Terrorists Use Businesses across East Africa to Fund Attacks, Says Report

Financial Intelligence Authority has released a report that shows terrorists are using a chain of local businesses across East Africa to fund attacks in the region. The National Risk Assessment report says terrorist funding comes from both legal and illegal businesses.

These sources include extortion, human and wildlife trafficking, drug trafficking, illegal trade of sugar, charcoal, and fuel, ransoms, and misuse of non-profit organisations (NPOs). Additionally, the report says terrorists benefit from remittances sent to Somali nationals in countries in East Africa.

Terror Groups in East Africa

According to the report, the greatest threats in the region are al-Shabaab, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The amount of money raised for all terror groups in the region is about $100 million. The main source of funding for al-Shabaab is piracy, migrant smuggling, foreign remittances, illegal taxation, extortion, donations, and wildlife crimes.

The report’s findings reveal that many businesses operated by Somalis in Kenya and Uganda such as remittance companies, money exchanges, and fuel stations send money to Somalia which is taxed by al-Shabaab.

For instance, the report says al-Shabaab was producing more $400 million annually, by 2014, in trade with countries such as UAE and Kenya. The terrorist group has been making $25 million yearly through taxation. The greatest source of revenue is piracy which earned them about $400 million as of 2013.

The report claims LRA receives funding from wildlife crimes, sponsorship from the Khartoum government, minerals, extortion, and looting. On the other hand, ADF funds its missions through trade, illegal mining, state sponsorship, real estate, and NPO donations.

For example, ADF received $22,811 from an NPO in the UK and the group runs real estate businesses in Kenya and Tanzania.

Mobile Money Transfers

According to the report, mobile money transfers record a high risk of being used to fund terrorist activities because they are fast and operate beyond borders. However, banks recorded the lowest vulnerability risk of being used to fund terrorism.

Source: Kenya Wall Street

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Patrol team foils Al Shabaab attack

Security agencies operating in Boni forest foiled a planned Al Shabaab terrorist attack on their convoy.
According to the commander of the operation, Douglas Kirocho, a team of Kenya Defence Forces and Rural Border Patrol Unit was on patrol on Sunday afternoon when they spotted signs of an ambush along the Hulugho-Galmagalla road.
After securing the area, the team found an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) and safely detonated it. “They managed to foil an IED explosion that had been placed targeting them, the IED had been placed several kilometres from Galmagalla,” said Kirocho.

Security agencies in the area have intensified operations against the terror group.
Source: The Standard

KDF soldiers treat locals in Boni as dispensaries remain shut

A KDF officer attending to a patient

The Kenya Defence Forces soldiers-KDF who are currently conducting the multi-agency security operation Linda Boni have come to the rescue of residents in the areas of the operation who were in dire need of medical care.

The operation which was launched in 2015 to flush out Al Shabaab militants believed to hiding deep within the Boni forest,takes place in three border counties on Lamu,Tana River and Garissa.

Raids and attacks by Al Shabaab militants in many parts of this counties have left many dispensaries and health centres grounded as the militants looted,vandalized and even torched some of them.

Health workers who used to work in these places have so far fled for their lives and many have vowed never to return.

Many residents in the affected places have been left to their own fate as they struggle to seek medical care.

However speaking on Monday, Assistant Inspector-General and Police Commander in charge of the operation Douglas Kirocho said the KDF was now offering medical services to all residents of Lamu,Tana River and Garissa free of charge having realized the desperate need for the services.

Kirocho says the initiative by the KDF is meant to save lives and restore the health of residents in these places.

The medical camp is located at Kotile and Masalani dispensaries all located within the Boni forest and have so far attended to over 200 people.

Kirocho says the dispensaries which are fully run and operated by medical experts and doctors from the KDF are open twice a week;on Mondays and Wednesdays.

He says the officers have been foced to juggle between their usual security duties and also ensuring they offer the much needed medical care and services to the affected communities.

