UN votes to crack down on Somalia’s al-Shabab extremists

The U.N. Security Council voted Thursday to prevent the sale or shipment to Somalia of components of improvised explosive devices if there is “significant risk” they may be used to manufacture the often deadly devices that are increasingly being used in attacks by al-Shabab extremists.

It also urged the Somali government to keep cracking down on the militant group´s illegal financing methods that U.N. experts estimate raised over $21 million last year.

The resolution, adopted by a 13-0 vote with Russia and China abstaining, reaffirmed the arms embargo on Somalia and banned the resale or transfer of any weapons or military equipment sold or supplied to help develop Somalia´s National Security Forces and security sector.

Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab remains the most active and resilient extremist group in Africa, controlling parts of southern and central Somalia and often targeting checkpoints and other high-profile areas in the capital, Mogadishu. It has fired several mortars this year at the heavily defended international airport, where the U.S. Embassy and other missions are located.

In their latest report, experts monitoring the arms embargo and other sanctions against Somalia said: “The threat posed by al-Shabab to peace, security and stability in Somalia goes beyond the impact of the group´s conventional military action and asymmetric warfare to include sophisticated extortion and `taxation´ systems, child recruitment practices and an effective propaganda machine.”

The panel said al-Shabab raised more than the $21 million it spent last year on fighters, weapons and intelligence. Its investigation found the extremist group generated approximately $13 million in just four case studies — a “taxation” checkpoint in Lower Juba, its extortion of businesses in Kismayo, two bank accounts associated with the group´s collection of taxes on imports into the port in Mogadishu, and “zakat” — an annual religious obligation.

The resolution adopted by the Security Council “notes with concern al-Shabab´s ability to generate revenue and launder, store and transfer resources.”

It calls on the Somali government “to continue working with Somali financial authorities, private sector financial institutions and the international community to identify, assess and mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing risks.” It encouraged the government to consider a national identification program to help reduce the risks.

The council condemned al-Shabab attacks in Somalia and beyond, saying the group “continues to pose a serious threat to the peace, security and stability of Somalia and the region, particularly through its increased use of improvised explosive devices.” It also expressed “grave concern” at the presence of affiliates linked to the Islamic State extremist group in Somalia.