Al Shabaab is still strong enough to plan and carry out terror attacks, but the Islamic radical organization is much weaker than it was two years ago and undergoing something of an internal civil war. Government security forces are also suffering from internal bickering. Most of this has to do with bad behavior. Soldiers and police have been accused of rape, robbery and extortion. Two weeks ago there were incidents of two groups of soldiers fighting each other over who should be able to extort money in an area. At least two soldiers were killed in that incident. Corruption has long been the major flaw in Somali culture and the inability to cope with this has turned Somalia into one of the poorest and violent countries on the planet.
The Somali pirates are also having a bad year. Pirate attacks were down 70 percent last year but all the security measures have increased global shipping costs by $18 billion. That’s a tiny slice of worldwide shipping expenses, but is a tax everyone who depends on maritime transportation pays.
The final battles in the anti-piracy campaign must be fought on land, by creating police forces throughout Somalia that can shut down coastal towns that support pirates (most of these are now in Puntland) and keep the pirates from reestablishing these sanctuaries (that give the pirates a place to park the captured ships until a multi-million dollar ransom can be negotiated). Puntland is asking for help (from anyone, including the Somali government) in dealing with an al Shabaab infestation along its hilly southern border with Somalia. The Puntland government is less inclined to ask for help to deal with the pirate gangs, some of them run by local warlords with a reputation of taking bloody revenge on those that threaten their economic interests. Since 2005 the Somali pirates have captured 149 ships and obtained over $300 million in ransom. No ships have been taken this year and only one captured ship is still awaiting ransom. Many pirate gangs have disbanded in the last year, but several remain active.
April 15, 2013: In the wake of yesterday’s terrorist attack in Mogadishu, police carried out numerous raids in the city and arrested over 400 suspects found in neighborhoods al Shabaab was suspected of having safe houses or supporters.
April 14, 2013: Nine al Shabaab terrorists attacked a court compound in Mogadishu. While all the attackers were killed (six by their bomb vests, three by police), 29 civilians died before it was all over.
April 8, 2013: The U.S. has agreed to resume military aid (equipment, weapons and training) to Somalia.
April 7, 2013: In central Somalia al Shabaab killed a 22 year old woman after accusing her of spying on them.
April 6, 2013: Ibrahim Haji Jama Meeaad, a Somali Islamic terrorists who was a founding member of al Shabaab, posted an open letter to al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri asking for assistance in removing Ahmed Abdi Godane as leader of al Shabaab. Meeaad lists numerous mistakes Godane has made. The worst of these is running al Shabaab like a paranoid dictator, imprisoning or killing anyone who disagrees with him. Meeaad admits that al Shabaab has suffered massive defeats in the last two years and that this will not be reversed until Godane is replaced. Neither al Qaeda nor Zawahiri have responded openly. Pro-terrorist Internet sites, however, lit up with discussion of the criticism, with most fanboys (and a few fangirls) demanding that something be done (one way or the other). The impact of this al Shabaab collapse is being felt in the Somali exile community. Al Shabaab is no longer able to obtain much money, or recruits from these expatriate Somalis. Al Shabaab has lost its luster.