Yasmin Hamdy Abu Aisha
Iran’s support for terrorist organizations in general and extremist groups in Africa in particular has not received sufficient media coverage.
The media coverage should expose the extent of Tehran’s involvement in funding and arming, and providing the logistical and intelligence services to a number of terrorist organizations in Africa.
In addition to Iran’s significant contribution to the emergence of al-Qaeda and facilitating the passage of its elements into the mountains of Kabul and Tora Bora, Tehran has supported regional and sub-regional organizations associated ideologically and organizationally with al-Qaeda, notably al-Mujahedeen Movement in Somalia, founded in the first decade of the new millennium.
Despite recent denials by Tehran that there is no connection with Al-Shabaab al-Mujahedeen in Somalia, the events of recent days revealed the deepen relationship between Iran and Al-Shabaab.
A recent UN report on sanctions against Somalia has recently been issued. A transit point for Somali-controlled coal exports and used to finance its terrorist activities.
Illegal coal trade
In 2012, the United Nations imposed a series of sanctions on Somalia and al-Shabaab to curb its terrorist activities in the Horn of Africa. These sanctions included Somali coal exports to cut off funding for the movement, but Iran took a different route by striking UN resolutions. Iran used the Somali coal to save al-Shabaab movement from its financial stigma.
Al-Shabaab has used Iranian territory as a transit point for illegal Somali coal exports since the last March. Iran has represented the main destination for unloaded cargo and the phrase “made in Iran” lapelled to suggest that these products are not Somali, to mislead international public opinion.
In addition to the phrase “made in Iran”, the movement also uses false certificates of origin for shipments to the Comoros, Ivory Coast and Ghana, to mislead and attempt to escape from the sanctions.
After the forgery of certificates of origin and manufacturing, the bags of coal carry on small commercial boats with the Iranian flag in preparation for their export to the countries of the world.
The movement gains a huge profit about $ 150 million, which contributes very much to the financing of the terrorist activities of the movement, compared to other sources of funding such as taxes imposed by the movement , that does not exceed 7.5 million dollars.
The relationship between Iran and Al-Shabaab depends on the principle of “win-win situation”, the two sides achieve mutual gains. As Iran supports Al-Shabaab, the movement also supports Iran, but differently. In September 2017 the movements has provided Iran with uranium from mines it controls, as part of its assistance in resuming its nuclear program.
After the Somali youth movement supplied Iran with uranium, Somali Foreign Minister Yousuf Jarad Omar sent a diplomatic message to the US ambassador in Somalia, “Stephen Schuerters” asking the administration of President Donald Trump for urgent US military action, to prevent the extremist youth movement to transfer more uranium from the areas they captured to Iran.