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Al-Shabaab (Al-Shabab) - 2011

Somalia Map - 2011Al-Shabab was ousted from the capital, Mogadishu, in August 2011, but still had a presence in large areas of southern Somalia and often stages attacks across the country.

There are a number of US persons who have traveled to Somalia to join up with Al Shabaab as well as with al Qaeda. there have been a number of instances over the past year where individuals have left the United States and traveled to Somalia. There have been a number of press accounts and reports about individuals who have traveled there. By 2011 at least 40 or more Americans have joined Shabaab. So many Americans have joined that at least 15 of them have been killed fighting with Shabaab, as well as three Canadians.

The Majority staff of the Committee on Homeland Security completed an investigation into the threat by al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen in Somalia, Al Qaedas major ally in East Africa, and its efforts to radicalize and recruit Muslim-Americans inside the US. The key finding reported in November 2011 was that there was "a looming danger of American Shabaab fighters returning to the US to strike or helping Al Qaeda and its affiliates attack the homeland."

By 2011 Shabaab-related federal indictments accounted for the largest number and significant upward trend in homegrown counterterrorism cases filed by the Department of Justice over the past two years. At least 38 cases have been unsealed since 2009 in Minnesota, Ohio, California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Alabama, Virginia and Texas.

Al-Shabaab used intimidation and violence to undermine the Somali government and regularly killed activists working to bring about peace through political dialogue and reconciliation. The group 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. This was the first terrorist operation that Al Shabaab carried out outside of Somalia.

Al-Shabaab was responsible for the assassination of numerous civil society figures, government officials, and journalists. Al-Shabaab fighters or those who claimed allegiance to the group also conducted violent attacks and targeted assassinations against international aid workers and nongovernmental aid organizations. It has this domestic agenda that is designed to increase its presence, its reach, its influence throughout the country. And it is dedicated to the overthrow of the recognized government of Somalia, the Transitional Federal Government.

In 2011 East African leaders declared al-Shabab a regional threat; Ethiopian, Kenyan troops entered Somalia to pursue the group. In October 2011 Kenyan forces moved into Somalia to counter cross-border kidnappings and attacks by al-Shabab. Within a week, the militant group threatened that it would bring down skyscrapers in Nairobi unless Kenyan soldiers withdrew. On 29 December 2011 an al-Shabaab spokesperson vowed that the terror group would launch retaliatory attacks in Kenya if authorities did not withdraw troops from Somalia. "Kenya has peace, its cities have tall buildings and business is flourishing there. If your government ignores our calls to stop its aggression on Somali soil, we will strike at the heart of your interests". On 16 November 2011 Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage warned "We are telling Kenya that they still have the opportunity to back away from the hellfire it was dragged into and leave our soil, otherwise they will continue suffering".

On 04 October 2011 more than 100 civilians were killed and dozens wounded when an al-Shabaab militant detonated a suicide VBIED targeting a building housing several government ministries in the K4 area of Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab spokesman Ali Muhammad Rage subsequently claimed responsibility for the attack and stated: "We are promising that attacks against the enemy will be routine, more in number, and will increase day by day".

The group gained additional notoriety by blocking the delivery of aid from some Western relief agencies during the 2011 famine that killed tens of thousands of Somalis. Al-Shabaabs actions put at even greater risk the lives of the four million people in Somalia who remain in need of emergency assistance and the 250,000 of those who are suffering from ongoing famine.




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