US designates Al-Shabaab financiers as Somalia battles the group

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WASHINGTON - The US Department of Treasury has designated six Al-Shabaab financiers in the latest crackdown, with the targeted individuals believed to be holding various ranking roles within the terror group, adding that they act as "interlocutors" between the group and local companies in Somalia.

Monday's bold decision comes hours after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud pledged to target Al-Shabaab sources of income, while warning business owners against giving in to extortion tricks by the militants. Those who will part with the money, he threatened, will have their business licenses canceled.

This network, the department noted, has engaged in weapons procurement, financial facilitation, and recruitment activities for al-Shabaab. In addition to being leaders within al-Shabaab, these facilitators have had direct contact with other previously designated al-Shabaab officials.

“Treasury is focused on identifying and disrupting al-Shabaab’sillicit networks operating in Eastern Africa,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “We will continue to take action against the weapons smuggling and fundraising activities of al-Shabaab and other-Qa’idaaffiliates.”

Al-Shabaab pledged allegiance to al-Qa’ida in 2009 and officially became an al-Qa’ida affiliate in 2012. The group maintains strong connections to al-Qa’ida’s senior leaders and coordinates its publication of propaganda with al-Qa’ida. Al-Qa’ida leadership has publicly praised al-Shabaab attacks in Somalia and Kenya in recent years.

Investigations by the US indicated that the group, which controls large swathes of rural central and southern Somalia, has been raising up to $100 million annually and it is believed that the terror group finances affiliates across the world.

Part of the money is raised through extortion of local businesses and individuals, collections of fees on goods, as well as the facilitation of illicit trades. The group’s revenue has also supported al-Shabaab’s capacity, capabilities, leadership, and attacks on Somali citizens.

The designated leaders include Abdullahi Jerri who as late as 2021, is believed to have smuggled weapons for al-Shabaab. Jeeri is al-Shabaab’s head of weapons procurement and has acquired weapons for al-Shabaab from both local markets and foreign suppliers, primarily in Yemen.

Jeeri, the department said, has served as an interlocutor between al-Shabaab and local businesses and has collected payments levied by the group. Jeeri is one of the serving members of the terrorist group’s leadership body, the Shura Council. He has also commanded a unit of al-Shabaab fighters and has overseen the consolidation of weapons and vehicles from various groups for al-Shabaab.

Khalif Adale is believed to have served as al-Shabaab’s finance leader for collecting money from non-governmental organizations [NGOs] and has reported directly to al-Shabaab’s emir Ahmed Diriye, who was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist [SDGT] pursuant to E.O.13224 in 2015.

Adale was part of al-Shabaab leader Mahad Karate’s team within the al-Shabaab organizational structure and maintained communication with Karate. The U.S. Department of State designated Karate as an SDGT on April 10, 2015, the statement read.

Also designated is Hassan Afgooye who the department is offering $5 million for information on his whereabouts. Afgooye oversees a complex financial network, whose activities range from involvement in sham charities and fundraising to racketeering and kidnapping in support of al-Shabaab. Afgooye is considered critical to al-Shabaab’s continuing operations.

As of early 2021, Afgooye was a senior official in al-Shabaab’s Finance Department under Mahad Karate. Afgooye previously served as al-Shabaab’s Chief of Finance. He has continued to serve in an influential leadership position in al-Shabaab’s Finance Department and was involved with al-Shabaab’s overseas financial transactions.

Abdikarim Hussein Gagaale who has served as a deputy within al-Shabaab’s Finance Department under Mahad Karate is also on the blacklist.

Gagaale is being designated pursuant to E.O.13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, or in support of, al-Shabaab.

Others sanctioned by the department include Abdi Samad who has been in close contact with the al-Shabaab Senior Leadership Council and Abdirahman Nurey who is an interlocutor between al-Shabaab and the local private sector.

According to the US, those designated will have all property and interests in property and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.

Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, it stated, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States [including transactions transiting the United States] that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.

Furthermore, engaging in certain transactions with the individuals designated entails the risk of secondary sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended. Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintenance in the United States, it added.

GAROWE ONLINE

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