AFP – Somalia’s government has demanded UN sanctions be lifted from a businessman accused of being a chief financier for Al-Qaeda inspired insurgents fighting the internationally-backed authorities, the information minister said Sunday.
Banker and businessman Ali Ahmed Nur Jimale, who was placed on a United Nations Security Council sanction list in February 2012, is accused of being “one of Al-Shebab’s chief financiers”, according to the UN.
But Somali information minister Abdulahi Elmoge Hersi said a government committee had investigated the allegations and found no evidence for maintaining the sanctions.
“After long discussions, the Somali government decided that Ahmed Nur Jimale should have his embargo lifted to get his freedom back,” Hersi told AFP.
“We call on the international community to respect our decision,” he said, adding that a formal request would be submitted to the UN.
According to UN sanctions, Jimale is “ideologically aligned” with the Shebab, who remain dedicated to overthrowing Mogadishu’s government, which is battling the insurgents with the backing of a 17,700-strong African Union (AU) force.
Jimale is accused of the “funding of extremist activities and weapons purchases” specifically targeting self-declared independent Somaliland, as well as allegedly both raising funds for Shebab fighters and helping them conceal their money transfers.
UN sanctions on the 59-year old financier — who holds both Somali and Djiboutian passports — include a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.
Jimale, whose business interests have included charcoal and sugar dealing as well as key stakes in banks and a mobile telephone company, is reported to have close ties to Shebab factions now at odds with top commander Ahmed Abdi Godane.
But in the past two years the AU and government forces have clawed back control of a series of key towns, areas where businessmen like Jimale would previously have paid taxes to the fighters.
UN Monitoring Group reports last month estimated that the Shebab are still some 5,000 strong, and remain the “principal threat to peace and security to Somalia”.