The al Qaeda affiliates in Somalia, al Shabaab, has launched what appears to be a forced recruitment campaign in Somalia’s southwestern regions including Bay and Bakool. The group is said to be pressuring clan and other local leaders to ensure that teenagers join the ranks of the terrorist organization.
According to Ali Wardhere Doyow, the governor of Bay region, “The militants have been holding meetings with clan elders and told them to meet specific numbers of recruits they want to be collected from clans.” He further said that families and their children have been fleeing their villages to avoid joining al Shabaab.
The al Shaabab’s source of recruits has depleted greatly since the infighting that seen foreign fighters returning to their native countries or defecting to the Somali government for fear of being killed on suspicion of being spies.
The al Shabaab are also seeking to forcefully recruit teenagers in former emir, Mukhtar Robow’s backyard. Intelligence reports have indicated that Robow could return to Bakool to fight the militants and the as such causing the fighters to be afraid. The fact that Robow is working with the government has instilled fear among the militants and as such, they are seeking to increase their numbers by any means necessary.
However, teenagers in the area have exhibited high levels of courage and as such have sought refuge instead of joining the ranks. One fleeing teens said that he would rather be a refugee that join the violent group that has stalled development in the area by interfering with the future of young guys.
The Bay region government with the help of AMISOM troops has invested in educating the youth in the area against violent extremism and radicalization. Clan and school leaders have invested a lot of time and finances in ensuring that the teenagers do not join the ranks of the Al Shabaab.