US blacklists Eritrea officials over Somali unrest
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is blacklisting six people, including Eritrea's intelligence chief and a senior Eritrean military officer, for their roles in allegedly supporting the radical Islamist al-Shabab group in Somalia.
The Treasury Department announced the sanctions on Thursday under an executive order that allows the administration to impose punitive measures on individuals deemed to threaten peace, security or stability in Somalia. The sanctions freeze any assets the men might have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.
The six are accused of providing financial and logistical support to al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the State Department that is blamed for numerous attacks against African Union peacekeepers in Somalia as well as attacks in Uganda and Kenya.
"The United States is determined to target those who are responsible for the ongoing bloodshed and instability in Somalia," said Adam Szubin, the director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers the sanctions.
"By designating these individuals today, we are taking action to support our partner governments in East Africa and the African Union Mission in Somalia in their efforts to dismantle al-Shabab," he said in a statement.
The two Eritreans hit by the sanctions are external intelligence chief Col. Tewolde Habte Negash, the alleged principal architect of Eritrea's relationship with al-Shabab, who is accused of providing training and other support to it and other armed groups in Somalia, and Col. Taeme Abraham Goitom, who is said to be involved with organizing armed opposition to the Somali government.
Eritrea has long been accused of fomenting violence in Somalia in part to keep its arch-rival Ethiopia, which shares a long border with Somalia, concerned about conditions there.
In addition to the Eritreans, the sanctions apply to a Sudanese man accused of recruiting foreign fighters for al-Shabab and three Kenyans, including a cleric, said to have raised money and arms for the group
The cleric, Aboud Rogo Mohammed, is accused of raising funds for al-Shabab and helping recruits get to Somalia to join the group. The other two Kenyans, Omar Awadh Omar and Abubaker Shariff Ahmed, are both currently imprisoned.
Omar is awaiting trial in Uganda for his alleged involvement in a July 2010 attack on restaurants showing World Cup soccer matches in Kampala that killed 74 people. Ahmed was arrested in Kenya in later 2010 on suspicion of involvement in the bombing of a bus terminal in Nairobi.