Al-Shabaab is one of emerging terrorist groups in the world. It is categorized as an emerging terrorist group from renowned ones like al-Qaida group. It is compared to Boca Haram in Nigeria which has resorted to killing and maiming people in the country because of their religious affiliations. Al-Shabaab is based in Somalia, a country in the eastern part of Africa. However, this ragtag terrorist group has advanced towards adjacent East African nations such as Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. In Kenya, this group has been accused of a number of terrorist attacks, including bombing residential and commercial areas, piracy in the Indian Ocean, and kidnappings.
Initially, Al-Shabaab was known as Harakat Shabaab, and it is defined as a militant group which has been advocating for radical changes in Somalia. The group has been championing the entrenchment of Islamic laws in the country and adjacent regions such as the Somali region in Kenya. It is full of youths from the Mujahedeen movement. It has sought to establish its own courts in Somalia, especially in the southern part of the country since mid-2006. The group’s visions have been altered over time. For example, so as to sustain itself in the country, this militant group has forced residents to contribute to the management of the group. It has taken over strategic economic resources such as airports and harbors for survival.
Recently, this militant organization has joined the ranks of the major terrorist group in the world, which is the Al-Qaida terrorist group. According to Rollins (2010, 20), the leadership and management of this militant organization is not well understood. However, there are particular individuals who are associated with the group, and who are thought to be the forces behind its resurgence in East Africa. Presently, it is known as an affiliate of Al-Qaeda. Recently, the group has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. According to Ploch (2011, 9), the world terrorist group Al-Qaeda has funded Al-Shabaab as a way of fighting the joint AMISON effort. However, the whole world is interested in the total elimination of this group, and the United States of America is leading in fighting the group to death.
The world has been advocating for total elimination of this group and other affiliates of Osama Bin Laden. African nations under the African Union umbrella have put in all efforts to diminish the strength of the group. The concentration has been on destroying their hideouts in Somalia and adjacent countries and cutting down their financial links. Recently, Kenyan military have entered Somalia to fight the group. Kenya has faced full wrath of the presence of this group in Somalia and inside Kenya in the past and at present. Prior to the military incursion, there was a spate of kidnappings inside Kenya and in the Indian Ocean. Recently, this militant organization has resorted to bombing residential, commercial, religious, and entertainment joints in Mombasa, Nairobi, and the north-eastern part of the country. Total elimination of this group is thought to be achieved with the help of full collaboration of East African nations, Africa as a whole, and the whole world.
Terrorist profile for Al-Shabaab
Sheikh Ibrahim al-Afghani
He is also referred to as Ibrahim Haji Mee’aad Jama. He is a very prominent leader of Al-Shabaab in Somalia and a senior person in the militant group. He is recognized as a person who got leadership after Godane on 25th December, 2010, and this was after a power struggle pitting some leaders of the group and Godane. Initially, this leader was in charge of financial matters of the group as the deputy leader. He was reported to have been murdered in a drone attack aimed at the training site of Al-Shabaab in Somalia on June 25, 2011. His death was not confirmed, and it is assumed that this leader of this militant group is still alive and in leadership.
This leader is recognized as one of the initial founders of Al-Shabaab, and, therefore, he is a very important person in the leadership and ranking of the group. He is held high by other members of the group, and numerous terrorist attacks can be attributed to his immense leadership capabilities. Afghani is from the sub-clan of Isaaq and has members of Habar Awal. This clan has achieved strong recognition and presence in Somalia; this is because of a number of other leaders of the group. For example, Godane is from this clan. This is a strong indication that this particular clan is the pillar of Al-Shabaab. Though there is little information regarding this leader, there are all indications that he has a lot of influence. It is thought that if this militant group is to be totally destroyed, then such a leader has to be eliminated.
Afghani has fought with the Al Qaeda group in Kashmir and Afghanistan. This contribution has earned this leader a great reputation and respect from members of Al-Shabaab. He is in the hard-line section of Al-Shabaab, which cannot change any time soon. While a number of Al-Shabaab members have stopped being part of the group and joined government supported military, this leader still holds original values of the group. He is a kind of person who totally sacrifices for the group, and the survival of the group is said to solely depend on his immense influence and leadership capabilities. He is a strong advocate of Jihad, a vision that is mostly attributed to Islamic religion. However, Islam in East Africa have denied links with the group and its hard-line killing missions. Therefore, it can be thought that this leader acts on his own, and the values attributed to him are not entirely Islamic values. Over time, he has been the resistant force for the militant group. For example, he led the group forces in defeating Hizb al Islam when the latter threatened to take control of Kismayo, an important strategic port which finances the group’s activities inside Somalia and its environs. This was in 2009, and there was a confirmation that this leader is the force behind the spate of dangerous undertakings by the group.
Sheikh Ali Zubeyr (Godane)
This is another renowned leader for the Al-Shabaab group in Somalia. The influence of this leader on the militant group is not only recognized in Somalia. He is also recognized internationally for interventions and fighting he has done for other major terrorist groups in the world. This leader of Al-Shabaab also goes by the names Ahmad Abdi, Muqtar Abdurahman, and Muktar Abdirahman among others. Godane got his training in military fighting in Afghanistan. After a spate of terrorist attacks in the world and in Somalia, he has been marked as a dangerous terrorist by the United States of America. He is the successor to Mukhar Robow Sheikh who was holding the leadership position for months when Adan Eyrow died.
Godane was born on 10th July, 1977 in Hargeisa and comes from Isaaq tribe. Just like Afghani who is also on the terrorist’s wanted list by the United States of America, Godane has been a critical member of this militant group. The death of Godane can be celebrated by all wishing to have a peaceful world. He became secretary of the council of Islamic courts, which was an organization led by Sharif Ahmed, who also serves as the president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. In 2009, Godane was shown in a video offering some services to Osama bin Laden, and this was when the militant group was urged by Osama to take over Somalia by overthrowing the president. He has since reiterated his support for Al Qaeda, the latest being in 2010. He was then speaking on behalf of Al-Shabaab before he was succeeded by Afghan.
In December, 2010, he was removed from the ranks of Al-Shabaab as Emir, and this was when there was a dispute and crisis in the organization. It was about the role of Hassan Dahil in the group, and this was after Hizbul Islam, another militant group, became part of Al-Shabaab. Godane did not like the idea of the two groups becoming one and the leadership of Hassan Aweys Dahir. However, because other leaders such as Fudad Mohamed and Mukhtar Robow were in support of Hassan becoming a leader of Al-Shabaab, he had to be removed for effective assumption of leadership of Hassan. He was to be replaced by Afghani, who was a true loyalist of Robow and Al-Shabaab. Despite these disagreements, Godane remains a critical figure in the management of the group as a whole, and that is why he continues to be one of the wanted criminals in the world. He is regarded as a potential and emergent leader of international terrorism, and therefore his influence has to be cut short.
Hassan Dahil Aweys
This is another important figure in the management of Al-Shabaab. As noted in the discussion about the influence and leadership of Godane, it was noted that Godane was in opposition to Hassan’s assumption of importance in Al-Shabaab. Hassan has powerful influences and he is a good leader. Also, he has been put as one of the most dangerous people in the world. He is not only a terrorist, but also a political figure in Somalia. He was added as one of the most dangerous people in the world by the U.S government in 2001, and this only confirms that he is rather influential. He was born in 1935, and because of his age, he is considered as a role model in terrorism. He is a very radical figure and a strong promoter of Sharia law in Islamic dominated countries.
Hassan has directed militias in Mogadishu several times. He has been critical in the formation and running of Islamic courts in Somalia, as well as collecting of levies from people in Somalia. He was the leader of Hizbul Islam and only became part of Al-Shabaab when his group merged with the main militant group in Somalia. According to Aynte (4th April 2012, Para 1), Hassan is one of the best and renowned holy warriors in Somalia. He has been used by the militant group several times to interpret Sharia and to extend these preaching to terrorist activities. However, several times he has accused the management of Al-Shabaab and has tried to monopolize Jihad. He is also credited in trying to globalize the conflict in Somalia, as well as being involved in a spate of assassinations of Somalis. He is recognized widely as a strong supporter of laws of Islamic religion, especially the laws seemingly supporting maiming and killing of those who go against teachings of the religion. His influence can never be underestimated in Somalia, and that is why he remains as a wanted terrorist in the world.
Hassan comes from Galgudud region, and he is a member of Habar Gedir sub clan of Ayr. This is also the sub-clan of Hawiye clan. He has been to a number of countries in the world, and during all of the visits, he has been to assist and to promote terrorism. That is why he was called one of most wanted criminals in the world by the United States in the early 21st century. The defeat of such a person and eventual killing would be a major boost to the fight against terrorism, and a lot of countries which do not support terrorism have been calling for termination of this person’s life. Overall, he has been the face of terrorism advocated by Al-Shabaab in recent times, and he has accused the United States and allies of trying to end terrorism. He is a most dangerous person in the same category of leaders of Al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden. The world cannot live in peace when Hassan is still roaming in Somalia.
Organizations, future trends, and counter terrorism
According to Bjelopera (2011, 70), Al Shabaab does not have a formal structure. The group is led by individuals taking formal and informal roles. There are no particular offices or a state organization for the group. It only has individuals who have assumed responsibilities for taking the group to the next level. Overall, this group is part of Al Qaeda, and therefore the main leader is Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Different people have taken leadership and quitted at some point. Godane, Ayro, Muktar, and Hassan have been leaders of this group.
The future of this group is dim. This is because there have been recent reports that the group is disintegrating. The strength of the group in Somalia is in the southern part of Somalia. Since Kenya entered this part, the strength of the group has diminished considerably. Fractions and cracks are emerging, and all of these point to the fact that in due time, the group will have little strength. The United States government and other supportive governments have been fighting the group from all corners. The support provided by world bodies such as the United Nations points to the fact that the group will die at some point.
However, there should be particular counter-terrorism measures that have to be taken to eliminate this group. To start with, Kenya has faced the wrath of this group, and therefore it is important the government of Kenya be supported to fight the group to death. Anti-terrorism laws have to be enhanced in countries surrounding Somalia. Kenya has anti-terrorism laws, but they have not been applicable due to political differences, especially considering the influence of Islamic religion in Kenya. The whole of Africa should come in support of the groups fighting this militant group in Somalia. This can be achieved by providing more and more soldiers to go to Somalia. This way, this group would eventually collapse.