signed that order in September 2001 in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The changes improve the ability of the U.S. departments of State and the Treasury to target terrorists and those who support them. 

The Trump administration is moving aggressively to use the new authorities.

The State Department named Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group and similarly designated 12 leaders of terrorist groups, including Hamas and factions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operating in the Philippines and West Africa.

Treasury designated terrorists affiliated with Hamas, ISIS, al-Qaida and the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Quds Force.

Trump’s order amends Executive Order 13224, which prohibits transactions with terrorists and their financiers and blocks their property.

“These new authorities will allow the U.S. government to starve terrorists of resources they need to attack the United States and our allies and will hold foreign financial institutions who continue to do business with them accountable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

At a September 10 White House news conference with Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The Trump administration has already used existing sanctions authorities more aggressively than any administration before us. And now we’re immediately putting these new authorities to good use.”