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Al-Shabaab as a regional and international threat

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Friday October 24, 2014 - 16:56:10 in Articles by Super Admin
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    Al-Shabaab as a regional and international threat

    In 2014, Al-Shabaabís newfound operational tempo in Kenya continued with a series of symbolic attacks and attempted plots, including a partially constructed vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, successfully infiltrated from Somalia. The

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In 2014, Al-Shabaabís newfound operational tempo in Kenya continued with a series of symbolic attacks and attempted plots, including a partially constructed vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, successfully infiltrated from Somalia. The device was reportedly destined for a major attack in Mombasa
23.Not since the prominence in the Horn of Africa of the former Al-Qaida in East Africa has the region been besieged by a more determined, prolific and effective Al-Qaida-affiliated group as Al-Shabaab. Likewise, since the Monitoring Groupís previous report ( HYPERLINK "http://undocs.org/S/2013/413" S/2013/413), strictly confidential annex 2.1), Al-Shabaab has demonstrated its resilience in emerging from a fractious state in late 2012 to mid2013, caused by leadership and operational disputes, while enduring a series of kinetic counter-terrorism campaigns by regional and foreign intelligence services. 
24.The sustained counter-terrorism pressure and successful overcoming of internal divisions have forced the Al-Shabaab core to become more operationally audacious by placing greater emphasis on exporting its violence beyond the borders of Somalia. Conversely, in the past year, Al-Shabaabís overt regional strategy has relied increasingly on its entrenched support-base of Amniyat-like operatives, especially in Djibouti and Ethiopia, and, to an extent, affiliates, including Al-Hijra in Kenya, to conduct terrorist attacks in the region. 
25.By the end of 2013, Al-Shabaabís regional strategy had become apparent: a resurgent extremist group sufficiently assertive to fully align itself with and pursue strategies adapted to transnational Al-Qaida operations. Evidence of this is visibly manifested in the ìBadru Nairobi Operationî, commonly known as the Westgate shopping mall attack of September 2013. The operation, conceived in Somalia, planned from a United Nations refugee camp and executed from Eastleigh in Nairobi, signalled the widely anticipated operational shift. It marked a departure from ìsoft targetsî to ìcomplex and spectacularî large-scale attacks beyond Somalia, drawing on, where practical, a combination of Al-Hijra resources (in Kenya) at the peripheral level and the operational discipline of Al-Shabaab core Amniyat-like operatives on the other. On a psychological level, the operation has dispelled the latent belief within Kenya, which appeared to be borne out of a series of failed aspirational plots by affiliates such as Al-Hijra, that ìcomplex and spectacularî attacks were impossible. 
26.In 2014, Al-Shabaabís newfound operational tempo in Kenya continued with a series of symbolic attacks and attempted plots, including a partially constructed vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, successfully infiltrated from Somalia. The device was reportedly destined for a major attack in Mombasa (see strictly confidential annex 2.1). Demonstrating its operational philosophy of fomenting fear in Kenya, Al-Shabaab planted an improvised explosive device inside Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on 16 January 2014. The symbolic attack was linked to a Nairobi-based Somali diplomat, Ilyas Yussuf Warsame, and five others. By mid-2014, the accumulation of Al-Shabaab attacks inside Kenya and the potency of its threat appeared to have resulted in the group achieving part of its objective: to create anxiety in Kenya. The response based on credible intelligence has led a number of Western embassies in Kenya to issue travel advisories and others to reduce staffing levels. 
27.In Ethiopia, Al-Shabaabís meticulous and incremental planning to carry out violent attacks involved the reassigning of Amniyat-like operatives from Kenya, Somalia, Somaliland and possibly Yemen to Addis Ababa in the form of the ìBole Rwanda cellî. This included an Al-Shabaab operative assuming the identity of a United Nations worker and another using his membership of the Puntland security forces and patronage from the Puntland authorities to conspire against Ethiopia. The plot, if executed as planned, would almost certainly have resulted in Al-Shabaab breaking its long operational deadlock inside Addis Ababa. Owing to enhanced security, however, in the final hours leading up to an attack that would have caused mass casualties, Al-Shabaab was compelled to abort a ìcomplex and spectacularî attack on 13 October 2013, less than a month after the Westgate shopping mall attack. 
28.Similarly, in 2014, credible information gathered on Al-Shabaab further reinforces its operational scope and discipline in planning attacks in the Horn of Africa. The Al-Shabaab core can coordinate and conduct successful attacks throughout the Horn, in addition to retaining the operational capability to specifically target Westerners in Djibouti and Kenya, among other countries. Meanwhile, sensitive information acquired by the Monitoring Group strongly indicates that AlShabaab may have ìmisdirectedî regional and foreign intelligence services in relation to its target (La ChaumiËre restaurant) in Djibouti on 24 May 2014. This trait demonstrates the same level of operational tradecraft observed during the planning stages of the ìBadru Nairobi Operationî (see strictly confidential annex 2.1).
29.Strictly confidential annex 2.1 provides a description of Al-Shabaabís regional operations in Kenya.
30.Strictly confidential annex 2.2 provides a description of Al-Shabaabís regional operations in Ethiopia.
31.Strictly confidential annex 2.3 provides a description of Al-Shabaabís regional operations in Djibouti.


C.Local threats to peace and security in Somalia 


Threats to peace and security in the Sool region 

32.The Monitoring Group has followed events closely in the Sool region of north-eastern Somaliland, where Somaliland forces have clashed with Puntland forces and militias loyal to Khatumo, a political organization based in the Dhulbahante clan that is pursuing the creation of a regional state within Somalia and separation from Somaliland. 
33.The region is particularly prone to conflict, given the competing claims by Somaliland, Puntland and Khatumo over oil-rich territory there and political infighting among the Dhulbahante, who are divided in loyalty between Puntland, Khatumo and Somaliland. The conflicts have also resulted in attacks on civilians and population displacements (see annex 8.2). 
34.The Monitoring Group is concerned by the steady militarization of Sool, especially since November 2013. Notably, the Khatumo movement has cultivated political support from the Federal Government, which does not recognize the claims of Somaliland to oil rich-territory, but after January 2014 has also warmed relations with the Government of Puntland. 
35.While the Monitoring Group is concerned by apparent links between Khatumo and Al-Shabaab, it has also noted the potential risks posed by plans drafted by the Government of Somaliland to deploy an oil protection unit in oil-rich territory in Sool (see annex 3.1 on deteriorating security conditions in Sool and annex 6.7 on plans by the Somaliland authorities for an oil protection unit). 

Threats to peace and security in Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle 

36.In Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle, clan-based political violence broke out and sharply escalated from 2013 to the present. The fighting has involved clan militia of the Biyamal (Dir) and Habar Gedir (Hawiye) in Lower Shabelle and the Abgaal (Hawiye) and Shiidle (Bantu/Jareer) in Middle Shabelle, revenge killings and attacks on civilian settlements amounting to gross violations of human rights and, in some cases, international humanitarian law. The complexity of the situation, for example in Lower Shabelle, entails a combination of the alleged role of senior army officers and soldiers in the violence, leakages of arms to clan-based militias, use of misappropriated resources to fuel the conflict, business interests in capturing land and other resources and political agendas seeking to influence the federal state-formation process. The conflict risks spilling over to other regions, including the capital region of Banadir (Mogadishu) and Bay region (Baidoa), and complicates the continuing campaign against Al-Shabaab. 
37.See annex 3.2 for an overview of rising tensions in Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle. 


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