Somalia:Reaping the Whirlwind Hormuud Telecom Entrepreneurs and the Resurgence of Al-Shabaab

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    Somalia:Reaping the Whirlwind Hormuud Telecom Entrepreneurs and the Resurgence of Al-Shabaab

    Report of the Investigation into the link between Hormuud Telecom and the Al-Shabaab Operations in Somalia October (2019) International Policy Group (IPG) Nairobi Kenya

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Report of the Investigation into the link between Hormuud Telecom and the Al-Shabaab Operations in Somalia October (2019) International Policy Group (IPG) Nairobi Kenya Executive Summary Hormuud, Somalia’s leading Telecommunications company, has been recently embroiled in controversy, which has drawn media attention and scrutiny. The company came to the limelight in late August 2019 when it claimed in a series of statements that the Kenyan contingent of African peace-keepers in Somalia (AMISOM) was directly or indirectly involved in the bombing and destruction of its masts in Gedo region, Southern Somalia. On August 25, 2019, officials of the company enlisted the support of the United States Congress Representative for Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, in its campaign against African peace-keepers in Somalia’s Jubaland State, which it accused of destroying its masts and undermining its business. Ilhan tweeted her support, calling upon the Federal Government of Somalia and the peacekeeping forces to protect Hormuud Telecom company which "provides vital services and contributes to the country’s economic development”. Following her publicly declared support for Hormuud, Ilhan drew criticism for supporting the wrong side of Somalia (Al-Shabaab terrorists’) and not focusing on the radicalization of Jihadists in her own constituency.1 Ilhan’s support steeped the company into American politics, bringing it into sharp scrutiny and criticism, which centered on a 2018 United Nations Security Council report that sanctioned as the "chief financier of the Al-Shabaab”. Hormuud Telecom sunk deeper into the mire on September 5, 2019 following reports accusing it of sponsoring Al-Shabaab operatives 1 "TV-ga Fox News ee Mareykanka oo Hormuud Telecom ku sifeeyay Shirkad,” Fox News, September 7, 2019; retrieved on September 8, 2019. Reaping the Whirlwind iv to destroy 13 base station masts in a site belonging to the Kenya telecommunications giant, Safaricom, at Jabi in Mandera along Kenya-Somalia border in what was perceived as retaliatory attacks.2 The company was also adversely mentioned as having used its office in Nairobi to provide intelligence and logistical support to AlShabaab terrorists who attacked the Dusit D2 complex in Nairobi on January 16, 2019. Reaping the Whirlwind: Hormuud Entrepreneurs and the Resurgence of Al-Shabaab, a report by the International Policy Group’s (IPG), examines the connection between Hormuud telecom and the Al-Shabaab economic empire in Somalia. The report traces the radical Islamic roots of Hormuud and its officials and investors. It sheds light on a complex process of ‘corporate capture’ that enabled Hormuud entrepreneurs to use Al-Shabaab protection to make a fortune and monopolize the telecommunication industry. In turn, Al-Shabaab captured Hormuud as diadem in it economic empire providing huge taxes while access to its technology has guaranteed the group’s power, wealth and survival. Hormuud’s finances and technology has spurred Al-Shabaab’s recent resurgence signified by its increasing and bold attacks across the country. But Hormuud has also suffered severe attacks from AlShabaab demanding taxes and control of its technology. It has also been caught between a rock and a hard place in the supremacy wars between Al-Shabaab and Islamic State rivals in Somalia. The future of Hormuud depends on decisively severing relations with AlShabaab and redirecting its taxes, financial support and technology to the government and Somali society. In realizing this, the report proffers the following five recommendations: 2 "Telecom Destroys 13th Kenya’s Safaricom BTS Mast Site, was Involved in Dusit D2 Terrorist Attack,” Strategic Intelligence, September 6, 2019, Accessed September 9, 2019. Hormuud Entrepreneurs and the Al-Shabaab Resurgence v • Step up the Protection of legitimate business from Al-Shabaab taxation and extortion. AMISOM forces should work with the Somali National Army, Federal State governments and local communities to ensure that local businesses in urban and rural areas are not forced to pay taxes or "protection” money to Al-Shabaab. AMISOM, including Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) should fast-track the capacity building and training of the Somali National Army to gain control of security and protect business from Al-Shabaab. • Halt double taxation of companies by Al-Shabaab and Government. The Federal Government of Somalia should work with AMISOM, International community, Federal States and local communities to shut down Al-Shabaab’s financial lifeline and redirect taxes to regional and federal governments to finance infrastructure and services. AMISOM forces and the United Nations should enforce the ban on the import and export of charcoal from Somalia and ensure full implementation and impose targeted measures on violators, including companies. • Expose companies paying Taxes to Al-Shabaab: The International community, including the United States, United Nations, European Union and others should support capacity within Somalia to Monitor and list and sanction companies paying taxes to terrorist groups. • List Al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization. The international community should list Al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization and impose the necessary sanctions and penalties on companies working with them. Individuals or entities violating the Financing of Terrorism Act should be prosecuted. They Reaping the Whirlwind vi should also monitor humanitarian organizations to ensure that assistance is not used to support Al-Shabaab activities and programs. • Prevent the penetration and capture of telecommunication companies in areas controlled by terrorists. The African Union (AU), InterGovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the