US blacklists five terrorist leaders in Africa

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US State Department on Friday (Aug 6) added five alleged senior members of Islamist groups in Africa to its terror blacklist, blocking access to any property or interests they may have in the United States.

Heading the additions was Bonomade Machude Omar, the senior commander of ISIS-Mozambique, who led the deadly attack on the Amarula Hotel in the town of Palma in March, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

In the Palma assault, the militants reportedly beheaded residents and ransacked buildings, killing at least a dozen and displacing more than 8,000. Omar is also responsible for other attacks in Mozambique and Tanzania, Mr Blinken said.

Also named on the State Department's Specially Designated Global Terrorists list were Sidan ag Hitta and Salem ould Breihmatt, senior leaders of the Mali-based Al-Qaeda branch Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM).

Ali Mohamed Rage, a spokesman for extremist militant group Al-Shabaab, and Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, an operations planner for the same group, were also included.

Mr Blinken said both had planned attacks for Al-Shabaab, which Washington deemed a terrorist movement in 2008.

"I am announcing the designation of five terrorist leaders in Africa... as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs)," Mr Blinken said in the statement.

The State Department listing will freeze any assets the individuals may have in the United States and makes it a crime to assist them.

The United States "is committed to disrupting the financing methods of ISIS-Mozambique, JNIM, and Al-Shabaab... limiting their abilities to conduct further attacks against civilians," Mr Blinken added.