Al Shabaab remain a violent threat, even in Mogadishu (Albany Associates)
Somali militant group al Shabaab are still capable of indiscriminate violence, the BBC’s Somalia editor Mary Harper told the Bureau.
Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab is still a considerable threat despite almost a decade of Western interventions, including drone strikes. It remains effective because it is focusing its efforts and resources on ‘almost daily operations of indiscriminate violence’.
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However the group ‘has definitely been weakened in terms of its economic power,’ Harper told the Bureau. The group has lost control ‘of the most commercially vibrant parts of Mogadishu’ and Kismayo, a port town ‘from which it made millions and millions from the export of charcoal and other goods’.
The US targets ‘senior Islamist extremist operatives’ who were part of al Shabaab and al Qaeda, Harper said. However latterly she has seen a change in who is being targeted: ‘Certainly within the more recent strikes has been more to do with al Shabaab than al Qaeda. Whether that means al Qaeda’s East African leaders have abandoned Somalia, I don’t know.’
Also in this episode the Bureau’s podcast Alice Ross discusses the recent execution by militants of alleged US spies in Somalia and Yemen. And Jack Serle reports on an intense cluster of strikes in Yemen.