By Marc Engelhardt, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Bettina Rühl, Assia Shidane
13 December 2022
When the heavily armed Islamists stormed the hotel in the Somali capital, the government officials inside fled through the windows. Al-Shabaab fighters held around 60 people hostage for more than 12 hours. Residents reported explosions and gunfire. By the end, the attackers, one police officer and eight civilians were dead. The attack at the end of November is only one of a number of Al-Shabaab attacks in recent months. One month earlier, 120 people died after Islamists detonated car bombs outside the Ministry of Education. The government has declared war on Al-Shabaab. After a particularly violent attack that left 587 people dead in 2017, then President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announced that he would defeat Al-Shabaab across the whole country. His successor Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared shortly after his election in August of this year that he is planning an “all-out war” against the terrorists, including bombardments as well as ground and air attacks. Indeed, the Somali army has just recaptured a strategically important town. That, however, is not the whole truth, as a CORRECTIV investigation reveals. If what the involved parties report is true, then those in power and the terrorists have common interests, a dirty business in which both sides make money: the multi-million dollar trade in charcoal produced from the rapidly dwindling acacia forests in the Sahel region of the Horn of Africa and then exported abroad. When confronted with these allegations, the Somali Ministry of Information did not react to the results of our investigation.