In recent months Al Shabaab militia capabilities in South Somalia region have been quashed to an extent of desperation with some of the militia desperate to quit the group before it is too late.
They have been under sustained ground and aerial attacks from the security forces significantly weakening them. These has been happening with the assistance of US and other international partners. The militia group is losing fighters daily, a situation which is prompting them to decamp.
The ongoing rains in Somalia which is causing floods further compounds their misery as their camps in Middle and Lower Shabelle have been washed away leaving them with no place to stay.
In addition to that they have no place to train or hide from security forces.
New recruits have been abandoned and left in a state of confusion not knowing what to do or where to go. Their only viable option is to surrender to security forces so that they can get assistance to leave the flooded areas.
The rains are a blessing in disguise as those who have surrendered are willing to work with the officials by giving them information on the operations of the militants.
Al-Shabaab militia group is at its weakest point. It has been weakened financially, militarily and politically in recent days. Somali’s harsh climatically conditions and the country’s devastating drought has forced Al Shabaab militants to live on strained finances as funders continue to disown the militia group. This is because many local communities now lack the resources to meet the militant group’s tax demands.
They have been put on the back foot following the stepped-up tempo by AMISOM and international communities on ground operations conducted in conjunction with Somali government troops.
Somali people no longer have faith in Al-Shabaab. They no longer enjoy political support from these people especially because of the bombing in Somalia that killed hundreds of civilians. This does more damage to their reputation than anything else. They don’t even want to be protected by them. They claim that the so called protection comes with a hefty cost.
Al-Shabaab is also facing another challenge of drawing new recruits. Youths in Somalia have become aware of the misuse and ill-treatment one goes through in the hands of the militia once he joins. They are no longer falling into the enticing tactics the Al-Shabaab used to entice youths with. Youths have become aware that there is no “money-factor” as Al-Shabaab claims. Their number has drastically reduced to an extent that they are actually abducting children from communities that are unable to make protection payments.
They coaxed the locals by telling them that if they can’t give them resources, then they should give them their kids.
The defections from the terror group are also posing a threat to its diminishing. Of late, there have been mass defections from the group. The Somali government is helping those who are voluntarily leaving the group to integrate with the society. The Kenyan government is also playing a key role into this.
For Kenyan college students, the university experience involves more than just term papers, final exams and all-night study sessions. It is a period where students meet new people and experience so many new things.
Joy Alunga a participant in the Lenga Ugaidi na talanta competition revealed that she participated in the short film counter terrorism competition because she wanted to inform her peers that radicalization happens in universities.
“It’s not mad people who become radicalized; it’s people like us. People, who dress neatly every day like I have dressed, are the people who get radicalized. It is not those people who you think, for example, have not gone to school. It is people like us who get radicalized,” said Joy.
Alunga who spoke to the organizers of the competition said the youth should take the front seat in the fight against terrorism. Radicalization and violent youth extremism were key themes of the competition.
“Radicalization is a result of the disappointment that young people are going through,” said Alunga, “That’s why they are vulnerable to these extremist groups such as Al Shabaab.
The recruiters, go to institutions, formal institutions like universities and target the brightest students,” In January 2018 it was established that 54 university students abandoned their studies to join terrorist groups in Somalia and Libya over the last three years. A number of those who fled have since been killed either in combat or executed after falling out with their commanders.
Ms Alunga has called on fellow university students to pay more attention to attractive job offers and money deals. The third year student has called for increased vigil in learning institutions.
Part of the continued Al Shabaab weakening in the regions of Somalia and Kenya is the increased military operations against the militia group with a mission set clear to flush out militants from the entire regions under its control.
Jubbaland troops backed by Kenyan defence forces (KDF) have begun a massive military movement on the outskirts of Dhobley town, near Kenyan border.
Local residents say they often see KDF helicopters flying over the Al-Shabaab-held areas located outside the town as part of the ongoing military drills by the allied forces.
The fresh offensive covers both strategic and asymmetric war lately adapted highly by the Al Qaeda linked militia. As part of AMISOM’s mission to diminish the use of Improvised Explosive Devices against civilians and security agencies, the forces are also working with locals who share information on possible terrorist cells and locations
Leader of ISIS cell in Russia has blown himself up with an Improvised explosive device (IEDs) to avoid being arrested by Russian law enforcement.
The ISIS leader also killed tens of militants in the hideout using the homemade bomb. Russian security forces however arrested three of his accomplices in the area following a raid against the group and are currently in custody.
The cell was being used as a station to plan bomb and gun attacks in Russia’s Rostov region but was identified and thwarted before they could act, the Federal Security Service confirms.
The militia members are said to have been taking orders from Islamic State in Syria. Those detained are expected to cooperate with authorities in intelligence collection as charges get employed.
AMISOM has called for intensified collaboration between forces in Somalia and most importantly capacity building of Somali National Security forces to effectively counter Al Shabaab.
In a meeting convened by AMISOM and supported by the UK government, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira called for efforts to defeat the threat posed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Al Shabaab’s weapon of choice to security forces and civilian populations.
Among top strategies made by the union included intensified intelligence collection and information sharing as well as working closely with civilian populations to end the IED threat.
The ongoing collaboration between stakeholders and security agencies in the country has seen numerous defections from Al Shabaab, detainment of militia and sympathisers as well as foiled attacks that have seen hundreds of the Al Qaeda linked terrorists killed.
Colonel Richard Maundrell, the Commander of the British Forces in Somalia, echoed Madeira’s sentiments on “To achieve this, information sharing and coordination across these levels and organizations will be critical. While it is important to prepare the force and defeat the device, the only way the counter IED battle can be won is through proactive operations against the IED system. This will focus on the perpetrators of IED activity,” said Col. Maundrell.
The strategies are expected to address Al Shabaab’s Asymmetric warfare to counter the threat, and ensure gains made so far, in Somalia’s stabilization are not eroded.