Kenya is seeking international help to stop informal finances to Al Shabaab terror group that remains active despite military operations.
Kenya’s High Commissioner to the UK Manoah Esipisu said regional and international partners must join hands with the federal and regional governments of Somalia to design and implement a framework for combating Al Shabaab’s financing. This can be done through strong joint investigation teams.
These teams, he argued, must also take aim at its illicit taxation and protection of thousands of businesses and humanitarian organisations in Somalia.
He said it was also important that all countries exposed to this threat domesticate and comply with the binding counter-terrorism measures contained in the UN Security Council resolutions.
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“Rather than focus so exclusively on countering terrorism financing measures in the formal banking and money transfer systems, we will need to fully deal with cash-based financing in areas that terrorists operate,” he said.
He made the remarks at the court of St James at the Institute for Strategic Studies, London, UK.
It is political and ideological assault. If it aligns with other political and ideological interests, we will find ourselves dealing with a longer-term crisis that includes economic failure in Somalia and in areas exposed to the group’s operatives,” he said.
He said it would also frustrate Somalia’s still vulnerable state-building project and probably allow global terrorism to retain a recruitment and training platform.
Esipisu said there is need to minimise or eliminate the threat of Al Shabaab to facilitate investment opportunities in East Africa.
He called on countries to stop Al Shabaab from holding its ground.
This will allow it to exploit learning, correctional, religious, business and charitable institutions to fund its continuing existence and terrorist operations.
Esipisu said that being able to hold its ground legitimises the terror groups narrative of victory over states and the international community, feeding into its recruitment drive and therefore the production of more bombers and shooters.
“This means the military must be maintained and escalated. This is necessary but insufficient,” he said.
Esipisu argued that while humanitarian actors have relatively strong accountability systems, the country needs the entire sector to be more transparent and supported in minimising taxation by terror groups. He called for investment in preventive measures that include secure disengagement and reintegration programmes for former operatives.
“It is as urgent as ever to do more to close off religious spaces to militant extremists and their ideology. Countries that sponsor various forms of extremist interpretations of religion or identity, beyond their borders, will need to be reined in,” he added.
Esipisu said countries need to build their abilities to safely deal with terrorist fighters returning to their countries of origin after they have engaged in hostilities.