US designates key Al-Shabaab operatives, financiers in Somalia

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WASHINGTON - The United States has designated 26 individuals and entities linked to financing Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants with others suffering a similar fate for engaging in the smuggling of charcoal, with the ultimate goal of helping the country to stabilize.

In a long statement, the Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets and Control [OFAC], the US said the move targets regional leaders, affiliates, and members of the terrorist group in Somalia who are involved in a wide range of activities in support of al-Shabaab.

Financial facilitators, business activities, collection of funds on behalf of the terrorist group, the proliferation of Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs], and illegal charcoal smuggling from Somalia, all of which have exacerbated local conflicts and suffering, was the major target.

“Today’s designations highlight al-Shabaab’s reliance on networks of regional and international actors and entities, who provide funds, direct attacks, and enable the group’s malign activities, including the manufacturing and planting of explosives in local communities and fostering corruption,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

“The United States remains committed to leveraging our authorities in support of our partners, such as the Federal Government of Somalia, in their efforts to counter terrorist threats, which undermine both national and regional stability and security.”

Those designated on Wednesday, the US said, have served as key regional leaders of the Al-Qaeda-linked group particularly in Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba, and Middle Juba regions of Somalia. Somalia has earmarked some of these regions for the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab.

According to the US, the individuals have been involved in extensive revenue generation and other activities in support of al-Shabaab through illegal fee collections from local Somalis, coercing local residents to follow al-Shabaab’s directions through its illegitimate “police force,” known as the Hisbah, kidnappings, and facilitating the manufacture and placement of IEDs.

The illicit activities of the al-Shabaab members designated today have generated the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars to support al-Shabaab operations and weapons procurement in southern Somalia, the department said, adding that the group has impoverished the people of Somalia.

Some of those designated are Hasaan Abshir Xuuroow, who is an al-Shabaab intelligence and finance officer who has led a group of other al-Shabaab associates to collect mandatory “donations” from civilians in Kismayo, Somalia and Aadan Yusuf Saciid Ibrahim who is an al-Shabaab mandatory donations collector in Lower Shabelle, Somalia.

Mumin Dheere, who has coordinated retaliatory attacks for al-Shabaab by targeting Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] security forces, and has planned to use vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices [VBIEDs] and mortars in the attacks was slapped with sanctions.

Others are Macalin Burhan, Ali Ahmed Hussein, and Mohamed Ali who is an al-Shabaab company commander in charge of 100 fighters. Cali reports to Dheere and has regularly associated with Roobow, Burhan, and Xuuroo. Ahmed Kabadhe , Siyaat Ayuto, and Mohamed Abdullah Hirey are on the list.

In addition, Hassan Yariisow Aadan who is an al-Shabaab commander who has collected fees from locals in the Lower Shabelle area to support al-Shabaab, Siciid Abdullahi Aadan, an al-Shabaab member who has operated as an IED expert and facilitator and Shiek Aadan Abuukar Malayle were designed.

On charcoal smuggling Ali Ahmed Naaji, Bashir Khalif Musse, Mariam Barreh, and Abdulwahab Noor Abdi with companies associated with them were slapped with sanctions. Charcoal smuggling has contributed to local conflicts and revenue generation for groups like al-Shabaab, as well as causing deforestation and other environmental damage, the US said.

The illicit charcoal trade has previously generated the equivalent of more than $20 million in revenue per year for its associated smugglers, traffickers, and al-Shabaab, added the statement. "Due to its role in fueling instability in Somalia and serving as a source of revenue for criminal and terrorist organizations, the export and import of Somali charcoal after 2012 were banned pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2036."

As a result of the action, the US said, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

The US is targeting Al-Shabaab financiers as a long-term strategy to cripple the group's operations besides engaging in military operations. It is estimated that the group makes up to $120 million annually through extortion and illegal trade, with almost $24 million budgeted for the purchase of weapons and the remaining for payment of workers and other logistics.

GAROWE ONLINE

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