Abnaa Ul-Calipha the official ISIS’ province in Somalia has reportedly started levying steep Zakat on local businesses in the port city of Bosaso which is the commercial hub of the state of Puntland in northern Somalia. the Jihadist group has been increasing its footprint in the northern areas of Somalia as previously reported by SI threat intelligence in recent months. ISIS in Somalia have in the past indicated that they are headquartered in mountainous regions of Puntland state. The recent taxing of businesses in Bosaso is the first in a projected series of strategies by the Jihadists groups to expand and finance their insurgency.
The dangerous terror outfit having started to impose steep levies on business can be termed as the group’s attempts to finance its insurgency which has been suffering major setbacks from reinvigorated counterterrorism efforts by troops and peacekeepers in Somalia. Human intelligence in Bosaso indicates that an upsurge in traders’ intimidation and targeted killings can be observed since the militants made known their demands from the business owners in the town. The merchants in Bosaso have reported living in fear of being killed if they cannot afford the required taxes by the Islamists. For instance, earlier in August, Abnaa Ul-Calipha assassinated the deputy manager of Golis, the largest telecommunications operator in Puntland as he was leaving the mosque believed to be retribution for not meeting the terrorists’ demands.
Al Shabaab, the official Al Qaeda affiliate has distanced itself from the activities of the Abnaa Ul-Calipha (who defected from them) terming them as atrocious as the ISIS have become more aggressive and dangerous. While al Shabaab’s presence is said to be diminishing in the northern parts locals have been quoted to prefer al Shabaab to the new ISIS who are more ruthless and standoff.
Sources within the Puntland administration, who are said to be instituting strategies to deal with the menace, estimate that ISIS extorts over $70,000 from traders and wealthy individuals in the city every month. The lack of a strong intelligence and security apparatus in the region can be viewed as one of the most prevalent motivators for the militants to impose even higher taxes. Additionally, the more taxes the terror group collects, the more capital and financial capability they have to expand, recruit and pay their fighters as well as expand their territory without any major impediment.
Abnaa Ul-Calipha in Somalia is slowly morphing into what could be a very dangerous terror organization especially because of the strategic location of its headquarters and proximity to the Middle East. SI project that the threat by the groups will reach far beyond steep levies as it could offer passage and haven for other ISIS fighters and members freeing the military offensive in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.