In Summary
  • The JFJ report was motivated by the fact that the death toll from Al-Shabaab attacks inside Kenya have risen to more than 400, leading to questions on whether Operation Linda Nchi is actually delivering on its promise.
  • The report asserts that the KDF, rather than taking the fight to Al-Shabaab, is actually in “garrison mode”, sitting in bases while senior commanders are engaged in corrupt business practices with the Jubaland administration and Al-Shabaab.
  • The report cites sources inside KDF, the Kenyan Parliament and foreign embassies all of which described a situation in which a high ranking military official is at the head of a smuggling network which includes commanders of KDF within Amisom and “key figures in the Ministries of Defence, Immigration and State House, and that this network enjoys the protection and tacit co-operation of leaders at the highest echelons of the Executive and the National Assembly.”
  • The JFJ report asserts that KDF “is heavily involved and that” the Jubaland administration of Ahmed Madobe and Al-Shabaab are all benefitting from shares in a trade that is worth, collectively, between $200 million and $400 million.”

A report titled “Black and White” (“black” for charcoal and “white” for sugar) by the NGO, Journalists for Justice, that was released last week reaffirms allegations that have been made before, including by the United Nations Monitoring Group, that the Kenya Defence Forces are trading with Al Shabaab, the very enemy they are supposed to be fighting.

The report notes that since Kenya invaded Somalia in October 2011, there has been little public accounting for its activities, whether to the National Assembly or the public generally.

The report notes that there has been little independent reporting on the invasion, with coverage mostly from journalists taken on “guided” tours by the KDF or with public relations videos paid for by the KDF, and now, most recently, a book.
According to the report, censorship has played a role as editors described being summoned to meetings with top military brass and told that critical stories would be considered as undermining national security.

And the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, mandated to report on violations of international law and sanctions on Somalia — including the financing of Al-Shabaab and the targeting of civilians — has so far avoided looking too closely at the activities of the Kenyan military inside Somalia.

According to JFJ, the monitoring group must tread carefully in relation to information that might be embarrassing for Kenya: “the impact it can have on [the group’s] ability to live and work in Kenya is significant.”
The JFJ report was motivated by the fact that the death toll from Al-Shabaab attacks inside Kenya have risen to more than 400, leading to questions on whether Operation Linda Nchi is actually delivering on its promise.

OPERATION LINDA NCHI

The report covers the conduct of KDF forces in two areas: first, sugar smuggling and financial enabling of Al-Shabaab and, secondly, human rights violations.

The report discloses the methodology used to compile the information, disclosing that it is the product of several months of research in Kismayo and Dhobley, and inside Kenya in Liboi, Dadaab, Garissa and Nairobi.

The content of the report is also based on a desktop review of UN monitoring reports, academic studies, African Mission in Somalia (Amisom) communication and media reports, and one-on-one interviews with more than 50 people who it said have “intimate knowledge” of KDF activities.

These include “serving senior KDF officers, UN officials, western intelligence officials, members of parliament, victims of KDF human rights violations inside Somalia, journalists, doctors, porters at the charcoal stockpiles, drivers on the sugar routes and middlemen in the Dadaab camp.”
The report notes that following the Garissa University massacre in April, the Kenya government, once again, talked tough about tackling Al-Shabaab, launching air strikes inside Somalia, threatening to close Dadaab refugee camp and freezing the assets of 86 people and organisations allegedly connected to Al-Shabaab, among them traders involved in sugar smuggling.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
The findings of the report, however, contradict the impression of seriousness on the part of the Kenya government because, it says, human rights abuses inside Somalia appear widespread and are carried out with impunity, including air strikes that target livestock and wells rather than militant training camps.

The report asserts that the KDF, rather than taking the fight to Al-Shabaab, is actually in “garrison mode”, sitting in bases while senior commanders are engaged in corrupt business practices with the Jubaland administration and Al-Shabaab.

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