The Al Qaeda affiliated terror organization in Somalia has wreaked havoc not only in its home country but also in the neighboring countries. Attacks have been perpetrated by weapons and military hardware that is sophisticated and often times can be traced to renowned international weapon dealers as well as Somali Military. The occurrences of weapons used by Al Shabaab (AS) being traced back to the various military and security agencies in Somalia is on a steady rise.
Most recently, automatic rifles used by attackers in the Kenyan upmarket hotel complex were registered to Somali National Army a move that is worrying and poses a major security threat in the region. Weapons, explosive material, and the likes aren’t the only military-grade equipment AS has been photographed flexing armored vehicles seized from SNA and use the images as propaganda.
While the international community has raised their concern, Somalia’s neighbor Kenya has been closer to the threat. Intelligence indicates that a major shipment of weapons stolen from the SNA is in the hands of the al Shabaab and reportedly being moved to Gedo and Juba regions of Somalia where there is a heavy terrorist presence. The security threat for Kenya is especially higher as the shipment is moving closer to her border with Somalia and comprises of explosive material, weapons, ammunition as well as armored vehicles.
In the event, the military hardware gets to terrorists the threat could be catastrophic seeing as the al Shabaab could quite easily gain the tactical and logistical upper hand. The advantage that the al Shabaab would gain could undermine gains made against the militants especially seeing as Somalia is receiving weapons and other military hardware from various global partners.
Corruption within the SNA and other security agencies in Somalia is the fundamental problem and cause of the derailing of equipment and hardware to al Shabaab. First, SNA has continually failed to account for resources and equipment donated and or assigned by either allied partners or the central government. Lack of proper structure and a permanent military can be seen as a leading cause of the lack of accountability and disappearance of weapons only to be traced to the al Shabaab.
Intelligence reports indicate that the attrition of SNA can be traced to neglected soldiers’ welfare with reports indicating that soldiers go for months without pay making them vulnerable and desperate. The aforementioned factors can lead to the soldiers selling military equipment to al Shabaab to get by and take of their families. Underfunding of military bases leaves soldiers unprotected which makes it easy for al Shabaab to overrun them seize weapons and vehicle which they repurpose and use for logistical purposes giving them an unfair advantage against the various military entities.
Therefore, the failure by Somalia to establish a reliable military and an accountable one at that is posing a major threat to Kenya. Military-grade weapons acquired by the al Shabaab being moved closer to the East African country’s northern frontier poses a major threat as it gives the terrorists both tactical and logistical advantage. The continued loss of equipment by the SNA is undermining the gains made Kenya and other members of AMISOM in Somalia and by proxy Kenya’s citizenry.