Somalia’s al-Shabab – Your Questions Answered

Who are they?

  • al-Shabab means ‘The Youth’ in arabic
  • They are affiliated with al-Qaeda
  • They formed as a young radical section of the Islamic Courts Union (Sharia courts established to rival the Transitional Federal Government) in 2006, as they fought Ethiopian forces who had entered Somalia to back the weak interim government
  • Foreign jihadists (islamic militants) were reported to have helped al-Shabab
  • Places ruled under al-Shabab are subject to strict Sharia law e.g. stoning a women to death if she has committed adultery

Does al-Shabab control much of Somalia?

  • They are mainly in control of rural areas – however, they did have control over some towns and cities in the past (in August 2011 al-Shabab were forced out of the capital, Mogadishu) 
  • One port city, Kismayo, had been vital for al-Shabab to bring in supplies to areas under their control – they no longer have control of the port
  • Although this has been a big victory for the government and the African Union frequent suicide attacks are made by al-Shabab in the capital
  • They are increasingly using guerrilla warfare against the forces of the African Union
  • Since, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces have taken control over parts of the country to regain order

SOMALIA MILITIA

Who is the leader of al-Shabab?

  • The head of al-Shabab is Ahmed Abdi Godane, but is known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair 
  • However, there is some evidence to suggest his leadership is being put under pressure from a large southern breakaway section of the group
  • The previous leader, Moalim Aden Hashi Ayro, was killed by a US airstrike in 2008

al-Shabab’s foreign links

  • Joined al-Qaeda in 2012, but have been working together for longer
  • It is believed that members of al-Qaeda who are retreating from areas, such as Afghanistan, will soon seek refuge with al-Shabab in Somalia

Attacks by al-Shabab, other than in Somalia

  • In the Ugandan capital, Kampala, they committed a double suicide that killed 76 people (they were watching the 2010 world cup football final)
  • Attacks in 2002 on Israeli targets near Mombassa in Kenya

Who backs al-Shabab?

  • Eritrea, an independent state in North East Africa, is an ally, but it denies that it supplies al-Shabab with weapons
  • Eritrea dislike Ethiopia

Somalia

Somalia is pretty much a failed state. They have not had an effective government for about 20 years and have been subject to constant war. As a result, al-Shabab easily won support among Somalia’s promising security – something the citizens welcomed!

Thanks for reading,

Digestible Politics

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4 comments on “Somalia’s al-Shabab – Your Questions Answered

  1. You might like my articles about Somalia as well. “Somalia rising from the Ashes http://conflictandsecurity.com/blog/somalia-rising-from-the-ashes/

  2. citizenwithaview says:

    Very informative. I know a little bit about Somalia’s situation, but this helped greatly 🙂

  3. Pavan Samra says:

    I saw you promote your page on The Student Room – I like how you make politics more accessible and this is a great example of it. I do try and keep a superficial knowledge of politics but it’s pretty complicated so I’m glad your entries shed light on topics such as this!

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