US targets ISIS in Somalia with weapons-related sanctions

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The United States on Tuesday issued sanctions targeting ISIS in Somalia, designating members of the group and others it accused of being involved in a “terrorist weapons trafficking network” in Eastern Africa.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said several of the people designated in Tuesday's action have sold weapons to or were active al Shabaab members.

The al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for two car bombs that exploded outside the education ministry in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Saturday, killing at least 120 people in the deadliest blasts since a truck bomb killed more than 500 people at the same location five years ago.

Tuesday's action comes as Washington seeks to increase focus on exposing and disrupting terrorist financing networks in Africa, a senior Treasury official told reporters.

While Tuesday's move is the first from Treasury targeting ISIS in Somalia, the official said additional action is expected in coming weeks and months as the United States seeks to expose and disrupt terrorist financing in Africa.

The US State Department in 2018 designated ISIS in Somalia a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

Those designated on Tuesday include Abdirahman Mohamed Omar, whom the Treasury accused of being an ISIS-Somalia member and, as of 2020, considered the most active illicit arms importer in Puntland state in Somalia.

Also targeted was Isse Mohamoud Yusuf, who Treasury said is an ISIS-Somalia weapons and logistics facilitator in Bari in Puntland and an arms smuggler; Abdirahman Fahiye Isse Mohamud, who it said is an ISIS-Somalia emir; and Mohamed Ahmed Qahiye, who Treasury said is the head of the Amniyat, ISIS-Somalia’s intelligence wing, among others.

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