US offers up to US$10 million reward for information on al-Shabaab’s emerging trade-based and other financing operations

The US state department is offering a reward of up to US$10 million for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of al-Shabaab, the Islamic fundamentalist jihadist group based in Somalia and active elsewhere in East Africa.

The group, which Washington considers to be a terrorist organisation, has lately become involved in new ways of financing it’s activities, including trade-based operations according to a departmental statement.

Trade and conventional activities

Al-Shabaab is using the automobile trade to its benefit and engaging in illicit activities, including illegal mining and the trade or smuggling of commodities such as charcoal, heroin, ivory, livestock and sugar according to the department.

It says that while al-Shabaab still engages in traditional terrorist funding methods, including bribery, extortion, hawala money transfers, kidnappings for ransom, money laundering, and personal couriers, it has now developed its own sources of funding and become increasingly independent from external sponsorship.

Transactions and front companies

Under its Rewards for Justice programme, the department is offering rewards for information leading to the identification and disruption of the group’s financial operations.

These include significant transactions by financial institutions and the use of money service providers to transfer funds and access the international financial system on al-Shabaab’s behalf.

The department is also seeking information on international activity by front companies tied to al-Shabaab, engaged in financial transactions on its behalf, for example, in the used vehicle trade as well as evidence of exploitation of local natural resources such as logging and mining.

The US state department’s statement, Al-Shabaab’s Financial Network, can be found here.


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