U.S. puts Somali Islamist group on terrorism list
NAIROBI, 18 March 2008 (Reuters)–The United States has formally designated Somalia’s al Shabaab militants a foreign terrorist organisation to increase pressure on what Washington says is al Qaeda’s main link in the Horn of Africa nation.
The al Shabaab is the militant wing of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council that took over most of southern Somalia for the second half of 2006, until Somalia’s interim government and its Ethiopian military allies routed the group in a two-week war.
The group, whose leader Aden Hashi Farah Ayro survived a U.S. airstrike in January 2007, is thought by security experts to be leading an insurgency that has killed 6,500 people since last year.
The designation put the Shabaab alongside groups such as al Qaeda, Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Palestinian Hamas group and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
“I hereby designate that organisation and its aliases as a foreign terrorist organisation,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a notice published on Tuesday in the U.S. government’s Federal Register.
The designation allows Washington to freeze the assets of any person or group linked to al Shabaab, another tool to go alongside military and intelligence efforts that have led to four U.S. military strikes in Somalia in the last 14 months.
“U.S. financial institutions can get assets of anyone involved and block them and prevent any material support getting to them,” said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We will be reaching out to other governments to get them to implement similar provisions.”
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