Security Sector Program of IGAD said that Al-Shabaab has become a transnational security threat in the East Africa region.
In a new report titled “Al-Shabaab as a Transnational Security Treat”, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) labeled Al-Shabaab as a threat to the wider Horn and East African Region.
Al-Shabaab, the Islamic militant group, had long been perceived as merely a Somali-organization.
“Al-Shabaab is clearly no longer an exclusively Somali problem, and requires a concerted international response,” the new report read.
In his opening remark, Commander Abebe, Muluneh, director of IGAD Security Sector Program (SSP), urged IGAD member States to establish a transnational security threat initiative to promote cooperation and coordination within the sub-region.
“Al-Shabaab has aspired to become a truly regional organization, with membership and horizons that transcend national borders,” the report added,.
Accordingly, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the Horn of Africa, has a presence in five countries: Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Tanzania and Uganda. It also stated that the group is working hard to extend its tentacles across the region. This is the first time when IGAD officially placed Tanzania together with other countries of the region that are facing a serious threat from Al-Shabaab.
It expressed its concern that the group is already recruiting young people in the member states.
The report also stated that this determined expansion is mainly the result of the strategic direction adopted by its former leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, and his successor, Ahmed Diiriye, who currently heads the movement.
“In late 2013, Godane re-organized Al-Shabaab’s military wing to include two transnational units: one, the Jaysh Ayman, directed against Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, and another dedicated to operations against Ethiopia,” IGAD stated. While the group has yet to mount an effective operation in Ethiopia, the report accused the Jaysh Ayman for launching a series of cross-border attacks into Kenya in 2014.
An attack in Kenya’s Garissa University College occurred a little over a year ago and resulted in the loss of 148 lives including 142 students. The attack was the second bloodiest in Kenya since Al-Qaeda bombed the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998, killing 213 people.
There was an attempted suicide bombing of a football match in Addis Ababa in October
2013. Also just after a year, there was another attempt in the same city. That time apparently targeting a busy shopping mall, but the plot was detected and foiled.
IGAD’s Security Sector Program (SSP) in collaboration with Sahan Foundation officially launched and released the study and report on Al-Shabaab. The report has provided a series of recommendations to be taken by IGAD member states and other stakeholders in order to mitigate the threat posed by Al-Shabaab.
Subsequent to the submission of the report, on May 2016, IGAD commissioned a study on “Mapping Jihadist Organizations and Influences in the IGAD Region”, which is going to be reported to the UNSC Committee on Eritrea and Somalia.
High-level representatives of IGAD member states and ambassadors were present during the launching ceremony.
The Islamic militant group has been fighting with Somali security forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).