Friday, 04 March 2022

Pretoria: National Treasury and the Department of Justice and Correctional Services are working with authorities in the United States of America to track down individuals allegedly involved with terrorist organisation ISIS in South Africa.

According to a joint statement by the two departments, law enforcement in the United State have identified at least four individuals as “financial facilitators of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and ISIS-Mozambique (ISIS-M) based in South Africa”.

“We remain committed to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and will not allow our territory to be used to fund terrorism in other countries.

“The relevant South African authorities investigating this matter have been engaging with relevant US authorities on the OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] designation. Further details on such engagements and related investigation cannot be revealed at this stage,” they said in a statement on Thursday.

The two departments are in full cooperation with their US counterparts and moved to assure South Africans that government “is committed to ensuring the safety of all”.

“As a member of the Financial Action Task Force, South Africa is committed to enforcing highest standards to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and fully supports the criminal justice authorities in preventing and investigating any transgression of the laws of South Africa, and will ensure full adherence to international commitments.

“Co-operating with and providing support and assistance to other States and relevant international and regional organisations to that end is a critical component of protecting our constitutional democracy against terrorist and related activities.”

On Tuesday, OFAC announced that the four individuals were allegedly “playing an increasingly central role in facilitating the transfer of funds from the top of the ISIS hierarchy to branches across Africa”.

According to OFAC, the suspects and their alleged crimes include:

  • Farhad Hoomer, who allegedly helped organise and begin the operations of a Durban, based ISIS cell between 2017 and 2018.
  • Siraaj Miller, who allegedly leads a Cape Town-based group of ISIS supporters. Miller has allegedly provided financial assistance to ISIS by training members to conduct robberies to raise funds for ISIS. In 2018, Miller also allegedly aided in acquiring temporary safe houses for ISIS.
  • Abdella Hussein Abadigga, who has allegedly recruited young men in South Africa and sent them to a weapons training camp. Abadigga, who controlled two mosques in South Africa allegedly used his position as a leader of two mosques to extort money from members. These funds were allegedly sent via a hawala to ISIS supporters elsewhere in Africa.
  • Peter Charles Mbaga allegedly facilitated funds transfers from South Africa and also allegedly attempted to procure weapons from Mozambique.

US Under Secretary of the Treasury, Brian Nelson, warned that South Africa’s financial systems are being exploited by alleged terrorists.

“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. The United States is working with our African partners, including South Africa, to dismantle ISIS financial support networks on the continent.” Nelson said.