Asmaro(Mogadishu24)-The President of the Federal Government of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has discussed the threats posed by Al-Shabaab to regional security during his official trip in Eritrea to enhance security and defense cooperation between the two countries.

In an interview with Eritrean national television, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud stated that Al-Shabaab has destabilized regional security and stability, posing threats not only to Somalia but to the entire world.

“Al-Shabaab is an ideology-driven organization with goals that transcend borders and nationalities. Its threat extends far beyond Somalia’s borders, thus, it poses a threat not only to Somalia but to the entire region and the world at large,” said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

The president mentioned that Al-Shabaab’s ideologies are not religious or culturally based, as it consists of militants from across Africa, Asia, and Europe.

“Al-Shabaab recruits not only Somalis but also individuals from neighboring countries, Asia, and Europe who share their extremist ideology,” he added.

“We work with religious scholars from diverse backgrounds, and they denounce Al-Shabaab’s distorted interpretation of Islam. These scholars publicly declare that Al-Shabaab’s actions are not Islamic and do not align with the principles of Islam, such as the prohibition of killing fellow Muslims,” he said.

He highlighted the impacts of those who finance terrorist organizations like Al-Shabaab with other agendas against existing governments and targeting less vulnerable youth among the communities.

“Those who support global terrorists are, in essence, terrorists themselves, albeit with different motives. They may aim to weaken governments or alter existing conditions, whether for ideological or economic reasons. Al-Shabaab capitalizes on recruiting unemployed youth and the impoverished and uneducated,” President Hassan said.

Somalia has intensified its fight against Al-Shabaab militants since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s re-election in May last year.

The Somali National Army and local community forces, known as “Macawisley,” along with international partners, have liberated over 80 locations from Al-Shabaab militants since the declaration of total war against the militant group.

“In Somalia, we have developed a multi-faceted strategy to counter Al-Shabaab. This strategy encompasses military operations, ideological efforts, and economic measures. We emphasize the importance of demonstrating to our citizens that Al-Shabaab’s ideology does not represent genuine Islam,” the president said.

President Hassan further underscored that the government has cut Al-Shabaab links, including their financial transactions, which has affected their military ability.

“Their financial transactions are conducted through banks, remittances or through mobile money transfer systems. We have responded by controlling these financial flows within the system, closely monitoring suspicious financial activities, and taking appropriate actions. This approach has limited their ability to collect and transfer funds freely,” President Hassan said.

He added, “we are pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to weaken Al-Shabaab’s ideological influence and financial capabilities while also conducting military operations against them.”

Al-Shabaab militants conducted a suicide bomb attack at Safari Hotel in Mogadishu in 2017, and killed more than 600 people and injured another 500 civilians.

“On 14 October 2017, they killed almost a thousand people in just one incident. That was like a 9/11 for Somalia. These are the kind of people who we are dealing with. So we need to tell our people that they are not who claim to be but masking themselves as Muslims,” he said.

The Somali Government has long been pushing to regain stability and security while seeking military strength and support from regional and international partners.

Since President Hassan Sheikh assumed office for his second term, he mobilized local community forces to provide support for the National Army in the fight against Al-Shabaab militants.

Al-Shabaab has then resorted to conducting attacks on military bases, attacking security forces, and suicide bombings targeted at crowded civilian targets, such as markets and checkpoints, resulting in the deaths of over a hundred soldiers and civilians.

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