Kirocho adds that the move is also aimed at strengthening the bond between locals and security officers conducting the operation.

“Our main objective even as we conduct this operation is to enhance the livelihoods here by provision of adequate security at all times. Apart from the normal duties,we have also embarked on a campaign to save lives. We have dispatched a medical services team from the KDF to areas like Kotile and Masalani.We issued referrals for cases we couldn’t handle,” said Kirocho.

He revealed plans to also sink water pans in the areas in order to deal with the current drought spell that has in turn caused water scarcity.

Boni residents are however calling on the national government to ensure all dispensaries that were closed almost four years ago owing to frequent Al Shabaab attacks are re-openened to enable for more effective health service delivery.

The dispensaries in Milimani, Basuba and Mangai have never been re-opened since 2014 after staff fled for their lives.

Many women and babies have lost their lives for lack of specialized care as pregnant women are only forced to rely on traditional birth attendants with no experience to deal with maternal and infant emergencies.

“We are really glad about what the KDF is doing for us.It means a lot that they can put their guns aside to attend to our sick people and we are more than humbled.We however hope that the government considers setting up a maternity wing for our women here.We have lost so many mothers and babies because of the situation,”said Ali Gubo,an elder of the Boni community.

Source: Baraka FM

Uganda deploys air force to pursue Islamic militants in Somalia

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The Uganda People’s Defence Air Force has for the first time sent a contingent of ace pilots to support the ongoing African Union (AU) peace operations in Somalia, like reported by newvision.co.ug.

The air force will provide aerial escort for convoys, reconnaissance operations along the supply routes, medical evacuation, air search and rescue as well as aerial combat against the al-Shabaab in Mogadishu.

The contingent of airmen and women and helicopters was flagged off yesterday by the chief of defence forces Gen. Aronda Nyakairima and the commander of the air force Gen. Jim Owoyesigire. Aronda handed over the AU flag to the contingent commander Lt. Col. Chris Kaija.

Gen. Owoyesigire said that the utility helicopters will be used to support the ground troops in line with the unapproved mandate for troops deployed in Somalia under the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The Ugandan air force is to provide air cover in the areas of Somalia which are occupied by the contingents from Burundi, Djibouti and Uganda, according to Gen. Aronda.

Gen. Aronda said that the Uganda air force has formally joined AMISOM after the deployment was authorised by President Yoweri  Museveni and endorsed by the African Union and the UN.

Addressing the air force personnel, Gen. Aronda said, “We have won battles in Somalia but we are yet to win the war. I have no doubt that you have been prepared and you are ready to go and support AMISOM. Go and support the ground forces which have done credible work.”

Aronda said that the deployment of the air force is coming at a time when Somalis are going for parliamentary and presidential elections this month.

According to Gen. Aronda, with Mogadishu now pacified, the ground troops presently have to move long distances in the rest of the country and need rapid response which can be provided by the air force.

Source: Islam Media Analysis

How terrorists raise money to hit targets

Kampala. Terrorists are using a string of local businesses across the East African countries from which they reap millions of dollars they use to finance their terror missions in the region, according to findings in the Financial Intelligence Authority report.
These findings are contained in the report on National Risk Assessment of money laundering and terrorism financing in Uganda. The report says the terrorist deal in both lawful and prohibited businesses.
The report says the main funding sources include extortion, misuse of non-profit organisations (NPOs), engaging in natural resources/wild life crimes, ransoms, piracy, illegal trade in sugar, fuel, charcoal, human and wildlife trafficking.

The terrorists benefit from remittances from Somali nationals operating in Uganda and other countries in the region.
According to the report, when the Somalis outside Somalia send money to their relatives back home in al-Shabaab controlled areas, the remittances are taxed by the militants who use the proceeds to finance their terror operations.

