UN: Islamic State growing in Somalia
The Islamic State’s presence in Somalia is growing, according to a new report from the United Nations.
The UN says a faction of the Islamist militant group has grown significantly over the past year, receiving funds from Syria and Iraq. The group is estimated to have grown from a few dozen members to as many as 200 over the last year, carrying out a number of attacks in Puntland.
Growing IS presence in Somalia
Somalia’s struggles against terrorist group Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, are well documented. However, the number of militants who associate themselves with the Islamic State is growing in the country, which puts a new angle on Somalia’s fight against terrorism.
Western powers also fear that IS could spread further in Africa after largely being pushed out of the Middle East. Somalia’s IS faction was targeted by a US drone strike earlier this month – the first time the Islamic State has been targeted by a US operation in the Horn of Africa.
Fears of a new stronghold in Somalia
The UN echoes fears from the US and other international powers that Somalia could be used to establish a new stronghold for the Islamic State as fighters are pushed out of Syria and Iraq.
Somalia is already struggling to cope with its ongoing battle against Al-Shabaab and faces the prospect of losing AMISOM troops that have aided the government in recent years. Somalia’s army is yet to prove it can handle the fight against Al-Shabaab alone and a surge of foreign IS fighters flocking to the country would make the challenge exponentially more difficult.
Featured image: By thierry ehrmann – https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/16577868748, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46405403