Al-Shabaab is a militant Islamist group, the East African branch of Al-Qaeda, which has extended its operations beyond the borders of Somalia. It carried out attacks in neighboring countries, namely Kenya and Uganda. The composition of the militants also goes beyond the Somali nationality. Thus, Al-Shabaab can be also defined as an international terrorist organization or movement. Even though the Al-Shabaab tactics have been in recent years increasingly described as guerrilla-style, elements corresponding to the definition of terrorism cannot be denied, whether in the form of specific attacks or psychological influence on the society.
The terrorist organization was able to capture large territories of central and southern Somalia. It was also able to acquire a variety of arms, ammunition, and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) components, and use them to conduct deadly attacks throughout the entire region of East Africa. The main Al-Shabaab’s ideological goal is to create an Islamic State in Somalia (not to confuse with “ISIS” in Syria/Iraq). Al-Shabaab’s ideological doctrine is similar to other radical islamist groups. It is a Salafist doctrine with the implementation of the strict version of the Sharia law. The ideology of Al-Shabaab was significantly radicalized through pledging allegiance to Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2012, and with the outcome of internal disputes resulting in the dismissal of politically pragmatic commanders Hassan Dahir Aweys, Mukhtar Roobow, Ibrahim al-Afghani or Ma’alim Burhan.
Policy Brief – Jan Havlíček, August 2020
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