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Somalia: Hormuud Telecom and the Al-Shabaab Resurgence

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Saturday November 02, 2019 - 05:40:46 in Latest News by Super Admin
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    Somalia: Hormuud Telecom and the Al-Shabaab Resurgence

    As of August 2019, Hormuud Telecom had grown to become the largest and most influential telecommunications company in Somalia with thousands of shareholders, employees and huge assets. It was founded in April of 2002 by Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale,

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As of August 2019, Hormuud Telecom had grown to become the largest and most influential telecommunications company in Somalia with thousands of shareholders, employees and huge assets. It was founded in April of 2002 by Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale, a key leader in the defunct Somali Islamic Courts Union (ICU) whose most radical elements eventually formed the Al-Shabaab. Since then, Hormuud entrepreneurs and managers have been badly split between those adhering to moderate business style, norms and ethos and those devoted to the goals of radical political Islam.
Figure 1: Al-Shabaab Fighters display their weapons
3 Mohammad Tawhidi, "Ilhan Omar Calls for the Protection of a Notorious Terrorist
Organization,” The Times of Israel, August 29, 2019; retrieved on September 9, 2019.
4 "Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea,” UNSC Reports, 18 July, 2011, Accessed
September 8, 2019.
5 This conclusion derives from International Policy Group’s Interviews with the
company’s officials and managers, August-September 2019.
1 Introduction: 
"They Sow the Wind”
Reaping the Whirlwind
Significantly, in nearly two decades, Hormuud has evolved into an
unique case of corporate capture by a private company which wields
immense influence on the Government and public institutions in
Somalia within the context of a fragile country controlled largely
by terrorist organizations.
6- In the wake of the entry of Kenyan
military forces into southern Somalia in October 2011, Al-Shabaab
has tightened its grip on Hormuud. It has used extreme force to
get Hormuud to kowtow to its "guidelines”, pay taxes and allow its
agents access to the company’s technology for counter-intelligence
operations.
Corporate Capture in Terrorist Zones: The result is a symbiotic relation
between Hormuud and Al-Shabaab. The company has disrupted
telephone services during Al-Shabaab attacks against pro-Somali
government forces while its technology has supported the "efficient
functioning of al-Shabaab’s financial system, greatly enhancing its
efficiency in managing its huge economic empire and contributing
to its resurgence.
7 - According to sources in the Somali government
intelligence agency, Hormuud today is the greatest financier of AlShabaab, paying an estimated $200,000 every month to the group.
This, in turn, has enabled the company to penetrate and set business
in areas under Al-Shabaab control, enjoying complete monopoly
of mobile communication services under the protection of the
militants.
While this strategy has enhanced Hormuud’s revenue generation in a
terrorist enclave, it exemplifies a negative business expansion model,
6 "Somalia: Government Condemns Attack on Hormuud Telecom’s Mast,” All Africa,
August 25, 2019; retrieved on September 8, 2019.
7 Mohammad Tawhidi, "NEW: Ilhan Omar Calls for the Protection of a Notorious
TERRORIST Organization,” The Times of Israel, August 29, 2019; retrieved on
September 9, 2019.
Hormuud Entrepreneurs and the Al-Shabaab Resurgence
3 which has dented its reputation.
8 - Collaboration with Al-Shabaab has
also exposed the company and its employees to retaliatory attacks
from Al-Shabaab’s splinter groups and rival terrorist syndicates such
as ISIS. Hormuud’s corporate capture and influence in Villa Somalia,
its interest to expand business into Southern Somalia and Northern
Kenya and its symbiotic relation with Al-Shabaab provide the larger
context of its blistering campaign against African peace-keepers.
War on African Peacekeepers: In late August 2019, ahead of the elections
in Jubland, rightly described as "a silent war between the Somalia
Federal government9
, Jubaland state, Qatar, UAE, Ethiopia and Kenya
over who will be the next president” of Somalia’s richest state,
Hormuud launched its campaign against the African peace-keepers,
openly supporting the agenda of Villa Somalia10. Also setting the
context for Hormuud’s campaign was the frosty diplomatic relations
between Kenya and Somalia since February 2019 over a disputed
