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US sanctions Al Shabaab financiers and arms traffickers


Monday October 17, 2022


Mogadishu( (HOL) - The US government sanctioned a group of Al Shabaab financial facilitators on Monday who acts as the organization's top negotiators with regional businesses in Somalia.

According to the US Department of the Treasury, the network of over a dozen men assisted al-Shabaab with financial facilitation, recruitment, and the purchase of weapons. 

Abdullahi Jeeri (Jeeri), Khalif Adale (Adale), Hassan Afgooye (Afgooye), Abdikarim Hussein Gagaale (Gagaale), Abdi Samad (Samad), and Abdirahman Nurey (Nurey) have been identified as financial intermediaries with close ties to Al Shabaab leadership.

Mohamed Hussein Salad (Salad), Ahmed Hasan Ali Sulaiman Mataan (Mataan), and Mohamed Ali Badaas (Badaas) are allegedly part of an al-Shabaab smuggling and weapons trafficking network in Yemen. 

"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 al-Qa'idaaffiliates."

Several of these facilitators have direct contact with other previously sanctioned al-Shabaab officials. 

"These individuals are being designated pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorist groups and their supporters. Concurrent with Treasury's designations, the US Department of State designated five al-Shabaab leaders pursuant to EO 13224, as amended, for their leadership roles within al-Shabaab."

The executive order is designed to block the property and transactions of persons who are suspected of committing or supporting terrorism. US President George W. Bush first issued it on September 23, 2001, in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it has been renewed annually.

"As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, 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."

Al-Shabab is a militant organization founded in the early 2000s and aims to create an Islamic state in Somalia. Al-Shabaab pledged allegiance to al-Qa'ida in 2009, and in 2012, it was formally recognized as an affiliate.

US officials believe the group generates over $100 million annually through various enterprises, including extortion of local people and businesses, collecting fees on goods, and smuggling.

The US has increasingly relied on air strikes against suspected fighters to keep al-Shabab from destabilizing the Horn of Africa.

This week, the Somalia Ministry of Commerce and Industry warned entrepreneurs who do business with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabab group.

In a letter to traders, the ministry warned, "Any merchant who obeys terrorist instructions and pays them income will never be allowed to do business in Somalia again."

This decision was made as part of the government's efforts to weaken al-financial Shabab's capabilities.

Here is a brief description provided by the state department about each individual who has been sanctioned: 

ABDULLAHI JEERI

As of late 2021, Abdullahi Jeeri (Jeeri) 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 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.

Jeeri is being designated pursuant to EO 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.

KHALIF ADALE

As of early 2022, Khalif Adale (Adale) has 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 US Department of State designated Karate as an SDGT on April 10, 2015.

As of 2018, Adale had served as an al-Shabaab finance officer whose role included:

  • Brokering business deals between al-Shabaab and legitimate businesses.
  • Handling higher-level payments imposed on businesses.
  • Acting as a clan liaison to settle disputes between clans.
  • Recruiting for al-Shabaab.

In late 2017, al-Shabaab senior leaders, including Adale, arranged for approximately 600 fighters to be trained by al-Shabaab and paid for by members of a local clan. Al-Shabaab ultimately recruited up to 600 children between 10 to 15 from local villages for training to support future al-Shabaab operations.

Adale is being designated pursuant to EO 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.

HASSAN AFGOOYE

Rewards for Justice is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information on Hassan Afgooye (Afgooye), a key leader of al-Shabaab. 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 served in an influential leadership position in al-Shabaab's Finance Department and was involved with al-Shabaab's overseas financial transactions. Afgooye also managed al-Shabaab's financial relationships with local companies, personally conducting negotiations on behalf of al-Shabaab.

Afgooye is being designated pursuant to EO 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.

ABDIKARIM HUSSEIN GAGAALE

Abdikarim Hussein Gagaale (Gagaale) has served as a deputy within al-Shabaab's Finance Department under Mahad Karate.

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.

ABDI SAMAD

Abdi Samad (Samad) is an al-Shabaab militant and has been in close contact with the al-Shabaab Senior Leadership Council. In 2010, al-Shabaab provided Samad's university degree funding, including travel and tuition expenses.

In 2018, Samad performed surveillance and research on behalf of al-Shabaab.

Samad is being designated pursuant to EO 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.

ABDIRAHMAN NUREY

Abdirahman Nurey (Nurey) is an interlocutor between al-Shabaab and the local private sector. Nurey has securely stored, transferred, and laundered fiat and digital currency for al-Shabaab. Nurey has gathered financial transfers from al-Shabaab local finance officials to al-Shabaab finance leaders.

