Radical Islamic militants in Somalia have have taken a stand against the Internet, and are forbidding anyone in areas they control from providing it.
Al-Shabaab, designated as a terrorist group and Al-Qaeda affiliate by the U.S. State Department, is probably best known in recent memory for sponsoring an attack on a Kenyan mall in September, leaving at least 67 dead. But the group has made consistent inroads in southern Somalia in recent years, imposing its strict interpretation of Sharia law.
And now that apparently includes no Internet access, in addition to previous bans on satellite TV and smartphones. In a press release obtained by the Somali Current, al-Shabaab has announced:
“All [Internet and fiber optic] providers have 15 days to stop services. Any company that doesn’t abide by the order will be considered aiding the enemy and will face banishment under Sharia law.”
It’s not necessarily that al-Shabaab hates ones and zeros, per se: It actually maintained a Twitter account for years, though it’s since been suspended. Instead, it seems more a move to maintain propaganda control over the areas it holds. Local Internet service provider Dalkom has been installing fiber optic access in the region. The company didn’t immediately return request for comment.
Al-Shabaab does, however, still maintain a radio propaganda channel.