US to assist African partners to address continent’s security challenges

Accra, Mar 12, GNA – The United States says it will assist African countries to address their security challenges in order to advance peace and security on the continent.

Mr John T. Godfrey, Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Acting Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said the US Government had designated ISIS-Democratic Republic of the Congo and ISIS-Mozambique as Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) for short.

He said the US had also designated Seka Musa Baluku, the leader of ISIS-DRC, and Abu Yasir Hassan, the leader of ISIS-Mozambique, as SDGTs.

Mr Godfrey said this during a digital press briefing on US efforts to combat terrorism in Africa, which was monitored by the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

He said 2019 to 2020 saw an important evolution of the threat posed by ISIS, also known as Daesh, stating that while the fall of Baghouz in Syria in 2019 marked the end of the physical caliphate – which was a significant milestone and inflection point – it clearly did not signal the fall of ISIS itself.

He said shortly after the fall of the caliphate, then-ISIS emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi pointed to the ISIS-inspired attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday in 2019, which killed more than 250 innocent victims, as an example of how ISIS branches and networks outside Iraq and Syria should conduct attacks going forward to be a “thorn in the chest of the crusaders.”

He said Baghdadi’s death during a US military operation later that year, and his replacement by Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal Rahman Al-Mawla, came in the midst of an internal reorganization of the terrorist group that was designed to delegate decisions and resources to its branches and affiliates around the world.

Mr Godfrey noted that while al-Mawla might not have Baghdadi’s profile or charisma, he had successfully carried out Baghdadi’s dangerous vision.

“And nowhere has this trend been as alarming as in Africa. If we are committed to the enduring global defeat of ISIS, or Daesh – and we are – then we have to confront it in Africa,” he said.

“We are doing so through national actions such as these designations that Secretary Blinken announced yesterday, and through multilateral efforts, of which the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS is a key line of effort.”

He said the 83-member D-ISIS Coalition was one of the most effective multilateral efforts in history and was an excellent example of how the US could help lead a multilateral counterterrorism platform that leverages the tools and capabilities of countries around the globe against a common enemy.

He noted the D-ISIS Coalition was now playing a role in countering ISIS activity and networks globally, including in Africa.

He said the coalition held its first meeting focused on West Africa and the Sahel in late 2020 to discuss potential lines of capacity-building efforts that could be undertaken there, and they anticipate expanding that focus to include other regions in Africa a bit later this year.

He said the terrorist designations announced by the US was to put the international community on notice about these groups and individuals.

He said in addition to naming and shaming, “these designations also seek to deny ISIS in the DRC and ISIS in Mozambique, as well as their leaders Seka Musa Baluku and Abu Yasir Hassan, the resources they need to fund their terrorist activities and carry out terrorist attacks.”

Mr Godfrey said among other consequences of those designations, any property or interests in property of those designated and subject to US jurisdiction were blocked, and US persons were generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.

“It is a crime to knowingly provide material support or resources to ISIS in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or to ISIS in Mozambique or to attempt or conspire to do so,” he said.

He said the designations were one of the most important tools they had use to disrupt the financial and other support networks that terrorist groups need to export violence and carry out attacks.

“Today, ISIS-DRC and ISIS-Mozambique should be on notice that the US and our partners will take the steps needed to address security challenges in Africa to advance peace and security,” he said.

Mr Michael C. Gonzales, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, said beyond the specific designation and the more security-oriented response to the existing threat, the “US support to Mozambique in responding to this was really representative of a holistic approach”.

Source: Ghana News Agency