October 13, 2018

IRAN: al-Shabaab Islamic Militant Group In Somalia Is Being Helped By Iranian Islamic Republic With Their Illegal Shipments Of Banned Charcoal, Packaged In Iran Ports, Labelled Product Of Iran.

Fox News published on Sep 1, 2017: Somalia Official says Al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab could supply Iran with uranium; chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reports
Radio Free Europe
written by RFE Staff, AFP, and Reuters
Saturday October 13, 2018

An Al-Qaeda-linked militant group is using Iran as its main transit point for illegal charcoal exports from Somalia, enabling the group to earn millions of dollars in profits, a report to the UN Security Council seen by media says.

According to a report cited by AFP and Reuters on October 12, since March, the main destination for the illegal shipments has been ports in Iran, where the charcoal is packaged into white bags labelled "Product of Iran."

The United Nations has banned Somali charcoal imports since 2012 to cut sources of revenue for Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate that generates revenues for its Islamist insurgency by levying taxes on charcoal production in the regions it controls.

The UN estimates that, despite UN sanctions banning such exports, Somalia produced some 3.6 million bags of charcoal in 2017 for export, generating some $7.5 million in revenue for Al-Shabaab.

The report called Iran a "weak link" in implementing the UN's charcoal ban, and also cast blame on countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast for allowing charcoal traffickers to "exploit weaknesses" in their certification processes.

The illegal shipments that arrive in Iran usually carry certificates that falsely state that the Somali charcoal originated in Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, or Ghana, the unpublished UN report says.

The document identifies Iranian ports in the Kish and Qeshm free zones as the main destinations of the Somali charcoal shipments since March 2018.

From there, the charcoal is sent on "Iran-flagged dhows" to ports in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Dubai, and elsewhere, where it is mainly used for cooking and smoking shisha water pipes, the report says.

The Iranian mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report says Iran became a transit point for the illegal Somali shipments after Oman tightened its customs procedures.

The report provided to the UN council was drafted by a UN group of experts tasked with monitoring sanctions on the Somali militants.

Al-Shabaab militants have vowed to overthrow the Somali government (AGAIN), which is backed by the UN and a 20,000-strong force from the African Union stationed in the country.

While Al-Shabaab was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 and lost many of other bastions, they still control vast rural areas in the country.

In addition to earnings millions from charcoal sales, Al-Shabaab is making millions annually by imposing tolls on vehicles in areas where they have checkpoints and through taxes on businesses, agriculture, and livestock, the report says.

All this "generates more than enough revenue to sustain its insurgency," it says.

NTV News Kenya published on Oct 13, 2018: Mandera County has been hit hard by terror attacks in the past 7 years with Lafey sub county bearing the most brunt . The insecurity has affected the once busy and preferred Mandera - Lafey highway, a 115 Km stretch connecting the two towns, and that has now been rendered impassable as Al shabaab militants carry out attacks at will along this road. NTV’s Ahmed Maulid tells us more about terror's highway, and how it has affected businesses and daily life in Mandera.

NTV News Kenya published on Nov 15, 2017: Trevor Ombija speaks to George Musamali, Byron Adera, Mustafa Ali and Sammy Mwithi on the fresh report by the United Nations that implicates the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in failing to enforce an export ban on charcoal exports by Al-Shabaab.

written by Joshua Meservey
April 3, 2018

The Kenyan Defense Forces have been deployed in Somalia conducting counterterror operations since 2011.

Yet a recent United Nations (U.N.) report accuses the Kenyans of continuing its years-long practice of enabling the trade of charcoal in Somalia—a trade banned by the U.N. in 2012 because it profits al-Shabaab, the Islamist terror group with which Kenya is ironically locked in a bitter struggle.

Since its rise to prominence in 2006, al-Shabaab (an al-Qaeda affiliate) has launched hundreds of attacks inside Somalia, earning the State Department’s designation as a terror organization in 2008. In October 2017, it launched one of the deadliest terror attacks in history when two of its truck bombs killed more than 500 people in Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu.

The group also frequently attacks nearby Kenya, perpetrating some of the worst massacres the country has ever suffered. Its seizure of the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi in September 2013 led to nearly 70 deaths and almost totally destroyed the mall.

In 2015, the group killed 147 people—mostly students—at Garissa University in eastern Kenya. The group has also kidnapped Kenyans and foreign citizens alike from Kenya and attacked humanitarian aid workers around the Dadaab refugee camp.

In response to al-Shabaab’s growing power, the African Union in 2007 established a multinational peacekeeping force in Somalia, known as AMISOM, to try to roll back al-Shabaab’s territorial control and stabilize the region. After invading Somalia in October 2011 in its own campaign against al-Shabaab, Kenya merged its forces in Somalia with AMISOM the following year.

AMISOM succeeded in expelling al-Shabaab from all its major strongholds, though the group still controls significant territory in southern Somalia. Kenyan forces also liberated the port of Kismayo, one of Somalia’s largest ports for exporting charcoal. Some believed the city’s capture would be a lethal blow to al-Shabaab given its financial reliance on the port.

That was not the case, however.

Instead of enforcing the U.N. ban on the charcoal trade, Kenyan forces allegedly allow it to continue in exchange for its own slice of the action. The Kenyans charge about $2 a bag, and may make as much as $12 million a year from the arrangement.

The Kenyan forces’ cupidity allows al-Shabaab to rake in charcoal profits. The U.N. conservatively estimates that the terror group makes approximately $10 million dollars a year from the 4.5 million to 6 million bags of charcoal exported annually. Al-Shabaab benefits primarily by taxing vehicles ferrying charcoal to port cities such as Kismayo for export.

The fight against al-Shabaab is already difficult enough given the Somali government’s corruption and dysfunction, and its lack of progress in creating an effective Somali national army. Kenyan forces’ refusal to enforce the charcoal ban only makes the fight harder, and the money they reap comes at the cost of both Kenyan and Somali lives.

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