Somalia: How Cross-Border Contraband Trade Is Oiling Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen Economic Empire

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Illicit contraband trade in northeastern counties has significantly fueled Al-Shabaab resurgence in Kenya. Even though Kenya-Somalia border is closely monitored by security units, unscrupulous cartels have however found a way sneaking contraband goods into the country.

Northeastern prefectures of Kenya remains fertile for Al-Shabaab activities citing their geographical proximity with Somalia, the home of Al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Shabaab. That notwithstanding, Kenya’s security agencies must change strategy in a bid to crush and avert Al-Shabaab increasing activities in the said regions.

Kenya’s prefectures bordering Somalia has witnessed resurgence of Al-Shabaab attacks in the last two months. Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Lamu counties has suffered brunt of Al-Shabaab attacks besides affecting the counties economic activities.

Al-Shabaab has constantly been able to maintain their sleeper cells in these counties and have been financed in order to perpetuate attacks besides conducting recruitment on behalf the terror group. Group’s financing network remains core to the group sustainability and survival and thus counterterrorism assets need to come up with a strategy to unearth and crush these financing networks.

Kenya security agencies is required to revisit its security strategy across the northeastern region as it seeks to stamp out the terror group resurgence. Reactivation of ‘Nyumba Kumi’ initiative will come in handy. Through these Nyumba Kumi committees, information and intelligence gathered will be able to help security agencies in averting and countering terrorist activities.

Intelligence gathering is key if Al-Shabaab in these regions is to be defeated. Starting from lowest levels of locals, assistant chiefs up to the county commissioners, intelligence gathered and timely shared to security agencies would be help in stopping and deterring the flow of illicit contraband goods, services and immigrants in the country.

The Somali based terrorist group needs millions of dollars every year to fund its programmes of radicalizing, recruiting and training fighters as well as paying and feeding them. Al-Shabaab requires funds to finance its ambitious intelligence wing, Amniyaat, in its gathering of intelligence from institutions of the Federal Government, Federal States, AMISOM, Somalia’s neighbors, foreign governments and international agencies. The terror group also need to procure weapons, ammunition, explosives, vehicles and other warfare materials and finally, it has to fund for its elaborate publicity and propaganda network and platforms.

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