East African Community (EAC) should establish regional collaborative Frameworks for telecommunication giants such as Hormuud to ensure that Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups do not capture, dominate and misuse them to finance and carry out terrorist activities. Hormuud Entrepreneurs and the Al-Shabaab Resurgence vii Table of content Executive Summary .................................................................................iii List of figures .....................................................................................viii Acknowledgment.......................................................................................ix List of Abbreviations and Acronyms........................................................x Map of Somalia.......................................................................................xi Chapter 1: Introduction: "They Sow the Wind” ........................1 Chapter 2: A Divided Legacy: Hormuud and Political Islam...7 Chapter 3: Corporate Capture: Entreprenuers in Terrorist Enclaves.......................................................................11 Chapter 4: Oiling Al-Shabaab’s Economic Empire..................17 Chapter 5: Hormuud’s Assault on African Peacekeepers........25 Chapter 6: Enter Ilhan Omar and the Tragic Tweet................31 Chapter 7: "Reap the Whirlwind”: Resurgent Al-Shabaab .....35 Chapter 8: Hormuud and the Al-Shabaab - Isis Rivalry..........41 Chapter 9: Conclusion: Hormuud’s Pathway to Legitimacy ...44 References ......................................................................................47 Reaping the Whirlwind viii List of figures Figure 1: Al-Shabaab Fighters display their weapons ..................1 Figure 2: Hormuud Building in Somalia ........................................3 Figure 3: Ahmed Nur Ali Jim’ale, Al-Shabaab’s chief financier..............................................................................7 Figure 4: Al-Shabaab Militants in training .....................................9 Figure 5: Hormuud and Al-Shabaab.............................................11 Figure 6: Poaching contributes to Al-Shabaab financing ..........13 Figure 7: Hiran Region, Somalia....................................................14 Figure 8: Funding Terror: Sugar from Kismayu.........................17 Figure 9: President Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo .....................18 Figure 10: Somali Pirates: Ransom Distribution...........................19 Figure 11: Al-Shabaab Main Sources of Funding ........................21 Figure 12: Al-Shabaab’s Humanitarian Response .........................22 Figure 13: Somali Soldiers/Government Officials.......................23 Figure 14: African Peace Keepers...................................................25 Figure 15: Safaricom mast in Wajir County, Kenya......................26 Figure 16: Destroyed Communication Mast in Elwak Town, Mandera............................................................................27 Figure 17: Communication Mast, Kenya ...................................... 28 Figure 18: Ilhan Omar.......................................................................31 Figure 19: Mohammad Tawhidi.......................................................33 Figure 20: Al-Shabaab’s Deadliest Attack that killed nearly 600 people in Mogadishu the......................................35 Figure 21: Dusit Terrorist Attack in Nairobi, January 2019........36 Figure 22: The Baledogle Base used to Train US Commandos.....................................................................38 Figure 23: Hormuud Caught between Al-Shabaab-ISIS Rivalry in Somalia ...........................................................41 Hormuud Entrepreneurs and the Al-Shabaab Resurgence ix Acknowledgment This report has been realized with the support of the International Policy Group(IPG). We wish to acknowledge the contribution of IPG researchers, policy analysts and associates who worked tirelessly to make this report a reality. We also wish to thank those who shared their experiences and thoughts on issues discussed in the report, but IPG has the sole responsibility over the contents. We also wish to thank profusely IPG researchers, policy analyst and associates in the Horn of Africa region who steered the research work and analysis towards the production of this report under the leadership of the lead consultants. We also extend our gratitude to the creative and graphics team for the final design and layout of the report. Shukraan! Reaping the Whirlwind x List of Abbreviations and Acronyms AIFD - American Islamic Forum for Democracy AMISOM - Africa Union Mission in Somalia AU - African Union BTS - Base Transmission Station DIISCAE - Danish Institute for International Studies and Centre for African Economics Hormuud - Hormuud Telecommunications Inc IS - Islamic State ISIS - Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISS - Islamic State in Somalia KDF - Kenya Defense Forces KRA - Kenya Revenue Authority NISA - National Intelligence and Security Agency OCCRP - Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project ODI - Overseas Development Institute PM - Prime Minister SCIC - Somali Council of Islamic Courts SEMG - Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group SICU - Somali Islamic Courts Union SNA - Somali National Army TFG - Transitional Federal Government UAE - United Arab Emirates UK - United Kingdom UN - United Nations US - United States Hormuud Entrepreneurs and the Al-Shabaab Resurgence xi Map of Somalia Reaping the Whirlwind xii 1 International Policy Group(IPG) As of August 2019, Hormuud Telecom had grown to become the largest and most influential telecommunications company in Somalia with thousands of shareholders, employees and huge assets.3 It was founded in April of 2002 by Ahmed Nur Ali Jim’ale, a key leader in the defunct Somali Islamic Courts Union (ICU) whose most radical elements eventually formed the Al-Shabaab.4 Since then, Hormuud entrepreneurs and managers have been badly split between those adhering to moderate business style, norms and ethos and those devoted to the goals of radical political Islam.5  
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