North Eastern leaders urged to join war on Al-Shabaab

Leaders in North Eastern have been urged to join the fight against violent extremism and to work together in ensuring the residents are protected.

North Eastern Regional Commissioner (RC), Mohamud Saleh warned that the continued growth of the Al-Shabaab in the region will reverse the development gains.

Mr. Saleh said that in order for terrorism to end in the country, leaders need to come together and support each other.

Addressing a peace committee meeting, Mr. Saleh said the leaders must get involved noting that fighting against violent extremism was a collective responsibility.

“Unless leaders from the area are ready to expose and condemn the terror group, the war against terrorism and specifically Al-Shabaab will never be won.”

“Leaders from the region need to come out and take the lead in restoring and maintaining security for the region to recover from insecurity,” Mr. Saleh.

According to the regional commissioner, the government has a list of names of 35 individuals from Mandera recruited by the Al-Shabaab.

Mr. Saleh said the suspects aid the Somali based terror group to carry out attacks in the country adding that the individuals cross into the country and return to Somalia at will.

He further said the individuals are well known to the locals since they have raised their families in Kenya.

Source: HiviSasa

Advertisements

Your game is up, al Shaabab suspects told

Northeastern regional commissioner Mohamud Saleh has ordered four al Shaabab suspects in Mandera and Wajir to surrender or they be arrested.

Speaking in Wajir town yesterday, Saleh said the suspects, Ali Muhumed, Mohamed Osman, Abdirashid Ibrahim and Yussuf Abdullahi, are all from the Degodia clan

Addressing subcounty security committee teams from Wajir county, he said details of their family members, including their parents’, will be given to security teams in the two counties.

Will be flushed out

Saleh said the suspects are tasked with paralysing transport on the main routes in Wajir and Elwak in Mandera and destroying communication facilities, especially mobile phone masts.

“These people must be captured or they must surrender. If that fails, we will carry out an operation to flush them out,” Saleh said.

He, however, urged the security team to work closely with chiefs, elders and residents to ensure al Shabaab is wiped out.

The administrator said it is a shame that government officials in Northeasternvspend 95 per cent of their working time dealing with insecurity issues.

“When the rest of Kenya is talking about development and investments, in Northeastern we are busy talking about al Shabaab,” he said.

35 SHABAAB RECRUITS 

Saleh is on a five-day tour of Mandera and Wajir counties to acquaint himself with challenges security teams are facing in the fight against al Shaabab terrorists. He also met elders, women and the youth.

In Mandera, Saleh revealed the government has the names of 35 Kenyan youth recruited by al Shabaab. He said the details of their family members and wives are known.

Saleh warned the youth to surrender to the government. If they defy the order, he said the government will stop at nothing to ensure that they face the law.

Source: The Star

African leaders join hands to counter terrorism

African governments still face pressing need to enact counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency measures to protect their homelands.

Leaders attending the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union agreed they have made some progress in dismantling terrorist networks, but the war is far from over.

Kenya is one of the countries that has been hit hard by terrorist group Al-Shabaab, with many people killed.

DE-RADICALISATION
During the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) meeting, President Uhuru Kenyatta highlighted the major shift in how his administration deals with counter-terrorism.

Key among them is the establishment of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, which is the focal point for the coordination of processes managing returnees in the country.

“Other measures include rehabilitation programmes and initiatives that enhance de-radicalisation processes through amnesty for all returnees from Somalia who wish to abandon criminal affiliations to rejoin the society,” the Head of State told the council meeting.

AMISOM
The President said African countries should step up their support to the continental Peace and Security Council to ensure continuous progress in countering terrorism and violent extremism.

The continent, he added, must stand ready to provide the required backing, be it administrative, military or financial, to enable the council to carry out its mandate effectively.

Kenya Defence Forces are part of the AU mission forces in Somalia (Amisom) who have started exiting the country.

But President Kenyatta said the “unfortunate timing” of the troop withdrawal is still a major challenge as there is no prospect of Somali forces taking effective charge of national security any time soon.

UN
Already, the first batch of 1,000 troops under Amisom have left Mogadishu but the country still faces challenges in transitioning from the multinational force to the local one.

The new Somali Government has been ensuring its national security forces are trained to protect the country as another 1,000 troops get ready to leave next year.

Said President Kenyatta: “Indeed, I would like to call on the UN and the AU to ensure practical and realistic Amisom exit timelines that should be subjected to regular reviews.”

COOPERATION

But more focus, he noted, should be made on returnees, especially those in Africa.

“On return to Africa, those foreign fighters then link up with other extremist armed groups across our continent, which have affiliation to either Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State,” President Kenyatta said.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, AU PSC chairman, who is also Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki called for a comprehensive approach to combat terrorism in Africa.

President El-Sisi said a comprehensive approach to curb terrorism remained a priority for Africa if the scourge was to be eliminated.

Mr Guterres welcomed the African leaders’ efforts to fight terrorism, expressing the need to build cooperation between AU and UN to ensure a sustained and coordinated approach to combat the vice

Source: Daily Nation

Shabaab militants weakened in Somalia, UN official says

Al-Shabaab has been weakened financially, militarily and politically in the past year, the top United Nations official for Somalia said in an interview with the Nation.

The country’s devastating drought is draining Shabaab’s treasury because many local communities now lack the resources to meet the militant group’s demands for payments, observed UN special representative Michael Keating.

AIRSTRIKES

“A lot of financing for Al-Shabaab comes from taxing economic activity in areas it controls,” Mr Keating said. “When that goes down, the tax base goes down.”

The Islamist insurgents have been “put on the back foot” as a result of the stepped-up tempo of US airstrikes and ground operations conducted in conjunction with Somali government troops, Mr Keating added.

More than 200 Shabaab fighters are estimated to have been killed in 2017, with many of those deaths occurring in the months after the Trump administration streamlined procedures for launching missile and drone attacks.

Shabaab has lost some political support as well, mainly as a result of its October bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 civilians. “That did more damage to their reputation than anything else,” Mr Keating commented.

But the 12-year-old guerrilla organisation simultaneously retains political strengths, the special envoy acknowledged.

He said Al-Shabaab is able to exploit conflicts among Somali clans by making deals for reciprocal support. The country’s feeble justice system gives Shabaab militants additional “entry points,” Mr Keating said, noting that “in many parts of the country they can out-perform state and local authority in terms of delivering justice and preventing corruption.”

NO NEW RECRUITS

Shabaab, which is thought to include about 5,000 fighters, also has little difficulty drawing new recruits from the country’s mainly youthful population, he added.

“A lot of kids in the 10-18 age group don’t have many options in life. Shabaab has a certain appeal for some of them, not only by offering a minimum income but also providing a sense of purpose.” Mr Keating said.

In addition, the group may be replenishing its ranks by abducting children from communities unable to make protection payments, he suggested. “If you can’t give us resources, give us your kids,” he imagines Shabaab leaders telling locals.

The collapse of the country’s agricultural sector is simultaneously reducing the government’s resources.

“The drought has hurt the economy and temporarily impacted the Federal Government of Somalia’s tax collection efforts,” the International Monetary Fund said in a recent report. It projects a “subdued” annual growth rate of less than two percent, while inflation is expected to climb to close to four percent.

CORRUPTION IN SOMALIA

Official corruption remains rampant in Somalia, Mr Keating said. Little outside assistance has specifically targeted graft, with most donor funding going to the security sector, he noted.

Despite these long-running and large-scale investments, the country’s military and police remain incapable of fighting Shabaab on their own.

“There hasn’t been sufficient focus on institution building and political co-ownership of security forces,” Mr Keating said. The national army is “still seen as associated with particular parts of the country or particular clans.”

With no prospect of Somali forces’ taking effective charge of national security anytime soon, the African Union Mission (Amisom) must continue to act as the main element in the war against Shabaab, Mr Keating said.

