The National Anti-Money Laundering Committee (NAMLC) and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud spoke on Saturday about their progress in dismantling the Al-Shabaab terrorists’ financial networks. The committee claimed that its actions had increased public awareness among Somalis and curtailed the capacity of terrorists to extort and plunder local businesses. The war against Al Shabaab should be fought on three fronts: the economic, ideological, and military fronts, President Mohamud underscored. He argued that in order to completely rid the nation of terrorists, success on all three fronts is essential.
Government forces have been gaining ground against the militants since August after launching the most significant Somali-led campaign against al-Shabaab since the jihadis began their terror campaign 15 years ago. Territorial gains, mostly in central Somalia, have been backed by a financial crackdown that has led to the freezing of hundreds of bank and mobile money accounts, holding a “couple of million dollars” combined, and a drive to convince Somali clerics to condemn al-Shabaab as “anti-Islamic”.
On Thursday, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud held a closed-door meeting with Brian Nelson, the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the United States where they discussed various mechanisms for curbing AlShabaab’s growing financial muscle, with the group reportedly raking in millions of dollars from extortion and illegal taxation across the country.
During the meeting, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud revealed that some of the strategies in controlling AlShabaab’s financial empire had effectively worked, noting the closure of over 250 bank accounts associated with Al shabaab and 70 mobile money transfer firms whose transactions where suspicious.
Regulating Al-Shabaab’s financial flow, he added, has been a major boost in the liberation of several strategic towns across the federal republic of Somalia, adding that the group could in future face financial constraints. Data by the US State Department shows Al-Shabaab collects up to $120 million annually.