In a rare glimmer of good news out of the wasteland of Somalia, it looks like Al Shabab, the brutal Islamist group trying to take over Somalia, is losing ground. Props to Jeffrey Gettleman on actually being brave enough to report from Mogadishu.
I noted at the end of the story that Shabab is having problems funding their jihad. Junta members/readers will recall our talk and posts on piracy. The conventional wisdom is that the pirates are not in cahoots with Shabab, though some money probably changes hands. The pirates would not want to align themselves too closely with a terrorist organization because that would possibly put them out of business, either in the form of military intervention or governments really applying pressure to forbid paying a ransom (which, if it is was to Shabab, would violate the Patriot Act). But when ruthless groups get desperate they turn to whatever means necessary to raise money. So I would watch whether Shabab gets more in piracy. Similarly, there was a very interesting piece in Forbes entitled Is al Qaeda Bankrupt? It looks at some of the ways that al Qaeda has tried to keep up funding (kidnapping, drug trafficking, extortion) in light of effective financial measures put in place to curb terrorist financing.