But Amisom is experiencing morale problems 11 years after its first detachments were deployed and in the wake of an unreported number of deaths likely to total several hundred. There is increasing talk of a substantial forthcoming reduction in Amisom’s uniformed troop strength of about 22,000.

The large difference in pay between the African Union’s peacekeepers in Somalia and United Nations peacekeepers in other countries constitutes “a source of great unhappiness,” Mr Keating said.

The European Union, which pays Amisom troops’ salaries, reduced its allotments by 20 per cent two years ago—from Sh 100, 000 ($1,028) to Sh 80, 000 ($822) per month, per soldier. A UN peacekeeper is now paid Sh 140, 000 ($1,410) a month.

Despite the discontent and frustration within Amisom and the political pressures for withdrawal in some troop-contributing countries, a powerful countervailing factor makes a large-scale drawdown unlikely. The governments of the five countries that assign troops to Amisom — Kenya, Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda and Ethiopia — each get a cut of the funding provided by the EU, along with training of their soldiers.

DEFEATING SHABABAB

A major short-term cut in Amisom’s troop strength would amount to “a gift to Al-Shabaab,” Mr Keating told the UN Security Council last week. He warned that for all its difficulties Al-Shabaab retains the ability to carry out devastating attacks.

In his interview with the Nation, Mr Keating emphasised that Shabaab cannot be defeated solely by military means. A political element is highly important, he said. “You have to offer both carrots and sticks.”

Asked whether an effective strategy should involve negotiations with Shabaab, Mr Keating pointed out that “it’s very rare for armed insurgencies to end primarily on the basis of a military victory. Typically,” he continued, “they end through a combination of military pressure and some form of negotiations.”

Any decision on whether to hold talks between the government and Al-Shabaab “must be a Somali decision,” he said. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” has repeatedly said he is willing to accommodate defectors from Shabaab, Mr Keating noted. “He clearly believes there needs to be a political as well as a military approach.”

Negotiations are unlikely to occur anytime soon, Mr Keating added. “There’s a long way to go before that could happen,” he said.

Source: Daily Nation

US drones ‘wiping out’ Shabaab in Somalia: AU mission head

Drone strikes by the United States military are “wiping out” Shabaab militants in Somalia, the head of the African Union mission in the country told AFP in an interview Friday.

The US has stepped up its operations in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation, targeting the Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab, which has fought for the last decade to topple Somalia’s internationally backed government, and a separate self-proclaimed branch of the Islamic State.

“These drone attacks and others are wiping out al-Shabaab in good numbers. And that is good to finish with the terrorism,” said Francisco Madeira, the chief of the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on the sidelines of the AU’s summit in the Ethiopian capital.

In recent months, US special forces and the Somali national army have killed scores in air strikes and ground assaults targeting Shabaab, including a Christmas Eve strike that left 13 dead.

The surge in activity comes after President Donald Trump last year loosened constraints on the US military in Somalia, allowing commanders to take action against suspected terrorists when they judge it is needed, without seeking specific White House approval.

The US Africa Command has had to defend itself against allegations that its forces have killed civilians, issuing a statement in November that said no civilians died in a raid three months prior despite media reports to the contrary.

– Possible extension –

Madeira said only that if soldiers were accused of unlawfully killing civilians they would be taken to court. He said that when deaths did occur AMISOM did not have the money to pay reparations to bereaved families.

“We do not have money to pay for this. We have been sharing this with a number of partners, but so far the response has been very, very, very minimal, almost non-existent,” he said.

While AMISOM is scheduled to depart Somalia by December 2020, Madeira said an extension of the force’s mandate was not out of the question.

“The formation of a fully-fledged, functioning… Somali National Army, it might take a bit longer than that. But we can already have some critical mass of forces that can do the work,” he said.

The once 22,000-strong AMISOM force began pulling troops out of Somalia at the end of last year, and Madeira has previously highlighted the need for more support to enable the national army to take over.

