By Fuad Abdirahman
Kenya police officers manning the porous Kenya-Somalia border allowed and facilitated the entry of Al-Shabaab operatives – with the intention of launching a complex attack in Nairobi – into the country, The Somalia Report 2018, released in November by the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG), reveals.
The militiamen passed infiltrated the Somali police as well by paying bribes, the report says, and points to the “warm relationship” between the terrorists and Kenyan officials by consistently receiving money and other forms of gifts from the group.
Kenyan police arrested six members of the terror group tasked with orchestrating the attacks, while others are “still at large”.
“Police statements from the arrested Al-Shabaab operatives indicate they passed with little interference back and forth across the porous Kenya-Somalia border, facilitated by bribes to various security forces officials on both sides,” the report reveals.
The report also shows that the Somali government was unable to account for its weapons stock – four of AK 47-variant rifles seized were traced to arms imported by the federal government of Somalia. Also captured are five type-56 Chinese variants of the AK, 36-magazines of ammunitions and other explosive material.
While Kenyans officers have been killed while patrolling the border, it is bizarre that others in the Kenyan forces could collude with Al-Shabaab. The militia has carried a number of large scale attack in the country, killing hundreds of unarmed civilians in the country, most notable being Westgate in 2013, and Garissa University College attack in April 2015.
Were the six not apprehended and their plans thwarted, it would have been another major attack on a Kenyan installation. Their plan included suicide bombs. According to an intelligence brief, the cost of the botched operation was Sh5 million, with a small percentage of this money reserved for bribes to facilitate movement. The group also planned to buy a car to facilitate their work.
The relationship between the Kenyan officials and Al-Shabaab operatives not only involves bribes but also multi-million dollar trading in illegal charcoal. Specifically mentioned in this regard is the Kenya Defence Forces, which is accused of colluding with the terrorists to deal in the billion-shilling charcoal trade. In 2017 the Institute of Defence Analyses (IDA) stated that “Kenya, although formally a participant in Amisom, which operates in support of the Somali national government, is also complicit in support of trade that provides income to Al-Shabaab, its military opponent both inside Somalia and, increasingly, at home in Kenya.”
The same allegation is contained in a report reviewed by the National Security Council last month.
“Investigations by the Group have determined that these illicit charcoal exports have been taxed by the Jubaland administration at an average rate of more than Sh516 ($5) per bag, generating more than Sh1.54 billion ($15m) in annual revenue for Jubaland.”
For this year, the authors of the report say they have been denied to accesses to inspect port facilities controlled by the KDF in Kismayo, making it difficult to ascertain whether KDF is still a part of the illegal charcoal trade.