Two South African men, an Ethiopian national and a Tanzanian have been fingered for helping the ISIS terror group to secure funding.
Four men – two of who are South Africans – have been sanctioned by America’s Treasury Department for playing a central role in securing financial aid for the terror organisation Islamic State (ISIS), by using South Africa’s banks and other financial institutions.
At least one of the men on the department’s list had previously been charged with terror-related transgressions in the Durban area, but the court struck the case off the roll.
On Tuesday night, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) named the four men and the reasons for their designations as:
- Farhad Hoomer (46), who has established an ISIS cell in Durban
- Siraaj Miller (45), leader of a group of ISIS supporters in Cape Town
- Abdella Hussein Abadigga (48), originally from Ethiopia, who recruited young men in South Africa and sent them to a weapons training camp; and
- Peter Charles Mbaga (46), a Tanzanian citizen, who facilitated funds transfers from South Africa
The designations mean that their assets abroad have been blocked and that all US citizens, companies or entities are prohibited from dealing with them.
“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 US Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian E. Nelson.
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“The United States is working with our African partners, including South Africa, to dismantle ISIS financial support networks on the continent.”
Mbaga is listed for securing funds and weapons for ISIS extremists in the north of Mozambique by using local institutions.
South African soldiers, together with others in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), are involved in the battle to clear up the bloody Islamic insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. At least 11 SADC soldiers, including a South African, have been killed in the intervention.
Hoomer was one of 12 South Africans who were charged with a knife attack in Verulam, Durban, in 2018 in which one man was killed at a mosque. Various shops were also attacked when incendiary devices were placed inside them, causing widespread panic.
The case was scrapped after the State asked for a postponement in 2020 for further investigations and the magistrate refused to grant the postponement. The case has remained under investigation without any further known developments or fresh charges.
When the police swooped on the 12 accused and another five men, they discovered a Tanzanian man chained at a property in Reservoir Hills, Durban, which allegedly belonged to Hoomer. At the time, the Tanzanian was held for ransom.
According to Tuesday night’s statement, the US Treasury said Miller “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”.
Hoomer is alleged 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 apparently raised funds through kidnap-for-ransom operations and the extortion of major businesses, which provided more than R1 million in revenue for his cell.
Abadigga allegedly “controlled two mosques in South Africa” and used his position to extort money from members of the mosques. These funds were channelled via the hawala payment system to ISIS supporters elsewhere in Africa.
“Bilal al-Sudani, a US-designated ISIS leader in Somalia, considered Abadigga a trusted supporter who could help the ISIS supporters in South Africa become better organised and recruit new members,” read the US designation.
According to the US decision, all property and interests in property of the individuals have been blocked, as well as any entities in which they directly or indirectly own 50% or more. Anyone co-owning property or interests with the four men will also be blocked and reported to OFAC.
The US Treasury has effectively also blocked any transactions transiting the US involving the men or their business relations, while any US citizens partaking in these operations may also be sanctioned.
According to a South African source involved in the Durban investigation into the 2018 terror attacks, the investigation of Hoomer and others has all but gone cold after the case was struck off the roll.
At the time, the State claimed that the voluminous downloads and cellphone analysis of the information extracted from the 12 arrested men’s mobile phones were taking longer than planned. However, Senior Magistrate Irfaan Khalil declined the State’s application for a postponement, saying the two years that had passed since their arrest had prejudiced them as they were being ostracised in their communities.
News24 understands from sources that South African intelligence services have been investigating some of the men now listed by the US for a number of years. Yet none of the investigations have yielded any convictions.