Find a Security Clearance Job!


Al-Shabaab (Al-Shabab)
The Supreme Islamic Courts Union (ICU)

Al-Shabaab (Also known as: Al-Shabaab Al-Islaam, Al-Shabaab al-Islamiya, Al-Shabaab Al-Jihaad, Al-Shabab, Ash-shabaab, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, Harakat Shabab Al-Mujahidin, Harakatul Shabaab al-Mujaahidiin, Hizbul Shabaab, Hisb'ul Shabaab, HSM, Mujahideen Youth Movement, Mujahidin Al-Shabaab Movement, Mujaahidiin Youth Movement, Mujahidin Youth Movement, Shabaab, MYM, The Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations, The Unity of Islamic Youth, The Youth, Young Mujahideen Movement, Young Mujahideen Movement in Somalia, Youth Wing) 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.

Al-Shabaab's objective is the establishment of an Islamic state in Somalia, based on Islamic law and the elimination of foreign 'infidel' influence. In pursuance of this objective, al-Shabaab has conducted a violent insurgency against the TFG, and foreign forces supporting the TFG. Al-Shabaab seeks the creation of an 'Islamic Emirate of Somalia', to include Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland, north-eastern Kenya, the Ogaden region of Ethiopia and Djibouti. 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.

The group has exerted temporary and, at times, sustained control over strategic locations in those areas by recruiting, sometimes forcibly, regional sub-clans and their militias, using guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and its allies, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers, and nongovernmental aid organizations.

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. During 2007, elements of al-Shabaab adopted tactics used by Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Iraq including the employment of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), roadside bombs, suicide attacks and beheadings. 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. Suicide-vehicle bombings in October 2008 in Hargeysa and Boosaaso, northern Somalia, were also widely attributed to al-Shabaab.

On 29 February 2008, the US Government designated al-Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (as amended) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 (as amended). In 2012, the Rewards for Justice program added several al-Shabaab leaders to its site, offering large rewards for information leading to their capture.

Al-Shabaab encompassed a number of elements, ranging from those focused solely on the domestic insurgency in Somalia to elements that support al-Qa'ida's global jihadist ideology. Al-Shabaab is not centralized or monolithic in its agenda or goals. Its rank-and-file members come from disparate clans, and the group is susceptible to clan politics, internal divisions, and shifting alliances. Most of its fighters are predominantly interested in the nationalistic battle against the TFG and not supportive of global jihad. The organization's precise numbers were unknown as of 2008, but by 2013 estimates of al-Shabaab fighters varied from 3,000 to as high as 7,000, with most members being ethnic Somalis. Al-Shabaab has long recruited members from Kenya. However, a small number of al-Shabaab fighters are from other countries including the US and Canada.

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-Shabaabs senior leadership was affiliated with al-Qaida and was believed to have trained and fought in Afghanistan. The merger of the two groups was publicly announced in February 2012 by the al-Shabaab amir and Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaida. Al-Shabaab received significant donations from the global Somali diaspora. It also raised funds in Somalia.

Join the mailing list