The Supreme Islamic Courts Union (ICU)
Al-Shabaab (also spelled Al-Shabab and also known as the Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin, Shabaab, the Youth, Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement, Mujahideen Youth Movement, Mujahidin Youth Movement) was the militant wing of the former Somali Supreme Islamic Courts Union (ICU), that had taken over most of southern Somalia in the second half of 2006. In December 2006 and January 2007, Somali government and Ethiopian forces routed the Islamic Court militias in a 2-week war. After the end of 2006, al-Shabaab and disparate clan militias had led a violent insurgency, using guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics against the Ethiopian presence in Somalia and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, and subsequently African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers. Al-Shabaab was formally designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the US State Department on 29 February 2008.
The majority of Ethiopian troops left Somalia in late January 2007 and the subsequent security vacuum in parts of central and southern Somalia led divergent factions to oppose al-Shabaab and its extremist ideology. However, hardcore al-Shabaab fighters and allied militias continued to conduct brazen attacks in Mogadishu and outlying environs, primarily in lower-Somalia. After al-Shabaab's leaders publicly ordered their fighters to attack African Union (AU) peace-keeping troops based in Mogadishu, a suicide vehicle bomber detonated near an AU base in the capital on 24 January 2008, killing an estimated 13 people. The organization's precise numbers were unknown as of 2008, but some of al-Shabaab's senior leaders were thought to be affiliated with al-Qa'ida (AQ) operatives, and it was believed that specific al-Shabaab members had previously trained and fought with AQ in Afghanistan. Al-Shabaab had issued statements praising Usama Bin Ladin and linking Somalia jihadists to AQ's global ideology. Al-Shabaab received significant donations from the global Somali diaspora. It also raised funds in Somalia.
Al-Shabaab had used intimidation and violence to undermine the Somali government and regularly kills activists working to bring about peace through political dialogue and reconciliation. The group has claimed responsibility for several high profile bombings and shootings in Mogadishu targeting Ethiopian troops and Somali government officials. In July 2010, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for 2 suicide bombings in Kamapala, Uganda, which killed over 70 people. These bombings were said to be in retaliation for Uganda's participation in the AMISOM mission in Somalia. Al-Shabaab had been responsible for the assassination of numerous civil society figures, government officials, and journalists. Al-Shabaab fighters or those who have claimed allegiance to the group had also conducted violent attacks and targeted assassinations against international aid workers and nongovernmental aid organizations.
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