US targets South African ISIS cell with fresh sanctions

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The US has targeted four people allegedly tied to the leader of an ISIS cell in South Africa for supporting the militant group, along with eight related companies, US officials said on Monday, citing ongoing threats.

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In a statement, the US Department of Treasury said it was targeting individuals linked to Farhad Hoomer, who Washington has said led an ISIS cell on the South African east coast city of Durban.

“ISIS continues to present a threat across the African continent,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a separate statement.

Hoomer was sanctioned by the US in March and was among those arrested in 2018 over an attack on a mosque and planted explosive devices around the city, although the case was struck off in 2020 amid delays from prosecutors, according to South African media.

Those targeted on Monday include Nufael Akbar and Yunus Mohamad Akbar and four companies connected to them, US Treasury said. Two other individuals -- Mohamad Akbar and Umar Akbar -- were also sanctioned as well as four companies tied to Hoomer.

The designation freezes any of the individuals’ or entities’ US assets and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those that engage in certain transactions with those targeted on Monday would also then risk being hit with US sanctions.

“Treasury remains committed to exposing and disrupting terrorist financing on the African continent,” the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement.

“The US ... will continue to partner with South Africa to deny ISIS the ability to exploit the country’s economy to raise and move funds to support the growth of ISIS affiliates and networks,” it added.

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