Somali Illegal Coal Trade & Seizure of Ship in Oman

04.02.2022: Mogadishu, Somalia

Upon discovery that a ship allegedly from Kismaayo, destined for Abu Dhabi was docked at Oman, Horufadhi Media team began an investigation to follow and identify the route and purpose of this mysterious ship.

The Southern coastal city of Kismaayo has been infamously associated with the illegal coal trade in the Juba regions that has cost direly for Somalia’s environmental health.

Many, I presume are very aware of the deforestation crisis in the Southern state of Jubaland which has witnessed the desertification of many areas within Somalia that was previously filled with greener and an ecosystem.

Through reliable sources and diplomats, Horufadhi Media was able to compile a series of documentation that could shed light on the original purpose and journey of this ship.

Upon inspection by Behind the Scenes, we can confirm that the ship is named MV Fox and is registered in the United Arab Emirates, with ports of discharge being the cities of:

  • Fujarah
  • Ras Al Khaimah
  • Khalifa Port, Abu Dhabi

All ports are within the country of the UAE.

Now, according to the certificate of clearance seen by the team, the master of the ship during this particular voyage is a Syrian national named Mohamed Besso. Interestingly, the ship is owned by a company named Oscar Dubai Shipping which happens to be based in Honduras, Central America – A known destination for money laundering and tax evasion much like Panama.

The documentation also provides information regarding its cargo, which shed light on 4,425 MT of Charcoal in the form of 25kg bags being onboard the ship.

Initially, the ship was reported to have travelled from Dubai to the country of Tanzania before than allegedly making ways to the city of Richard Bays in South Africa where it allegedly took the cargo of charcoal for it to be delivered to Abu Dhabi according to the Certification of Clearance document seen by our team.

However, via its investigations, Horufadhi Media contacted the South African Gov which confirmed that the ship has not docked in South Africa for more than a year. This has led the investigation into to a whole new scope as the question became:

  • Who forged it and why?

The team has found that the ship in actuality left Tanzania and docked at the port of Kismaayo sometime between the 6th and 7th of January until the 12th before departing to the UAE.

Aerial footage obtained by Horufadhi Media showcase the extent of movements in Kismaayo during this period. Images show column after column of trucks with orange covering moving from destinations within and around Kismaayo to the port.

It is highly coincidental that during the same period of this ship docking in Kismaayo, there happens to be large scale movements in the city of dozens of trucks with unknown cargo.

Upon contacting the Somali government regarding this shocking revelation, the Govt confirmed it was aware of the ship docking at Kismaayo but the ship allegedly turned off its means of identification including its radar system. This allowed the ship to travel through the Indian Ocean undetected until it reached Oman with problems, causing it to dock there temporarily.

The Somali Government has confirmed to HM that it has been in contacted with Omani authorities and plans to send a team of investigators to inspect the ship and its cargo.

The Somali Mission at the UN has also confirmed that it is working with the UN Somalia & Eritrea Monitoring Group to investigate this breach of charcoal sanctions imposed on Somalia by the UNSC which was recently extended.

Now, the question becomes:

  • Who was behind this shady dealings and why?

Let’s take a look at the facts:

Nearly 2 million trees are cut every year in the trade worth $120 million a year according to the UN. The UN also named the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman as the key purchasers of this illicit coal.

Of those 120 million, at least 10 million are siphoned off by AS and a large sum also taken by rogue AMISOM soldiers under the KDF banner that oversee security in Kismaayo through bribery. Some of the coal has been transported to Kenya itself

According to a multitude of reports released by varies international organisation, the KDF heavily benefits from the illegal coal and sugar trade that takes place in Kismaayo.

In a report by researcher Ben Rawlence for Journalists for Justice demonstrates the peak of the illegal trade in 2015:

  • He found that the KDF levied $2 tax on every bag of sugar and charcoal
  • He also found that the illegal trade brings in 10s of millions of dollars per year for parties involved.
  • Rawlence went so far as to say that the actions of the KDF directly benefit Al-Shabaab financially.

Horufadhi Media also found information on a key facilitator within this wider scheme. A Dubai-based Djiboutian, there is reliable evidence that this man acts as a consignee in receiving these charcoal shipments, providing false cargo documentation among other things.

Sources close to HM have identified him as a member of a criminal network with hubs in Dubai and Kismaayo which has attempted to illegally monopolise exports from Somalia to the GCC countries.

Last but not least, Al-Shabaab earns millions annually according to multiple UN reports on the illegal charcoal trade in Somalia. While we do not have concrete evidence proving that AS has indirectly worked with the Jubaland authorities, but the idea that coal is taken from areas controlled by Al-Shabaab to the port town of Kismaayo indicate some sort of relationship that enables the easier movement of cargo and coal in exchange for monetary gain.



It is absolutely abhorrent that with recent UN figures estimating about 2.3 million people that have been ravaged by serious water, food and pasture shortages, officials in the Jubaland region openly engage in illicit activities that directly cause suffering faced by the very people that they govern.

Unfortunately, for many Somali officials, selfish desire of wealth outweighs the value of the very people that they have been elected to govern.

Public Office is not a business; it is sacrifice and selfless act for your nation and people. It is duty bestowed upon a person by his people, it is trust between the politician and the citizen. The erosion of such trusts results in the ultimate collapse of democracy.

From this entire incident, one thing is clear. The UAE continues to purchase and engage in activities that directly result in the suffering of Somali people.

The purpose of the visit of by the PM upon the invitation of the UAE is not exactly clear. The PM intention to reopen relations with a nation proven to hinder Somali progress in the middle of vital election also remains unclear.

What is clear however is that elections are nearing a close and it is the duty of the new government to investigate all crimes committed against the Somali people by finalising the Somali Supreme Court.


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Somali Illegal Coal Trade & Seizure of Ship in Oman
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