On July 31, 2023, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated 20 individuals who are members or supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”) and al-Qa’ida in Maldives, including operatives of ISIS-Khorasan (“ISIS-K”). OFAC also designated 29 entities that are owned or controlled by designated individuals, several of whom are accused of planning or carrying out attacks that targeted journalists and local authorities. The sanctions were imposed pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended, which targets terrorist groups and their supporters. OFAC reports that this action builds upon recent efforts by the US to target ISIS supporters and fundraisers, including the designation of an ISIS-Somalia financial leader on July 27, 2023.
Among the new designees are several al-Qa’ida operatives based in Maldives and members of the ISIS-affiliated Addu City cell, also based in Maldives. According to OFAC, the Addu City cell has been attempting to carry out terrorist plots since at least 2018, some of which utilized improvised explosive devices (‘IEDs”) and unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”). The designees also include leaders of Kuda Henveyru, an ISIS-aligned criminal gang in Maldives, that has allegedly raised funds for Maldivian ISIS foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and engaged in large-scale robberies to obtain funds to support ISIS and its activities abroad. In addition, OFAC sanctioned several associates of Mohamad Ameen, an ISIS-K recruiter designated in 2019, one of whom is linked to an attack that targeted the former President of Maldives and the speaker of the Maldivian parliament.
As a result of these designations, all property and interests in property of the designees within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons. In addition, entities owned 50 percent or more by a designated person or entity are also blocked, and foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct significant transactions for the designated entities risk exposure to sanctions.