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UN Adviser: Somalia Violence Threatens Horn of Africa

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  • Clottey interview with Dr. Mustapha Ali, an adviser to the United Nations on the conflict in Somalia

Peter Clottey

An adviser to the United Nations on the conflict in Somalia warns the country’s ongoing crisis is encouraging terrorism activities in Kenya and other neighboring countries, which he says could destabilize the entire Horn of Africa region.

Mustapha Ali, who is also the secretary-general of the African Council of Religious Leaders, says Kenyans are expressing concern after police named 11 suspects under investigation for terrorism activities.

“It seems that the goings on in Somalia and across to the Kenyan border is now spilling over in terms of the people who do not mean any good in the country,” said Ali.

“After the bombs that went off in Kampala [Uganda], it is clear that there were some Kenyans who were involved in the planning and carrying out of the actual attack," he said. "There is a high likelihood that people who have been trained in Somalia could still pose a great danger to Kenyans.”

The suspects, police say, are linked to the Somalia’s hard-line insurgent group, al-Shabab. The group has been fighting African Union forces, as well as the national army, to overthrow the internationality-backed Somali Transitional Federal Administration.

The group has often threatened to unleash terror attacks in Kenya.

Ali says the entire Horn of Africa region could be threatened if the ongoing crisis in Somalia is not quickly resolved.

“It is very clear that al-Shabab poses a great risk to Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Ethiopia, particularly Uganda and Burundi, those countries that have sent forces to the African Union Peacekeeping forces in Mogadishu [Somalia],” said Ali. “There is a need to engage in dialogue with the [Somali] Transitional Federal Government and other anti-peace elements in Somalia. Without that, it is going to be very difficult to resolve the issues. One of the key issues is to resolve the Somali [instability] issue; that is the problem and it is going to cause problems across the Horn of Africa in the coming years.”

Ali also says some Kenyans do not hold confidence in the ability of the police to apprehend and prosecute the suspected terrorists.

“Kenya has professional intelligence service and they have been doing some good work in the past in apprehending the suspected terrorists. [But], I still have my doubts, though, about the hard approaches that have been used to apprehend the would-be terrorists,” said Ali.

“I will always recommend [a] soft approach, aside from addressing the problems in Somalia. We must find ways to ensure that the young people are not radicalized, they are not indoctrinated and continue to join the ranks of al-Shabab in Somalia and in the region,” he said.

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