Over 250 bank accounts linked to Al-Shabaab closed down in Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - At least 250 bank accounts and 70 mobile money transfer firms have been closed down in Somalia over links to Al-Shabaab militants, Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said, just a few months after the country started the implementation of tough measures on financial institutions supporting Al-Shabaab.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has declared war on financial institutions linked to Al-Shabaab militants besides putting on notice social media accounts and news sites that promote the group's agenda as part of the new strategy to cripple the Al-Qaida-linked militants across the country.

Without giving specifications, Hamza Abdi Barre noted that due diligence had been done before the closure of the bank accounts which are linked to transactions of colossal amounts of money in aid of Al-Shabaab militants. Money firms were also affected by the crackdown.

"We have managed to get hold of about 250 bank accounts and 70 mobile money transfer firms linked to Al-Shabaab activities across the country," said the PM, who noted that the crackdown will continue. "We can't sit back and allow them to wreck our future for selfish gains."

According to the Somali Prime Minister, no business group should feel aggrieved because "we did monitor the transactions and we are aware of their direct links to the notorious group". The list of the banks behind the crimes was not immediately dispatched for scrutiny by members of the public.

Hassan Sheikh has activated a serious crackdown against Al-Shabaab which includes targeting financial institutions behind transactions done by the Al-Shabaab militants. A number of banks and mobile banking firms have been accused of abetting Al-Shabaab monetary services across the country.

A report published by the United Nations established that Al-Shabaab runs an annual budget of $100 million with over $24 million going for the purchase of sophisticated weapons. While most of the money is obtained through illegal taxation of businesses, the group also gets financial assistance from foreign elements.

In addition, Al-Shabaab also benefits from money obtained as ransom through the kidnapping of wealthy people across the region. The money is used for payment of brain-washed fighters mainly vulnerable youths besides going to the group to run various departments such as the intelligence wing commonly known as Amniyat.

Last year, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud warned business people against supporting Al-Shabaab financially either willingly or through extortion. Those found culpable of the offensive, he reiterated, risk having their trading licenses cancelled by the government.

With upgraded military operations and a strategy targeting financial institutions, Al-Shabaab has scaled its own activities in Somalia. In the latest military operation, federal forces reportedly seized two vehicles they believe were going to be used for VBIED attacks by al-Shabaab.

The operation was conducted at a farm in the vicinity of Bal’ad town. Commander Abshir says they have seized explosives, which the group uses to target innocent civilians and members of security forces within the country and across the borders, with Kenya being a victim.

On Thursday [today], the Somali government called for a major rally at a Mogadishu stadium which President Hassan Sheikh will use to announce the launch of the ‘Mogadishu Peoples Uprising’ [against Al-Shabaab]. All government workers have been ordered to attend the rally and participate in the uprising.

Across the border, Kenya has increased surveillance to block the team from trading and targeting business people in their extortion racket which is after all losing significance. Several senior Al-Shabaab leaders have either been killed or defected to the government following the ongoing operation in Somalia.

GAROWE ONLINE

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