|No longer an effective fighting force|
EMERGING INTELLIGENCE suggests that Al-shabaab,the Islamist militant outfit in Somalia, has been effectively defeated. Its top command has been killed and its financial sources have been chocked. The heightened security operations in Kenya are said to be mop up operations to weed out its operatives and sympathisers in Kenya
Since last October, Kenyan defense Forces have virtually obliterated that outfit. A number of air and commando raids by Kenya Defense forces have reduced the outfit to a shell. A large proportion of its commanders are dead and so is a large proportion of its recruits who were killed in an air raid at a camp in hurguur last October.
Others have left the unit. The few that remain are however lethal and are believed to be the reason for the heightened security operations on suspected Al-shabaab hideouts in Kenya
This raid, the first one by Kenya Air force is said to have killed 400 people including trainees, commanders and officers. Read http://eaers.blogspot.com/2013/10/kdf-wrecks-al-shabaabs-camp-in-somalia.html
In March this year, the Air force s raided a meeting of Al-shabaab top brass at a camp in Birta Dheere area of Somalia. The overall leader Muktar Abdirahman Godane (Muktar Robow), escaped this attack by a whisker.
However, another 37 commanders were killed. They include Ali Rage also known as Ali Dheere. Dheere was the Al-Shabaab Spokesman, chief of Propaganda and a key player in the command chain of the militants. This raid was the single major blow to the outfit command structure.
Other commanders who died in this raid included a Kenyan known only as Gamadhere; two Arabs- Zakur Bin Khalid, Abdi Malik and Ubeyda. There were also two British Born commanders and others from different nationalities were also killed including Abdirahman Halane, a Somali national who coordinated the militant activities in Birta Dheere. In effect by the end of March more than 500 militants including their top commanders were dead. Militarily the force was no more.
Apart from the loss of personnel, Al-shabaab’s sources of finance have dried up. The outfit raised its finances from destructive economic activities including smuggling, destruction of flora and fauna and extortion.
Al-shabaab, exported some US$500,000 worth of Charcoal to Saudi Arabia every month, said a military source. It made an additional US$0.25 million a month from taxing the Kismayou Port, added the source.
Another sources in wildlife protection told this publication that Al-shabaab also benefited from conflict ivory. This is to say that it was actively exporting Ivory from conflict zones in as D R Congo, South Sudan, and Central Africa Republic. It also used its network of supporters to poach elephants and Rhino in Kenya and Tanzania.
Kenya was largely a transit hub of Ivory from these conflict areas which was bussed disguised as passenger personal effects. The cargo would then be sold to agents in Nairobi at US$50 a kilo. The cargo would then Transported to Liboi and onto to Kismayou Port. Here Al-Shabaab bought it at US$200 a kilo, said a wildlife protection source. The world Market price is in excess of US$1500 a kilo. Al- shabaab, being just another broker would sale for US$400-500 a kilo.
In its heyday, the outfit was exporting one to the tons of Ivory a month earning between US$0.4 million and $1.2 million a month at the minimum. However, the outfit is suspected to be involved in the on-going poaching of elephants and Rhinos in kenya more for revenge that for commercial gain.
The entry of Kenya Defense Forces into Somalia in October 2011 drained all these resources, with a majority drying completely from August 2012 when KDF overran Kismayou Port. The capture of this Port was a major blow to Al-Shabaab’s economy: It immediately chocked off a US$2 million a month business that is exports of charcoal and Ivory and smuggling of contraband goods and port use tax. The presence of KDF also scared off other potential sources. For instance, money transfers were now difficult since Al-shabaab did not control the city. It also choked the supply route for small arms.
The dry financial taps, coupled with the menacing presence of the regions Military superpower, placed Al-shabaab at a disadvantage for it could no longer pay those guys who had joined for the money. In its heyday, al shabaab could pay its fighters US$300 a month plus other benefits. With the taps turned off-recruiting the youth became difficult. Many even walked away from it. Nor could it afford to buy weapons for the militants. It is a spend force!
However, it still has some ordinance in the hands of former sleeper cells in Kenya. Hence Al-shabaab, fighting for its survival and its pride, is a lethal force. It can still devastate some location with its limited ordinance.