Security and intelligence stakeholders in Somalia completed a symposium that discussed the importance of intelligence sharing and assessing existing intelligence collection methods in the Horn of Africa country. The conference, the fifth of its kind to be held in the country, which was organized by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), with the support of the United Kingdom Mission Support Team (UK MST).
Notably, the conference discussed the current dynamics of intelligence and information gathering and sharing and it continues to impact the dire security state in Somalia. The conference was held as the threat caused by various jihad groups active in Somalia especially the growing presence and reach of Islamic State’s Somalia province rises.
As ISIS central falls in the Middle East, provinces across the globe have been stepping up attacks and presence to advance the global agenda of the terror organization. ISIS in Somalia (ISS) locally known as Abnaa Ul-Calipha has been expanding to the south and central Somalia which has been historically dominated by al-Qaida affiliated al Shabaab. The increased presence in Somalia has triggered the need for improved intelligence gathering methods, heightened vigilance, incorporated intelligence sharing with the country’s security apparatus to stymie the threat.
Isis Presence In Somalia
As per intelligence reports on ISS in the first quarter of 2019, the terror organization is steadily gaining momentum as well as increasing in numbers and areas with active activity and presence. For instance, previously, ISS was concentrated and headquartered in Puntland where it was created but in recent months the group has established active cells that have carried out attacks in the south and central Somalia. The pro-ISIS faction stated objective and strategy is ‘Baqiya wa tamaddad’ which means to ‘remain and expand’. The strategy of the expand across all the regions of Somalia of which its gradually succeeding at.
The terror group has active cells already established in the capital Mogadishu, Afgoye, Beledweyne, Saacow, Buale, Jilib, and Gedo region besides it home-base in Puntland. While Mogadishu records the highest number of attacks other mentioned areas and regions records sporadic attacks but with the above-mentioned MO. ISS relies less on typical IEDs and deals more on targeted assassinations using hit squads that are stealth and precise.
Evidentially, there have been over 40 ISS attacks in the first quarter (Jan-mar) of 2019 that shows a steep increase as compared to the less than 80 attacks conducted by the ISIS-affiliated in the entire 2018. Also, the number of fighters has grown exponentially with the current membership being a little shy of 500 members scattered across Somalia. Moreover, the group has benefitted from thousands of ISIS jihadists fleeing Mosul and
Raqqa in the Middle East, seeking to join jihad cause in East, North, Central, and West
After challenging Al-Qaeda presence in Yemen by creating a Wilayat towards the end of 2014, ISIS seeks to undermine Al-Qaeda further by establishing ISS and calling on Al-Shabaab fighters to join its ranks. More so, there are cells that have been cropping up in neighboring countries which poses an even greater threat of causing cross-border terrorism in the already volatile Horn and East African regions.
Intelligence Sharing And Curtailing Growing Threat Of ISIS
Fundamentally, reports have listed the lack of intelligence sharing as well as lack of inter-agency cooperation as the leading cause of a high number of attacks in Somalia. This can be explained by Kenya’s case study that has seen a significant drop in al Shabaab attacks and conversely a steep rise in the number of foiled attacks plots in the country in the last years. Since the establishment of the security framework that allows for ample and free intelligence sharing, the number of terror attacks has drastically fallen, terror cells dismantled and terrorists arrested.
With a growing presence and threat posed by ISS, Somalia ought to seek a lasting remedy that needs to include liaising with stakeholders in the intelligence community both within the country and internationally. The mentioned move will enhance the achievement of a common goal which is to defeat ISS by bringing all actors operating in the security industry to pool resources that will help better understand the state of security. Therefore, systemic sharing of information is critical in defeating the long-reigning al Shabaab and newcomer ISS in Somalia.
In A Nutshell………
- Integrated and improved methods of gathering intelligence as well as cooperation between the security agencies especially intelligence sharing is needed promptly to enable the defeat of ISIS.
- ISIS in Somalia as amplified both its reach and number of attacks as well as location wise with cells scattered across central and south Somalia; areas that were primarily held by al Shabaab.
- There have been over 40 ISS attacks in the first quarter (Jan-mar) of 2019 compared to less than 80 attacks in the entire 2018 showing a radical upsurge in the number of attacks.
- The number of fighters has grown exponentially with the current membership being a little shy of 500 members scattered across Somalia and the number with the potential to grow as more fighters loss faith in Al Shabaab.
- ISIS has expanded its territory from primarily having a presence in the northern region (Puntland) to include active cells in Afgoye, Beledweyne, Saacow, Buale, Jilib, and Gedo regions.