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Somalia warns telcos and remittance companies against aiding terror financing

Storyline:National News, Security

Anyone who recognises the authority of Al-Shabaab will be penalized in accordance with the law, the decree also reads.

Somali government soldiers secure the scene of an explosion in front of Dayah hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Somalia has warned telecommunication and remittance companies against facilitating financial transactions by groups or individuals affiliated to the militant group Al-Shabaab as the new administration tightens the noose on terror financing.

Telecommunication companies and remittance companies locally known as hawalas are now forbidden to hold accounts, transfer money or provide any aid to individuals or groups associated to Al-Shabaab and that any suspect transactions must be made known to the government, security chiefs announced Saturday.

“We want to send to the telecommunication companies the decision reached by the Cabinet that it is forbidden to facilitate or transfer money for Al-Shabab through such options as EVC+, Saad service, E-maal and others. Banks and money remittance companies fall under this category and shall not extend financial service to them,” security minister Mohamed Abukar Islow said.

The minister said the government was monitoring money transfers which could be heading to terror groups noting that legal action would be taken on money transfer companies and telecommunication companies which facilitate such transfers.

The telco giant Hormud which controls the largest telecommunication market share operates the electronic virtual cash (EVC) which enables users to not only transfer money but also conduct financial transactions easing the burden of inconvenience using the Somali shilling. EVC uses the US dollar.

“We know and we are on our heels against people who invest in business with money laundered or taken illegally from the citizens by Al-Shabab and the culprits will be dealt with by the law,” the minister said.

In a resolution following the meeting Saturday evening, the security chiefs also warned traders against paying levies to Al-Shabaab noting that the government would not entertain any excuses for paying any fines to the group. Al-Shabaab is known to demand fines from traders particularly in the capital Mogadishu in the name of alms (zakat).

Anyone who recognises the authority of Al-Shabaab will be penalized in accordance with the law, the decree also reads.

Intelligence boss Abdullahi Mohamed Ali warned traders the agency was aware of those financing terror groups and would pursue them.

“We all know what amounts are imposed as fine and we have evidence related to this issue. We are telling all the Somali traders that paying any fine is illegal. We know them one by one,” said Ali.

The decree by the security chiefs follows the endorsement of the Telecommunications Bill by the cabinet last week which seeks to regulate the telecommunications sector in the country.