Investigative Reports

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U.S. Designates Five Al-Shabaab Leaders in Somalia as Specially Designated Global Terrorists

In a statement issued today, the United States Department of State announced today that it has designated five al-Shabaab leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended. The designations target al-Shabaab leaders who are responsible for financing, planning, and carrying out terrorist attacks in Somalia and East Africa.

The five designated individuals are:

  • Maxamed Siidow, a finance emir and a commander in al-Shabaab’s armed wing, the Jabha. Siidow oversees illicit taxation operations in Aliyow Barrow in the Lower Shabelle, Somalia. He has also led al-Shabaab fighters in attacks and participated in attack planning operations utilizing improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
  • Cali Yare, a finance emir who oversees al-Shabaab’s illicit taxation operations for the village of Beled Amin, Lower Shabelle. Yare is responsible for consolidating all religious taxation and illegal taxes collected from civilians and clan elders. Yare directed and claimed responsibility for the November 14, 2018, IED attack on Somali Armed Forces near the village of Calagaad, Lower Shabelle.
  • Maxamed Dauud Gabaane, a finance emir, responsible for all al-Shabaab finance operations in Wanlaweyn District and Beled Amin, Lower Shabelle. Gabaane also serves as the head of the group’s intelligence wing, the Amniyat, in Wanlaweyn District. Gabaane operates an extensive early warning and informant network that regularly collects information on coalition forces and Somalis who work at the Baledogle Military Airfield.
  • Suleiman Cabdi Daoud, a finance emir, and wali (commissioner) of Beled Amin. Daoud also oversees al-Shabaab’s illicit taxation operations in the Lower Shabelle, responsible for collecting religious taxation from villagers. He also assists in overseeing an al-Shabaab “court” that stores fines collected from civilians in the region. Daoud previously served as an Amniyat official.
  • Mohamed Omar Mohamed, the wali of the al-Shabaab group in the Diinsor District, Bay Region, Somalia, and has been responsible for a series of attacks targeting civilians. Mohamed was previously the wali and Jabha commander of the Berdaale District, Bay Region.

In addition to the five individuals designated by the State Department, the Department of the Treasury also designated 15 al-Shabaab financial facilitators and operatives, four charcoal smugglers, and seven of their associated companies. These combined designations reflect the United States’ counterterrorism priorities in Somalia and support the dynamic relationship we have established with the Somali government to counter the terrorist threats endangering their people and undermining their communities.

According to the statement, as a result of these actions, all property and interests in property of those designated today that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and all U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them and adds that the United States remains committed to working with our Somali partners to defeat al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups that threaten the security of Somalia and the region.

Somalia has long been plagued by terrorism, with Al-Shabaab being the the most prominent and active extremist organization in the country. Al-Shabaab is an Islamist militant group that seeks to establish strict Islamic rule and has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and has been responsible for major terrorist acts in Somalia and in East Africa including suicide bombings, ambushes, assassinations, and IEDs, targeting government officials, security forces, AMISOM troops, humanitarian workers, and civilians. Their attacks have inflicted significant casualties and undermined stability and security in Somalia.

The group finances its operations through extortion, smuggling, and taxation of local businesses. Al-Shabaab also recruits from marginalized communities, exploiting grievances and offering a sense of belonging.

Efforts to combat terrorism in Somalia involve the Somali government and international partners such as the African Union, the United Nations, and the United States and although some progress has been made in weakening Al-Shabaab’s capabilities and territorial control, the group remains a significant threat in most of Somalia.

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