WASHINGTON: The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated four Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and ISIS-Mozambique (ISIS-M) financial facilitators based in South Africa.
ISIS members and associates in South Africa are playing an increasingly central role in facilitating the transfer of funds from the top of the ISIS hierarchy to branches across Africa. The South Africa-based ISIS members designated today pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, have provided support for the aforementioned transfers or served as leaders of ISIS cells in South Africa.
“Treasury is taking this action to disrupt and expose key ISIS supporters who exploit South Africa’s financial system to facilitate funding for ISIS branches and networks across Africa,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian E. Nelson. “The United States is working with our African partners, including South Africa, to dismantle ISIS financial support networks on the continent.”
ISIS has recently attempted to expand its influence in Africa through large-scale operations in areas where government control is limited. ISIS branches in Africa rely on local fundraising schemes such as theft, extortion of local populations, and kidnapping for ransom, as well as financial support from the ISIS hierarchy.
Illicit activities in South Africa, The democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique
Between 2017 and 2018, Farhad Hoomer helped organize and begin the operations of a Durban, South Africa-based ISIS cell. Hoomer, who is the leader of the Durban-based ISIS cell, has provided some of his known residential properties and vehicles registered in his name to sponsor the cell’s meetings and operational activities. In his role, Hoomer claimed to have recruited and trained cell members and was in contact with members of ISIS-Democratic Republic of the Congo (ISIS-DRC) and ISIS supporters throughout South Africa. Hoomer raised funds through kidnap-for-ransom operations and extortion of major businesses, which provided more than one million South African rand in revenue for his cell. In 2018, South African authorities arrested Hoomer along with his associates for their involvement in a plan to deploy improvised incendiary devices near a mosque and commercial and retail buildings.
Siraaj Miller, who leads a Cape Town-based group of ISIS supporters, has provided financial assistance to ISIS by training members to conduct robberies to raise funds for ISIS. In 2018, Miller also aided in acquiring temporary safe houses for ISIS.
Abdella Hussein Abadigga has recruited young men in South Africa and sent them to a weapons training camp. Abadigga, who controlled two mosques in South Africa, used his position to extort money from members of the mosques. Abadigga sent these funds via a hawala to ISIS supporters elsewhere in Africa. Bilal al-Sudani, a U.S.-designated ISIS leader in Somalia, considered Abadigga a trusted supporter who could help the ISIS supporters in South Africa become better organized and recruit new members.
Peter Charles Mbaga facilitated funds transfers from South Africa. Mbaga sought to provide support to ISIS-M by helping the group procure equipment from South Africa. Mbaga also sought to procure weapons from Mozambique.
Farhad Hoomer, Siraaj Miller, and Abdella Hussein Abadigga are being designated pursuant to Executive E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS.
Peter Charles Mbaga is being designated pursuant to Executive E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS-M.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, must be blocked and reported to OFAC. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making or receiving of any contribution of funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of those persons
Furthermore, engaging in certain transactions with the individuals designated today entails risk of secondary sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended. Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account of a foreign financial institution that has knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant transaction on behalf of a SDGT.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from its ability to designate and add persons to the List of Specially Designated Nationals or Blocked Persons (“SDN List”), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897.