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Al Shabaab : Imitating Boko Haram’s Scenario in Kenya

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Recently Kenya has Unexpectedly seen a various wave of Jihadist Group attacks from what so-called the Somalian Jihadist of Al Shabaab. Which endangered and killed more than14 people were in a luxury hotel complex. This incident surprised and frightened the Kenyan people as well as the government. This extremist attacks led to rising so many questions among Kenyan public opinion about targeting Kenya’s security and national surveillance which opens the door for Kenyan national security challenge to prevent this terrorist armed groups or to failed as Nigerian government did to end Boko Haram’s movement in Northern Nigeria.

Yet, this area where took place of Bombing and attacking was in the west of Nairobi, the direction to many banks, embassies, and governmental offices zones, with the Australian high commission, placed just down the road. Also, a University of Nairobi dormitory is nearby; several students were displaced and evacuated as security officials set foot in the scene. As fear and panic spread throughout Kenya, entire national Media started questioning what, how and why happened this incident which took place in well secured and more controlled area? Basically, at the first observation, there was vast disorientation in whether the outbreak was an armed attack or a suspected terrorist attack. So far Kenya has already been the target of various deadly attacks carried out by the Somali extremist’s group al-Shabaab. The group is considered one of the most dreadful terrorist group in Africa.

The Origin of Al Shabaab Group and Its Functionalism Role

With the original creation of the Islamist group Al Shabaab in 2006 by Young men up to now still located and controlled Southern Somalia. This Jihadist group became the most dreadful terrorist group in Africa. According to Al Shabaab, the group’s key mission is to fight against the ‘West’ and they stand against anything that is affiliated with the western civilization or western ideology hence its name Al Shabaab, which literally means “The Youth” or “Mujahedeen Youth Movement” that Western civilization and education is fully in a sin. The Islamist group also opposed the creation of schools and seeks to enforce Sharia law over entire Somalia territory. Al Shabaab has not taken too long to attack openly the West especially the Americans. In several audio messages, the leader of the group frightened to attack the interests of the Americans by destroying the oil and military facilities in the south of the country. Additionally, this Jihadist group has engaged in a longstanding uprising to enforce its strict and radical version of Islamic law on Somalia and, though it has been forced out of main cities, controls much of the chaotic failed state’s southern and central provincial areas. In October 2017, an al-Shabaab Group truck explosive killed more than 500 people in Mogadishu, the capital. So far the group has been associated with al-Qaeda since 2012 when its last leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, promised “obedience” to his fellow Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2012. Gobdane was afterward murdered in a US drone strike and al-Shabaab is now guided and functioned by Ahmad Umar, also named as Abu Ubaidah. He got between 7,000 and 9,000 boots among them children at his power. The Islamist group is also estimated to have connects to al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram in Nigeria and Algeria accordingly.

The Al Shabaab Group and Kenya’s Scenario Attacks

In the last year, which took place in a town around 100 kilometers far from the frontier with Somalia, in which shooter crashed down into a university in the early morning and murdered more than140 students and several security guards, has completely shacked Kenya. Across the country, families, and relatives started the bleak task of identifying the corpse of the innocent victims and burying their dead. It was a dreadful incident has been happening across Kenya.

Indeed, Al-Shabaab Group has been the goal of an extreme attack of American airstrikes. These have exposed important victims and massacred many governmental leaders. This current Nairobi attack is only a sign first and last to the airstrikes. They are dispatching a message that the US strikes have not deprived them as the US military and several media have claimed. But some observers and experts have raised the question of the full influence of the unexpected attack and its indications for the upcoming of Kenya. The fundamental panic and terror is that the Extremist al-Shabaab Groups could increasingly open up the religious divisions within this East African state that was once seen as an control of stability and process development in a unstable and rebellious region, with the final aim of imitating the victory of the Nigerian terrorist Group Boko Haram , which has controlled over Northern territory in Nigeria and forced the set of Sharia law.

Due to this, another point regarding Al Shabaab militia issue is the impact of public opinion in Kenya. The Kenyan boots are deployed in Somalia as an element of multinational cooperation to combat al-Shabaab group. Basically, The Nairobi attack took place on the third anniversary of a vast strike on a Kenyan base in Somalia by militants in which several Kenyan soldiers may have died. According to Rashid Abdi, a Nairobi-based expert on al-Shabaab with the NGO International Crisis Group, point out: ” the terror group’s propaganda frequently highlighted the Kenyan presence in Somalia, but pointed out that international links meant there was a wider agenda driving the extremists too “.Hence, If the Kenyans boots withdrew it would cut out a big [ why] why an al-Shabaab group like to attack Kenya but if you have a group like al-Shabaab which is the element of a universal jihad activity then they would still come up with another reason. They notice Kenya with its large western existence and omnipresence as a stronghold of West Africa, The Jihadist group got few contacts and personal links in Kenya itself, In general managing logistic tools and advocating recruits management process. Yet Militia members are frequently trained and brought in from Somalia.

