Don't pay Al-Shabaab, Somalia warns business owners
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The government of Somalia warned business owners against remitting money to the Al-Shabaab, in the latest strategy which is meant to close the group's source of income as one of the ideological tactics in ending their dominance in various parts of the country.
Al-Shabaab, a group allied to Al-Qaida, dominates most parts of rural central and southern Somalia and depends on extortion from businesses for sustainability, a strategy which the government is intending to close completely in the near future.
To curb the practice, the government has now warned business owners across the country against parting the money with the group, noting that those found culpable will have their business licenses canceled. This is the first time the government is using this strategy.
Any business that handles transfers for Al-Shabaab, the government reiterated, will ‘cease to exist.’ Al-Shabaab makes millions of dollars through extortion from local businesses, with a number of business owners claiming that those in government have been colluding with Al-Shabaab to extort them.
In 2020, a group of business owners from Mogadishu held a meeting in Nairobi where they accused a number of government officials, mainly Al-Shabaab detectors, of working closely with the militants by targeting their businesses in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Last year, the United Nations insisted that Al-Shabaab was capable of running an annual budget of $100 million, which can run almost all departments in the country. Of this money, the report indicated, $24 million was diverted to the purchase of weapons.
While reacting to the latest directive from the government, Al-Shabaab dismissed it as an excuse aimed at ‘seizing’ assets of the businesses. The group has been raising most revenue through extortion which runs into millions of dollars according to experts.
Besides the revenue from business owners, the group is also said to be getting foreign assistance, especially in form of weapons and ammunition, which they use to antagonize civilians, government officials and senior military officers, and their combat troops.