(New York, N.Y.) — Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Senior Director and former Coordinator of the U.N. Security Council’s ISIL (Da’esh), al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Team Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler released the following statement today applauding the U.S. Department of State and the Department of the Treasury for designating five al-Shabaab leaders and an al-Shabaab weapons trafficking network. The weapons trafficking network included nine financial facilitators who served as intermediaries between the U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and local companies in Somalia.
“In recent years, al-Shabaab has taken advantage of Somalia’s political instability, allowing this terrorist organization to solidify its position in Somalia and expand across East Africa. With the added backing of al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab transformed Somalia and, to a certain extent, also East Africa into an active terrorist zone. The measures taken by the U.S. government are a positive step forward in rolling back al-Shabaab’s capacity to launch attacks and further destabilize the region.
“By targeting al-Shabaab’s financial network, the Biden Administration is demonstrating that combating the group extends beyond recent military action, including airstrikes and the deployment of U.S. Special Operations forces. Tightening the physical and financial pressure against al-Shabaab is crucial in stabilizing Somalia and, by extension, East Africa.”
Among the five designated senior leaders are Mohamed Mire, Yasir Jiis, Yusuf Ahmed Hajj Nurow, Mustaf’Ato, and Mohamoud Abdi Aden. Mire is responsible for the group’s interior wing and oversees the group’s activities; Jiis serves as the commander of Jabha, the group’s armed wing; Nurow is the chief of Amniyat, al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing that is vital in conducting suicide attacks; Ato is a senior Amniyat official; and Aden is the leader of the cell that planned the 2019 DusitD2 Hotel attack in Kenya that killed 22 people.
Dr. Schindler continued: “Using targeted sanctions is an often overlooked instrument in the counterterrorism toolbox. Disrupting terrorist organizations operational functioning by cutting key facilitators off from access to the formal financial system and hindering their international travel movements can be an effective tool, in particular when dealing with large scale hierarchically organized groups like al-Shabaab. The operational efforts necessary to rebuild facilitation networks and finding new talent, following a sanctions decision, not only slow a terrorist group down but also offer new intelligence gathering opportunities.”
To read CEP’s resource Somalia: Extremism and Terrorism, please click here.
To read CEP’s resource al-Shabaab, please click here.