Al Shabaab Against US Foreign Policy involvement in Somalia

As internationally labeled Somalia “Failed State” could bring into account some questions about the benefits and outcomes achieved from the anarchical state under the doctrine of so-called the US National Interests in Africa. Washington’s main interest in Somalia is to put an end to the country from becoming a source for terrorist groups to plan attacks on the United States ground and undermine the Horn of Africa, where long-term conflicts among Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia issue. In current years, The U.S. representatives have been very cautious on going into cooperation and collusion between militant Islamist groups in the region, including Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and al-Qaeda in the Middle East. The American government also stay concerned about the Extremist group’s capabilities to recruit new members of the Somali Diaspora existing in the United States soil. Al-Shabaab organization has influenced and invited several American members to engage fighting in Somalia.

The American policy has fully depended on intermediary agent forces in Somalia to combat Al-Shabaab group and has hired proxy special contractors to assist some of them, according to the American Newsmedia. By 2007, Washington has financed and equipped hundreds of millions of dollars to prepare and supply AMISOM and recognized Somali security forces, but it issued in late 2017 it was stopping financial aid to most Somali units over corruption issues. In April of that year, President Donald J. Trump gave orders the first deployment of regular U.S. boots to the country since 1994, participating in a small unit of counterterrorism advisors already there. Defense agents’ mention some five hundred U.S. personnel are now located in Somalian area. At the same time, the United Nations Security Council called the African Union to take command a peacekeeping force in Somalia borders as well as the capital Mogadishu, which is known by its abbreviation, AMISOM, in early 2007. Its main task was to promote stability among civilians and safeguard the country’s transitional government, which was established in 2004 but had just regained to power in Mogadishu. Uganda was the prior African country to deploy soldiers into Somalia under AMISOM, and it sustains the vast unconditional in the regional force, at more than six thousand troops. Other military boots come from Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. In number, AMISOM covers approximately twenty thousand troops.

To conclude, Al-Shabaab Islamist Group has been in difficult dilemma internally so far, facing a big loss in term of recruiting new volunteers to join the group, a lack of financial support, and overseas funds. The organization is ongoing by divergent disagreement and suffers tremendous competition from the Islamic State (ISIS). Though, Al Shabaab is becoming one of the dreadful regional armed groups in the African continent.

Jamal Ait Laadam, Specialist in and North African Studies and Western Sahara Issue, a Ph.D. fellow in Jilin University School of Public Affairs

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Terrorism

New technologies, artificial intelligence aid fight against global terrorism

MD Staff

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Although terrorists have become skilled at manipulating the Internet and other new technologies, artificial intelligence or AI, is a powerful tool in the fight against them, a top UN counter-terrorism official said this week at a high-level conference on strengthening international cooperation against the scourge.

Co-organized by Belarus and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), “Countering terrorism through innovative approaches and the use of new and emerging technologies” concluded on Wednesday in Minsk.

The internet “expands technological boundaries literally every day” and AI, 3D printing biotechnology innovations, can help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said Vladimir Voronkov, the first-ever Under Secretary-General for the UN Counter-Terrorism Office.

But it also provides “live video broadcasting of brutal killings”, he continued, citing the recent attack in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, where dozens of Muslim worshippers were killed by a self-avowed white supremacist. 

“This is done in order to spread fear and split society”, maintained the UNOCT chief, warning of more serious developments, such as attempts by terrorists to create home-made biological weapons. 

He pointed out that terrorists have the capacity to use drones to deliver chemical, biological or radiological materials, which Mr. Voronkov said, “are even hard to imagine.”

But the international community is “not sitting idly by”, he stressed, noting that developments in this area allow the processing and identification of key information, which can counter terrorist operations with lightning speed.

“The Internet content of terrorists is detected and deleted faster than ever”, elaborated the UNOCT chief. “Fifteen to twenty minutes is enough to detect and remove such content thanks to machine algorithms”.

Crediting quantum computing coupled with the use of AI, he explained that accelerated information processing enables terrorist tracing. 

