US Imposes Sanctions on Militant Leaders Over Hostage Incidents in West Africa


WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) – The United States has enacted sanctions on leaders of militant groups in West Africa responsible for the abduction of hostages, including Americans, as announced by the Treasury and State departments.

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The imposition of sanctions on leaders of the West African branch of al Qaeda, known as Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), and the Islamist militant group Al-Mourabitoun underscores Washington’s efforts to prevent and penalize the abduction of U.S. citizens abroad.

The destabilization of West African nations in recent years by Islamist insurgencies, originating in Mali in 2012 and spreading across the Sahel region despite extensive, internationally supported military campaigns, highlights the significance of these sanctions.

“We will not hesitate to employ the tools at our disposal to bring home U.S. citizens held hostage abroad, and to deter future hostage-takings of our citizens,” stated U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“JNIM relies on hostage-taking and wrongful detention of civilians in order to gain leverage and instill fear, creating anguish and misery for the victims and their families,” remarked Brian Nelson, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

In response to their involvement in the abduction of U.S. nationals in West Africa, the U.S. State Department sanctioned seven leaders of JNIM and Al-Mourabitoun. Additionally, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on two JNIM leaders based in Mali and Burkina Faso, one of whom supervised the detention of a U.S. citizen.

These measures freeze any U.S.-based assets belonging to the sanctioned individuals and generally prohibit Americans from engaging in transactions with them.

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