The Core of the Problem

By James Hall

James Hall is the founding Editor of Africa Conflict Monitor. Arriving in Swaziland from his native U.S. in the 1980s, Hall has written six books on African subjects and over 6,000 articles for international publications, preferring to tell African stories from the inside looking around rather than from the outside looking in. Follow him on Twitter @hallaboutafrica.

The Somalia based terror group al-Shabaab has “diversified its economy” to ensure a constant income, from kidnapping for ransom and confiscating food and aid sent to rural populations, to forcing households to have expatriate family members send remittances from abroad to al-Shabaab’s coffers.  Some of the group’s most notable financial sources include the taxation of Somalia’s charcoal industry and currently the extortion of local farmers.

The terror group used its strong-arm tactics to extort around 30 percent of the charcoal trade while controlling the port city Kismayo from 2008 to 2012 and reaped the benefits of taxing charcoal transit routes and exports. Although an international coalition of forces have pushed al-Shabaab out of several Somali cities and ports, the group still retains a presence in approximately one-third of the country. .

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