The report names other means of revenue generation for the terrorists as drug trafficking, extortion and trading in precious metals.
The report names three terror groups in the region as the biggest threats. They are; al-Shabaab, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The volume of terrorist financing, according to the report, is estimated at $100m (about Shs360 billion) for all terrorist groups in the region.
According to the report, al-Shabaab’s main source of funding includes piracy, extortion in form of illegal taxation, trade, foreign remittances, donations, migrant smuggling and wildlife crimes.
According to the findings, it is believed that many businesses operated by the Somali community in Uganda such as “money exchange and remittance companies” and fuel stations send money to Somalia, which are taxed by al-Shabaab when received within territories under its control.

Somali community speaks out
However, Mr Hassan Hussain, the chairperson of the Somali community in Uganda, denied claims of terrorism financing through remittances back home.
He said all the money they send back to Somalia is cleared by the Central Bank before it is remitted to Somalia.

“That’s untrue. We get permission from the Central Bank, We have passed through all the processes fulfilling all the conditions. I don’t know where these people got this information from,” Mr Hussain said.
He said they have been working closely with the security agencies in Uganda and the Somali community has different executive committees that handle issues affecting Somalis in Uganda.
Mr Hussain said their stay has been peaceful and they have not received any threat from the local community here or external threat from al-Shabaab.

For example by 2014, the report says al-Shabaab was generating in excess of Shs1.5 trillion ($400m) annually in trade with foreign countries, which included the United Arab Emirates, Dubai and Kenya through sale of sugar and charcoal.
The group has also been earning $25m (about Shs90.6b) annually through taxation, according to the report.
Piracy probably earned the biggest share of revenue for the al-Shabaab estimated at between $339m and $439m (about Shs1.23 trillion and Shs1.6 trillion) as of 2013.

Although it did not name particular individuals or organisations, the report says al-Shabaab receives a lot of financial donations from its diaspora community, including those in Uganda.
The report, for example, indicates the funds used to execute the July 2010 twin terror bombings in Kampala originated from the UK.
It says the funds were wired from UK through a forex bureau in Nairobi, Kenya. The money was picked from the bureau (name withheld) by one of the terrorists who proceeded to Kampala to finalise the terror mission.

Though the report did not name the person or the group that sent the money, it says the funds were promptly received in Nairobi and one of the masterminds of the attack proceeded to Uganda for the attack.
The attack left 76 people dead and dozens of others injured at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds and Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala, both in Kampala.
Fourteen suspects were charged over the twin bombings and nine were convicted.

The report says LRA’s main sources of revenue include wildlife crimes, minerals, extortion, looting and state sponsorship by the Khartoum government.
The report further states that the Allied Democratic Forces’ main sources of funds include trade, real estate business, wildlife crime, illegal mining, state sponsorship and donations from NPOs.
It says the ADF received $22,811 (about Shs82m) from a NPO in the UK. The organisation is not named. It says in 2015, the ADF staged road blocks in eastern DR Congo and obtained $80,000 (about Shs289m) to fund its activities.

According to the report, ADF also runs real estate, car bonds and transport businesses in Kenya. The report says ADF also has real estate businesses in Tanzania, where it derives income to carry out its terror activities in Uganda and DR Congo.

Banking sector registers lowest risk
The analysis of terrorism financing shows that the risks of running terrorism financing is very low in the banking sector.
The higher risk was cited in other types of financial institutions such as forex bureaus and Mobile Money transfer firms, real estate and in some financial inclusion products. The report says there has been one case of alleged terrorism funding related to a bank.

According to the findings, the terror financing risk among NGOs is medium, although there are some NGOs that are currently being investigated for suspected involvement in terrorism financing.
Firms dealing in insurance and security exchanges also present a lower inherent terrorism financing risk.
Currently, in the financial sector, the higher terrorism financing risk is posed by less regulated/supervised types of financial institutions, particularly forex and Mobile Money transfers.

