East African Terror Groups Are Exploiting the Seas

East Africa maritime security
Kenyan Forces in Kismayo, Somalia. UN Photo/Stuart Price.

Building on the findings from Violence at Sea: How Terrorists, Insurgents, and Other Extremists Exploit the Maritime Domain, on October 12, 2020, Stable Seas’ Tyler Lycan and ISS Africa’s Isel van Zyl published an article that discusses how terror groups in East Africa have been leveraging the maritime domain. The Western Indian Ocean is being exploited by three major African terror groups: IS Somalia, al-Shabaab, and Ansar al-Sunna. While all of these groups are indeed exploiting the seas, their approaches differ.

The ways in which the seas can be exploited are vast and this article inspects how these groups participate in these activities. For example, al-Shabaab leverages their position in the port of Mogadishu for lucrative financial gain, while Ansar al-Sunna has launched successful attacks against villages and ports through maritime approaches.

Adopting a holistic approach to counterterrorism includes consideration of how these groups have been using seablindness to their advantage. This article aims to shed light on how these groups have done so, and why regional efforts to combat the groups must look towards a slight shift in their counterterrorism posture.

The full article can be found here.