Are Corruption and Tribalism Dooming Somalia’s War on al-Shabaab Extremists?

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 4


February 21, 2014 02:32 PM


By: Andrew McGregor


English: Flag of Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen

English: Flag of Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


An African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldier keeps guard on top of an armoured vehicle in the old part of Mogadishu (Source Reuters)


  After decades of conflict that have nearly destroyed the nation, Somalia now stands poised     to  make a final drive with international assistance to shatter the strength of radical al-Qaeda- associated Islamists in central and southern Somalia, but there are indications that Somalia’s leaders may be posing an even greater obstacle to Somalia’s successful reconstruction.


                                                                 Arms Embargoes and Missing Weapons



In mid-February, the UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group issued a report to the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee claiming that weapons obtained by the Somali government under a temporary easing of UN arms sanctions were being sold to Somalia’s al-Shabaab extremists in what was described as “high-level and systematic abuses in weapons and ammunition management and distribution” (Reuters, February 13). A UN arms embargo was placed on Somalia in 1992, but in the last year the Somali government has been able to obtain once-restricted small arms and other weapons such as rocket-propelled-grenades under a partial lifting of the embargo designed to help fight al-Shabaab terrorists.


Among the observations contained in the report were the following:



  • Shipments of weapons from Ethiopia, Djibouti and Uganda could not be accounted for.
  • The Somali government cancelled several UN inspections of armories
  • A key presidential adviser from President Hassan Shaykh Mohamud’s own Abgaal sub-clan was involved in planning weapons transfers to al-Shabaab commander Shaykh Yusuf Isse “Kabukatukade,” another member of the Abgaal.
  • A government minister from the Habr Gadir sub-clan made unauthorized weapons purchases from a Gulf state that were transferred to private locations in Mogadishu for use by a Habr Gadir clan militia.
  • The Monitoring team photographed rifles sent to Somalia’s national army for sale in the Mogadishu arms market with their serial numbers filed off (Reuters, February13; AFP, February 16).



The easing of the Somali arms embargo is scheduled to end in March. Though a final decision on its future has yet to be made, it seems likely that the easing will remain in place until a new report on arms violations is due in October. The Somali government is looking for a complete removal of the embargo, allowing it to obtain heavy weapons and sophisticated military materiel (Reuters, February 14). Continue reading

Kenya’s nervous condition and the war against Al-Shabaab


Al-Shabaab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Written by George Ogola (1)

Walking into any of Nairobi’s shopping malls, hotels and supermarkets today, one is now frisked by anxious security guards with metal detectors. The city appears trapped in a suspended sense of foreboding about a big unknown. It is a city very much on edge. Kenya’s war against Al-Shabaab in Somalia passed its 100th day in January 2012, but very few know when or how it will end. The port city of Kismayu, a main target for the Kenya Defence Force (KDF), remains in Al-Shabaab’s hands. The growing sense of uncertainly over the war, coupled with militant rhetoric by Al-Shabaab about retributive action within Kenya’s territory, is increasingly unsettling nerves in the country. Many are now resigned to the fact that this is a war that will not be won militarily.

Kenya’s military intervention came following the kidnapping of a number of aid workers and foreign nationals within its territory by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in 2011. The military intervention was, however, unusual. Kenya has generally avoided open military confrontation with its neighbours despite the fact that a number of these nations have been characterised by political instability since the 1970s having a significant political, social and economic impact on Kenya. For instance, the country hosts the Dadaab refugee camp, considered the largest refugee camp in the world.(2) The camp has nearly half a million refugees, mainly of Somali origin who have escaped hunger as well as lawlessness and clan wars in their country. Other camps in the country have previously hosted refugees mainly from South Sudan.


Somalia's states, regions and districts

Somalia’s states, regions and districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This paper assesses the implications of Kenya’s involvement in the war against Al-Shabaab. It argues that while the Kenyan Government wanted to make an unambiguous statement of intent about the seriousness of the country’s commitment to protecting its borders, it did not foresee the war evolving into a broader international ideological conflict. The involvement of international jihadists in the conflict has raised the stakes in the war. Kenya must now fight a military and an ideological war. It must also fight Al-Shabaab not only outside the country but within it; a challenging prospect with no end in sight.


‘Statelessness’ in Somalia and the politics of oil in northern Kenya

The continued situation of ‘statelessness’ in Somalia and the increasing militarisation of clanist and religious militia in the country have raised the stakes regarding the Somalia problem. There are fears that the country has become an incubator for international jihadists, which has forced the hand of the United States (US) to intervene, albeit indirectly. The US has offered support for the war in the form of military training and equipment to Kenyan forces. They have also been involved in drone attacks against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.(3) This intervention has had two effects. One, it has animated fundamentalist rhetoric against the ‘invaders’, seen to include the African Union’s (AU) interventionist force, the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), meant to support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Two, the countries involved in protecting the TFG, which include Uganda, Burundi and Ethiopia, have also received substantial military support from the US, which has raised regional anxieties.

The latter point, although less talked about, is likely to be the subject of future debate as it is silently reshaping the geopolitics of the region. The countries involved in AMISON have now significantly increased their military spending prompting talk of an arms race in the region. Indeed, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), in 2012 Uganda’s military budget for the first time surpassed Kenya’s despite the fact that the former has a much smaller economy. The country is said to have spent US$ 1.02 billion while Kenya spent US$ 735 million on military hardware in 2012.(4) If this trend continues, it will no doubt encourage a regional arms race as Kenya’s involvement in Somalia now all but legitimises increased military spending.

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Merger of al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda Official

Posted By admin On 11 Feb 2012.

clip_image001What many have suspected for a long time seems to be official.  Harakat Al-Shabaab and al Qaeda, in a video this week, formally announced their merger.  The merger raises concern in the horn of Africa and the United States.  The announcement also lends some crediance to the suspicion that al-Qaeda, through its north African partners, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, have similar linkage with Nigeria’s jihadist, terrorist group Boko Haram.

In a video message released Thursday, Mukhtar Abu al-Zubeir, the recognized leader of al-Shabaab confirmed his allegiance to al-Qaeda and its cells around the globe.  In the same video, Ayman al Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s chief, gave his blessings and salams to al-Shabaab as he welcomed them into the international cause.

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Terrorism In Africa: 2011 Review and Predictions for 2012


2011 Review of Terrorism in Africa

The past twelve months have seen increased terrorist activity in Africa leaving some not so pleasant senarios for 2012.  In fact, I would say that 2011 saw terrorist groups moving almost at will on the continent despite greater security push back than every before.  Sure, Africa’s terrorist groups are an extremely mixed bag, yet they seem poised to continue to reign havoc on citizens in their path.

Nigerian security forces killed and captured hundreds of Boko Haram loyalists in 2009 and 2010, including the summary execution of two of its leaders Alhaji Yusuf Mohammed and Alhaji Buji Foi.  Some predicted the end of Boko Haram, yet in the past twelve months Boko Haram has risen to the level of the most active terrorist group on planet Earth carrying out more frequent and deadlier bombings.  In the past the Boko Haram terrorists struck mostly in their own neighborhood of northern Nigeria, especially around Maiduguri, in 2011 they struck severe blows at security installations and the United Nations headquarters in the capital, Abuja.  They ended the year with the horrific Christmas day bombings.

Al-Shabaab continued to raise havoc and fear in East Africa, particularly in Somalia.  The al-Qaeda linked group struck often in southern villages and in Mogadishu during the year.  The most notable event was the interjection of foreign countries into the battle against al-Shabaab.  Kenya has for years had to deal with al-Shabaab in the Eastleigh district of Nairobi and in the far northern reaches of the country.  In 2011 large numbers of Kenyan troops began to cross the border to seek and destroy al-Shabaab operatives after the abduction of tourists and aid workers.  The United States re-inserted itself into Somalia through its use of drones, initially for intelligence gathering and later bombing suspected al-Shabaab staging areas.  Israel even intimated that it was willing to lend a hand in the battle against al-Shabaab.

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Kenya: Police Apathy Allowed Fazul to Attack Paradise Hotel

Wadih el-Hage

Image via Wikipedia

Murithi Mutiga  6 August 2011

On a cloudless Thursday morning 13 years ago today, a brown Dyna truck left house number 43 in Runda estate, and within an hour after setting off, introduced the world to the new age of global terrorism.

The bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were the first mega-attacks by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

One of the key masterminds behind the attacks was Fazul Abdullah Mohamed, a name that has become familiar to East Africans over the past decade.

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Somali Islamists claim deadly attack on medics

Aerial view of the Port of MOGADISHU. Three ca...
Image via Wikipedia

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA Jan 26 2010 11:34

Somalia‘s hard-line insurgent group, al-Shabaab, on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a mortar attack on an African Union peacekeepers’ base in Mogadishu that left several people dead.

On Monday, a mortar round crashed into a group of Somali civilians queuing up at one of the entrances of the AU’s peacekeeping mission (Amisom) to receive medical treatment from the force’s doctors.

“The attack on the compound of the African infidels was carried out by our mujahedins [holy warriors]. It was a successful attack that left many of the enemy doctors dead,” al-Shabaab spokesperson Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Rage said. Continue reading

HDNet World Report Investigates a Growing Terrorist Threat in Kenya

Somali terrorist organization Al-Shabaab is starting to infect this strong U.S. Ally –

Report airs Tuesday, January 26 at 9:00 p.m. ET

January 25, 2010 —

DALLAS, Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ — This Tuesday, World Report, HDNet‘s award-winning weekly news program, travels to Kenya, a country long considered East Africa’s most stable nation — not to mention a vital American ally in the war on terror — to investigate a Somali extremist Islamic terrorist organization called Al-Shabaab. The group, having known ties to Al-Qaeda, is now crossing Kenya’s porous border with Somalia, along with the recent influx of refugees, and imposing their strict interpretation of Islamic law on citizens in Kenya.

When asked by World Report Correspondent Paul Beban about Al-Shabaab’s presence in Kenya, U.S. Ambassador Michael Rannenberger said, “They are of course an extremely fanatical movement, and they do have significant support. There is no doubt that Al-Shabaab poses an actual and potential danger to Kenya.” Continue reading