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Who’s al-Shabaab?

Ok so another day, another terrorist group. This past weekend people worldwide were glued to their TVs and radios trying to garner more and more information about the group who attacked a mall in Kenya called Al-Shebaab. It was but another senseless attack on innocent people with no real goal or request. Sure they mentioned that groups from Kenya have entered Somalia with the assistance of the US but really what did they hope to accomplish? Nothing is the answer. They attacked kill and maim innocent people who could be from any country in the world including their own.  Their attacked are just STUPID. Heck they don’t even publish a request for any type of request. It seems like they should at least say what they want and maybe threaten to do an attack if they don’t get what they want. But no this did not happen and why. Well the real reason is that they just want to hurt and kill people. They are animals! The truth is that Al-Shebab doesn’t want to be known as people who accomplish things, they want to be known as a group that kills people and their real goal is to become a group that people fear. Who does this really describe? It describes a “bully”, someone who just wants people to fear them.

The name Al-Shebaab loosely translates to “The Youth” and is a militant group known to be tied to al-Qaeda. The United States formally has categorized them as a foreign terrorist group.  You may not have known the name of the group until a few days ago when members took control of a Nairobi mall, killing at least an unknown number of people but Al-Shebaab claims they killed 137 people and held many more hostage. The government in Kenya confirms that well over 60 people have been killed but fear that number may rise to well over 100.

So let’s look at the history of this group to see what we can learn. The purpose of the group, from what we know, is to create a fundamentalist Islamic state in Somalia, where the group originates. They are also known as Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen. The African Union military has weakened the group over the past few years but they still inhabit Mogadishu and many other portions of the Somali countryside. Up until recent times the terrorist activities have mostly taken place within Somalia but they are now trying to prove they can carry out attacks outside of their area by doing attacks in Uganda’s capital in 2010 and now the deadly raid on the Westgate mall in Nairobi.

The US government fears this group because with their efforts to recruit Americans to join the group it’s only a matter of time before they launch an attack on American soil. In recent years the US government a double effort in combating the group by funding, training and providing logistical support to the UN-backed African forces battling al-Shabaab. They are also escalating operations that concentrate on counterterrorism by providing Special Forces and drones.

Since Somalia is one of the most impoverished countries in the world with little or no strong government, it makes for an easy location to grow and operate terrorist groups. The people who study these groups cite al-Shabaab precursor and incubator for many of its leaders, is Al-Ittihad Al-Islami (aka Unity of Islam). This is a militant group that peaked in the 1990’s after the fall of Siad Barre military regime (1969-1991) and the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia.

In December 2006 Ethiopia invaded Somalia and ousted the ICU from Mogadishu with little resistance at all. This intervention which was requested by the transitional government of Somalia had an effect that actually radicalized the al-Shabaab group. So with more and more people from around the world now joining this group the fears are well placed that there will probably not only be more attacks but they will take place around the world. In January 2013 the government of Ethiopia arrested more than a dozen al-Shabaab linked militants who were allegedly planning attacks in the east area of the country.

IN the area of the country they they control al-Shabaab enforces its own harsh interpretation of the sharia law. They regularly prohibit the sale of khat (a narcotic plant often chewed), and entertainment including movies, music and smoking. They also prohibit shaving and sport long beards and they often randomly decide on “un-Islamic” activities. When these rules are violated they are met with punishments such as stonings, and amputations. They also violently persecute non-Muslims like Christians. They will often record beheadings of kidnapped people from other religions to make their point (whatever that is)?

So where do they get their money to fund the group? We all remember those pirates off the coast and the the ships they took for ransom, bingo, that’s where the cash is gotten. This along with fake charities, extortion of their own people and kidnappings make up their portfolio of deeds.

I know we will never get rid of bad people but doesn’t seem like there are more and more of them? Doesn’t it seem like they are just crazier than ever? What’s your opinion? Your comments are welcome below…

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