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Saturday, July 31, 2021

US sanctions Tanzanian linked to terrorism in Mozambique

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Police in Tanzania are following up on reports that the US has sanctioned a Tanzania national over his alleged role in leading a terror group in Mozambique.

Abu Yasir Hassan, said to be leading a militant insurgency in gas-rich Mozambique, is based in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique and the Coast region in Tanzania.

In the recent decision, the US government has blocked all property and interests in property held by Mr Hassan and the ISIS-Mozambique group, subject to the country’s jurisdiction.

US citizens were also prohibited from engaging in any transactions either with Mr Hassan, individuals and the group in general.

Contacted Friday, Tanzanian Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro said it was difficult to immediately establish who the said Mr Hassan is because the one booked in the security records and implicated in such crimes died.

“We haven’t received a report on the decision. However, we will follow up [and check] our database to establish the legibility of the information,” the police chief said.

Reports from the US State Department describe Mr Hassan as aged between 38 and 40 and the leader of ISIS-Mozambique.

ISIS-Mozambique is also known as ‘Ansar al-Sunna, Al-Shabaab, Ahl al-Sunna Wa Al-Jamma’ and ‘Ansaar Kalimmat Allah’, and has reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Under him, ISIS-Mozambique has killed over 1,300 civilians. It is estimated that more than 2,300 civilians, members of security forces and suspected ISIS-Mozambique militants have been killed since the group launched violent attacks in October 2017.

Hassan – who is also known as Abu Qim – led the group that coordinated a series of large-scale attacks that led to seizure of a strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province. Nearly 670,000 people were displaced during the incidents.

The decision by US President Joe Biden’s administration means foreign financial institutions that will conduct or facilitate any significant transaction on behalf of Mr Hassan or his group could be subject to the US sanctions.

Therefore, it is now a crime to knowingly provide material support to the insurgency in Mozambique, or to attempt or conspire to do so.

The decision is significant, reflecting how President Biden is moving fast to cut off funding avenues to militant organisations in Africa. Similar measures have been taken against ISIS-DR Congo and its leader, Seka Musa Baluku, who have been on America’s terrorist list.

These measures expose and isolate groups and individuals, and deny them access to the US financial system, while at the same time helping law enforcement activities of US agencies and other governments.

“Although ISIS-associated media portray Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) as a unified structure, ISIS-DRC and ISIS-Mozambique are distinct groups with distinct origins,” said the State Department.

In May 2020, the Tanzania government announced the dispatch of troops to its border with Mozambique to boost security.

The move came after insurgents launched attacks in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado and nearby Tanzania villages.

In April, the group reportedly massacred at least 50 people in Muidumbe District, when its fighters over-ran the district’s capital Namacunde and occupied the district police command.

In February last year, the group attacked security forces and civilians in Cabo Delgado, killing people, destroying property and seizing firearms and ammunition.


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