Counter-Terrorism: Shutting Down The Shake Down

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October 18, 2012: As the Somali Islamic terrorist group al Shabaab is taken apart by peacekeepers and local troops in Somalia, its overseas supporters (among Somali expatriates) are being arrested and prosecuted in larger numbers. This effort against al Shabaab supporters in Europe and North America cut off a major source of cash and recruits (usually to be suicide bombers) for al Shabaab. Young Somali men living outside the country were often easy prey for recruiters and older Somali exiles could be persuaded (sometimes with threats against kin still in Somalia) to be generous with cash contributions.

Because expatriate Somalis rarely discuss their business with non-Somalis, all this al Shabaab activity did not become apparent until government officials began to notice that many of these young male Somalis had disappeared. This caught the attention of police departments that were monitoring Somali gangs. These gangs tended to prey upon other Somalis but sometimes went after non-Somalis as well. Investigating this gang activity revealed the missing Somalis and the al Shabaab fund raising methods.

Over the last few years, as investigations led to arrests, indictments, prosecutions, and convictions a lot more detail of this al Shabaab activity came out. The al Shabaab network in North America and Europe was far more extensive than anyone suspected.

 

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