Somali government plans shutdown on ‘Al-Shabaab propaganda’ amid counteroffensive

Somali government plans shutdown on ‘Al-Shabaab propaganda’ amid counteroffensive
As fighting between Al-Shabaab - an Al-Qaeda-linked militant group - and the Somalia government rages on, Mogadishu’s deputy information minister said 'propaganda coverage' of the group's 'terrorist acts and ideology' would be punished.
2 min read
09 October, 2022
More than 20 people died when Al-Shabaab attacked Mogadishu's Hayat Hotel for 30 hours this summer [Getty]

Somalia’s government escalated its war against the jihadist group Al-Shabaab by announcing a crackdown on Saturday on all forms of "propaganda" promoting the Islamist militants. 

Mogadishu’s Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf said supportive coverage of Al-Shabaab’s "terrorist acts and ideology" in print, on TV and online was a "punishable" crime.

"The Somali government is totally banning all kinds of coverage relating to the terrorist ideology and acts of intimidation by [Al-Shabaab]," Yusuf told reporters at a press conference. 

He said the government had launched cyber operations to target "terrorist accounts" on social media, with more than 40 accounts already disabled on Facebook and Twitter in 48 hours. 

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The deputy minister later confirmed to AFP that the government’s campaign against the group would not restrict normal news coverage about the jihadists from Somali journalists. 

The Al-Qaeda-linked group is responsible for a string of deadly attacks, including a 30-hour siege on a hotel in the capital which killed 21 people in August.

Newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has made clear his intentions to defeat Al-Shabaab with the help of regional actors and international allies as part of an aggressive counteroffensive. 

A policy of escalation rather than diplomacy is likely to fuel an intensification of fighting between the government and the militant group across numerous areas in Somalia, according to Martine Zeuthen, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. 

The conflict could lead to violence spilling over into Ethiopia or Keyna, she said.