This is a press conference by the Wadajir Party to discuss the situation in the country, especially on security, political process and the economy.
We would like to specifically focus on the security situation which has been deteriorating these days and looks to be running out of control. We will highlight Al-Shabaab’s growing influence and how the group has infiltrated security agencies, with the power to do whatever they want wherever they want. They tax, with will, key sources of income in the country.
These are some of the issues we would like to discuss today.
As you know, Al-Shabaab has deeply infiltrated government agencies, especially security and financial agencies in the country. We are all aware that Al-Shabaab collects taxes from various businesses belonging to the Somali public, as well as government-controlled establishments such as the port [of Mogadishu].
You are aware that Al-Shabaab collects taxes from every container at the port. We have information that [Al-Shabaab] collects a tax of $160 dollar per every 40ft container and $100 dollars per 20ft container.
Al-Shabaab is also well-informed on activities of the port, with the ability to know about the commodities that come into port.
There are a number of companies involved with operations at the port, such as the companies that load cargo, the Turkish company Albayrak which controls the port and which unloads the cargo that comes into port, and the companies that take the cargo off the port. Al-Shabaab has the bills of each of these companies.
We have Somali traders who were surprised to find that Al-Shabaab had the details of their commodities when they were paying tax to the group. Al-Shabaab is in a level where in Mubarak village, every trader at the port has a file and a registration number. It is quite shocking.
It collects domestic revenue from agricultural produce such as export lemons and export livestock. It takes a five percent commission from every contract in the town. There is no contract registration office that can sell land without Al-Shabaab getting its cut.
Al-Shabaab has succeeded in divertering transport vehicles from roads controlled by the government to their areas, to make sure that it is the only one getting the tax. It charges NGOs operating in the country a 30 per cent tax to carry out their activities.
Al-Shabaab recently summoned elders selecting parliamentarians and demanded from each of them what they call repentance of one AK-47 riffle and four magazine pouches. The group enters into agreements with various clans in the country. They have informations of banks and money transfer agencies.
We have information that, whereas Al-Shabaab in the past used to threaten and kill people, these days it buys people’s loyalties using the money they get from the aforementioned sources. Al-Shabaab gets 20-30 million [US Dollars] in revenue every month.
We know that Somali traders had complained to the government about this and the government did nothing. They do not even hide the numbers they used to call people from. These numbers have been taken the government and no action was taken.
Traders doing registration in Mubarak go through government checkpoints, and nothing is being done.
It makes you wonder if there is understanding between Al-Shabaab and the government, or whether the government is really that incompetent and weak to let Al-Shabaab run the country.
The late Banadir governor, may Allah have mercy on him, was not killed in Wardhigley as he met community members, he was not killed playing at sports field in Howlwadaag. Yarisow was an active man who was always in the community, but for all that he was killed inside the headquarters of the region. That is a challenge. Al-Shabaab is targeting people at places that were supposed to be the safest.
All this is happening because the government does not have a strategy to fight Al-Shabaab. It has no clue on how to face Al-Shabaab. The government is doing nothing about the unrelenting pressure from the enemy that is massacring the best of our community.
The government is busy on trivial political maneuvers such as fighting politicians, weakening the parliament and destroying regional states. It is not focusing on task entrusted to it by the Somali people.
We therefore urge the Somali people to open their eyes and see that the enemy massacring them is no worse than the one holding them down. Government leaders should know they cannot fight this enemy through parties, ceremonies and dinner banquets. This enemy is massacring our people and to fight it you need strategy, focus and leadership.
The people are ready to support you, we are ready to support you, regional states are ready to stand by you, but the issues you are focusing on are not those needed to lead this country.
We have a duty to give the Somali people insight on what is going on.
Our Prophet, peace be upon him, said that “A leader lies not to his people”. It is not good to distract the Somali people with delusion and drama. I heard one of the government ministers saying that security was guaranteed even as we buried the governor.