SOMALIA: New US sanctions on 14 people, for financial facilitation and recruitment for al-Shabab

Published: October 19, 2022

The United States government on Monday (17 October) imposed sanctions on 14 men, including six it said were part of a network that has engaged in weapons procurement, financial facilitation and recruitment for the Somalia-based al-Shabaab militant Islamist group.

This new, expansive round of sanctions is in addition to drone strikes and military advice from US forces on the ground in Somalia. The US military has carried out a handful of airstrikes in support of Somali government forces over the past several months, with estimates suggesting dozens of al-Shabab fighters have been killed.

Washington says the smuggling network took in money from a variety of sources, including non-governmental organizations, helping al-Shabaab generate an estimated $100 million per year, helping to grow the terror group’s size and capabilities. About a quarter of that money, or some $24 million, is spent on weapons alone, according to an earlier report by the Mogadishu-based security think tank, the Hiraal Institute.

“Treasury is focused on identifying and disrupting al-Shabaab’s illicit networks operating in Eastern Africa,” Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement. “We will continue to take action against the weapons smuggling and fundraising activities of al-Shabaab and other al-Qaida affiliates,” he added.

Horn of Africa regional analyst Matt Bryden says targeting al-Shabaab’s finances is a significant strategy. “The most important thing about it is that it demonstrates that the United States government and presumably the Somali federal government are demonstrating a commitment to a whole-of-government approach to fighting al-Shabaab,” he said.

Somalia’s government warned businesses recently to stop paying off al-Shabaab, saying there would be stiff penalties for anyone succumbing to the group’s extortion efforts.