Somalia: U.S. Sanctions 5 Al-Shabaab Commanders, 4 Charcoal Smugglers

The United States has targeted mid-level al-Shabab commanders and multiple junior finance officers with new sanctions.

The U.S. State Department designated five commanders of the Somali militant group as global terrorists, while the U.S. Treasury designated 26 individuals and entities, including charcoal smugglers.

Four of the five sanctioned are accused of involvement in collecting taxes for al-Shabab and attacks on civilians and Somali forces.

The U.S. reported that al-Shabab generates an estimated $100 million annually that is collected through illicit taxations, mandatory donations and extortions.

Among the operatives newly sanctioned is Mohamed Siidow, who is described as a finance emir and a commander in the group’s armed wing, the Jabha. He is accused of overseeing illicit taxation operations in Aliyow Barrow village in the Lower Shabelle region.

“He has also led al-Shabaab fighters in attacks and participated in attack planning operations utilizing improvised explosive devices [IEDs],” according to a statement Wednesday from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Also designated were Ali Yare, Mohamed Dauud Gaabane, and Suleiman Abdi Daoud, all finance emirs in separate towns and villages in Lower Shabelle – possibly al-Shabab’s most lucrative region, through which many vehicles carrying commercial goods from Mogadishu pass.

Yare is also accused of directing a deadly explosion on Nov. 14, 2018, that targeted Somali army forces in the same region.

Gaabane is also accused of serving as the head of the group’s intelligence wing, the Amniyat, in Wanlaweyn, the district where he works as finance operator. Wanlaweyn is close to Baledogle airfield where U.S. troops train elite Somali units.

“Gaabane operates an extensive early warning and informant network that regularly collects information on coalition forces and Somalis who work at the Baledogle Military Airfield,” the statement said.

The fifth commander designated by the State Department, Mohamed Omar Mohamed, is said to be the al-Shabab commissioner in the Dinsor district. The U.S. accuses him of being responsible for a series of attacks targeting civilians.

Additionally, the U.S. Treasury designated 15 al-Shabab financial facilitators and operatives, four charcoal smugglers, and seven associated companies.

The most notable three among this group are al-Shabab’s shadow governor of the Juba region, Mohamed Abdullahi Hirey, also known as Abu Abdalla; the region’s militant commander Ahmed Kabadhe; and Mohamed Ali, a company commander the U.S. says oversees 100 fighters.

Others targeted include junior officers accused of operating as mandatory donation collectors and coordinating attacks against Somali and African Union forces.