Terrorism and the seas
East African Terror Groups Are Exploiting the Seas
By Isel Van Zyl and Tyler Lycan
Counter-terrorism strategies must consider how the coastline provides a financial and operational life-line to violent extremists.
Violent extremist groups operating in East Africa such as al-Shabaab, Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic State in East Africa Somalia (IS-Somalia) are increasingly making use of gaps in maritime security. Counter-terrorism strategies must target this aspect of their operations to stop extremists exploiting Africa’s coasts through attacks, smuggling and extortion.
Terror groups fund a portion of their activities through maritime smuggling that involves drugs, arms and human trafficking. Many violent extremists also exploit resources like sugar, cereals and textiles. Al-Shabaab has been involved in charcoal smuggling since 2011. The group earns an estimated US$7 million a year through maritime crime – enough to ensure its long-term survival and to fund its land-based terror attacks.