Uganda’s capacity
Uganda has a legal framework, which was recently enhanced by the enactment of Anti-Terrorism Regulations.
However, terrorism financing being a new offence, the quality of intelligence generated for this specific crime is still at formative stage.
The report recommends that while there are significant strengths in the anti-terrorism framework, more focus should be placed on terror financing intelligence and investigations, and effective implementation of preventive measures by accountable persons.

Mobile money transfers

The analysis of some financial inclusion-related products, particularly Mobile Money international remittances and Mobile Money person-to-person transfers shows that the vulnerability of mobile money products to terrorism financing risk is high.
This is due to the rapidity of transactions as well as cross-border services that facilitate these transactions.
The report says for money transfers that have transaction thresholds of between Shs4m to Shs5m per day, the risks of terrorism financing are much higher. One can receive the upper limit amount daily and in a week the accumulated sum is high. Customers can also hold multiple SIM-cards and accounts of Mobile Money with the same or different network operators. Although these products are subject to anti-money laundering requirements, the implementation of the regulations is uneven and ineffective.

Source: Daily Monitor

 

Al-Shabaab steps up extortion and indoctrination as morale dips

Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia are extorting huge sums from starving communities and forcibly recruiting hundreds of children as soldiers and suicide bombers as the terror group endures financial pressures and an apparent crisis of morale.

Intelligence documents, transcripts of interrogations with recent defectors and interviews conducted by the Guardian with inhabitants of areas in the swath of central and southern Somalia controlled by al-Shabaab have shone a light on the severity of its harsh rule – but also revealed significant support in some areas.

Systematic human rights abuses on a par with those committed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are being conducted by the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist militants as the west largely looks away because most analysts do not see the group as posing a threat to Europe, the UK or the US.

The group has put to death dozens of “criminals”, inflicted brutal punishments on gay people, conducted forced marriages, and used civilian populations as human shields.

In one 2017 incident investigated by the Guardian, a man was stoned to death for adultery. In another, four men and a 16-year-old boy were shot dead by a firing squad after being accused of spying for the Somali authorities. In a third, a 20-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy were killed in a public square after being found guilty by a religious court of homosexuality.

Last year at least five people were lashed publicly after being accused of “immoral or improper behaviour”. They included a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old who were given 100 lashes each for “fornication”.

UN officials said they had received reports of stonings for adultery. The former al-Shabaab leader, Hassan Dahir Aweys, who defected in 2013, described the group’s aim as “Islamic government without the interference of the western powers in Somalia”.

Al-Shabaab, which once controlled much of south and central Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu, was forced to retreat to rural areas by a military force drawn from regional armies seven years ago. Since then it has proved resilient, and remains one of the most lethal terrorist organisations in the world, but appears to be suffering a crisis of morale and financial pressure, prompting the drive to squeeze revenue out of poor rural communities.

One recent defector from central Somalia told government interrogators that the group forces “Muslims to pay for pretty much everything except entering the mosque”. Another said that al-Shabaab’s “finance ministry” – part of the extensive parallel government it has set up – is “hated”.

Al-Shabaab used to demand money or children from clans: now they demand both

The former mid-ranking commander, who defected four months ago, described how wells were taxed at $20,000 (£14,000) per month and a fee of $3.50 levied at water holes for every camel drinking there. One small town in Bai province was forced to pay an annual collective tax of a thousand camels, each worth $500, and several thousand goats, he said.

In addition, trucks using roads in territory controlled by al-Shabaab have to pay $1,800 each trip. Five percent of all land sales is taken as tax, and arbitrary levies of up to $100,000 imposed on communities for “educational purposes”, the defector said. There is also evidence that the movement is suffering from manpower shortages.

A third defector said al-Shabaab now insisted that all male children attend its boarding schools from the age of about eight. The children train as fighters and join fighting units in their mid-teens.

“By that age they are fully indoctrinated. They are no longer under the influence of their parents,” said Mohamed Mubarak, research director of the Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies thinktank.

According to Somali authorities, troops stormed a school run by al-Shabaab in January and rescued 32 children who had been taken as recruits to be “brainwashed” to be suicide bombers. “Al-Shabaab used to demand money or children from clans: now they demand both,” the defector said.

Al-Shabaab has also told people they will be punished – possibly put to death as spies – if they have any contact with humanitarian agencies.

Somalia has been hit by a series of droughts, and only a massive aid effort averted the deaths of hundreds of thousands last year.

A new military campaign launched by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and supported by the US has seen intensive drone strikes on al-Shabaab targets, putting the militants under significant pressure. Fears of spies have led to a series of internal purges. Suspected agents are jailed and brutally tortured.

Al-Shabaab cuts thieves’ hands and kills looters . Everyone is scared of them

“Distrust is so high that when they go into battle, everyone is afraid of being shot in the back by his comrade,” one of the defectors said. “When soldiers get leave, half come back. Al-Shabaab now send patrols to collect people who have fled home. They stay in jail until they agree to rejoin.”

Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein, a government official overseeing humanitarian aid in southern central Somalia, told the Guardian that extremists used local populations as human shields. “They do not want people to move out because they are worried that there could be an airstrike if the civilians leave,” Hussein said.

Al-Shabaab also imposes tight restrictions on media, the defectors said. “Most people only listen to al-Shabaab radio stations or get news from al-Shabaab lectures which go on for hours and which cover religion and which all must attend,” one said. Another said some people risked harsh punishments to listen in secret toVoice of America and the BBC.

“Life is really tough in al-Shabaab-controlled areas. There is no food, no aid and children are being taken,” said Mubarak, the thinktank director. “Al-Shabaab are still trying to portray themselves as defenders of Somali identity. The message has a lot of sympathy but is not translating into active support.”

The draconian punishment, seizures, taxes and abductions run counter to the strategic guidance issued by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has called for affiliates of the veteran group to build consensus and support among local communities. Their practices do, however, recall those of Isis.

Al-Shabaab also manipulates rivalries between clans and tribes, and benefits from the failures of local authorities to provide basic services. Several interviewees said they preferred using al-Shabaab’s justice system, and that the group had brought security.

In once case in May last year, two clan elders in Beledweyne in Hiran region agreed to seek al-Shabaab justice to settle a case of rape. The attacker was found guilty and stoned to death.

“We decided to go to the al-Shabaab court because the judge rules under the Islamic law and there is no nepotism and corruption,” said Abdurahman Guled Nur, a relative of the rape victim, in a telephone interview. “If we went to a government court, there would be no justice because the rapist could have paid some cash to the court and he would be freed.”

Mohamed Hussein, a farmer in Barire, a town 40 miles south of Mogadishu that has seen fierce fighting, returned home when al-Shabaab took control of the area in early October. “When the government soldiers were here, there was looting, illegal roadblocks and killing,” he said. “But al-Shabaab cuts thieves’ hands and kills looters. The Islamic court gives harsh sentences for the criminals, so everyone is scared of them. That way we are in peace under al-Shabaab. If you do not have any issue with al-Shabaab, they leave you alone.”

Source: The Guardian

State takes 40 Kilifi Shabaab returnees for rehabilitation

Some 40 Al-Shabaab returnees in Kilifi County have been taken to various rehabilitation centres in Mombasa, the government says.

Kilifi County Commissioner Magu Mutindika said: “Most of the returnees who surrendered themselves to the government are youth from Malindi, Mambrui, Kilifi Town and Mtwapa.”

AMNESTY

Speaking to the Nation on the phone, he said: “We do not intend to prosecute them since they have come to us for help.”

Mr Mutindika said most of the returnees have combat trainings. The young men and women were lured into the terror group in Somalia with the promise of a good life, he said.

The county commissioner said the government had offered an amnesty to Shabaab returnees who surrender to the police or other government officials for counselling. They would then be reintegrated into society.

The amnesty started in 2015 but most returnees have ignored for fear of reprisals.

