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Somalia A Divided Legacy: Hormuud Telecom and Political Islam

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Wednesday November 06, 2019 - 05:56:54 in Articles by Super Admin
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    Somalia A Divided Legacy: Hormuud Telecom and Political Islam

    The Chairman of Hormuud Telecom Group Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale was a kingpin in Al-Shabaab's charcoal-sugar trading cycle that funded its activities. In September 2010, he founded ZAAD, a mobile-to-mobile money-transfer business that struck a

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The Chairman of Hormuud Telecom Group Ahmed Nur Ali Jim'ale was a kingpin in Al-Shabaab's charcoal-sugar trading cycle that funded its activities. In September 2010, he founded ZAAD, a mobile-to-mobile money-transfer business that struck a deal with Al-Shabaab to make money transfers more anonymous by eliminating the need to show identification.
Hormuud Telecom the largest and most influential telecommunications company operating inside Somalia. Founded in April of 2002 by Ahmed Nur Ali Jimale, it had more than 1,200 shareholders, 5000 permanent employees and a varying number of temporary staff across Somalia as of August 2019.19

Figure 3: Ahmed Nur Ali Jim’ale, Al-Shabaab’s chief financier But the company carries the public stigma of being "one of the single largest financiers of Al-Shabaab”.20 But its moderate investors
Mohammad Tawhidi, "Ilhan Omar Calls for the Protection of a Notorious Terrorist Organization,” The Times of Israel, August 29, 2019; retrieved on September 9, 2019.
UN Security Council, Security Council Committee on Somalia and Eritrea Adds One Individual to List of Individuals and Entities, United Nations Security Council, SC/10545, 17 February 17, 2012, Accessed September 20, 2019; See Also The Times of Israel, 2019.

 

dispute this characterization, insisting that the telecommunication company is a victim of Al-Shabaab violence.21 The company is caught between the rock and the hard place with its top investors and managers sharply torn between strict adherence to business norms and ethos and the goals of political Islam.22 Its radical shareholders support Al-Shabaab while its moderate investors are pushing for the stabilization and reconstruction of Somalia. The company’s future rests in its ability to extricate itself from the extremist heritage of its founders and steering a moderate developmental course.

Hormuud, like other mobile phone operators, has largely invested in mobile broadband installations, which are less vulnerable to the threat of vandalism than fixed cable infrastructure—a logical response to the frequent violent attacks, lack of sector regulation and an unstable political environment in Somalia. Despite this, the company is haunted by the legacy of its long association with business entities accused of underwriting international terrorism.

Al-Barakaat: Hormuud is an offshoot of Al-Barakaat, a group of companies established in 1986 and offering modern form of hawala (an informal value transfer system and remittance method), phone and internet services. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in United States, America listed Al-Barakat as a terrorist entity, seized its assets, and detained several of its militant investors. Several large shareholders of Al-Barakaat and Hormuud have links with Al-Shabaab.
23 International Crisis Group interviews, Mogadishu, September 2019.

This conclusion derives from International Policy Group’s Interviews with the company’s officials and managers, August-September 2019.

Jim’ale is a holder of Djibouti passport (A0181988) which expired on 23/01/2011 but was renewed later.

Figure 4: Al-Shabaab Militants in training

Ali Ahmed Nur Jim’ale (Jim’ale), Hormuud’s largest investor, was a key leader in the Somali Islamic Courts Union (ICU) whose most radical elements eventually formed the Al-Shabaab.24 He is widely identified as one of Al-Shabaab’s largest financiers.25 In 2007-2008, Jim’ale operated the Investors Group, a front company based in Djibouti, that purchased weapons and ammunitions in support of extremist activities. The group aided the smuggling of small arms from Eritrea through Djibouti into the Ogaden region of Ethiopia.26

"Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea,” UNSC Reports, 18 July, 2011, Accessed September 8, 2019.
"Security Council 751 and 1907 Committee on Somalia and Eritrea Deletes Ali Ahmed Nur Jim’ale from Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Press release, March 11, 2014; retrieved on September 9, 2019.
The Times of Israel, 2019.
Jim’ale was a kingpin in Al-Shabaab’s charcoal-sugar trading cycle that funded its activities. In September 2010, he founded ZAAD, a mobile-to-mobile money-transfer business that struck a deal with Al-Shabaab to make money transfers more anonymous by eliminating the need to show identification. Jim’ale has a known hawala fund where he collects zakat to support Al-Shabaab. Since 2008, he has been on the UN list of individuals and entities subject to the travel ban, assets freeze and targeted arms embargo.27 Also listed by the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee is another Al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki (or "Al-Turki”), who has received personal communication networks from Hormuud’s radical investors.28

In 2012, the US and UN officially removed Al-Barakaat along with all of the 17 listed entities associated with it entirely from the terror list. And on June 30, 2016, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) completely removed Mr. Ahmed Nur Jim’ale from its listing and this completes the cycle of delisting process of Al-Barakaat and its top investors from international sanctioning bodies, including the UN. But Al-Shabaab has tightened its grip on Hormuud.

"Security Council 751 and 1907 Committee on Somalia and Eritrea Deletes Ali Ahmed Nur Jim’ale from Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Press release, March 11, 2014; retrieved on September 9, 2019.

UN Security Council, List of Individuals and Entities Subject to the Measures Imposed by Paragraphs 1, 3 And 7 Of Security Council Resolution 1844 (2008), Accessed September 9, 2019

Reaping the Whirlwind

Hormuud Entrepreneurs and the

Resurgence of Al-Shabaab

 Report of the Investigation into the link between Hormuud Telecom and the Al-Shabaab Operations in Somalia

 October (2019) International Policy Group (IPG)

Nairobi Kenya


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