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Al Shabab's strength and wealth pose threat beyond Somalia's borders

Al Shabab's strength and wealth pose threat beyond Somalia's borders

United States of America (the)
News Date: 
Sharia Watch

#ffffff; color:#555555; font-family:Montserrat,sans-serif; font-size:16px">Al-Shabab’s hostility toward its neighbour stems from Kenya’s contribution of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a peacekeeping mission#ffffff; color:#555555; font-family:Montserrat,sans-serif; font-size:16px"> created in 2007 to protect Somalia’s transitional government and stabilise the country. Today, AMISOM’s 20,000 troops are also mandated to combat al-Shabab. AMISOM plays a key role in preventing al-Shabab from taking control of the capital Mogadishu and achieving its mission to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state.


The scope of al-Shabab’s territorial control in Somalia has changed little in the last four years. The AU campaign pushed the extremists from major population centres, but al-Shabab controls much of southern and central Somalia. Its influence in the country is pervasive. In areas under its control, it acts as a shadow government, collecting taxes and providing justice and other basic services.

“Al-Shabab has a lot of society on their side,” says Jay Bahadur, former head of the UN Panel of Experts on Somalia. “It has an extremely extensive spy network and intelligence network, can assassinate people at will, and maintains its authority through fear and intimidation. If you count affiliates, spies, facilitators, etc, you’re looking at a large chunk of the Somali population.”

Crucially, al-Shabab has no shortage of funds. The group taxes virtually all economic activity in southern Somalia, levying taxes on merchants at checkpoints along transit routes, local businesses, and imports. It also demands religious taxes. Under threat of violence, citizens have no choice but to pay. According to Bahadur, the UN estimated al-Shabab made $10 million in a year at one checkpoint alone — one of dozens throughout Somalia.