The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is holding a five-day program in Djibouti that trains Somali personnel on counter radicalization, disengagement and reintegration.

The program organized by IGAD’s Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) in partnership with the regional bloc’s Special Mission to Somalia (IGAD SMS) from December 4 to 9, brought together some 50 Somali religious scholars, traditional leaders, representatives from civil society organizations and government officials.

Abebe Muluneh, Director of IGAD SSP, indicated that the militant group, Al-Shabaab, remains the most immediate threat to the peace, security and stability of Somalia and the region.

According to Muluneh, although the government of Somalia, together with regional and international actors, is doing a lot in tackling Al-Shabaab, the terrorist group continues to carry out regular complex attacks in Mogadishu.

“Engaging with key community members that include religious leaders, the youth, and women hand in hand is very important in tackling the narratives and messaging of Al-Shabaab,” Muluneh stressed.

The training mainly aspires to contribute to the fight against radicalization and countering terrorism in Somalia by providing knowledge, tools, and common understanding to traditional leaders in mobilizing the community through counter radical narratives that familiarize the dangers of religious extremism messages of Al-Shabaab, it was indicated.

Participants are also expected to discuss the role of religious leaders, clan leaders, media and civil society in community disengagement, disseminating counter narratives and promoting the importance of solving differences through negotiation and peaceful ways under the teachings of Islam.

IGAD further noted that community based de-radicalization is “irreplaceable and provides a venue for trust based and sustainable intervention.”

The east African block revealed that it will conduct the second phase of this training targeting more delegates of representatives of the various communities so as to disseminate the knowledge to their communities at the grassroots level.