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While in 2014 all eyes have been on Islamic State, its rapid territorial gains across northern Syria and Iraq, and the extensive financial resources it has gathered, Al-Shabaab has also developed an impressive and, thus far, sustainable financing model that relies on the financial control and surveillance of cash flows, involving both domestic and external sources.
In 2011, Al-Shabaab’s annual revenue was in the region of $70–100 million per year. Despite military pressure and global efforts to starve it of financing, the group continues to operate effectively, allowing it to function as a quasi-government in the areas of Somalia that it controls.
The Role of Finance in Defeating Al-Shabaab offers detailed analysis of Al-Shabaab’s sources of revenue and recommends ways forward for using financial instruments to target and disrupt the group. As with Islamic State, undermining the financial management of Al-Shabaab and offering those people subject to its control better governance will be at the heart of the group’s ultimate failure and defeat.
About the Author
Tom Keatinge is the Director of the RUSI Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies.