October 23, 2013:
In Somalia foreign aid organizations and the new Somali government had hoped to receive $1.15 billion in foreign aid this year, but only about half that amount is showing up. Many donor nations are not satisfied with efforts to curb the corruption and theft of aid by Somalis, especially government officials and Somalis working for the foreign aid organizations. Somalia is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and it has proven very difficult for foreign aid organizations to find locals they can trust to handle distribution of aid. Over three million Somalis are in dire need of foreign aid (especially medical and food assistance).
The AU (African Union) is calling for member nations to supply another 6,200 peacekeepers to boost the Somali peacekeeper force to 24,000 for up to 2 years. In that time the AU believes they can reduce al Shabaab and rogue militia activity to the point where Somali security forces can maintain peace. NATO and other foreign nations are being asked to pay for all this and continue training Somali soldiers and police. Currently most of the peacekeepers are from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Burundi. Al Shabaab hopes to scare off the peacekeepers with threats to attack the countries supplying the peacekeepers. This will be difficult because most of the countries supplying peacekeepers are not Moslem. The largely Christian (and tribal religions) of AU countries creates a hostile environment for Islamic terrorists to operate in. Most of the Somalis living in these countries want no part of al Shabaab, especially because there is growing anger against Somalis in general and calls for Somali minorities (many of them refugees from two decades of violence in Somalia) to be expelled.
The September 21st mall attack in Kenya appears to have been the work of only 4 al Shabaab gunmen. Mall videos show only 4 and eye witness testimony does not indicate any more attackers. The videos also show soldiers looting shops and, in general, acting in a lackadaisical manner. It was the unprofessional actions of the security forces that caused most of the destruction in the mall and some of the civilian deaths. It is now believed that all 4 of the gunmen were killed, but only 2 of the mall bodies have been identified as the terrorist gunmen. Many bodies were burned, which made identification difficult. But the 4 AK-47s seen in use on mall security videos were recovered. One of the attackers has been identified as a 23 year old Somali who moved to Norway as a child but was last seen in his adopted home in 2009. He had been noted by police in Kenya and was known for his Islamic radical attitudes back in Norway.
Mall security officials had been warned that such an attack was possible but no contingency plans were put into action. That has now changed throughout the region. Although al Shabaab threatens more mall attacks, none are likely to be as successful as the one in September. The military and police in the region are known for being corrupt and often inept, but in an emergency they can usually step up and get the job done. Unfortunately, this is likely to anger the Moslem communities in the region because the police tend to be violent and indiscriminate when dealing with suspect populations (like Somali refugees and Arabs in general).
Al Shabaab is now committed to being a regional terrorist organization, using the ethnic Somali communities found throughout the region as a base. This has increased hostility against these Somali minorities, who tend to be feared for their aggressive and violent attitudes. A lot of the organized (and unorganized) crime in the region is dominated by Somalis. This pattern has made Somalis unwelcome in many countries. South Africa has been particularly hostile and many (up to ten percent) of the Somalis who have moved there in the last two decades are moving back to Somalia.
Satellite photos indicate that Ethiopia has apparently received at least 16 more T-72 tanks from Ukraine. The tanks were shipped in via Djibouti.
October 21, 2013: In Kenya 2 Christian clergymen were murdered, apparently in retaliation for the death of an Islamic cleric on the 5th. That death triggered violent riots by Moslems in Mombasa, where there is a large Moslem and Somali minority. These attacks on Christian clergy and churches by Moslems tend to result in a cycle of retribution that the Moslem minorities will be on the losing side of. This sort of thing is nothing new and has been going on in the area for centuries. The Moslems first arrived as Arab traders and tended to dominate the native black Africans commercially and militarily. But then the European colonial powers showed up in the 19th century. That led to some economic development and, much to the dismay of the Arab minorities, the establishment of democracies in the former colonies when the Europeans left in the 1960s. The locals have never been able to regain the political power they once had. Moslems, especially Arabs, still dominate retail and wholesale trade in the region.
October 20, 2013: Some 800 kilometers off the Somali coast, an Australian warship arrested 9 pirates and sank their 2 boats. The Australian destroyer and other warships of the international anti-piracy patrol had been tracking these pirates for over a week. The captured pirates were believed responsible for at least 2 failed attacks (on a tanker and a fishing ship). Armed guards on the tanker fired back and forced the pirates to back off. The Somali pirates have not taken a large ship in nearly 2 years, but some pirate groups are still trying. In the last year most of the pirates have switched to kidnapping, smuggling, or fishing.
October 19, 2013: In the central Somali town of Beledweyne a suicide bomber attacked a crowded restaurant and killed 15 people, most of them peacekeepers. Al Shabaab took credit. The Islamic terror group is still active in the area and the peacekeepers (mainly from Ethiopia and Djibouti) are actively seeking them out and killing or capturing them. Al Shabaab is too weak to confront the peacekeepers directly and has been forced to resort to terror tactics to fight back. Al Shabaab survives by stealing from the locals. In effect, al Shabaab is at war with local nomadic herders and village militias. The Islamic radicals steal livestock from the nomads, who tend to refuse to donate to the Islamic radical cause. Al Shabaab attacks the nomads who can call in peacekeepers. Same deal with many villages. But bandit gangs and warlords are common in Somalia and al Shabaab is seen by many Somalis as just another gang of bandits.
October 14, 2013: Belgium revealed that it had lured the leader (Abdi Hassan) of one of the Somali pirate gangs to Belgium where he and an associate were arrested. The pirate leader was lured to Belgium by an offer to appear in a documentary film about Somali pirates. Hassan is wanted in Belgium for the seizure of a Belgium ship in 2009. His gang was responsible for taking over 20 ships since 2008. Hassan disbanded his pirate gang and “retired” earlier this year. Hassan is still believed to be involved in many legal and illegal commercial activities.
October 13, 2013: In the Ethiopian capital there was an explosion in a home that killed 2 men. Further investigation discovered that the 2 victims were Somalis and apparently members of al Shabaab building a bomb for an attack on a major football (soccer) game.