President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order this week that targets Somali individuals suspected of al-Qaida links, maritime piracy off the Somali coast, arms trafficking, or other people suspected of destabilizing Somalia. One of the more high level individuals targeted is Islamist leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys. Aweys is on U.S. and U.N. al-Qaida watch lists.
The new sanctions will be of special interest to financial institutions and other entities in the business of sending money to Somalia. In countries with failed states, remittances are big business. In the case of Somalia, the formal remittance system generates an estimated $2 billion a year in economic activity. According to a study by the United Nations Development program, $7 million a month was remitted from Minnesota alone.