January 17, 2019

KENYA: Islamist Militant Group al-Shabaab From Somalia Attacked A High-End Hotel, Held Hostages Overnight, 21 Murdered. The Muslim World Financially Supports Islamist Militants.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
written by Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Gabriele Steinhauser
Wednesday January 16, 2019

NAIROBI, Kenya—Islamist militants’ deadly 18-hour siege of an upscale complex here jolts a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism and raises questions over how the Somalia-based insurgents have survived more than a decade of international military campaigns.

On Tuesday afternoon, unmasked attackers carrying AK-47s and explosives shot their way into the 14 Riverside hotel and office complex in the capital—a favorite hangout for foreigners and upper-class Kenyans—detonated at least one suicide bomb and barricaded themselves in with hundreds of hostages overnight. It took until late Wednesday morning for Kenyan special forces to kill five gunmen and free the remaining captives.

By then, at least 20 people, among them a Kenyan accountant for Colgate-Palmolive Co. and an American who specialized in development finance, were dead. A police officer later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

The foyer of the DusitD2 hotel, an emblem of Nairobi’s emergence as East Africa’s business hub, was covered in blood and debris; parked outside were the skeletons of several incinerated cars.

Al-Shabaab, a Somali extremist group affiliated with al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the assault. Kenyan police said it had arrested two people it believes helped facilitate the attack.

The group said the attack stemmed from an al-Qaeda directive to hit Western and Zionist targets in retaliation for President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the U.S. Embassy there, in a statement on the website of SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist groups.

The statement said the complex was selected because it hosts Western companies and expats dine at its restaurant.

One of Africa’s longest-living Islamist movements, al-Shabaab regularly carries out deadly attacks, mostly inside Somalia. In its bloodiest attack to date it killed more than 500 Somalis in the capital, Mogadishu, in 2017. Its insurgent-style assaults, often paired with explosives, have proven to be difficult to contain through conventional military tactics.

For many Kenyans, the siege brought back painful memories of al-Shabaab’s 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, which left 67 people dead and dragged on for four days. Two years later, al-Shabaab militants rampaged through Kenya’s Garissa University, killing 147 people.

“We can never take anything for granted,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a televised press conference, pledging to pursue “every person involved in planning, funding and executing this heinous act.”

At Nairobi’s Chiromo mortuary, dozens of friends and relatives of victims—some wailing, others collapsing in grief—gathered to identify and claim the bodies of loved ones.

Among them were representatives of the family of Jason Spindler, the Texan co-founder and chief executive of I-Dev International, a company focused on financial innovations to reduce poverty. “The world has lost a kind soul and a great man in a senseless act,” one friend posted on Mr. Spindler’s Facebook wall.

A senior executive from LG Electronics Inc., which has offices in the 14 Riverside complex, said he was there to identify the body of a Kenyan employee. Nearby, the widow of a Colgate accountant wept.

Inside the morgue lay the body of Luke Potter, the British-South African director of the U.K.-based Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Africa program. Tuesday had been his first day at the Riverside office after permanently relocating to Nairobi, a friend and co-workers said.

The attack struck at the heart of a country whose tourism sector, known for breathtaking safaris and white sandy beaches stretching for miles, had finally recovered from the Westgate attack. Kenya also hosts the regional base of multinationals such as Coca-Cola and Microsoft.

The 14 Riverside houses banks, travel agencies and stores, in addition to the hotel and offices. French drinks maker Pernod Ricard SA and Adam Smith International, a prominent think tank, have offices in the complex.

Many public buildings in Nairobi, including the Riverside complex, have metal detectors and security guards sweeping cars for weapons and explosives. The attackers were able to break past two boomgates by firing AK-47s and throwing hand grenades into parked vehicles, causing multiple explosions.

Kenyan officials said security forces held off on confronting the gunmen while office workers were still holed up inside the complex, to avoid striking them in the crossfire. Two Western diplomats said they were overall pleased with the Kenyan forces’ response.

Still, the fact that al-Shabaab was able to launch such a sophisticated attack—which required careful coordination and large amounts of ammunition—shocked many Kenyans and international observers. Under Mr. Trump, the U.S. has ramped up drone strikes against the militants in Somalia. Washington also supports a 22,000-strong regional military force fighting the insurgency, and maintains some 500 troops in Somalia training Somali elite forces.

“It highlights why U.S. investments were made in Kenya and Somalia—even if they haven’t been fully successful, there is no hope the threat of al-Shabaab will go away if the U.S. stops fighting it,” said Katherine Zimmerman, a research fellow at the conservative Washington-based American Enterprise Institute.

Kenya, is a major contributor to AMISOM, a Somalia-stationed military force that includes troops from Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti and Burundi. The Riverside 14 attack revives a debate in Kenya about whether the country should keep troops in Somalia at all, given the violent retaliation.

“No one wants to see their troops in other countries’ problems, but you have this al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia creating havoc in Kenya,” said Abdirashid Hashi, director of Mogadishu-based think tank Heritage Institute. “Somalis alone cannot handle it.”
As if the Islamist militants really needed a reason to attack. They do this all the time, killing innocent people and destroying property. And for what? To scare away Westerners, Christians, and Jews. This is how Islam takes over nations struggling economically. In the West, Islam uses the court system to change our laws to favor Islam and puts Islamist in office to change laws to favor Islam. ALL Islamist militant groups worldwide have a shared vision of a Global Islamic Caliphate (kingdom) ruled by sharia law. Meaning they want ALL of humanity worldwide to submit to Islam and ALL of humanity worldwide to be ruled by Islamic sharia law. This is why I call them Necromongers. (emphasis mine)
The Guardian, UK
Wednesday January 16, 2019

Intelligence services in Kenya were warned that al-Shabaab was planning terrorist attacks on high-profile targets in the east African country around Christmas and the new year, western and regional security officials have said.

Officials and other sources told the Guardian the warnings had been passed on several times in recent months, adding that they had been frustrated not to see a greater response from Kenyan authorities.

Security forces cleared the hotel, restaurant and office complex in Nairobi on Wednesday morning after it was attacked the previous day by four gunmen from al-Shabaab, an Islamic extremist organisation based in neighbouring Somalia. The Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said 14 civilians were confirmed dead.

Al-Shabaab, which has said its mujahideen were responsible for the assault, has launched a series of terrorist operations in Kenya in recent years. In 2013, the al-Qaida affiliate took over a luxury mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people.

The news of the warnings will embarrass authorities in Kenya, which is seen as a key local counter-terrorist player by the US, UK and other western powers.

One Kenyan intelligence official said information passed on by security partners about planned attacks lacked detail but that the country had been on high alert since November.

I SHARED THE FOLLOWING WITH YOU LAST YEAR. I'm reposting the information below with this Kenya attack news  from this week because I read the entire article by the Guardian News, UK I shared a snippet with you above that make it sound like al-Shabaab had no money and was barely surviving to stay alive. That is a bunch of crock. (emphasis mine)

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.

No comments: