Al-Shabab is an FTO designated on March 18, 2008. The name Al-Shabab translates into “The Youth” in Arabic. Its goal is to overthrow the Somali government and implement Shariah law. For that reason it is viewed as similar to ISIS (Center for International Security and Cooperation, 2019). It is a breakaway terrorist group from the Islamic Courts Union, from which it separated in 2006. It is an ally of Al-Qaeda and its battle with the Somali government is considered a mission of jihad. As it is considered a holy war by the group, it has conducted its activities in Kenya and likely would extend them even further if it had the resources to do so. The group originated in the Islamic Courts Union, as the military arm of the courts, led by Aden Hashi Ayro in 1997. Under Ayro, al-Shabab engaged in lethal exercises that were not authorized by the courts. Ayro was killed in a targeted missile attack by the US in 2008 and al-Shabab took a new leader. Because the US killed its former leader, the group attacked US and UN bases. Since Trump took office, the group has been targeted more intensely and it is now very disorganized and not nearly as powerful as it was a decade ago under Ayro. Its tactics were generally guerilla-warfare tactics, including suicide bombings and attacks on churches, hotels, and schools. It has kidnapped people, destroyed property, assaulted journalists, workers, diplomats and has done everything it can to try to destabilize the government. To some extent it has been successful because the Somali government under pressure from al-Shabab did make a promise to implement Shariah law. All the same al-Shabab continues its terror campaigns, and in 2017 it killed 500 people in a bombing of Mogadishu. The organization is more a threat to peace in Somalia than it is a threat to the US. It is currently believed to have approximately 10,000 active members today (Center for International Security and Cooperation, 2019).
Center for International Security and Cooperation. (2019). Al Shabaab. Retrieved from https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/al-shabaab
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