Somalia : Al-Shabaab are repeat offenders, our rage can help defeat them


EDITORIAL- The attack on last Saturday by Al-Shabaab militants has rightly angered anyone sympathetic to peace and security. It was just one of those reminders that there is an enemy whose shape and form keep changing, but the motives are consistently evil.

That it happened as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud gathered senior officials at various government levels to discuss security matters is just an indicator that we will be in a marathon, not a sprint, to defeat al-Shabaab.

So why should anyone care? First, al-Shabaab are repeat offenders. They deserve no sympathy from us. Anytime they launch an explosion or shooters raid a place reminds us of their potential to harm.

Recently, Somalis have registered significant success against al-Shabaab militants. Working with the Somali national army, the volunteer vigilante groups helped the forces push the Shabaabs to the wall. But this has been mostly only in the villages where lifestyle and economic activities seem homogenous.

In urban areas like Mogadishu, Shabaabs seem to thrive. Indeed the junction in Mogadishu, where the explosions went off, had seen a horrific incident in October 2017, where an al-Shabaab car bomb killed more than 570 people. It is no wonder that some Somalis refer to this incident as the ‘9/11’ of Somalia, equating it to the September 11, 2001 attack on the US by al-Qaeda. On Saturday, al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, which means they should be seen in the same light as the global terror group.

To honor all innocent lives ended by al-Shabaab, let us not stop the momentum. We must pick anything available and throw it at the group. We must fight them with the gun, cut off links to the outside world channeling illegal weapons to the group and support any efforts to dissuade recruits from joining al-Shabaab.

We agree with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud that the fight against al-Shabaab should have no reverse gear. But we must know that repeat offender can commit crimes anywhere as long as surveillance is lax.

As we target them in the villages, we must do the same in towns. The scorch-earth policy of al-Shabaab means giving them room will always bring us deadly consequences. The areas we liberate must quickly be given a better feel of being under a formal government. And those who help tame the group must be encouraged, even rewarded.

Victory against al-Shabaab will take our sweat, blood, and resources. Yet it will not last a day or two to be achieved. It might as well punctuate our lifestyle. But as long as they keep repeating and remain unrepentant, al-Shabaab should be paid with the same coin: The one they recognize, that of no mercy.


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