Kenya Defence Force aiding alshabaab with charcoil sale

A new report that alleges elements of the Kenya Defence Forces may be complicit in the illegal but lucrative charcoal trade in Somalia that is the main source of income for al-Shabaab terrorists has once again turned the spotlight on a touchy subject that has never been fully addressed.


The US-based Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) points to a connection — created intentionally or unintentionally — involving KDF, the Ras Kamboni Brigade that fights alongside the Kenyan military in southern Somalia and al-Shabaab in the export of charcoal to Gulf states.


The strange bedfellows are thought to be supported by a network of brokers in Nairobi, Mombasa, Garissa and the Somali port city of Kismayu.


This week the claims were repeated in the National Assembly where the Opposition has been calling for the withdrawal of Kenyan soldiers from the war-torn nation, something the government has dismissed.


Aiding its opponents


The latest findings echo accusations in a United Nations report last year that claimed KDF, which operates under the African Union Mission in Somalia, was involved in the business.


The implication of the allegations, according to the IDA report, is that the KDF may be aiding its opponents in Somalia, who have increased their attacks in Kenya.


It is disturbing that the claims continue to resurface even after KDF and the government denied them. Our military is among the most respected and professional on the continent, and having its credibility questioned in this way is cause for concern. This may even affect the morale of the soldiers and the faith Kenyans have in them.


That is why it is important for the Defence ministry and KDF to take the allegations more seriously than they have in the past. What is clear is that the illegal charcoal trade continues through the Somali port of Kismayu that is under the control of KDF.


What the Kenyan security chiefs and the Jubilee government need to comprehensively address is whether there are elements within the military, their Somali allies and Kenyan businessmen that are involved in the trade — whose implication is that they are aiding al-Shabaab to finance its evil scheme of death and destruction.


The government must not dismiss the allegations offhand but should take them seriously enough to order an independent inquiry. Failure to put the matter to rest once and for all will only mean that the same claims will continue to resurface in future


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