There are new troublesome indications of a progressively more varied Shabaab arsenal, FBI laboratory analyses have shown that the radicals are now using an ingredient in fertilizer to make vehicle-borne bombs, the UN team says.
“The possible use of home-made explosives by Al-Shabaab would let the group to rely less on the process of harvesting explosives from munitions, which is sluggish and arduous,” the monitoring team points out. Supplementary weapons are being unlawfully imported into Somalia through the country’s Puntland region aboard dhows sailing from Yemen and the Makran coast of Iran, the report finds.
At a meeting in September with UN monitors, “Iranian authorities stoutly denied any state connection in the shipment of weapons to Somalia,” the report notes. Along with revenues from charcoal exports, Shabaab finances its operations partially through “taxes” it levies on vehicles traveling on roads it controls, the UN team says.
“Large trucks are typically taxed $1,000 Sh100, 000), with receipts issued by Al-Shabaab to prevent double taxation at subsequent checkpoints,” the monitors recount. Other monthly fees extracted by Shabaab range from $10 (Sh1, 000) paid by market traders to as much as $70,000 (Sh700, 000) paid by key companies, according to the report.
Somalia’s federal government has cautioned businesses against supporting Shabaab fiscally, the monitors note. But because the government has only limited capacity to monitor such payments, the warning is not likely to have much effect on Shabaab’s taxation of business interests, the report adds.
Federal institutions similarly remain “unable to address all-encompassing corruption,” the monitors observe. The electoral process earlier this year was treated by the country’s influential as another opening to “capture or maintain control over state resources in Somalia at the expense of peace and security,” the report asserts. Sums of cash were handed out to electors choosing a president last February.
Other countries became involved in the vote-buying, with the United Arab Emirates said to have been predominantly overt in making such bribes.UAE representatives regularly summoned Somali regional administrators to meetings “where they were given money to sway their regional members of Parliament to vote for that country’s preferred candidate,” the report says.
The UN experts’ usually pessimistic assessment of the security situation in Somalia includes the finding that a faction of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has grown significantly during the past year.
ISIL loyalists in Somalia numbered no more than a few dozen in 2016 but the group now includes as many as 200 fighters, the report says.
“The ISIL faction has demonstrated increasingly sophisticated recruitment methods, largely targeted at disaffected members of Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia,” the UN team notes.