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Somalia says millions seized from Al Shabaab bank accounts

Sunday January 29, 2023


Mogadishu (HOL) - Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud announced that the federal government would publicly reveal millions of dollars of funds that al-Shabaab had parked in bank accounts that the government has closed.

President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud on Sunday said via state-run media that the seizure is a vital part of the government's fight against al-Shabaab.

"The government will soon reveal many accounts that Al-Shabaab used to collect money from closed banks. Many money-transfer telephones have been decommissioned," said President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated armed group al Shabab released a video message on Saturday that appeared to threaten Somali banks and businesses after the Federal Parliament of Somalia recently approved a financial sanctions bill.

The al Shabaab's spokesperson, Ali Mohamud Rage Ali Dheere, said that the US government was covertly pushing the bill to seize the assets of Somali companies and business people.

"It is a plan the United States government has worked hard to prepare and force the Somali government to implement. You should recall when the United States froze the Somali people's property in 2001, claiming they were funding terrorism, although Al-Shabaab did not exist then."

Dheere was referring to the US government's 2001 seizure of Al-Barakaat's assets after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, in what it said was a move to stem financing for extremists.

"After decades, they admitted that those accusations were wrong, but until today the property that belonged to the Somali people has not been returned to them. The people are in need, and the infidels still have the money, which they have used," Al-Shabaab spokesman Ali Dheere said.

Barakat — a Somali business conglomerate  — was removed from the UN sanctions list in 2012, and the US removed it from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list entirely in February 2020. 

The spokesman warned banks not to share customer information with the Somali government and said that al Shabaab is aware of foreign banks wishing to open branches in Somalia.

"We say to the Somali banks that operate in the country; no one will accept you are sharing the information of Muslim people who have entrusted their property to you with the (Somali) government," he added.

The Al-Shabaab spokesman's speech comes as the Somali government recently closed every known financial bank account connected with the militants.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said the government closed down about 250 militant-connected accounts in four banks and shut down about 70 mobile phones the militants used exclusively to transfer money.


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