Al-Shabaab Financial Network in Africa, UAE, and Cyprus Hit with US Treasury Sanctions

The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has initiated sanctions against an extensive network accused of financing al-Shabaab, a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaeda. This network spans the Horn of Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Cyprus, involving 16 entities and individuals, including prominent business figures. According to OFAC, they are implicated in supporting the extremist group through their diverse operations.

Al-Shabaab, responsible for numerous devastating attacks in East Africa, reportedly amasses over $100 million annually. This revenue is primarily sourced from extortion and backing from these business associates. Under Executive Order 13224, the United States aims to disrupt groups and individuals supporting terrorists, with the objective of dismantling the financial infrastructure that sustains such entities.

Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, emphasized the United States’ commitment to collaborating with regional partners in combating terror financing networks. He stated that the sanctions are part of Treasury’s broader efforts to bolster the Somali government’s economic campaign against al-Shabaab, a key aspect of the strategy to weaken the terrorist organization.

Key figures within the sanctioned network include entities such as Dubai-based Haleel Commodities L.L.C. and UAE-based Qemat Al Najah General Trading. Additionally, individuals like Faysal Yusuf Dini and Farhan Hussein Hayder are alleged to have played significant roles in laundering money for al-Shabaab under the guise of legitimate business operations across various nations.

This latest round of sanctions builds upon OFAC’s prior actions in October 2022, indicating sustained efforts to disrupt al-Shabaab’s financial activities. The sanctions mandate the freezing of all assets and interests of the identified parties within the U.S. or under U.S. control, prohibiting any transactions involving these assets. Furthermore, any engagement with the designated entities and individuals risks secondary sanctions, particularly affecting foreign financial institutions knowingly facilitating significant transactions for the sanctioned parties.

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