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Somalia’s terror group bans ‘harmful’ plastic bags

Al-Shabaab militants [Citizen TV Kenya/Facebook]
Al-Shabaab militants [Citizen TV Kenya/Facebook]

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab has placed a ban on the use of plastic bags over harm posed to the environment, the Independent reported today.

Al-Shabaab-run Radio Andalus broadcasted the ban late on Sunday, claiming that discarded plastic “pose a serious threat to the wellbeing of humans and animals alike”, Mohammed Abu Abdullah, one of the group’s leaders based in southern Somalia said.

Plastic bags join a long list of banned items in Al-Shabaab controlled territory in Somalia, including music, cinemas and smart phones. The group did not mention how the ban will be implemented, but the group usually use strict public punishments including stoning for those who do not comply. Abdullah added that logging of rare trees will also be added to the ban list, in a bid to preserve the environment.

While commentators on social media joked about the groups “eco-friendly” stance as an Al-Qaeda affiliate, the Independent noted that Al-Qaeda has been “vocal” about environmental issues in the past. Even Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), called out former US president Barack Obama in 2016 for not working to counter “climate change” issues.

The group has been at war with the Somalia government for over a decade, and in 2012 pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda attracting an international counter-terrorism presence. Al-Shabaab’s main political ambition is to take control and govern Somalia with a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Yesterday, Al-Shabaab executed a 93-year-old man north of the capital Mogadishu for participating in the Somali parliamentary elections. The killing was aimed to serve as a reminder that Al-Shabaab put a ban on voting or supporting the Somali federal government.

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