Aug 5, 2019

Drug Money Funding Terrorism

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Earlier, in April, this year Kenya was listed by the United States as the vital money laundering hotspot. The incident brought questions to many. Nonetheless, it was a clear indication that a lot of dirty money is changing hands in the country. The United States Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs stated that Kenya was home to serious money laundering penetrating both the informal and the formal sectors. The US agency remarked that both domestic and foreign criminal operations fueled the money laundering. Several months down the line, the Akasha scandal confirms the report.

Over the years, the link between the drug trade and terrorism has been speculated in Kenya and the wider African continent. The United Nations Security councils and the Africa union both understand the growing presence of the two criminal operations in the region. However, the exact nature and scope of correlation and cooperation between the two are not fully understood as the magnitude of involvement remains elusive. Reports from the UNs recognize Kenya and Somalia as being key transshipment regions in the international drug trade. As a result, they estimate that billions of dollars are made by drug traffickers in the two countries through making shipments to Asia and Europe. Key players in this chain are predominantly terrorist originations in Somalia or affiliated individuals in Kenya. Additionally, the two countries act as an entry point for drugs for the greater east African region. The recent spike in drug addiction statistics in Kenya, especially along the coasts and Nairobi attest to this claim. All this dirty money is inevitably linked to terrorism.

An example of all the aforementioned trends in one case is the Akasha brothers scandal. The said individuals built a criminal empire that began in Kenya and soon grew to encompass significant cities in Africa and Asia. The drug lords were involved in both the formal and the informal sector to build and grow their empire. Central to their strategy was involving prominent families, politician, and local law enforcement agencies. They were also linked to the al-Shabaab terror group as some aspects of their business included the terror organization, thereby funding it.

The Kenyan government has been taking significant steps to curb the discussed relationship. Key among this has been fostering international cooperation both at the law enforcement and the procession level. The move is essential as considering that these criminal empires are rooted in multiple nations and thus need a comprehensive approach to weed out the perpetrators. For instance, the country has been actively cooperating with the US Department of Justice; it facilitated the arrest and extradition of the Akasha brothers to the US. Additionally, Kenya and the US have been holding a joint training session to impart needed skills to handle such matters. An example is the training program by FBI, the DPP Hajji and DCI Kinoti attended in the US.

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