Somalia’s government and judicial system have proved incapable of striking at sources of funding for Al-Shabaab’s operations, the United States said on Thursday.
“Somalia lacks the funding and capacity to investigate and prosecute incidents of terrorism financing,” the State Department observed in its country-by-country report on terrorist activities last year.
“The judicial system remained weak and underdeveloped, suffering from minimal inter-agency coordination and a lack of capacity and technical expertise,” the report added in its generally negative assessment of Somalia’s own ability to combat Al-Shabaab.
“Ministries responsible for drafting and submitting legislation to Parliament lacked the capacity to draft comprehensive counter-terrorism laws,” the US stated.
Somalia is also following “an outdated penal code” that was last revised in 1962, the report noted.
Shabaab makes money by illegally producing and exporting charcoal and sugar and by taxing residents and businesses in areas under its control, the State Department said.
The Somali diaspora reportedly serves as another source of financing.
The report suggests that Shabaab’s status as a “multi-clan entity” enables it to garner donations from a range of Somalis living abroad.
“The donations are not always intended to support terrorism, however, but also to support family members,” the report adds.
The new edition of “Country Reports on Terrorism” cites a United Nations finding of a decline in Shabaab’s revenues from charcoal smuggling.
But the group may still have made as much as $15 million through charcoal sales in 2014, the US noted.
And despite any losses of funding, Shabaab has received “enough income to launch multiple attacks per week in Mogadishu, launch complex attacks against Amisom bases and expand operations against civilian aviation targets,” the State Department said.
The US estimates that Shabaab has “several thousand members, including a small cadre of foreign fighters.”
It isn’t difficult for Shabaab militants to enter and leave Somalia, the report indicates.
“Somalia has porous borders, and most countries do not recognise Somali identity documents,” the US points out.
The country thus has “little-to-no travel document security,” nor does it maintain a terrorist screening watch-list, the report says. Somalia also lacks biographic and biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry.
The federal government based in Mogadishu did make some strides last year in its counter-terrorism capabilities, the report acknowledges.
Efforts were made to improve security in the capital city while known locations of weapons caches in homes and businesses were targeted by security personnel, the US reported.