US Sanctions Members of Alleged ISIS Cell in South Africa
US Sanctions Members of Alleged ISIS Cell in South Africa. Photo: iStockPhoto

The United States has today designated four members of an alleged ISIS cell in South Africa who they say have provided technical, financial, or material support to the terrorist group, as well as eight companies owned, controlled, or directed by individuals in this ISIS cell.

In a press release, issued by the US State Department, spokesperson Ned Price said ISIS continues to present a threat across the African continent. A July 2022 United Nations Security Council report highlighted how ISIS has used South Africa-based members to transfer funds from ISIS leadership to ISIS affiliates across Africa.

The four people targeted today are allegedly tied to Farhad Hoomer who was sanctioned by the US in March for allegedly being the leader of the Durban-based Islamic State cell, and was among those arrested in 2018 over an attack on a mosque (although the case was struck off in 2020 because of delays from prosecutors).

“Today’s action builds on the March 2022 designations of four ISIS members in South Africa, who have been involved in attack planning, and organizational and recruitment activities for the group,” said Price.


Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said:

“Today, Treasury is targeting key individuals in ISIS’s network in South Africa, as well as their business assets, who have played pivotal roles in enabling terrorism and other criminal activities in the region.

“The United States, as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, will continue to partner with South Africa to deny ISIS the ability to exploit the country’s economy to raise and move funds to support the growth of ISIS affiliates and networks.”

FARHAD HOOMER’S ASSOCIATES AND BUSINESSES

The US Treasury Department said the South Africa-based ISIS members designated today are associates of Treasury-designated ISIS cell leader Farhad Hoomer, who “continues to pursue ISIS’s objectives in southern Africa and express the will and intent to attack the interests of the United States and its allies”.

The Department alleges that brothers Nufael Akbar and Yunus Mohamad Akbar are senior members of a Durban-based ISIS cell led by Farhad Hoomer. “Nufael Akbar has collaborated with and been directed by Hoomer. Nufael Akbar is a central commanding figure in the Durban-based ISIS cell. Yunus Akbar functions as an enforcer and logistical coordinator for the ISIS cell,” said the Treasury.

“Today’s action also targets two other Hoomer associates, Mohamad Akbar and Umar Akbar, who were arrested in 2018 by South African authorities along with Hoomer for their involvement in a plan to deploy improvised incendiary devices near a mosque and commercial retail buildings.”

The Department said Nufael Akbar, Yunus Mohamad Akbar, Mohamad Akbar, and Umar Akbar are being designated for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS.

Four SA-based companies – connected to Nufael and Yunus Akbar have also been designated: MA Gold Traders, Bailey Holdings, Flexoseal Waterproofing Solutions, and HJ Bannister Construction.

Another four SA-based companies – connected to Farhad Hoomer – are also being designated: Sultans Construction, Ashiq Jewellers, Ineos Trading, and Shaahista Shoes.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals and entities named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC,” said the department.

Citizens of the US are prohibited from undertaking transactions with these people or their businesses.