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In Jowhar district of Lower Shabelle, 90km north of Mogadishu, the militants demanded that residents aim their receivers towards Arab satellites, according to Mohamed Maow, a resident in Jowhar, despite the fact that few people in the region speak Arabic.
“We have received threats from the fighters to change the direction of our dishes towards Arab satellites and to stop using the Thaicom satellite within two days,” he told Somalia Report. “They were targeting residences and businesses throughout the district and the people are not happy. We are all complaining."
Residents believe the reason why al-Shabaab banned Thaicom satellite televisions is to hide their military failures.
“We understand that this is a result of part of their breakdown in Mogadishu. We believe that one day they will be kicked out of all the parts of the region, and definitely we are waiting our turn here,” he hoped.
The militants are trying to control the news in light of their recent losses, according Kaafi Abdalla, a Somali political analyst in Mogadishu who spoke to Somalia Report.
“This move emerges as the hardline fighters lose power so they want to manage every aspect of life in areas they control including controlling independent news broadcasting sources. This move will certainly turn the Somali community further against them,” he said.
The banned Thaicom satellite broadcasts Somali-language channels such as Universal TV, Horn Cable, Somali Channel, Royal TV and even Somali National Television (SNTV).
Harassment in Elasha Biyaha
Meanwhile businessmen in Elasha Biyaha, 11 miles southwest from Mogadishu, are concerned that fighters ordered them to financially support what they called the 'jihad against crusaders'.
“They ordered us to pay them a lot of money that we cannot afford to pay," a businessman told Somalia Report on the condition of anonymity.
He added that the fighters warned them that if the businessmen do not pay, they will face serious consequences.
Harassment in Kismayo
Residents of Kismayo in Lower Juba region told Somalia Report that al-Shabaab fighters have been harassing people throughout the city.
Shuttle drivers in the city and the drivers that travel the 500 kilometers between Kismayo and Mogadishu are the main victims of the threats and harassment, according to Daa’uud Roobdoon, a Kismayo businessman.
“Since the their defeat in Mogadishu, al-Shabaab has increased the intimidation and the threats towards the civilians in the city,” he said.
He added that the militants are demanding Kismayo businessmen help finance their war against the Somali government and are closely watching who is coming and going from the city.
“Anyone who comes to Kismayo will be interrogated because the militants want to know what the motive is behind their movements and if they have any relations to the Somali government or other neighboring countries,” he said.
Ahmed Muhiyadin, a Somali-Canadian who travels to Kismayo to see his sick mother, said the fighters ordered him to register his name in the central police station.
“I went to visit my mom, but the fighters forced me to register my name every three days,” he complained.