December 20, 2019

U.N. Adds Asset Freeze on 5 Mali Nationals, as U.S., EU Impose Sanctions

By Claire Galasso

The United Nations on Thursday imposed an asset freeze on five designated Malian men, and the U.S. Treasury Department and the European Union later announced sanctions on them.

The U.N. had imposed a travel ban on all five of them in July. The U.S. designations marked the first made under an executive order issued later that month authorizing sanctions after repeated violations of ceasefire agreements, and the intensification of terrorist activities and human rights abuses in Mali. More than 3.9 million people are in need of assistance and protection amid a worsening humanitarian crisis, the U.N. said earlier in December.  

Houka Houka Ag Alhousseini, a fighter for Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), has overseen tax collection activities to raise funds for Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) operations in Mali, according to the U.S. Treasury. Ag Alhousseini has used assets of Al-Furqan, an AQIM brigade, and the threat of targeted assassinations and attacks to extend his authority as Cadi of the Timbuktu region, according to U.N. reports. Ag Alhousseini has been in the custody of the Detention Centre of the International Criminal Court in The Hague since September 2016.

Mahri Sidi Ben Daha launders narcotics-trafficking money and delivers supplies to jihadists through several transportation companies based in eastern Mali, according to the U.S. Treasury.  Ben Daha has purchased commercial bus and trucking companies with the profits from his narcotics trafficking operations, the Treasury said   

Ben Daha and Mohamed Ould Mataly coordinated an armed blockade of the regional consultations in Gao, eastern Mali, in November 2018, preventing discussion on "key provisions” of a 2015 agreement, according to the U.S. Treasury. 

Ould Mataly has been since at least July 2019 a member of the National Assembly of Mali, representing the Bourem municipality and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s political party, the Rassamblement pour le Mali (RPM), according to the U.N.  

Mohamed Ben Ahmed Mahri, a drug trafficker from Goa and chief executive of the company Tilemsi Transport, has funded and collaborated with terrorist armed groups including the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) and Al-Murabitoun, according to U.N. and U.S. reports. His financial gains from drug trafficking go to support armed terrorist groups, the U.N. said. 

Ben Ahmed Mahri traffics cannabis resin to Niger from northern Mali using convoys led by members of the Imghad Tuareg Self-Defence Group and Allies (GATIA), including Ahmoudou Ag Asriw, who is sanctioned by the U.N. An arrest warrant was issued for Ben Ahmed Mahri under his alias, Mohamed Ould Ahmed Deya, in 2013 by the Mali Prosecutor General for his drug-related activity.

Ahmed Ag Albachar mediates relations between the Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA) and the designated terrorist group Ansar al-Dine, according to the U.N. Ag Albachar has manipulated his role as president of a humanitarian commission in Kidal, Mali, according to U.N. and U.S. reports. Ag Albachar has complete control over all humanitarian and development projects in the region and has used his influence to intimidate and extort aid organizations in Kidal, according to U.N. and U.S. reports.

Ag Albachar is a co-owner of a transportation company known as Timitrine Voyage; "one of the few transport companies that NGOs are authorised to use in Kidal," according to the U.N. 

Kharon research

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