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Increasing Terrorist Threat: Al Shabaab Essay

2095 words - 9 pages

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the increasing terrorist threat to the United States, and western interests alike, by a growing radical group named Al Shabaab, primarily located in Somalia. The United States (U.S.) and the United Kingdom (U.K.) have described this radical group as a terrorist organization with strong ties to Al-Qaida. Due to the presence of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, Al-Qaida has been on the hunt for a new, more permissive territory from which to operate. Somalia is an unstable country plagued by decades of political corruption, violence, and economic instability that make it a prime refuge for Al Shabaab to operate. As Al Shabaab tries to gain a stronghold in Somalia, any forces that threaten their goals are vulnerable to retaliatory or offensive attacks at the hands of this terrorist organization. In order to understand how the threat of Al Shabaab affects not only U.S. interests within East Africa, but has the potential to conduct attacks on U.S. soil, I will discuss their proven ability to strike targets outside of Somalia, their strategy and their eagerness to conduct attacks on public locations, and their successful recruiting campaign that expands from the African continent all the way to the U.S.
Prior to the conception of Al-Shabaab, many of its leaders were originally members of Al-Ittidad Al-Islami (AIAI), which was a militant Salafi extremist group during the 1990s. The AIAI consisted of a group of educated Somali extremists that were supported and financially backed by the Al-Qaeda network and their leader Osama bin Laden. Many of Al-Shabaab’s leaders and former AIAI members left Somalia after Ethiopia invaded the country and fought in Afghanistan alongside Al-Qaeda in the late 1990s. “The group was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in the days after the September 11, 2001 attacks” (What is al-shabab, p. 1). In 2003, after a dispute between AIAI members, the group disbanded and some of the AIAI members formed the new politically charged Islamic group named Al-Shabaab, “meaning The Youth in Arabic” (News, p. 1). Al-Shabaab’s goal was to create a unified Somalia under Islamic Law and ultimately gain control of the country.
Since the inception of Al-Shabaab, the organization has been in a constant struggle to maintain a stronghold in Somalia. Between the invasion of Ethiopian forces into Somalia in 2006 and again in 2011, Ugandan forces in 2007, Kenyan forces in 2011, as well as African Union (AU) forces backed by the United Nations (UN) occupying portions of Somalia, Al-Shabaab has increased its offensive attacks on all those that hinder their objectives in order to protect their domination over Somalia. Al-Shabaab still maintains control over many rural areas within Somalia, but the cities of Mogadishu and Kismayo remain a constant struggle. In 2011, AU forces regain control over Mogadishu. After Al-Shabaab forces kidnapped one tourist and killed...

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