In one of its widest net against terrorism in the Horn of Africa nation, the U.S government has designated 26 individuals for terrorist activities and charcoal smuggling in Somalia. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of Treasury announced the listing of the individuals on Wednesday, which include 15 financial facilitators and operatives, four Al-Shabaab charcoal smugglers, and seven of their associated companies.
This action targets key 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, including financial facilitation, business activities, taxation on behalf of the terrorist group, proliferation of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and illegal charcoal smuggling from Somalia, all of which have exacerbated local conflicts and suffering, OFAC said.
The designated al-Shabaab-associated individuals have served as key regional leaders and members of the terrorist group in the Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba, and Middle Juba regions of Somalia, according to OFAC. The individuals have been involved in extensive revenue generation and other activities in support of al-Shabaab through the illegal collection of fees 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 activitiesof 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. This has contributed to the ongoing drought, food insecurity, and violent instability in the region, making it more difficult for local Somalis to cope with these challenges.
US Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, described the listing as a major step in the war against terrorism in Somalia. He emphasized that the designations underscored the administration’s dynamic relationship with the Somali government to counter the terrorist threats that undermine stability and security in Somalia.
The move by the U.S government is expected to disrupt the finances of al-Shabaab and prevent them from funding their activities through illegal means. It also sends a strong message to other groups involved in terrorist activities in Somalia that their actions will not be tolerated.