Somalia bans Al-Shabaab 'propaganda' contents


MOGADISHU, Somalia - The crackdown against Al-Shabaab has taken a new dimension, with the government of Somalia now targeting social media accounts spearheading the agenda of the Al-Qaida-linked group, which dominates central and southern parts of the country.

Over 40 social media accounts have been targeted in the ongoing crackdown against the militants, with the government now shifting focus to sources of disinformation, especially the ones spreading Al-Shabaab propaganda in the Horn of Africa nation.

Abdirahman Adala, the Deputy Minister of Information, insisted that any individual or media found culpable of spreading Al-Shabaab ideology, will be targeted for shutdown. This is the first the government is targeting such platforms.

"Any media house or individual found spreading that group's message will be removed from social media at the request of the Somali government," said the minister, who is a close ally of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Despite the announcement, Mogadishu is yet to make public the list of the social media accounts which were affected by the shutdown. For years, the government has been regulating the use of social media but the measures have never culminated in the shutdown.

According to the minister, the government is keen to use military combats and economic ideologies to counter the militants. In the economic ideology, the government is keen to close extortion centers where Al-Shabaab has been collecting money in form of "taxes" to sustain its criminal enterprise.

The militants, who have functional communication and public relations platforms, have been using them to spread fear and propaganda to the people of Somalia. Whenever there is an attack, such platforms are used to convey information to the public.

Consequently, such platforms are used for the radicalization of youths besides promoting recruitment ideologies of the extremists. The United States has previously worked closely with Somalia to trace some of the social platforms used by Al-Shabaab to convey propaganda.

While the militants have increased attacks on various fronts recently, the Somalia National Army with the help of allies has managed to contain them, inflicting massive losses to them in various parts of the country, with President Hassan Sheikh promising a relentless crackdown.


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