Some of the returnees escaped killings in Somalia after falling out with Al-Shabaab leaders while others have run away from increased African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) operations.

“We have not heard cases of notorious returnees who surrendered themselves but later turned to be dangerous,” Mr Mutindika said, adding that some of them were in the list for most-wanted criminals.

IN HIDING

Kilifi resident Joseph Yeri said most of the returnees hide in Malindi to avoid arrest.

“Malindi is a safe haven for wanted terror suspects and the problem is some parents protect and defend their children even if they know very well they are criminals,” he said.

Many young people in Shella and Mambrui in Kilifi County abused drugs and ended up in terrorism and crime.

On January 20, 2016, police shot dead four most-wanted terrorists at Kwachocha near Malindi International Airport and recovered a pistol and five hand grenades.

Those shot dead, include Suleiman Mohammed Awadh, on whose head police had put a Sh2 million bounty.

Several arrests in connection to terrorism have been made in Malindi and the whereabouts of those arrested are unknown.

LOBBY

Human rights organisations dealing with terrorism, including Haki Africa, have stopped handling the returnees.

Most youth who joined Al-Shabaab after being promised greener pastures were said to have sneaked back into Kenya but do not want to surrender after two human rights groups at the Coast refused to deal with them.

In 2015 the government blacklisted Haki Africa for allegedly supporting terrorism. Its accounts were also frozen.

“But we no longer deal with such human rights activities due to many factors. We used to de-radicalise and re-integrate them back to the society, help them when they want to surrender.

“But [we] stopped such activities due to suspicion by both the government and returnees,” Haki Africa Chief Executive Officer Hussein Khalid said.

DECISION

He said the decision was arrived at after the government tagged the lobby group a Shabaab sympathiser.

“We optimally and consciously decided not to deal directly with issues to do with returnees because there is no clear legal framework of dealing with them. There was amnesty, which was unclear,” Mr Khalid told the Nation on the phone.

“Second, it’s the government. When you work with them (returnees) you are tagged as a sympathiser by the government.

“Third, should anything go wrong with the returnees, such as a mysterious death, you are suspected of working with the government and thereafter the returnees may tag you as the person selling them out.”

Mr Khalid said the lobby group is now purely dealing with human rights issues.

KILLINGS

Last year from January to December, Haki Africa documented 17 cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances of men aged between 21 to 55 years.

“Kwale has more than 900 returnees according to an international organisation dealing with terrorism. Mombasa, Lamu, Kilifi and Tana River are among counties with the highest returnees,” the activist said.

‘SPIES’

Other security sources who talked to the Nation said the existence of Al-Shabaab returnees in areas earmarked for the ongoing multi-agency security operation Linda Boni in Lamu, Tana River and Garissa Counties, was a challenge.

They said hundreds of returnees have secretly returned to their counties without notifying authorities.

The officials said the war on Al-Shabaab in Boni Forest and other counties could have ended long ago if it were not for the returnees.

“It’s a challenge to fight and end the war on Al-Shabaab if there is presence of returnees who are acting as spies for the militia.

“In fact, the existing returnees are the ones aiding Al-Shabaab in conducting attacks in areas like Bodhei, Ijara, Wajir, Garissa and other areas bordering the Boni forest.

“The war will only succeed if the returnees present themselves to authorities for rehabilitation or if the government eliminates them completely,” said a security officer.

SUSPICION

A senior administrator in Lamu was suspicious the returnees were secretly regrouping, recruiting and training youth.

He said new recruits are used to launch attacks in remote parts of the county.

The administrator urged families of Al-Shabaab returnees to surrender them to authorities for rehabilitation and amnesty “so that they become fully integrated back into the society.”

He cautioned the families against hiding the returnees.

“The move by family members to hide the returnees makes security agencies suspicious that they are up to some dangerous plans. The government amnesty is still open. Let the returnees surrender and register themselves at the various government offices so that rehabilitation measures and procedures can be initiated,” said the administrator.

Source: Daily Nation