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Al-Shabaab (Al-Shabab) - 2015

By late 2015 the militant group was changing its strategy because their leadership and strength was spread across the country before; but they lost those towns and territories, which gave them the opportunity to come together in small areas to unite their leadership and power. This allowed the group to carry out specific planned attacks on selective targets such as hotel attacks. They also overran three African Union peacekeepers' bases and detonated a bomb on the grounds of Somalia's presidential palace.

Ahmed Abdi Godane took over leadership of al-Shabab after his predecessor, Adan Hashi Ayro, was killed in a US airstrike in 2008. Godane rose to power and has sustained his authority in al-Shabab through a combination of charisma and brute force. Known as an eloquent speaker and poet, he rallied many to the Islamist group's fight against the Somali government and foreign forces in Somalia, and has helped funnel money to the organization. Since becoming emir of al-Shabab in 2008, Godane commanded the group's militant operations, and forged a formal alliance with the al-Qaida terrorist network in 2012. Godane consolidated power by eliminating rivals within al-Shabab, through his command of a personal team of young, loyal militants called the Amniyat. His deputy, Ibrahim al-Afghani was killed in 2013, after sending an open letter to al-Qaida's central leadership complaining about Godane's despotic rule.

Godane was killed in a US drone strike on 01 September 2014. There were no obvious successors to Godane, and further internal violence is likely in the event of a power vacuum. What was likely as a result is further disintegration and fragmentation of the organization and possibly the emergence of much more extremist and violent groups from the ashes of al-Shabab. The al-Qaida linked militants announced the selection of Abu Ubeid Ahmed Omar to replace Ahmed Abdi Godane.

Under an offensive named Operation Indian Ocean, Somali and African Union troops dislodged the extremist group from a string of towns. The operation saw the federal government exert its authority in areas once under al-Shabab control. The al-Shabab was pushed out of its last stronghold in Somalia, the coastal city of Barawe, in late October 2014. African Union forces and Somali soldiers liberated it in their latest military victory. For six long years, Barawe located 220 kilometers or 137 miles southwest of the capital served as al-Shabab's main headquarters and human slaughterhouse. With control of Barawe, the government hopes to deprive al-Shabab of three things: a major route for importing weapons, the movement of local and foreign fighters, and its financial lifeline.

The attack 02 April 2015 at Garissa University College that left 148 people dead along with the four attackers was the worst in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy by al-Qaida. The al-Shabab attackers stormed the campus before dawn Thursday and began shooting indiscriminately. Witnesses say the gunmen later targeted Christians and freed some Muslims. Al-Shabab said the attack was revenge for Kenyan military action inside neighboring Somalia.

According to UN assessments, trends reflected in a 2012 Human Rights Watch report continued in 2015. These included children in al-Shabaab training camps subjected to grueling physical training, inadequate diet, weapons training, physical punishment, and religious training. The training also included forcing children to punish and execute other children. Al-Shabaab used children in combat, including placing them in front of other fighters to serve as human shields and suicide bombers. In August the CPU reported that 26 children who had previously served in al-Shabaab turned themselves in to federal government representatives in the Tieglow District. In addition, al-Shabaab used children in support roles, such as carrying ammunition, water, and food; removing injured and dead militants; gathering intelligence; and serving as guards. The organization sometimes used children to plant roadside bombs and other explosive devices. The Somali press frequently carried accounts of al-Shabaab indoctrinating children at schools and forcibly recruiting students into its ranks.

Al-Shabaab continued to recruit and force children to participate in direct hostilities, including suicide attacks. Al-Shabaab raided schools, madrassas, and mosques for recruitment purposes. According to UN assessments, trends reflected in a 2012 Human Rights Watch report continued. These included children in al-Shabaab training camps subjected to grueling physical training, inadequate diet, weapons training, physical punishment, and religious training.

The training also included forcing children to punish and execute other children. Al-Shabaab used children in combat, including placing them in front of other fighters to serve as human shields and suicide bombers. In August the CPU reported that 26 children who had previously served in al-Shabaab turned themselves in to federal government representatives in the Tieglow District. In addition, al-Shabaab used children in support roles, such as carrying ammunition, water, and food; removing injured and dead militants; gathering intelligence; and serving as guards. The organization sometimes used children to plant roadside bombs and other explosive devices. The Somali press frequently carried accounts of al-Shabaab indoctrinating children at schools and forcibly recruiting students into its ranks.




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