Where does Al Shabab get its money?
The Islamist militia is only a few years old, taking root in the ashes of the old Islamic Courts Union government that was overthrown by a US-backed Ethiopian invasion in mid-2006. When Ethiopian troops left, Al Shabab took control of perhaps a third of the country, with anywhere from a few thousand to 14,000 fighters. The money to feed troops and buy weapons and ammunition seems to come mainly from Al Shabab’s control of Kismayo port, which brings in up to $50 million a year in import duties for smuggled sugar bound for Kenya and charcoal bound for the Middle East. But more money may come from individual donations from the expatriate Somali community, scattered in places as disparate as London, Nairobi, and Minneapolis.