common maritime border
in the Indian Ocean.
In August, Hormuud
Telecom alleged that
that contingents of the
Kenya Defense Forces in
AMISOM were directly
or indirectly involved in
bombing and destroying
8 "Telecom’s Economic Terrorism Along Kenyan Border Targeting Safaricom Plc,”
Suna Times, September 06, 2019, retrieved on September 10, 2019.
9 The Federal Government of President Abdullahi Farmajo wanted to replace his archrival, the incumbent President of Jubaland, Sheikh Ahmed Madobe, with a candidate
handpicked by Villa Somalia.
10 Hassan Mohamed, "All eyes on Jubaland State elections in Somalia—Siasa”,
the Star (Nairobi), August 10, 2019, accessed September 22, 2019.
Figure 2: Hormuud Building in Somalia
4 its masts Somalia.
11 Hard on the heels of this claim, the Federal
Government of Somalia condemned alleged attack by the Kenya
Defense Forces troops on the company in a statement on August
25, 2019. Highlighting the reach of Harmuud’s corporate strategies,
its officials travelled to Washington and enlisted United States
Congresswoman of Somali origins, Ilhan Omar, in its campaign
against African peace keepers, who tweeted her support for the
company on August 25, 2019. But the campaign backfired. Ilhan’s
publicly declared support drew media attention to a private company
that a 2018 UN Security Council report revealed was founded by
"one of Al-Shabaab’s "chief financiers.”12 Two of the company’s
employees were prosecuted for facilitating the most deadly terrorist
attack in Somalia’s history on October 14, 201713 by allowing cars
loaded with bombs to enter through the Sinka Dheere checkpoint,
in the outskirts of Mogadishu.14
Intelligence reports have also linked Hormuud Telecom with the
the Al-Shabaab attack on Dusit D2 complex in Nairobi on January
16, 2019, using its business office along Ring-Road, Kileleshwa area
(about 100 meters from Dusit D2 building) to provide logistical
and operational support to the attackers.15 The reports also revealed
11 " Telecom’s Economic Terrorism Along Kenyan Border Targeting Safaricom Plc,”
Suna Times, September 06, 2019; accessed September 12, 2019.
12 Ilhan Omar Tweets Support for One of Al-Shabaab’s ‘Chief Financiers’, The
Minnesota Sun, September 6, 2019
13 United Nations Security Council Report, November 7, 2018.
14 Mohammad Tawhidi, "NEW: Ilhan Omar Calls for the Protection of a Notorious
TERRORIST Organization,” The Times of Israel, August 29, 2019; retrieved on
September 9, 2019.
15 Strategic Intelligence, " Telecom Destroys 13th Kenya’s Safaricom BTS Mast Site,
was Involved in Dusit D2 Terrorist Attack,” September 2019.
Hormuud Entrepreneurs and the Al-Shabaab Resurgence
5
that Hormuud telecom sponsored Al-Shabaab operatives16 to carry
out attacks and destroyed 13 base station masts at the Safaricom
telecommunications company’s site at Jabir in Mandera County
along Kenya-Somalia border,17 perceived as retaliation against against
AMISOM forces for allegedly destroying its masts in Gedo region.
The company was also accused of using Al-Shabaab militants as part
of its strategy to gain complete monopoly in Somalia and to shut out
Kenyan telecommunication companies 50 Kilometres into NorthEastern Kenya.18
This report traces the rise of Hormuud and its entrepreneurs in
Somalia’s telecommunication market within the wider context of AlShabaab terrorist’s expanding economic empire. The report examines
Hormuud’s business approach based on a symbiotic relation with
Al-Shabaab, which has made possible its corporate capture of
successful governments in Villa Somalia and enhances its influence
within Somalia and its powerful diaspora. The report documents the
epic display of strategy and power by Somalia’s telecommunication
giant in its campaign against the African peace-keepers in Jubaland
State, which backfired and exposed the company to international
scrutiny. The report builds on a careful review of diverse sources
and extensive interviews carried out over the August- September
period the Horn of Africa regions with key players in Somalia.
16 On September 8, 2019, Harmuud is alleged to have paid Al-Shabaab operatives
an estimated US$3 million (approximately Sh300 million) to facilitate their operations.
See, Walter Menya, "Somali telco behind mast attacks, report says,” Daily Nation,
September 8, 2019; retrieved on September 9, 2019.
17 "Telecom Destroys 13th Kenya’s Safaricom BTS Mast Site, was Involved in Dusit
D2 Terrorist Attack,” Strategic Intelligence, September 6, 2019, Accessed September
9, 2019.
18 "Hormuud Telecom Destroys 13th Kenya’s Safaricom BTS Mast Site, was Involved
in Dusit D2 Terrorist Attack,” 
Reaping the Whirlwind



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