Somalia switches off media outlets allegedly used by Al-Shabaab
Somalia on Wednesday announced it had deactivated hundreds of media sites it said were propagating Al-Shabaab narratives, in the latest clampdown on violent extremism.
Deputy Information Minister Abdurahman Yusuf Al-Adala claimed authorities had blocked up to 500 outlets including websites and social media accounts affiliated with the jihadist group.
The development followed an earlier directive in October by the Somali government instructing the communication companies to stop sites that are sympathetic to Al-Shabaab.
In early October, the Somali government’s Ministry of Communications and Technology stated that it had switched off most prominent Al-Shabaab sites.
“By end of last month (October, the government inactivated more than 500 sites and social media accounts,” wrote Al-Adala on his official Facebook account.
“Since we started tracing the sites and other electronic facilities used by Al-Shabaab, we closed more than 500 accounts on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and TikTok,” he added.
Tip-off from public
The deputy minister stressed that the government received tip-off from the public on informal media used by the jihadist group.
“We thank the public for sharing with us the pages secretly used by Khawarij (a reference to Al-Shabaab to spread their misleading objectives,” wrote Al-Adala.
Apart from information delivery, it is widely believed that the jihadist group also uses the sites and accounts to attract more supporters, loyalists including youths who are lured to join the Al-Qaeda-linked movement.
Determined to neutralise the extremist group, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said that his government would use all means to fight Al-Shabaab, militarily, economically and ideologically in close collaboration with the public.
In mid-October, the Somali government ordered a media a blackout on Al-Shabaab.
According to the Ministry of Information, 10 news websites, one television station, and 40 social media accounts have been banned for being used by or being sympathetic to Al-Shabaab.