Mr. Voronkov added that the use of blockchain registration – a growing list of records, or blocks, that are linked using cryptography – is also being explored to identify companies and individuals responsible for financing terrorism.

“It is necessary to increase the exchange of expert knowledge on technologies such as 3D printing, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, robotics, the synthesis of the human face and autonomous weapons”, he underscored. “This will help to better identify and respond to risks before it is too late”.

The two-day conference was divided into three themed sessions that focused at global, regional and national levels on the misuse of new technologies and AI by terrorists; approaches and strategies to counteract terrorist propaganda; and the misuse of scientific innovations.

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Afghanistan bloodshed mars 100 years of independence

MD Staff

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The scene at the Shahr-e-Dubai Wedding Hall in West Kabul on 18 August 2019, where approximately 1,000 people were gathered the night before for a wedding ceremony, when a suicide attacker detonated explosives, killing and injuring scores of civilians. UNAMA/Fardin Waezi

Afghanistan is at a “crucial moment” in its history as it marks 100 years of independence, the head of the UN Mission there said on Monday, following a series of terror attacks in recent days.

In a statement on Monday, Tadamichi Yamamoto, who heads the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that despite decades of conflict, Afghans remain committed to a nation that is stable, peaceful and prosperous, and that upholds the human rights of women and men alike. 

Mr. Yamamoto also expressed hope that elections due to take place next month would give voice to the people, while also maintaining that there was “a real possibility for breakthroughs in peace” after so many years of war – a reference to on-going negotiations between Taliban leaders and the United States, that it is hoped will lead to a lasting ceasefire and talks involving the Afghan Government.

The UNAMA chief’s comments come amid numerous recent terror attacks on civilians, including a suicide bombing towards the end of a large wedding party on Saturday, that claimed the lives of 63 people and injured over 180.

In a statement released on Sunday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres “strongly condemned” the “horrific” attack, and expressed his “deepest sympathies to the families of the victims, and the Government and people of Afghanistan.”

The attack took place in the Shahr-e-Dubai Wedding Hall in West Kabul where approximately 1,000 people were gathered for a Shia wedding ceremony, said UNAMA in a statement, adding that the mission’s human rights team would investigate the incident.

According to news reports, a local affiliate of the ISIL terrorist group claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.

“An attack deliberately targeting civilians is an outrage, and deeply troubling, as it can only be described as a cowardly act of terror,” said Mr. Yamamoto. “I condemn these deliberate attacks on civilians that signal a deliberate intent to spread fear among the population, which has already suffered too much.”

The wedding hall where the attack took place is situated in an area of the city heavily populated by Afghanistan’s Shia Muslim minority. UNAMA has documented several previous attacks deliberately carried out against this community.

“The pace of such atrocious attacks indicates that current measures in place to protect must be strengthened, and that those who have organized and enabled such attacks must be brought to justice and held to account,” said the UNAMA chief. “The United Nations stands with all Afghans in solidarity and remains committed to an Afghan-led peace process that will end the war and bring about a lasting peace.”

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Does Kenya Really Want To End Terrorism?

Abukar Arman

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New dangerous dynamics are emerging at the Horn of Africa. Political tension emanating from maritime territory that Somalia and Kenya, both claim it as part of their legitimate border is getting more volatile. As the International Court of Justice gets ready to hold public hearings on “Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya)” September 9-13, Kenya continues to intensify its efforts to lobby the U.N, and key allies to help add al-Shabab to UNSC Resolution 1267.

If you are wondering what does al-Shabab have to do with this matter, you apparently are not part of the Kenyan political pundits, law-makers, and credulous Somalis who have been cheerleading for this unjustifiable initiative.

It Is What It Is

Let us imagine that it is late September, the time when leaders representing 195 member states would be attending the 74th UN General Assembly. Let us imagine during one of the debate sessions, this multiple choice question was raised: 

What is al-Shabab?

  • A law-abiding neighborhood watch group
  • A self-less patriots fighting for self-determination
  • A ruthless terrorist group

How many do you think will stutter with the answer, or not know that al-Shabab is a terrorist organization? By all legal and moral standards, al-Shabab is a terrorist organization.

If al-Shabab was not already considered a terrorist organization by the UN, why would the Security Council mandate AMISOM to fight them along the Somali National Army and periodically capture territories from them? So, since al-Shabab is already considered a terrorist organization, why spend such energy and political capital on redundancy?  Or rather bluntly: who is Kenya’s real target? 

