Somalia based telecom company allegedly financing terror group to destroy communication masts in Kenya to increase its market share

Author: Walter Menya, Daily Nation (Kenya), Published on: 9 September 2019

"Somali telco behind mast attacks, report says"

A Somali telecommunication company could be behind the recent surge in attacks on Kenyan communication masts, a confidential security report states. “The telco wants to have complete monopoly in Somalia along the Kenyan border and 50 kilometres into Kenya in order to shut out Kenyan telcos,” the report states. In return for the attacks on the masts by the militants and other forms of support, the company is alleged to be paying al-Shabaab up to US$3 million (approximately Sh300 million), which enables the terror group to finance its operations. “Additionally, the attacks on the masts by al-Shabaab are part of a plot to ensure that the group advances its terrorist agenda. The terror group is trying to establish a pseudo-caliphate in north-eastern Kenya and Somalia,” the report adds. So far this year, over eight communication masts have been destroyed by the militants, leaving the local communities and security personnel in a communication blackout.

According to the latest report, the money the telco pays al-Shabaab is also meant to allow them gain access to areas under the control of the terror group. “The attacks on the Kenyan masts by al-Shabaab are seen as a plot by the militant group to ensure that the Somali telco has monopoly over communication in the border regions including inside Kenya to enable the company thrive and lead to an increase in monies paid to al-Shabaab. The destruction is also meant to ensure that security agencies do not communicate and is also meant to deny members of the public the ability to communicate and transact using Kenyan telcos,” the report states.

Security sources further indicate that, apart from offering financial support for terrorist activities, the Somali company also uses its money remittance platform in Somalia to run al-Shabaab’s day-to-day operations including the collection of taxes, commonly known as Zakat. “Zakat collected in areas located close to the border is remitted through the platform to al-Shabaab headquarters in Jilib,” the report states.

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