The United States has sanctioned four South Africans said to have led Islamic State cells in the country.
It is said that ISIS is attempting to expand its influence in Africa through large scale operations in areas where government control is limited, relying on local fundraising schemes such as theft, kidnapping, ransom, extortion and facilitating support for branches elsewhere, including by transferring funds and procuring weapons.
In a statement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it had designated Farhad Hoomer, Siraaj Miller, Abdella Hussein Abadigga and Peter Charges Mbaga as Islamic State organisers or facilitators, prohibiting U.S. entities from engaging in certain transactions with them.
“Treasury is taking this action to disrupt and expose key ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) supporters who exploit South Africa’s financial system to facilitate funding for ISIS branches and networks across Africa,” the U.S Treasury’s statement read.
Hoomer, who the United States said led an ISIS cell based in the city of Durban on South Africa’s east coast, was among people arrested in 2018 for their alleged roles in an attack on a mosque and the planting of explosive devices around the city.
While South Africa has faced relatively limited terror threats on its own turf, security experts say networks in the country help provide finances and logistics for groups operating elsewhere on the continent, such as in neighbouring Mozambique, where the United States recently designated an insurgent group as a branch of Islamic State.