World

How aid money ended up in the hands of a terror group

A CNN investigation shows that aid the United Nations hoped would go to refugees instead ended up in the hands of Africa’s oldest terror group.

The al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab makes millions each year by exploiting foreign aid.

Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images

Ex-members of the group and Somali intelligence agents say al-Shabaab extorts thousands of dollars a day through road blocks and taxes on merchants.

CNN

Those merchants are mostly trying to transport food and supplies to sell to internally displaced people in the towns where they’ve concentrated.

CNN

The UN estimates that a single roadblock on Somalia’s busiest road generates about

$5,000

a day

If merchants don’t pay, “they’re captured and killed,” said a former al-Shabaab fighter who now works with Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency.

CNN

And it’s not just merchants. Ordinary Somalis also must pay an annual tax to the al Qaeda group.

Mokhtar Mohamdeq/AFP/Getty Images

The UN fears that the ongoing drought will once again threaten Somalia with famine and provide al-Shabaab with even greater opportunities to make money from foreign aid...

Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images

...particularly if the group maintains control of the main routes through the interior of the country.

Somalia’s military hasn’t yet been able to contain the problem.

Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images

It’s a patchwork quilt of rival militias sewn together by thin threads of hope that one day it will be able to prevail against the extremists.

Stuart Price/AFP/Getty Images