On behalf of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia, and in accordance with paragraph 54 of Security Council resolution 2444 (2018), I have the honour to transmit herewith the final report of the Panel of Experts on Somalia.
In this connection, the Committee would appreciate it if the present letter and the report were brought to the attention of the members of the Security Council and issued as a document of the Council.
(Signed) Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve
Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia
Letter dated 27 September 2019 from the Panel of Experts on Somalia addressed to the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia
In accordance with paragraph 54 of Security Council resolution 2444 (2018), we have the honour to transmit herewith the final report of the Panel of Experts on Somalia.
(Signed) Jay Bahadur
Panel of Experts on Somalia
(Signed) Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker
(Signed) Nazanine Moshiri
Armed groups expert
(Signed) Brian O’Sullivan
Armed groups/natural resources expert
(Signed) Matthew Rosbottom
(Signed) Richard Zabot
During the first reporting period of the Panel of Experts on Somalia, the use by Al-Shabaab of improvised explosive devices reached its greatest extent in Somali history, with a year-on-year increase of approximately one third. Post-blast chemical analyses obtained by the Panel provided definitive evidence for the first time that Al-Shabaab had been manufacturing its own home-made explosives since at least July 2017, and likely before then. Al-Shabaab previously relied on military grade explosives, obtained principally from explosive remnants of war and munitions captured from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), to construct improvised explosive devices; the manufacture of home-made explosives means that the group may now have access to far more readily available inputs for the construction of such devices.
Nor is money a limiting factor for Al-Shabaab. A report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea in 2018 (S/2018/1002) highlighted the efficiency, geographical diversity, predictability and ruthlessness of Al-Shabaab’s mafia-style “taxation” system in southern and central Somalia. During the reporting period, the Panel identified a new trend in the expansion of Al-Shabaab’s revenue generation, namely the taxation of imports into Mogadishu port. Al-Shabaab’s ongoing ability to generate revenues in areas the group does not physically control explains, to a degree, its resilience in the face of increased security operations by the Federal Government of Somalia and airstrikes by the United States of America. Its ability to provide basic services, such as access to judicial recourse, may account for some of Al-Shabaab’s ongoing appeal in areas of Somalia where State institutions do not reach.
In 2019, Al-Shabaab’s infiltration of Federal Government institutions reached as high as the Benadir Regional Administration when, on 24 July, an Al-Shabaab suicide bomber detonated herself at its headquarters in Mogadishu. The Mayor of Mogadishu, Abdirahman Omar Osman “Yarisow”, and at least nine others, were killed. It later emerged that the suicide bomber, as well as an accomplice, had both been employees of the Benadir Regional Administration under falsified identities.
Al-Shabaab also remains a potent threat to regional peace and security. On 15 January 2019, Al-Shabaab carried out its first major attack in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi since 2013, in an assault on the DusitD2 Hotel complex that left 21 people dead. The DusitD2 operation was notable for the wide discretion and autonomy given to the Kenyan cell leader, including the selection of the target. The Panel’s investigation into the attack also revealed an expansive and well-resourced Al-Shabaab network in the region aimed at kidnapping foreign nationals.
Towards the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) faction in Somalia engaged in an armed struggle, within both the ISIL faction’s heartland in Puntland and in Mogadishu. In Puntland, the faction underwent a violent change of leadership towards the end of 2018, and subsequently began a concerted campaign to extort “taxes” from Puntland-based businesses, employing tactics similar to those of Al-Shabaab. Most significantly, and for the first time since its establishment in 2015, the ISIL faction in Somalia was linked to a planned terror attack in another country. In December 2018, Italian authorities arrested a Somali national, Omar Moshin Ibrahim, in Bari, Italy, in connection with an ISIL plot to bomb St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on 25 December, Christmas Day. Investigations by the Panel, with assistance from the Government of Italy, have uncovered connections between Ibrahim and ISIL elements in Somalia, Kenya and Libya.
A deterioration in relations between the Federal Government of Somalia and the federal member states during the reporting period represented a further threat to stability in Somalia. Tensions between the centre and the regions were exacerbated by attempts by the Federal Government to direct the outcomes of federal member state electoral processes in Jubbaland, Puntland and, most notably, in South-West State in December 2018. The decision by the Federal Government to arrest a South-West State presidential candidate, Mukhtar Robow, in the run-up to the electoral process resulted in widespread protests in Baidoa in December 2018, during which 15 civilians were killed by regional security forces. The electoral process was also marred by accusations of bribery, with members of the South-West State regional Parliament receiving between $20,000 and $30,000 to elect a preferred candidate. The Panel also obtained evidence that, prior to the South-West State election, several hundred thousand dollars were transferred to a South-West State cabinet official by a Federal Government financial clerk.
The breakdown in dialogue between the Federal Government and federal member states on key security matters also had an impact on the implementation of the country’s National Security Architecture as well as the Transition Plan, which aims for the handover of security responsibilities from AMISOM to Somali security forces by 2021. However, some initial goals of the Transition Plan have been achieved, such as the Somali National Army capturing the Lower Shabelle towns of Sabiid, Anole, Barire, and Awdheegle from Al-Shabaab – with assistance from AMISOM and the United States military – during the period from April to August 2019.
A further development on the path to preparing Federal Government security forces to assume responsibilities from AMISOM was the biometric registration of the entire Somali National Army, the first phase of which the Federal Government announced it had completed by March 2019. However, three case studies conducted by the Panel of the registration of hundreds of Somali National Army soldiers in Baidoa and Mogadishu concluded that fewer than half of those who appeared on Army registration documents obtained by the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea in 2017 and 2018 were captured in the biometric registration of 2019. Moreover, fewer than one fifth of Somali National Army sector 60 soldiers who had been issued Federal Government-marked weapons in late 2017 appeared on the 2019 biometric registration roll, raising questions as to why the Federal Government of Somalia had provided arms to individuals who were no longer considered members of the security forces one year later. The Panel was unable to determine the whereabouts of the former soldiers or of the weapons in their possession.
The Federal Government made significant progress in the field of public financial management, having completed three staff-monitored programmes of the International Monetary Fund, a series of technical benchmarks aimed at improving domestic revenue generation and, eventually, enabling debt relief and access to international borrowing markets. Among potential revenue streams highlighted by the programmes was the direct collection of air navigation charges, a responsibility assumed by the Federal Government following the handover from the International Civil Aviation Organization in June 2019. An investigation by the Panel uncovered financial irregularities within the Somali Civil Aviation and Meteorological Authority in relation to the collection of existing air navigation arrears, in which the Authority wrote off a $5.8 million debt owed by Jubba Airways Limited without collecting the funds from the airline.