Al-Shabaab is the largest and most kinetically active al-Qaeda network in the world, and has proved both its will and capability to attack the United States.
The group carries out its brutal agenda – in addition to financing al-Qaida efforts worldwide – by generating around $100 million per year through multiple funding streams, including extortion of local businesses and individuals, collections of fees on goods, and illicit trades.
As such, the U.S. Departments of Treasury and State concurrently designated a network of al-Shabaab terrorists as financial facilitators, whom serve in key leadership positions and assist the group’s ability to procure weapons, conduct operations, generate funds and engage with local companies.
“We are committed to countering the weapons smuggling and fundraising activities of al-Shabaab and other al-Qa’ida affiliates in Africa,” said Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a news release announcing the designation.
The effort adds a multi-pronged approach to supporting partners in Somalia against al-Shabaab – an approach that sends a signal to those conducting business with the terrorist group, and intends to hobble al-Shabaab’s ability to both economically exploit communities and conduct attacks against Somalia’s people.
“By adding al-Shabaab members to the U.S. sanctions list, we’ve attacked al-Shabaab’s financing operations and disincentivized doing business with them,” said Ryan May, foreign policy officer with U.S. Africa Command. “This will make it harder for those carrying out terrorist attacks to obtain weapons and IED materials, reduce their capability on the ground, and create an advantage for partner security forces to neutralize the terror threat.”
The designations by the Departments of Treasury and State highlight a whole of government approach to supporting Somalia through diplomacy, development and defense. This effort is aimed at protecting the U.S. by disrupting and degrading al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia, and ensuring a self-sufficient Somali force that is capable of defeating and dismantling al-Shabaab.
Find the full release, including information on those designated as financial facilitators and their role in supporting al-Shabaab activities, here.