Saturday, March 1, 2014
THE RISE OF A JIHADI MOVEMENT IN A COUNTRY AT WAR
HARAKAT AL-SHABAAB AL MUJAHEDD IN SOMALIA
Senior Research Fellow at CNRS
SciencesPo Paris March 2011
This report is independent and does not represent the views of Her Majesty’s Government
Chapter I: Historical Background to the Development of al-Shabaab
1. A political history
1.1. Learning from failures? The radicalisation of the Somali Islamist movement
1.2. The experiments of the Islamic Courts
1.3. The emergence of al-Shabaab
2. Getting organized
2.1. The Supreme Council
2.2. The ministries or Maktabs
Chapter II: The confrontation with other Islamic Trends
1. The Salafi divide
2. Al-I’tisaam, Muqawama and the Salafi Trend
3. The merging with Hisbul Islaam
4. The collusion with Takfiir wa Hijra
5. An apolitical Jihad?
Chapter III: Citizens of Jihad. Al-Shabaab Recruitment
1. Joining al-Shabaab
1.1. Coerced recruitments
1.2. Economic incentives
1.3. Born again Jihadists
1.4. Recruitment of diaspora and East African radicalized Muslims
1.5. Challenging generational privileges
2. Short notes on the media policy
3. Recruitment among political “minorities”
Chapter IV: Al-Shabaab Military Tactics
1. The modernisation of war and the globalisation of suicide bombers
2. Organizing the coexistence of foreign and local fighters
3. Military misadventures
Chapter V: Funding an apparatus and ruling a population
1. Getting money for al-Shabaab
1.1. Collecting money outside the country
1.2. Getting funding from Somalia: maximisation of the protection economy
2. Building local administrations
2.1. Taking over a region
2.2. Building an authority
4. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This study intends to provide a fresh understanding of what the Somali Jihadi movement, al-
Shabaab, has become over the last 6 years in terms of social constituency, political project, links
to foreign Jihadi supporters and military power. Data are those collected by the authors and in
the public domain.
The main finding of this analysis is that al-Shabaab found ways to evolve and get lessons from
previous strategic mistakes. Near to be eradicated in January 2007, this group is today the
most powerful one in Somalia. The main instruments for this resilience have been: highly
debatable western and regional policies that allowed this movement that claims a global agenda
to appear as the best defender of the Somali nationalism; the illegitimacy of its contenders in
southern Somalia; and the ability to structure the organisation using economic and ideological
resources in a very innovative and efficient manner, thanks to foreign support.
Yet, as analysed hereafter, al-Shabaab is not deprived of strategic weaknesses. Its status
within the Somali Islamist trend is subject to bitter discussions and al-Shabaab over the last
year lost the support of very influential Salafi ‘ulemaa who before were sympathetic to its
regional agenda. Its military tactics are often unproductive and may prove self exhausting. The
fear it creates while governing populations also may push people to leave areas it controls.
Although the movement is polarized by its military agenda, it has to rule population and get
involved in many day-to-day problems that create the need for a more consistent administrative
framework, and raise ambitions among its commanders. While it is eager to address local issues
and restore law and order, its extremism is questioned by popular grievances, as illustrated by
the reactions to the current drought.
One concerning consequence of the Western misreading of the Somali crisis after 9/11 is the
attraction created by Somalia for foreign Jihadists. Although most are either Somalis with a
foreign passport or lost individuals (often recently converted or born again Muslims), two
patterns should be considered. The Somali diaspora is playing a role that has become increasingly
important both in funding that organisation or providing it with military and civilian cadres (even
for short periods). The “genuine” foreign fighters are increasingly East African citizens
(compared to 2007 and 2008) and this trend may likely produce Jihadi movements in Kenya,
Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa in the next two or three years...more
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