U.S. Treasury under Secretary Janet Yellen announced additional sanctions Monday targeting Islamic State cells in South Africa. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 8 (UPI) -- The United States has blacklisted four members of an Islamic State cell operating in South Africa and eight companies they are connected to, as the Biden administration continues to target the terrorist organization on the African continent.
The departments of Treasury and State announced the sanctions Monday that target associates of Farhad Hoomer, a jailed leader and founder of an ISIS cell based in the South African city of Durban.
Hoomer -- who was arrested by South Africa in 2018 in connection to the deployment of improvised incendiary devices near a mosque and retail buildings -- was designated by the United States in March along with three others accused of aiding the growth of ISIS across Africa by facilitating the transfer of funds from the top of the terrorist organization's hierarchy to its branches on the continent.
Brian Nelson, under secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said those blacklisted Monday are "key individuals in ISIS' network in South Africa" who have "played pivotal roles in enabling terrorism and other criminal activities in the region."
"The United States ... 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," he said in a statement.
Brothers Nufael Akbar, 50, and Yunus Mohamad Akbar, 43, were sanctioned Monday for being senior members of the Durban ISIS cell with Nufael being one of its central commanding figures and Yunus Mohamad acting as an enforcer and logistical coordinator.
Mohamad Akbar, 25, and Umar Akbar, 24, both of who were arrested along with Hoomer in 2018, were also blacklisted Monday along with four South African-based companies they are connected to.
Another four companies in the country were hit for being either owned, controlled or directed by Hoomer, the Treasury said.
The move comes a week after the Biden administration sanctioned eight people in the United States' first designations targeting ISIS in Somalia.
U.S. officials have said that ISIS has been attempting to expand its influence in Africa through large-scale operations in locations with limited government control.