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U.S. Sanctions Weapons Trafficking Network in Eastern Africa


Somali security officers drive past a section of Hotel Hayat, the scene of an al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group militant attack in Mogadishu, Somalia. (File)

Terrorist groups operating in eastern Africa continue to wreak havoc in Somalia, targeting Somali civilians, civil servants, and first responders to instill fear.

US Sanctions Weapons Trafficking Network in Eastern Africa
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Terrorist groups operating in eastern Africa continue to wreak havoc in Somalia, targeting Somali civilians, civil servants, and first responders to instill fear. On October 29, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a devastating bombing in Mogadishu that claimed more than 100 lives and resulted in nearly 300 civilians injured.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson extended his condolences “to all who lost loved ones and were injured in this horrific attack and strongly condemn(ed) this indefensible act of terrorism.” In response, the U.S. has taken “direct aim at the networks funding and supplying both ISIS-Somalia and al-Shabaab that support their violent acts.”

The United States has designated an ISIS-Somalia network of weapons traffickers, their associates, and an affiliated business for facilitating weapons transfers to the terrorist group. The individuals designated are critical nodes for a weapons trafficking network that is tightly integrated with ISIS-Somalia. These networks operate primarily between Yemen and Somalia and have strong ties to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Shabaab. The Treasury Department also designated a vital supporter of ISIS in Brazil, Osama Abdelmongy Abdalla Bakr. In 2016, senior ISIS leaders directed Bakr to obtain weapons and military equipment for the terrorist group.

The involvement of those designated in other criminal activity, including piracy and illegal fishing, demonstrates the extent of ISIS-Somalia’s integration with illicit networks and other terrorist organizations operating in the region.

The Department of State designated ISIS-Somalia on February 27, 2018, as well as Abdiqadr Mumin, the leader of ISIS-Somalia, on August 11, 2016, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists pursuant to Executive Order 13224. ISIS has increasingly sought to generate revenue in East Africa. ISIS-Somalia, which continues to conduct terrorist attacks against civilians, generates much of its funding by extorting local communities for funding and recruits. The group punishes, intimidates, and assassinates Somali businessmen and civilians who do not support it financially or provide supplies.

The United States will continue to work with partners in East Africa to disrupt the financing of ISIS and al-Shabaab in an effort to drain the lifeblood out of these terrorist groups.

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