The United States of America has listed a woman who has severally been linked to terrorism-related activities in Kenya as one of the seven individuals in the world who finance the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis).
Through its Treasury department, the US has slapped sanctions on 33-year-old Halima Adan Ali, whom it describes as “an Islamic State facilitator based in Kenya with establishments of financial facilitation network that operated in Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Eastern Africa”.
With the active sanctions, US has blocked any property or financial interests she may be holding in the US directly or through any of its citizens.
“Halima Adan Ali (Halima) was designated for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to, or in support of, ISIS,” read a statement by the department.
According to the US government, Ms Ali, over the last two years, has received up to Ksh15 million ($150,000) from various countries around the world.
It revealed that the money was sent through the Hawala system, a platform of transferring money without any money actually moving.
Releasing the names, the US Treasury said that, by blocking all financial channels, Isis would be severely limited in its operations.
“Treasury is dedicated to ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS by cutting off all remaining sources of their terror funding around the globe,” Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
The Kenya police has in the past also linked Ms Ali to the facilitation and recruitment of people into Al-Shabaab.
However, Ms Ali’s lawyer, Chacha Mwita, challenged the US to justify its claims that his client is a terrorism financier.
Speaking to the Nation on phone, Mr Mwita termed the reports as “baseless allegations”, adding, “those people only want to make us busy”.
“Whoever is making those claims should come forward and justify them. Similar claims have been made before but they have been unable to justify them.
“We have an ongoing case in Nairobi which has stalled because the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) boss had been summoned to come and explain why the case cannot take off,” said Mr Mwita.
In the Nairobi case, Ms Ali is facing, among other charges, financing terror-related activities in the country.
In October last year, Ms Ali was one of the “Shabaab brides” who were acquitted by a Mombasa court after they were arrested en route to Somalia.
The case, which attracted widespread public attention, started when Ms Ali was arrested on April 1, 2015 on suspicion of facilitating the travel of Ummulkheir Sadri Abdalla, Ms Khadija Abubakar Abdulkadir, Ms Maryam Said Aboud and Ms Halima Adan to Somalia. Ms Aboud is dead.
They were arrested in El-Wak en route to Somalia, and police accused them of being members of the Ghuraba, a social media group used in recruiting, radicalising and facilitating terror sympathisers to travel to Somalia.
During her many arrests, Ms Halima was at some point taken to the Kilimani police station in the capital Nairobi where she spent five days in the cells before being bundled into a small vehicle and taken to the coastal city Mombasa, where she was detained for 30 days before being charged.
Police at the time also accused her of collecting videos and articles for commission of terror acts through her phone.
Since 2015, Ms Halima has been incarcerated at the Lang’ata Women’s Prison in Nairobi and also spent more than a year at Shimo la Tewa prison in Mombasa.
In June last year, her sister Abdia Adan Ali was arrested for impersonating her in court.
Ms Abdia is said to have appeared in court covered in a niqab trying to pass herself off as Ms Halima during the final hearing.
Apart from her travels to Somalia, in 2014 she was arrested for planning to travel to Syria, which is the Isis stronghold, the US government said on Monday.