The 21st Century Phenomenon



The Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations, known as Al-Shabab (The Youth), since it was initially manned mainly by graduates from the youth movement allied to Council of Islamic Courts – CIC , is an Islamic militant and radical militia operating in Somalia which was founded in 2004 but emerged during the Ethiopian – Somali war, in the years 2007-8, as the most powerful militia in Somalia with the goal of fighting the “enemies of Islam” and establishing of Islamic law – Shariaa – in Somalia.  

From the very beginning, under the leadership of Aden Hashi Farah “Eyrow”, a close associate of Sheikh Dahir AweysAl-Shabab tried to establish connections with Hizbullah in Lebanon and with militants in neighboring Eritrea.

With the encouragement and support of USA, Ethiopia invaded Somalia on 12/08/2006 (see – Ethiopian-Somali War). On 12/28/2006 the leadership of the councils of Islamic Courts (CIC) officially surrendered Mogadishu to Somali troops, backed by the Ethiopian army. A new civil war was started in Somalia between Ethiopian occupants and their supporters from the Somali Northern tribes on one side and the Islamic militants, led by the military wing of Councils of Islamic Courts – the “Al-Shabab” militia, and Southern tribes in Somalia on the other.

Since most of the religious and political leadership was either captured or fled to nearby Kenya and Eritrea, the military wing went underground and began to manage itself in the political vacuum cause by the Ethiopian invasion. Al-Shabab led, successfully, the resistance against the Ethiopian troops.

Al-Shabab began to imitate Al Qaeda by forming a media branch, using various internet sites and recruiting volunteers from all over the world. In edition to volunteers from the Muslim World, about 20 volunteers came from USA and according to the Swedish and Norwegian security services, few dozens Islamists from Scandinavia joined Al-Shabab too (see – Recruiting Footage).

Despite the complete withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia, in 02/2009, the electing of Sheik Sharif Ahmed, he himself one of the former leaders of the Council of Islamic Courts, as the president of Somalia, on 01/31/2009 (see – Square-One), and the full implementation of Islamic law in Somalia, on 04/18/2009 (see – Shariaa 04.18.09),  Al-Shabab, acting independently, vowed to topple the new regime. It is assumed that since Al-Shabab did almost all the fighting against Ethiopian occupation they feell entitled to rule Somalia or, at least, to gain a larger share in power.

Somalia is ripped by civil war for almost three decades, the same as with the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, war is a way of life in Somalia whatever the reason is.    

Al-Shabab is designated as a foreign terror organization by USA since 2006. Estimates of their strength varied between 3,000 up to 7,000 members. Al-Shabab is today (06/2009) the most powerful Islamic radical militant organization in East Africa with a potential to turn Somalia to yet another safe haven for Global Jihad.

Ahmed Godane, who also goes by the fake name Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, is the head of Al-Shabab since 05/2008, after he replaced Aden Hashi Farah, who was killed by a UAV missile attack. 

* On Monday 02/01/2010, Al-Shabab has confirmed for the first time that its fighters are aligned with Al Qaeda’s global militant campaign. The group said in a statement posted in the web that the “jihad of Horn of Africa must be combined with the international jihad led by the Al Qaeda network”.

Al-Shabab’s statement also announced that its militants had joined forces with a smaller insurgent group called Kamboni. Kamboni, based in the southern town of Ras Kamboni, was previously allied to Hizbul-Islam – another militant group fighting the government. Kamboni is led by Hassan Turki, a militant the US accuses of being a “financer of terrorism”. 

** The Somali militant Islamist group Al-Shabab has formally joined forces with Al Qaeda, Ayman Al Zawahiri, has announced in a letter distributed through the web on Thursday 02/09/2012.

**  Two top commanders of Al-Shabab group have been killed, alongside about dozen of their supporters, by their own fighters, following power struggle inside the organization with Ahmed Godane’s supporters in Kismayo in late 06/2013.

One of the dead, Ibrahim Haji Jama Mead, also known as Al-Afghani (from Afghanistan), tops Washington’s wanted list of terrorists. In June 2012, the State Department placed a US$5 million bounty for information leading to his location. The other, Abul Hamid Hashi Olhayi was also a top commander of the extremist group and one of the founders of the terrorist group. We have informed their widows of their deaths, as they must now wear the clothes of mourning,” Shabab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP, on 29/06/2013.

The man was believed to be representing Shabab’s hard-line faction that focuses on global jihad. In the last few years, the insurgent movement has split into rival factions, based along clan lines and ideological differences. It is believed that Al-Afghani challenged the command of top chief Ahmed Abdi Godane, also wanted by the USA.

** Following the death of  Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr (Ahmed Godane) by an American UAV missiles attack, on 09/01/2014, Al-Shabab has named, on 09/07/2014, Ahmad Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah, as his successor.

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