The United States has sanctioned four South Africans it says have led Islamic State cells in the country or facilitated support for branches elsewhere, including by transferring funds or procuring weapons.
In a statement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it had designated Farhad Hoomer, Siraaj Miller, Abdella Hussein Abadigga and Peter Charges Mbaga as Islamic State organisers or facilitators.
It said it has prohibited U.S. entities from engaging in certain transactions with them.
A former lawyer for Hoomer did not immediately respond to a request for comment or his contact.
Reuters was not able to find contact details for the other three individuals.
“Treasury is taking this action to disrupt and expose key ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) supporters who exploit South Africa’s financial system to facilitate funding for ISIS branches and networks across Africa,” the Treasury’s statement said.
It added that ISIS was attempting to expand its influence in Africa through large-scale operations in areas where government control was limited, relying on local fundraising schemes such as theft, extortion, kidnapping, or ransom alongside support from the ISIS hierarchy.
While South Africa has faced relatively limited terror threats on its own turf, security experts say networks in the country help provide finances and logistics for groups operating elsewhere on the continent, such as in neighbouring Mozambique.
It added that the United States recently designated an insurgent group as a branch of the Islamic State.
The four individuals Washington sanctioned were accused of helping raise funds for Islamic State by running kidnap-for-ransom or extortion operations, recruiting and training members, and acquiring things like weapons or safe houses.
Hoomer, who the United States said led an ISIS cell based in the city of Durban on South Africa’s east coast, was among people arrested in 2018 for their alleged roles in an attack on a mosque and the planting of explosive devices around the city.
The case against the group was struck off in 2020 amid delays from prosecutors, according to local media.