Nurey has facilitated al-Shabaab's use of meeting space and has assisted in fundraising for al-Shabaab.

Nurey is being designated pursuant to EO 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.

AL-SHABAAB WEAPONS TRAFFICKING NETWORK

Mohamed Hussein Salad (Salad), Ahmed Hasan Ali Sulaiman Mataan (Mataan), and Mohamed Ali Badaas (Badaas) are part of an al-Shabaab smuggling and weapons trafficking network in Yemen. The network members have served as representatives for terrorists, criminals, and weapons dealers from Somalia, some of whom were go-betweens.

As of early 2018, Salad received payment for a shipment of al-Shabaab weapons, including 15 PK machine guns, about 80 AK-47s, and nearly a dozen boxes of grenades, ammunition, and military uniforms used by the Somali security forces. Al-Shabaab intended to use the uniforms to confuse people and facilitate entry into guarded installations. Mataan was the owner of the vessel used for the shipment.

Between 2017 and 2020, Mataan owned dhows — sailboats used for regional trade and capable of carrying heavy loads — that took supplies for al-Shabaab militants to Somalia. In 2017, Mataan and al-Shabaab agreed to transport weapons, improvised explosive device (IED) equipment, ammunition and small arms to Somalia. Mataan's dhows were involved in transporting IED components to al-Shabaab that were used to make explosive devices used in the Soobe bomb attacks on October 14, 2017, that claimed close to 400 lives and wounded hundreds. Mataan was a Somali businessman who primarily profited from trafficking weapons and facilitating criminal groups. Mataan operated a fleet of more than half a dozen boats, and a single shipment paid approximately $15,000.

In late 2021, al-Shabaab placed an order with Mataan for weapons and IED materials from Yemen. Mataan procured the guns from a Yemeni weapons dealer. In preparation for the shipment, a boat owned by Mataan arrived in Somalia to carry illegal seafood, including fish and lobster, to Yemen.

As of early 2022, a dhow owned by Mataan departed Yemen with a shipment of weapons intended for al-Shabaab members in central Somalia. Salad was involved in facilitating the weapons shipment to Somalia.

Mataan and Salad were business partners who jointly owned a boat used in a shipment for al­Shabaab. The cargo carried weapons, including AK-47s, shoulder-fired missiles, ammunition, food, and military uniforms typically worn by the Somali military.

Salad has also been in contact with at least two companies that engage in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. These companies were part of a forced labour fishing operation, and the contact with a prominent arms trafficker may provide a preliminary nexus between IUU fishing and arms trafficking networks.

Over the course of five years, Salad received more than $700,000 in remittances from Puntland-based arms importers. Salad is a crucial intermediary in facilitating the transport of arms consignments from Yemeni suppliers to Puntland purchasers.

As of late 2018, Salad owned a boat transporting a shipment of weapons, including AK-47s, hand grenades, pistols, ammunition, and materials for making IEDs, for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant branch in Somalia (ISIS-Somalia). The supplies for this shipment were purchased through Badaas. In mid-2019, Mataan also sold a weapons shipment to ISIS-Somalia.

Badaas is an al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) member and is part of an al-Shabaab smuggling and weapons trafficking network in Yemen. Badaas has facilitated a shipment of ammunition from Yemen for al-Shabaab militants.

In 2018, Badaas purchased a weapons consignment for al-Shabaab that included more than 30 anti-vehicle land mines, a dozen rocket-propelled grenades (RPG)-9s, RPG-7s, nearly 50 AK-47s, several PK machine guns, sniper rifles, Makarov pistols, rifle silencers, and rifle scopes.

As of 2017, Badaas was one of the most essential AQAP commanders in the Shabwah region of Yemen. Badaas was responsible for monitoring personnel movements, smuggling operations, and managing AQAP members. Since at least 2015, Badaas has been a road guide for AQAP and facilitated travel for AQAP leaders throughout Shabwah, Yemen.

Salad, Mataan, and Badaas are being designated pursuant to EO 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for goods or services to or in support of al-Shabaab.

Concurrent with Treasury's designations, the US Department of State designated the following individuals who hold leadership roles within al-Shabaab: Mohamed Mire, Yasir Jiis, Yusuf Ahmed Hajji Nurow, Mustafa Ato, and Mohamoud Abdi Aden pursuant to EO 13224, as amended.



 





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