Widening The Net

While fingers were frantically pointing at o all directions as to who was behind the Kismayo terrorist attack that killed 26 people including a beloved Somali-Canadian journalist, HodanNalayeh, Kenya’s top diplomat—Monica Juma—went on politicking on twitter. Before offering any condolences, she wrote:  “This attack is another reminder to the international community of the imperative to list the al-Shabaab, like all other terrorist groups, under the UNSC resolution 1267.” 

On the surface this may seem ordinary attempt to tighten the screws on al-Shabab, but it is far from that.

Said resolution, also known as the ISIS/al-Qaida resolution, mandates the harshest international sanctions on assets freeze and travel ban measures on individuals, entities and groups who are suspected of being remotely associated with those terrorist groups. And that blanket condemnation increases the chance of innocents in the periphery getting caught in the net or communities suffering as a result.  

Though this could get some Kenya Defense Force officials who operate an illicit business with al-Shabab that the Kenyatta government has been turning a blind eye in serious trouble, Kenya is eager to advance the initiative in order to use it as an insurance against any unfavorable decision from ICJ.

If Kenya’s endeavor succeeds, it will give Kenya the freehand to pressure and coerce top politicians and influential business leaders who have various investments and retain residential statuses in Kenya to assist her in achieving its objective of annexing the maritime territory- blocks that it already marketed for oil exploration. It is also an insurance policy against some of her Somali allies such as Ahmed Islam (Madobe)—president of Jubbaland federal state—who is currently much closer to Kenya than to the Federal Government of Somalia. Kenya is not oblivious to the fluidity of clan politics and the unpredictability of how Madobe, with his shady past, may act once it becomes clear to him that he was exploited as the game-changing pawn.

Feeling The Weight

A few months back as Kenya’s hostile diplomacy grew more aggressive, Somalia’s diplomacy grew more diffident and passive. As Kenya suspended diplomatic ties with Somalia, invited a delegation from Somaliland, humiliated Somali Ministers by denying them to transit through Kenya, FGS opted to respond passively.

This was consistent with FGS’ ill-advised decision to turn a blind eye to Kenya’s unilateral decision to build a border wall that would divide Somali families, undermine businesses, and deprive them essential services such as health care, and allow Kenya to establish new facts of the ground that will in due course make a case for annexation of territories that belong to Somalia.

Lately, Kenya has been under intense U.S. diplomatic pressure to drop its bid and not make the Horn of Africa more volatile than it already is. This pressure is likely to increase now that 16 senior national security and humanitarian officials have written an open letter urging the U.S. to stop Kenya from creating a grave humanitarian disaster as the resolution at hand does not allow any type of exemption for humanitarian delivery. Against that backdrop, Kenya resorted to strengthen its Plan B- legislative support to annex the maritime territory by any means necessary.

In attempt to lend Kenyatta’s government the legislative support to declare war against Somalia should ICJ rules its favor, the Kenya National Assembly, led by Hon. Aden Duale, is set to pass a perfectly tailored bill that makes the disputed maritime territory as part and parcel of Kenya’s territorial integrity. The impetus motion cites Article 241 (3) of the country’s constitution that the Kenya Defense Forces are responsible for protecting Kenya’s ‘territorial integrity’. “Unless the People of Kenya resolve by way of referendum to alter the territory of Kenya,” said Duale.

Make no mistake, terrorism poses a threat to international peace and security and Kenya did suffer its share of terrorist attacks, therefore it is in our best interest to collectively address that threat. However, that would be extremely difficult now that we know that Kenya’s real objective is not “to annihilate the extremist group (al-Shabab).”

Political rhetoric aside,   Kenya, like a number of other foreign actors in Somalia, would’ve been eager to invent al-Shabab had it not already existed. To some, al-Shabab as a manageable threat is strategically convenient. After all, it was Kenya’s pretext for 2011 invasion of today’s Jubbaland, also for the 2012 integration of KDF into AMISOM, also for the 2017 unilaterally initiated border-altering wall.

Five years after Somalia filed the boundary delimitation dispute with the ICJ and millions of dollars were spent by both sides, no one is sure how the end result might be. The only sure thing is that any attempt to solve this matter militarily will only make the current crisis a catastrophe.       

If Kenya decides to go with the military option as some intellectuals have openly been advocating, it is likely to prove both positive and negative:

Positive as it is likely to unite the now divided Somalis to rally against a single common threat. Negative as it would ignite domestic disharmony and, in due course, make Nairobi the epicenter of terrorism and compel foreign investors such as China flee with their fat wallets.  

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