Monday November 20, 2017
Home World East African ...

East African States see rising threat from Militant Group al-Shabab

Bryden traces the roots of al-Shabab back to 2009 when the group was a purely Somali organization but was also attracting many foreign adherents, in particular, Swahili speakers

1
101
Maleeshiyada Al-shabaab. Image source: VOA

Once a threat primarily in Somalia, the militant group al-Shabab has grown and expanded its aspirations, operations, and aims, and is preparing to wage a long war in East Africa, according to analysts and experts on the region.

East Africa’s Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which works for peace, prosperity and regional integration among its eight member states, declared this week that al-Shabab is now a “transnational” organization projecting threats of extremist violence far beyond Somalia.

“Even if al-Shabab were to be defeated tomorrow I think it has inspired a generation of jihadists from across the region, from different countries, who are likely to continue,” says Matt Bryden, a director and senior analyst for the Sahan Foundation, which conducted IGAD’s regional study on al-Shabab.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

“Al-Shabab is clearly no longer an exclusively Somali problem, and requires a concerted international response,” the IGAD report said, noting that al-Shabab is active is six countries of the region – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Bryden traces the roots of al-Shabab back to 2009 when the group was a purely Somali organization but was also attracting many foreign adherents, in particular, Swahili speakers.

Matt Bryden. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Matt Bryden. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

“In East Africa, among Swahili-speaking populations, this goes beyond al-Shabab as a Somali organization sending agents to operate in neighboring countries,” says Bryden. “Al-Shabab’s propaganda is now heavily populated with radio, video, and articles in Kiswahili. It’s clearly targeting recruits in East Africa.”

Abdirahman Sahal, director of a Mogadishu-based center on extremism, agrees with Bryden that al-Shabab laid the foundation for this regional struggle a long time ago. But he says what helped most is that the organization controlled territory in Somalia where it was able to attract foreign fighters, prepare them and send them back to their countries of origin.

“They rule land, they collect tax, they have roots. Therefore they are in a position to invite others [and] open institutions to train them,” he said.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Al-Shabab has staged attacks in Kenya, Uganda, and Djibouti and made at least two attempts to strike inside Ethiopia. And the IGAD report emphasizes that the scope of the threat the group poses throughout East Africa has only increased.

Sahal says al-Shabab’s operational capabilities are a key factor. “They only need one or two people to attack a key place, to blow themselves up,” he noted.

If the threat from al-Shabab is to be countered, Sahal said, regional countries have to attack the group’s bases inside Somalia, where plots are orchestrated.

“Seizing their bases disrupts their administration and sources of revenue. They will be busy as fugitives, hiding, and cannot execute all the plots inside and outside the country,” he said.

“But as long as they have space where they can drive their cars, live normally and administer their organizational functions, it will be easy for them to attack.”

IGAD came to the same conclusion, that it needs to counter al-Shabab both inside and outside Somalia. But whether the countries of the region can exert more pressure on al-Shabab inside Somalia, by cooperating at a level they have not achieved during the past nine years, remains to be seen.

ALSO READ:

Next Story

Deadly Blast Jostles Somalia , President Declares Three Days of National Mourning

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but similar attacks have been carried out by the Islamic extremist group al Shabab

0
15
BLAST
A Somali soldier helps a civilian who was wounded in a blast in the capital of Mogadishu, Somalia. VOA

Somalia, October 15, 2017 : Somalia’s president has declared three days of national mourning following a deadly truck bombing Saturday in the capital, Mogadishu, which left many people dead and dozens injured, including a VOA reporter.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo said the country “will observe three days of mourning for innocent victims and flags will be flown at half-mast.”

Farmaajo also called on citizens to unite against terror, saying it is “time to unite and pray together. Terror won’t win.”

Blast
Somalis gather and search for survivors by destroyed buildings at the scene of a blast in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia. VOA

Earlier Saturday, the blast occurred near Zobe, a busy intersection in Somalia’s capital, killing more than 50 people, health officials and witnesses said.

Dead, injured

Mahad Salad Adan, a Somali lawmaker who sustained a slight wound from the blast, told VOA that more than 100 people, most of them civilians, were killed in the explosion. He said more 200 others were wounded as Mogadishu hospitals struggled to treat the wounded.

Abdulkaidr Mohamed Abdulle, a VOA Somali correspondent in Mogadishu, was among the injured. His wife, Samira Abdirahman Sheikh Adam, confirmed to VOA that he had sustained injuries to his neck, head and right hand.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but similar attacks have been carried out by the Islamic extremist group al Shabab. The group, which is linked to al-Qaida, is trying to overthrow the government in an effort to establish strict Islamic rule.

The United States and the United Nations strongly condemned Saturday’s blast and offered condolence to the lives lost and those wounded in the attack.

Buildings leveled

Buildings around the area were leveled by the explosion from a truck bomb, and dozens of destroyed cars littered the streets.