Currently, the bloated and largely ineffective Somali army is more a collection of clan militias, with various international militaries providing poorly-coordinated training to different units.

The Shabaab lost its foothold in Mogadishu in 2011, but has continued its fight, and was blamed for the country’s worst ever attack in which a truck bombing left over 500 dead in October last year.

Source: The Citizen

U.S. Military Confirms Killing 5 Terrorists In Somalia Raid

The U.S. military on Thursday confirmed that five Al-Shabaab militants were killed and six others injured during a joint raid at a school run by Al-Shabaab that rescued 35 children. The U.S. Africa Command, which oversees American troops on the continent, said some of the terrorists killed in the raid conducted by U.S. and Somalia forces on Jan. 19 in Middle Shabelle region appear to have been under the age of 18. “During the mission, the Somali National Security Forces received hostile fire. The Somali forces returned fire in self-defence. “In the ensuing firefight, five enemy combatants were killed and six were wounded,” the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement. “The U.S. personnel were in an advisory capacity, and did not fire their weapons,” Africom said of the raid which resulted in the recovery of 35 male children from an Al-Shabaab indoctrination centre.

The U.S. military said it supports the Horn of Africa nation government and the UNICEF’s efforts to reunite these children with their families. The U.S. forces alongside Somali and AU forces have increased ground and air offensives against the militant group Al-Shabaab in the last few months.
Source: Leadership

Government lists 35 individuals aiding Al-Shabaab

saleh.jpg

North Eastern Regional Commissioner Mohamud Saleh

The government has a list of 35 individuals from Mandera recruited by Al-Shabaab to aid the Somali-based terror group in carrying out attacks in Kenya.

North Eastern Regional Commissioner Mohamud Saleh said that the individuals well known to the locals have raised families in Kenya and they cross into the country and return to Somalia at will.

Addressing peace committee elders from six sub-counties of Mandera County in Mandera town, Saleh said unless leaders from the area are ready to expose and condemn the group, the war against terrorism and specifically Al-Shabaab, will never be won.

“We must be honest with ourselves here. Unless you leaders come out and take the lead in restoring and maintaining security in Mandera, the region will never recover from insecurity,” Saleh told the elders.

He said it was a pity that North Eastern has spent time and resources since independence in fighting crime and insecurity.

“For how long are we going to talk about insecurity in the region? First it was Shifta war, then the banditry and now the Al-Shabaab menace. We cannot be calling and using our resources on security meetings. Where are we going as a region? These are the hard questions leaders from the region should start asking themselves otherwise we shall perish,” Saleh posed.

“We cannot pretend that we don’t know where the problem is. The Al-Shabaab menace is being fueled by our own youth. Even if we blame it on Somalia, the ring leaders are our youth. I have the names of the youth who have been recruited by Al-Shabaab. We know their families and even their wives. They cross over annually to visit their families and nobody reports to authorities,” he added.

He reiterated the government’s mission to carry out a massive security operation in areas prone to Al Shabaab attacks among them Ijara that borders the Boni forest and the Mandera border towns of Elwak, Lafey, Kotulo among others.

Earlier, while addressing the county security committee and those from the six sub-counties, Saleh said that security agents in the area have made tremendous strides in suppressing the Al-Shabaab menace in the area and the region at large.

“You have done a lot of work to suppress Al-Shabaab activities in the region but we are not out of the woods yet. The challenges are still there particularly in Mandera East, Arabia, Entire Lafey and Elwak Sub-counties that borders war torn Somalia,” he said.

Saleh said 90 percent of Mandera County is peaceful apart from the stretch from Arabia to Kotulo where he termed as “volatile, unpredictable, challenging and sometimes ambiguous since you don’t know whom you dealing with or where they [Al-Shabaab] are coming from”.

He said Al-Shabaab operatives use the area to carry out incursions by attacking security vehicles, plant landmines, target security installations and communication masts before retreating back to Somalia.

The regional commissioner noted the government is reviewing its strategies to come up with new methods to combat terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism in the region.

Source: The Citizen