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South Africa: US sanctions alleged Islamic State fundraisers

March 1, 2022 GMT

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department announced financial sanctions Tuesday against four men in South Africa it accused of being recruiters and fundraisers for the Islamic State group.

Three of the men raised money for the extremist group in Iraq and Syria, the Treasury Department said, and the fourth helped move money and buy weapons for an IS branch in the southern African nation of Mozambique.

Attacks by Islamic extremists in Mozambique’s far north Cabo Delgado province caught the world’s attention in 2020 because of mass beheadings, including of children.

The United States has since labeled the extremists operating in Cabo Delgado as a branch of the Islamic State.

IS and IS-linked groups have been behind attacks in West and East Africa for years, but the attacks in Mozambique has underlined the extremists’ growing reach in Africa.

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IS “has recently attempted to expand its influence in Africa through large-scale operations in areas where government control is limited,” the Treasury Department said in a statement. IS supporters in South Africa, which has rarely been connected to the group previously, play an “increasingly central role” in facilitating the transfer of money to branches across Africa, the department added.

Treasury Undersecretary Brian E. Nelson said the U.S. was working with African partners, including South Africa, to “dismantle” IS financial-support networks.

The four men in South Africa identified Tuesday employed a range of tactics to raise money for the group, including kidnap for ransom, extortion and training members to conduct robberies, authorities said. Two of them are South African nationals, one an Ethiopian national and the other a Tanzanian national.

The sanctions freeze any property or other assets the four men have in the U.S. or have placed in the control of a U.S. citizen. They also prohibit U.S. entities from receiving money from or sending money to any of the four.

One of the men, Farhad Hoomer, formed and led an IS cell in the South African city of Durban, the Treasury Department alleged.

Hoomer and associates were arrested in 2018 and charged with plotting to plant a series of bombs at various sites in the city and for an attack at a mosque where worshippers had their throats cut. The case against Hoomer and the other suspects was eventually dropped in 2020 because of delays by the prosecution in submitting evidence, South African media reported.

Another of the suspects, Abdella Hussein Abadigga, had strong links to an IS leader in Somalia, the Treasury Department said.