Somalia: The Country Doesn't Need Tears. Help Us Fight Terrorism.

Yet despite more than five years of external support, in early 2017 we had just four overworked police teams with no post-blast investigation kits, no forensic laboratory and just one borrowed device for the exploitation of captured cellphones. Somalia’s young government is still struggling to pay regular salaries for police officers and soldiers and has no realistic prospect of training and equipping specialized bomb units from its own budget any time soon.

A grave shortage of jammers, robots and other protective equipment means that these teams often operate at extreme risk to themselves. Our intelligence and analysis teams rely on 20th-century, off-the-shelf software platforms to investigate.

We have been operating almost completely blind. International partners offered to provide “technical assistance,” but their good intentions served to blind us even more: the evidence gathered from bombing scenes is handled and removed by foreign “mentors” who treat intelligence as a commodity rather than as a shared asset in our battle against a common enemy. Once taken away, it is rarely, if ever returned.

Only fragments of post-blast investigations are shared with us; often, we get no information at all. As a result, we are still almost entirely dependent on our foreign friends, instead of acquiring the knowledge and skills to assume our share of the task. Information sharing costs nothing, but for some reason, when it comes to I.E.D.s that chiefly claim Somali lives, it apparently lies beyond the means of our international partners.

In May, Somalia’s minister of internal security assigned high priority to the detection and disruption of the bombers’ network and production cells. The National Intelligence and Security Agency, the agency that I head, was given the responsibility of analyzing and exploiting collected evidence in terrorist attacks, developing a strategy to disrupt bombing operations, and preventing attacks.

We tightened the security cordon around Mogadishu to curb the flow of fighters, weapons and explosives. We identified the most common bomb components or “precursors” imported commercially and ways in which we could restrict or regulate access to them.

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Somalia Doesn’t Need Tears. Help Us Fight Terrorism.
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