US authorities blacklist Islamic State affiliates in Africa as Specially Designated Global Terrorists
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The Biden administration on Wednesday designated two affiliates of the Islamic State in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique as foreign terrorist organizations.
The State Department announced in a statement that the Allied Democratic Forces in the DRC and Ansar al-Sunna in Mozambique were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, freezing all U.S. property and assets in their name while prohibiting the American public from doing business with them.
Seka Musa Baluku, leader of the Allied Democratic Forces, and Abu Yasir Hassan, the leader of Ansar al-Sunna, were also blacklisted as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, the department said.
The State Department said IS announced the launch of the Islamic State Central Africa Province in April 2019 to spread its presence throughout the continent, but the two groups sanctioned Wednesday are distinct from the umbrella organization.
“These groups have committed or pose a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism,” the department said. “Terrorist designations expose and isolate entities and individuals and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. More over, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments.”
The United States has accused both groups of having killed scores of people in Africa.
The department said the Allied Democratic Forces is responsible for many attacks across North Kivu and Ituri Provinces in the DRC, with the United Nations stating early last month that the group killed at least 849 people in those areas last year.
The U.N. human rights office added that the group has been accused of injuring at least 62 people and sexually abusing four women in the latter half of 2020.
“Under the leadership of Seka Musa Baluku, [the Allied Democratic Forces] has been notorious in this region for its brutal violence against Congolese citizens and regional military forces,” the State Department said.
Musa Baluku, along with his organization, has previously been sanctioned by the United States.
Concerning Ansar al-Sunna, the group, under Yasir Hassan, has killed more than 1,300 people since October 2017 and 2,300 since it first became operational in Mozambique, the State Department said, adding that the group has displaced nearly 670,000 in the northern region of the country.
“The group was responsible for orchestrating a series of large scale and sophisticated attacks resulting in the capture of the strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia,” it said.