US sanctions Yemeni company suspected of funding al-Qaeda

US sanctions Yemeni company suspected of funding al-Qaeda
Amongst other misdemeanours the Al Omgy Exchange is said to have helped al-Qaeda facilitate a $1 million transfer to a Yemeni petroleum company earlier this year.
3 min read
02 November, 2016
Yemen is viewed one of al-Qaeda's strongest bases of support [AFP]

The United States working in partnership with the United Arab Emirates have placed sanctions on a Yemeni company perceived to fund al-Qaeda.

A statement released by the US Treasury on Tuesday designated the Al Omgy and Brothers Money Exchange (Al Omgy Exchange) and the company’s two principal owners Said Salih Abd Rabbuh al-Omgy and Muhammad Salih Abd Rabbuh al-Omgy pursuant to Executive Order 13224 “which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.”

As a result of the decree, US nationals are prohibited from engaging in financial transactions with Al Omgy Exchange or its principal partners. Meanwhile, the UAE’s central bank has also taken action to prevent access to the UAE financial sector by the Yemeni money exchange company.

Funding terror

Speaking on the sanctions, Adam J. Szubin, US Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said that the actions reflected “the strength of the US partnership with the United Arab Emirates to degrade AQAP's (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) capabilities to execute violent attacks and to identify and disrupt its financial and support networks.”

“Al Omgy Exchange and its owners are responsible for financially facilitating and supporting AQAP and its violent attacks. Treasury will continue to work with our allies to protect the international financial system by exposing and taking action against AQAP supporters.”

According to US officials, AQAP has held accounts with Al Omgy Exchange since 2013, and has increasingly used the company for financial transactions over the course of 2016.

For example, earlier this year AQAP is said to have ordered a Yemeni petroleum company in the Hadhramaut governate, Yemen’s largest, to transfer over $1 million to Al Omgy, according to US officials “to support terrorist activities”.

Said Salih Abd Rabbuh al-Omgy is said to have links with al-Qaeda dating back to 2005 when the co-owner of Al Omgy Exhange is said to have fundraised for the extremist group in support of recruitment and training for Yemenis to join the Iraqi insurgency.

Muhammad Salih Abd Rabbuh al-Omgy is said to have been a member of AQAP since mid-2016 and has reportedly facilitated the transferral of weapons to the group.

The US regularly sanctions organisations seen to have links to al-Qaeda and over the past few years has carried out numerous drone strikes on AQAP targets in Yemen, currently in the midst of a civil conflict that pits Iran-backed Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against the Saudi-backed government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

In 2014 the US placed sanctions on Saleh and a number of Houthi figures for perceived engagement in “acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen".