The Somali terror group al-Shabaab, known for deadly attacks on thousands of people across east Africa, has banned plastic bags because of the threat they pose to the environment.
Al-Shabaab’s radio station, Radio Andalus, broadcast news of the ban was announced on Sunday, saying discarded plastic bags “pose a serious threat to the wellbeing of humans and animals alike.”
The jihadist group also issued an immediate ban on the logging of native trees, according to a Somali website that has voiced support for the group.
Mohamed Abu Abdalla, the group’s governor for southern Somalia’s Shabelle regions, said details of how the plan would be implemented would be announced later.
Raffaello Pantucci, counter-terror expert at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), said the move was designed to show the world that the group could govern.
“Other East African governments have banned plastic bags and this ban is al-Shabaab’s attempt to show their people that they too can implement laws and govern like any legitimate ruler.
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“It’s quite ironic though that the same group has been involved in the banned ivory trade to fund its terror activities across the Horn of Africa.”
Plastic bags join a long list of outlawed items in al-Shabaab controlled areas, including western music, cinemas, satellite dishes, smartphones/fibre optic services and humanitarian agencies.
The group has been accused of orchestrating a campaign of brutal attacks across east Africa in recent years.
In October 2017 it perpetrated one of the most deadly attacks ever seen in Somalia, when more than 500 people were killed after a truck packed with explosives detonated in the capital, Mogadishu.
But this is not the first time that al-Qaeda and its allies have promoted environmental policies.
In November 2016, a special issue of Inspire, published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, criticised the Obama administration for being “all talk and no action” on climate change and protecting the environment.
“The environment has suffered from America’s policies. In latest official statistics of International Health Organisation, it mentions that 92% of the world population are breathing polluted air.
“Moreover, 6.5 million people are dying annually because of air pollution,” the article in the magazine read.
It continued: “It is astonishing and deceptive to hear Obama talk about the necessity of acting boldly in combating the danger of greenhouse gases, yet his own state has not responded and dealt adequately in reducing these deadly emissions.”
Earlier this year the Taliban’s Department of Agriculture and Agronomics in Afghanistan directed its supporters to start planting trees.
The Taliban noted that a “key component of public welfare works for the prosperity of our people and homeland is agriculture and tree plantation.”
Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada called on mujahideen fighters to “plant one or several fruit or non-fruit trees for the beautification of Earth and the benefit of almighty Allah’s creations.”