Somalia’s Al-Shabab Warn Banks Against Exposing Customer Accounts

Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.

Somalia’s militant group al-Shabab warned banks and money transfer companies against disclosing customer accounts to protect their sources of revenue.

Al-Shabab spokesperson Sheikh Ali Dheere said on Saturday the group will not tolerate the practice of some banks disclosing customer information to unauthorized parties.

“We want to inform the Somali banks operating in the country that it’s unacceptable to give the identities of the Muslim members who have entrusted you with their wealth. You use and invest their money but in exchange, you give foreigners their personal information,” he said.

Ali Dheere also said the banks should either keep customers’ money safe or refund it.

On January 14, the Somali government shut down 250 banks allegedly linked to the group and 70 Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards used to call people when collecting illegal taxes.

In October, the government launched a public awareness campaign warning people not to give money to al-Shabab or conduct business on their behalf. It also urged citizens to report al-Shabab members’ financial activities in the country.

The government believes that financially crippling al-Shabab will help to weaken the group on the battlefield and prevent terror attacks in the country.

The UN Panel of Experts on Somalia estimates that al-Shabab requires between US$500,000 and US$1 million per month to pay the salaries of 5,000 to 10,000 fighters.  

In recent weeks the US government has sanctioned dozens of al-Shabab financiers  to aid the Somali government’s effort to eradicate the terror group from the country.

Al-Shabab uses threats and attacks to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from the public, businesses, government and humanitarian workers in order to fund its terror operation in Somalia and beyond.