Al-Shabaab Money Launderers in the UAE and Eastern Africa

Al-Shabaab Money Launderers in the UAE and Eastern Africa

Al-Shabaab, abbreviation applied to describe terrorist groups with Somalia as their origin, is a well-known organization with money laundering connections among the illicit activities the group is involved in. The studies have rightfully named these informal financial mechanisms as not only Somalia, but also the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other parts of Eastern Africa. This review takes on the worrying situation of Al-Shabaab’s huge money laundering operations and uncovers the consequences for the area safety and balancing.

Al-Shabaab’s Financial Network:

 The money-laundering network of al-Shabaab goes beyond State borders and gravitates towards UAE’s scarce and fully equipped financial tools. The shadowy currencies operatives resort to the use of informal money transfer systems like “hawalas” to move funds quietly thereby enhancing detection evasion. In addition, the gang exploits organizations and charities with a legal status to misrepresent that their money comes from a legitimate source.

UAE’s Role and Response

UAE, especially Dubai, has been blacklisted for money laundering of a long time. The region serves as a clearing house for financial transactions in the Middle East and even beyond its borders. Despite the fact that Somalia has taken stringent anti-money laundering measures, loopholes and weak enforcement have enabled illegal actors, including likes of financiers to and for Al-Shabaab, to master control and manipulate the financial system of the country. The authorities in the UAE have gone a step beyond strengthening the AML laws, and coordinating with global partners to increase their effectiveness in counteract BF-T. Ranging from legal to regulatory setbacks, it is tough to monitor and intercept Al-Shabaab funds.

Eastern Africa’s Vulnerabilities

Similarly, besides the UAE, Al-Shabaab takes advantage of weaknesses in financial and financial systems of the Eastern Africa region for money laundering schemes. The Kenya, Tanzania, to Somalia that the jurisdiction is bad in terms of regulation framework and enforcement mechanism and thus the breaches of the AML guidelines. Al-Shabaab has exploited the existence of weak institutions, embezzlement, and porosity of borders and could it this to transfer resources and retain its operations.

International Cooperation and Countermeasures:

Overcoming the problem of Al-Shabaab’s monetary laundering can be achieved through a combined and broad-based measures. One of the most prominent issues is effective intelligence-sharing, carrying out capacity-building initiatives and applied targeted financial sanctions. Also, additional steps such as building the financial regulations, making the transactions publicly transparent, and establishing public-private partnerships are key to breaking Al-Shabaab’s financial networks and hindering the group to find the means to carry out its terrorist activities.

The growth of Al-Shabaab’s Money Laundering Networks in the United Arab Emirates and Eastern Africa presents a challenging national security threat that needs cooperated world efforts to solve. Through reinforcing collaboration among governments, financial institutions, and the law enforcement agencies, the international community can play a catalyst role in disrupting the financial networks of Al-Shabaab, reducing the said risks to security and stop wars and restore the peace and tranquility. Inadequate counter measures to terror financing by the already weak economies of Eastern Africa destabilize global efforts to combat terrorism and endanger the safety and better future of millions across the continent and beyond.

Photo Credit : BBC world News

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