The chairman of Salaam African Bank has declined to cooperate with UN investigators about several accounts allegedly held at the bank by piracy financiers. One of those financiers may also be a family friend of a formerly sanctioned business partner of Osama Bin Laden.
The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea named two pirate leaders, Mohamed Abdi Hassan “Afweyne” and a pirate negotiator named “Ali,” who have deposited money with Salaam, in its October 2014 report.
Afweyne is a pirate hijacker currently awaiting trial in Belgium who reportedly maintains a nearly $1 million account with Salaam Financial Services Bank—a Salaam African Bank affiliate—in Hargeisa, Somalia. Afweyne also holds two accounts with Salaam Somali Bank in Mogadishu, which is also affiliated with Salaam African Bank.
Ali, who has negotiated ransom payments on behalf of Somali pirates in several hijacking cases, is a friend and business partner of the alleged first cousin and son-in-law of Ali Ahmed Nur Jim’ale. Jim’ale was the owner of al-Barakaat, a bank which was until recently sanctioned by the United Nations. The 9/11 Commission said that U.S. intelligence agents believed Osama Bin Laden was Jim’ale’s silent partner in the creation of al-Barakaat.
The association between Ali and Jim’ale’s family, if verified, would serve as evidence of the long-speculated but unproved financial relationship between Somali pirates and Al Qaeda.
In response to the Monitoring Group’s questions about Afewyne and Ali, Salaam African Bank’s chairman, Ismail Egal, “indicated that the bank had no desire” to assist in the investigation. The central bank of Djibouti was also uncooperative in confirming the information gathered by the Monitoring Group.
The Monitoring Group has called for international sanctions against Somali pirate leadership, but those sanctions have not been levied. This state of affairs “has allowed pirate leaders, investors and facilitators, not only to invest their illegally acquired funds into other business ventures, but also to keep those funds in bank accounts, transfer them to business partners, launder them overseas or support family and friends in the diaspora,” according to the report.
Hat tip to Ayaamo News.