Blast
Mogadishu on the map. VOA

Health officials said Saturday’s bombing was the largest blast in recent memory in Mogadishu. They also called for residents to donate blood to help with the wounded.

“For 10 years, I have been in the emergency service. … I cannot tell the exact death toll, but together I can say we have transported hundreds of people on our 10 ambulances,” said Dr. Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adem, director of the Amin ambulance service. “And economically, I think this is the worst (bombing) ever in Mogadishu in a single day.”

Government soldiers had cordoned off the area, and officials said the death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers find bodies in the rubble.

ALSO READ Terror Strikes Somalia: Five killed in Twin Car Bomb Blast in Mogadishu

Most of the victims were civilians. The exact target of the blast remains unclear, though there are several hotels frequented by government officials and members of various diaspora communities.

“This is a disaster. We ask all Somalis to reach us, to help us in the search of dead bodies under the debris. We appeal to the doctors, to those who have digging machines,” Mogadishu Mayor Tabid Abdi Mohamed said on government radio.

Al-Shabab

Saturday’s blast came hours after al-Shabab militants regained control of Barire, a strategic Somalian town in a farming area along the Shabelle river, 45 kilometers from Mogadishu.

The explosion also comes two days after Somalia’s defense minister and military chief, who were leading the fight against Islamist militants, both resigned from the government, citing personal reasons.

Some analysts believe militants tend to carry out such attacks when there are security lapses.

“The resignation of the country’s defense and military chiefs gave the militants a gab [opening] to carry out such disastrous attack,” said Mogadishu University’s Dr. Abdul Kadir Liban Isse. (VOA)

Next Story

Haryana Police Summons 45 Dera Sacha Sauda Committee Members Accused of Plotting Violence Following Conviction of Dera Chief

Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape

0
30
DERA SACHA SAUDA
Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape. IANS

Chandigarh, October 6, 2017 : Haryana police have issued summons to 45 members of a committee of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect to appear before it regarding the violence that erupted following the rape conviction of the Dera chief on August 25, police sources said on Friday.

Police sources said a hard disk, which reportedly contains details of transactions worth Rs 700 crore, including property and hawala deals, of the Dera has been recovered and sent for detailed examination.

The 45-member committee, which included the Dera’s headquarters campus (near Sirsa) chairman Vipassana and vice chairman P.R. Nain, is being accused of planning the violence in Panchkula and other places that left at least 38 people dead and 264 injured.

Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape.

The Haryana Police had last month issued a list of 43 ‘Most Wanted’ people of the sect, including top functionaries Honeypreet Insan and Aditya Insan, who are the closest aides of Ram Rahim, for their role in the violence.

Honeypreet was arrested from neighbouring Punjab on Tuesday after being fugitive for 38 days. She was booked for sedition and inciting violence.

The disgraced sect chief, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, is now lodged in the District Jail in Sunaria near Rohtak. (IANS)

Next Story

US will Provide $32 Million to Rohingyas As Humanitarian Aid Package

The United States state department will provide a humanitarian aid package to the Rohingya Muslim minority who have fled violence in Myanmar and crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh

0
42
rohingya
The US will provide a humanitarian aid package worth $32 million to the Rohingya Muslim minority Source: Wikimedia Common

New York, September 21, 2017: The US will provide a humanitarian aid package worth $32 million to the Rohingya Muslim minority who have fled violence in Myanmar and crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh, the State Department announced.

The funding “reflects the US commitment to help address the unprecedented magnitude of suffering and urgent humanitarian needs of the Rohingya people,” said the State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw on Wednesday at the ongoing UN General Assembly here.

He added that the US hoped its contribution would encourage other countries to provide more funding as well, reports CNN.

The aid package comes a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Myanmar de facto leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi and “welcomed the Myanmar government’s commitment to end the violence in Rakhine state and to allow those displaced by the violence to return home,” according to the State Department.

Tillerson “urged the Myanmar government and military to facilitate humanitarian aid for displaced people in the affected areas, and to address deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations”.

The State Department also said the aid “will help provide emergency shelter, food security, nutritional assistance, health assistance, psychosocial support, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihoods, social inclusion, non-food items, disaster and crisis risk reduction, restoring family links, and protection to the over 400,000 displaced persons”.

ALSO READ: Melbourne Sikhs join protests in Australia against Rohingya Muslims massacre.

Henshaw said Wednesday’s announcement brought the total US aid to Myanmar refugees, including Rohingya, to nearly $95 million in fiscal year 2017.

Some 415,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the ongoing violence broke out on August 25 when Rohingya rebels attacked police checkposts in Rakhine resulting in the deaths os 12 security personnel, CNN reported.

Speaking at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence called on the world body “to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis” of violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar to an end.

“The United States renews our call on Burma’s security forces to end their violence immediately and support diplomatic efforts for a long-term solution.

“President (Donald) Trump and I also call on this security council and the United Nations to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis to an end.”

Pence also spoke about how the violence in Myanmar is a perfect example of the kind of problem the UN should help solve. (IANS)