Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) recently tweeted her support for Hormuud Telecom Somalia Inc., a private telecommunications company founded by one of al-Shabaab’s “chief financiers.”
“Somali government and peacekeeping forces need to protect Hormuud and the Somali telecom industry as they make enormous contributions to the economy and private vital services. During my visit to Somalia in 2011, I was surprised by the quick evolution of technology in Somalia,” Omar wrote in an August 25 tweet.
Somali government and peacekeeping forces, need to protect @Hormuud and the Somali telecom industry as they make enormous contribution to the economy and provide vital services.
During my visit to Somalia in 2011, I was surprised by the quick evolution of technology in Somalia. https://t.co/u1vAht8sUo
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 25, 2019
“I believe pathways to progress must be harnessed and protected, specially in the face of continued terror attacks and instability. Companies creating jobs and access to financial markets are a partner in obtaining and retaining lasting peace,” she added.
Writing for The Times of Israel, Mohammad Tawhidi, a Muslim imam, exposed Hormuud’s connections to al-Shabaab, a jihadist organization identified by the U.S. as a terrorist group.
Tawhidi points to two reports from the United Nations that detail the activities of Ahmed Nur Ali Jimale, the founder of Hormuud. In a 2009 United Nations Security Council’s Report of the Secretary General, Jimale, also referred to as Jim’ale, was identified as a “prominent businessman and figure in the al-Shabaab charcoal-sugar trading cycle and benefiting from privileged relationships with al-Shabaab.”
“Jim’ale is identified as one of al-Shabaab’s chief financiers and is ideologically aligned with al-Shabaab,” the report adds. He also established “a front company in Djibouti for extremist activities called the Investors Group.”
“Jim’ale also controls Hormuud Telecommunications. Hormuud Telecommunications is a company identified as being one of the single largest financiers of al-Shabaab, which includes large lump sum payments to al-Shabaab in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and these payments to al-Shabaab were facilitated by Jim’ale,” the report continues.
“In addition to providing funding, Hormuud Telecommunications has provided key material and logistical support to al-Shabaab to include weapons, private fighters, and ammunition. Spokespersons for moderate Somalia groups have warned the Somalia people not to use Hormuud Telecommunications Company, because Hormuud personnel listen in on conversations for al-Shabaab. Additionally, Hormuud has cut off telephone service during al-Shabaab attacks against pro-Somali government forces,” the report concludes.
Tawhidi uncovered a more recent 2018 report from the United Nations that describes Hormuud’s involvement in an October 2017 terrorist attack that killed 582 people, the “deadliest attack against civilians in the country’s history.”
“Two employees of the principal Somali telecommunications provider, Hormuud Telecom Somalia Inc., were also prosecuted in connection with the attack, for facilitating the entry of the large vehicle-borne improvised explosive device through the Sinka Dheere checkpoint on the outskirts of Mogadishu,” the report states.
That report also reveals that Hormuud’s “EVC Plus mobile money service” supports the “efficient functioning of al-Shabaab’s financial system, allowing the group to transfer a significant percentage of its funds to its financial hub in [the] Middle Juba region without the need to physically transport the entire amount in cash across hostile territory.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Hormuud Telecom” by Hormuud Telecom.