Puntland, Somalia –
The Islamic State’s Somalia branch, the ISS, has pledged allegiance to Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, the new leader of the Syria-based terrorist network. The oath announcement, accompanied by several pictures of ISS fighters, has circulated within ISIS-related Telegram channels since yesterday evening.
The Islamic State in Somalia (ISS) group has joined other ISIS affiliates in pledging allegiance (or “Bay’ah”) to the new leader of the ISIS central, Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. The new leadership was announced recently when ISIS finally admitted the death of their former “caliph”, Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurayshi. The little-known deceased leader headed the extremist organisation since November last year. He allegedly blew himself up during a Turkish counterterrorism operation in April this year.
IS-Somalia is the official Somali branch of the Islamic State terrorist organisation, also abbreviated as ISIS or Daesh, due to its Iraq and Syria origins. The group operates primarily from the mountainous areas of Puntland, one of the Federal Member States of Somalia. In the past, it managed to carry out attacks and targeted killings throughout Somalia, including in the capital, Mogadishu.
The photos, circulating within the Telegram channels of their supporters, display a small group of fighters appearing to pledge allegiance. Notably, one of the photos is taken inside a cave, indicating the group’s continuous struggles. The group faces not only Puntland State security forces but also rival Islamist militants – the al-Shabaab. The two had been fighting in the highlands near Balidhidhin, a district in the northeastern Bari region of Somalia. Al-Shabaab reportedly gained the upper hand. This rivalry is probably one of the main reasons for the overall downward spiral of the ISS.
U.S. sanctioned the head of ISS finance
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently imposed sanctions on Abdiweli Mohamed Yusuf, the IS-Somalia’s head of finance. Mr Yusuf has been designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224 for “having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly,” the ISS, the press release says.
According to the U.S. Treasury, in 2021, the ISS was able to generate an estimated $2.5 million in revenue. In the first half of 2022, the group reportedly generated almost $2 million.