Thursday May 25, 2023
By Clyde Hughes
Al-Shabaab was blamed for a car bomb explosion in downtown Mogadishu, Somalia, on March 22, 2018, that killed at least six people. The U.S. Treasury sanctions individuals and entities connected with the terrorist group on Wednesday for smuggling charcoal to fund their operations. File Photo by Said Ysusf Warsame/EPA-EFE
The Biden administration sanctioned 26 individuals and entities tied to the Somali terror group al-Shabab in a sweeping action that targeted illegal charcoal smuggling from the African country.
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said the penalties focused on regional leaders, affiliates, banking institutions and direct members of al-Shabab engaged in activities that exacerbated local conflicts.
"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," Brian E. Nelson, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
"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."
The action included 15 regional leaders of the al-Shabab fundraising network that helps finance the terror group's activities.
"The al-Shabaab-associated individuals designated today have served as key regional leaders and members of the terrorist group in the Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba, and Middle Juba regions of Somalia," said a statement from the Treasury Department.
"They have been involved in extensive revenue generation and other activities in support of al-Shabaab through the illegal fee collections from local Somalis, coercing local residents to follow al-Shabaab's directions through its illegitimate 'police force.'"
The Treasury also targeted four alleged charcoal smugglers operating between Somalia and the Persian Gulf. The four organized the illegal transport of charcoal in exchange for funds to fuel local conflicts along with deforestation and other environmental damage.