February 6, 2013:
Over a thousand surviving al Shabaab fighters are trying to rebuild and establish new bases in the north (Somaliland, where AU peacekeepers cannot go) and the south (along the Kenyan border). There are a lot of Somalis living in Kenya, either as citizens along the coast or refugees in the huge Dadaab camp near the Somali border. Al Shabaab men can cross the border and sort of blend in, steal what they need, and hustle on back across the border. But to do any serious damage they need weapons and explosives, and those items are expensive to obtain in Kenya. This is why so much effort has been put into curbing contributions to al Shabaab. These come either from Somalis living in the West or from Arab donors in the Persian Gulf. Al Shabaab also needs some kind of base where the money and new gear can go to. Kenya is determined to wipe out al Shabaab on both sides of the border. But much of that border region is forested and thinly populated. There are lots of places for the bad guys to hide.
There are still at least five pirate gangs operating in Puntland. A year ago there were over a dozen of these gangs but income from ransoms has fallen sharply in the last year. One pirate gang has offered to exchange 46 Indian sailors (some of them already had their ransom paid) for 120 Somali pirates who are now on trial in India. The families of the Indian captives back such a deal but the Indian government refuses to give in to threats.
February 4, 2013: In Mogadishu a roadside bomb killed an AU peacekeeper.
Al Shabaab began using a new Twitter account and criticized Twitter for shutting down al Shabaab’s original (since 2011) account last month. Al Shabaab’s English language Twitter account was shut down January 20 because the Islamic terrorists had used Twitter to make specific threats against several people on the 16th. This is not allowed by the Twitter terms of service. The al Shabaab account had over 20,000 followers.
January 31, 2013: Near the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya a roadside bomb wounded three policemen. The camp holds over 400,000 Somali refugees.
January 29, 2013: In Mogadishu a suicide bomber killed himself and a soldier outside the Prime Ministers compound.
January 28, 2013: In a major breakthrough in the battle against corruption, the government arrested three officials in charge of a scholarship program (with money provided by Turkey). The officials were not picking students who were academically qualified for the scholarships (to study in Turkey) but selected those whose families could pay the largest bribe. The three officials have not actually been prosecuted and sent to jail and that may never happen. Corrupt officials tend to stick together. This outbreak of honesty may just be a reaction to international outrage at the government prosecuting a woman who openly accused soldiers of raping her. Such rapes are common and women are expected to remain silent about it. In response the government promptly prosecuted and convicted the woman of making a false accusation and sentenced her to a jail term.
January 26, 2013: Britain has warned its citizens to stay out of Somaliland because of the threat of kidnapping by the growing number of al Shabaab men entering the country and taking up residence near the Somali border. Kidnapping Westerners is currently the preferred way for Islamic terrorists to raise large sums. The Somaliland said the threat was overblown but the British Foreign Office repeated the warnings, which were apparently based on intelligence data recently obtained.
January 23, 2013: Al Shabaab demanded that Kenya and Uganda release all Moslems held on terrorism charges or two Kenyans kidnapped a year ago would be killed. The Kenyan government refused to comply.
Kenya refuses to rescind its order for 50,000 Somali refugees living in Kenya outside refugee camps to go back to Somalia or to a refugee camp in Kenya. At the same time the Kenyans want over 400,000 Somali refugees to return to Somalia as soon as possible. Foreign aid groups are resisting this this but most Kenyans back the expulsion order. The influx of Somalis over the last decade has led to an increase in crime and a growing number of Somali terror attacks in Kenya. There has been animosity between Somalis and Kenyans for centuries. These attitudes have grown more toxic because of the refugee problem and the terror attacks. As a result, there is more mob violence against Somalis living outside the refugee camps.