According to the Statement of Reasons, Islamic State-Somalia was formed in 2014 by a group of disenfranchised al-Shabaab members in northern Somalia. The group adopted the tenets of Islamic State and attempted to connect with Islamic State in Syria, including by making unrecognised pledges of allegiance in 2015 and 2016.
A further pledge of allegiance in December 2017 was followed by Islamic State in Syria publically recognising Islamic State-Somalia and its attacks in its official weekly publication al-Naba.
Islamic State-Somalia is currently led by Abdul Qadir Mumin, is comprised of an estimated 200 fighters and is directly supported by Islamic State in Yemen through the provisions of ‘experts, trainers, money, weapons, and other materials’. The group is also known by the following names:
Islamic State-Somalia generally recruits members from local Puntland communities, although it also works with Somalia pirates, namely the Mohamed Garfanje’s Hobyo-Haradhere Piracy Network. Unsympathetic local communities are raided for food and other necessities.
The Statement of Reasons describes the Islamic State-Somalia’s primary objective as establishing ‘an Islamic Caliphate in the horn of Africa based on the application of Sharia law consistent with the global jihadist ideology of the proscribed terrorist organisation Islamic State’.
Islamic State-Somalia conducts attacks in the northern Somali Puntland region and southern Somalia. It uses improvised explosive devices and firearms to target Somalia Government and Western African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) interests.
Six terrorist attacks can be ‘reliably attributed’ to Islamic State-Somalia, including the assassination of multiple officials and Ethiopian Christians, an attack on an hotel in Bosaso, and the detonation of an explosion against an AMISOM vehicle in Mogadishu.
Islamic State-Somalia has also advocated the doing of terrorist attacks against Westerners and Western states, including through a video featuring an ‘Islamic State-Somalia fighter speaking in English [who] told would-be supporters that killing an infidel is their “ticket out of hell”’.
The Statement of Reasons acknowledges that ‘there are no known direct links between Islamic State-Somalia and Australia’ and that the group has ‘not made statements specifically threatening Australians or Australian interests’.
However, it also notes that Islamic State-Somalia has made statements threatening Westerners and their interests. Moreover, the group operates in Mogadishu and northern Somalia, where Westerners and small numbers of Australians are occasionally present. Ms Heather Cook, Deputy Director-General, Operations and Assessment Group, ASIO said that whilst Islamic State-Somalia hasn’t specifically threatened Australians visiting Somalia, they are at risk:
… these groups, IS Somalia included, tend to target Westerners—individuals—for kidnapping for ransom purposes, which is a means by which they fund their activities. Certainly individuals from the West are targeted for that purpose because they are seen to be able to afford to pay ransoms, and it’s not inconceivable that Australians of Somali extraction may be caught up in that sort of conduct.
The Statement of Reasons asserts that Islamic State-Somalia is not known to have participated in ‘any peace or mediation process’ and was proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the United States in February 2018.
The Committee considered the evidence that Islamic State-Somalia should be listed as a terrorist organisation, and is satisfied that it meets the definition established by the Criminal Code.
The Committee therefore supports regulations listing Islamic State-Somalia as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code and finds no reason to disallow the legislative instrument.
The Committee also notes that that the regulation listing Islamic-State Somalia did not come into effect immediately, providing time for the Committee oversight. This aligns with an earlier recommendation of the Committee, and is, in the Committee’s view best practice.