Peacekeepers and Somali troops continue to chase al Shabaab gunmen out of towns and villages in central and southern Somalia. Most of these Islamic terrorists have basically become bandits, living off terrified civilians who were not able to organize an armed militia to defend their neighborhood. The constant pressure from the better armed, organized, and trained troops is wearing down al Shabaab, which is losing vehicles and weapons they have a difficult time replacing. Al Shabaab leaders are scrambling to obtain cash from the illegal Islamic terrorist donor network. This consists of wealthy Arabs in the Gulf oil states as well as Somali communities in the West. The latter is under growing pressure from local police and intel agencies and has become less able to fund al Shabaab. The Gulf state donors are willing to give if al Shabaab can carry out more high profile (that get the attention of international media) terror attacks. That is what al Shabaab is trying to do but it is difficult because most of their armed manpower is stuck in Somalia and scraping by. Police in neighboring countries are paying more attention to what goes on with local Somalis and that makes it more difficult for al Shabaab to establish small groups (“cells”) of terrorists who can plan and carry out terror attacks. Somalis tend to be unwelcome wherever they settle because Somalis are aggressive, troublesome, and many turn to crime. Now some are turning to Islamic terrorism. All this makes it more difficult for the many Somalis who just want to live legally and in peace. But the locals can’t ignore the crime and especially not the Islamic terrorism.
A UN study concluded that Somali pirates had received at least $339 million in ransom money through the end of 2012. Investigators found that most of that money went to a few hundred leaders and foreigners who brokered the ransoms and took care of supplying the pirates and handling their financial needs. This included helping to “launder” a lot of that cash via legitimate (or semi-legitimate) businesses, mainly in Kenya (but also in Yemen and some of the Arab Gulf States). The wealthy pirate leaders also expanded into other criminal enterprises (drugs and smuggling). Favorite investments in Kenya included real estate, retail businesses, and agriculture. The pirate threat still costs the world and local (East Africa) economy some $18 billion a year in direct costs and lost GDP.
Kenya wants half a million Somali refugees living in Kenya to return home. The main reason for this is that the main camp for these refugees has become a hideout for Islamic terrorists and gangsters of all sorts. Kenya is not the only country having a problem with Somali refugees. Yemen is also stuck with over a million refugees from Africa, many of them brought over by Yemeni smugglers (most get to Yemen via Somali and other African smugglers). About half the refugees are from Somalia. Hosting all these people is an economic burden, even if foreign aid is used to supply most of the refugee needs. But with worsening water shortages and growing unemployment, even the foreign aid does not solve all the problems (inflation, crime, taking jobs from locals) the refugees cause. Yemen has been unable to get other countries to provide more help, in part because a lot of the aid is stolen by Yemenis. There are similar, but less severe, problems with corruption in Kenya. The corruption is worst in Somalia itself, which is a major reason why so many desperate Somalis flee their homeland.
November 4, 2013: A Kenyan court indicted four Somali men for helping plan and carry out the recent mall attack. All four of the attackers appear to have died, but police have uncovered a network of Somalis and non-Somalis in Kenya who aided the attackers.
November 2, 2013: Kenyan and Somali forces cooperated in attacking an al Shabaab camp on the border. At least 30 al Shabaab men were killed.
In Mogadishu the largest radio station in the country, Radio Shabelle, was shut down and its headquarters compound seized. While often attacked by Islamic terrorists, Radio Shabelle also angered many politicians and warlords for publicizing their crimes. The government justified the shut down because the compound Radio Shabelle occupied was government owned and the radio owners were warned to get out. Radio Shabelle insisted it had a lease on the compound that lasted until 2015.
October 31, 2013: In the south, near the Kenyan border, Kenyan warplanes attacked an al Shabaab camp, destroying four armed vehicles and killing at least seven Islamic terrorists. This camp is believed to be where the Kenyan September 21st mall attackers received training.
Elsewhere in the south, at least one mortar shell landed in the Kismayo airport, but there were no injuries or damage.
October 29, 2013: After a thorough investigation Uganda has arrested 40 of its soldiers, including a brigadier, for corruption while serving as peacekeepers in Somalia. The arrested men were accused of stealing weapons, equipment, and supplies and selling the loot on the black market. This is a common problem with UN peacekeeping missions.
October 28, 2013: In the south (outside Jilib) an American UAV fired a missile at a vehicle carrying a senior al Shabaab commander and his driver. Both men were killed. The dead commander was an expert bomb builder and in charge of planning and supervising suicide attacks.