Somalia's Organized Crime Networks: A New Framework to Degrade al-Shabaab

By Grace Chesson, Horacio Oliveira, Sarah Chaney Reichenbach, and Anne Margaret A. Wagner

Abstract:

This paper analyzes al-Shabaab's organized criminal activities, addresses the nexus of organized crime, terrorism, and insurgency, and presents strategies to augment current approaches to marginalize the terrorist group. Capitalizing on the weakness in the rule of law in Somalia and the political economy of state collapse, al-Shabaab (Harakat al-Shabaab) has maintained its presence as an influential actor within Somalia and the greater Horn of Africa, with implications for national, regional, and global security. The terrorist group's violent campaign, however, is part of a larger transnational criminal enterprise, financed through a diverse portfolio of criminal racketeering, illicit trafficking, extortion, and corruption. Dismantling al-Shabaab requires a new framework that would incentivize the business and political elite to withdraw their support from al-Shabaab and instead operate within the confines of formal governance and economic institutions.

About the Authors:

Grace Chesson, Horacio Oliveira, Sarah Chaney Reichenbach, and Anne Margaret A. Wagner are recent graduates of the Elliott School of International Affairs, having received Masters' in International Affairs with concentrations in Conflict Resolution. Currently, Grace Chesson is a Program Assistant with the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Horacio Oliveira recently served as a Country Analyst for the Global Citizen's Initiative. Sarah Chaney Reichenbach is the Program Assistant for North Africa at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). Anne Margaret A. Wagner is a Program Assistant for the Strategy, Performance, and Capacity Building division at Social Impact (SI).

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