Somalia has been experiencing a lot of terrorism acts in the recent past. It has been declared a major threat to the security of most countries in the world especially its neighboring countries. The terrorist groups that are found there include the al-Qaeda, the al-Shabaab and other small jihad groups. The Al-Shabaab is the most dominant in the country and they have taken over the country’s capital city, Mogadishu. They are terrorizing the citizens of the country and making it difficult for the transitional government to form a more stable government in the country.
The Al-Shabaab is trying to take control of the country as they want make the country an Islam religious country. They have formulated their own laws that are based on their own understanding of the Islamic laws. They are forcing these laws on the areas they have control over.
The Al Shabaab has also been trying to recruit more western youth of Somali origin to join their group.
There has been intensive training that has been going on in Somali that is focusing on both military training and ideological training of the Islamic law. The Somali government has sought help from other countries like Ethiopia after the country was declared a failed state. The African Union has sent troops to help the Somali government maintain a stable government until the country is able to form a stable and powerful government that will be able to curb the terrorism problem that is being witnessed in the country.
The future of terrorism it has been noted is being established by the al-Shabaab and not much is being done to fight them. The US has been carrying out surveillance in the country as they try to check on the activities of the militia groups and mark the location of their leaders. So far it has been able to kill the leader of the group and other influential leaders. Other countries are also trying to support the Somali and the AU troops by providing training, support and providing guns and ammunition as they try to come up with a solution to the terrorism problem.
In recent years, Somalia has been involved in various acts that are being classified as terrorism and there have been such incidents of terrorism that have originated from Somalia. Somalia is a country that was ruled by the British and gained independence in 1960. It was then ruled by a democratic government for nine years until a military coup took place that was led by Major General Muhammad Siad Barre who then took over. He led until 1991 when the opposition took over and overthrew him. After he was overthrown, several clans from the northern side of the country declared independence and made the country a republic. There was peace and stability which still remains unrecognized in the north. In the south, violence began to emerge as rival war loads were fighting to get power and dominance in the southern region. This led to the United Nations Security Council to sponsor an intervention that was led by the U.S. The mission however ended shortly after there was more violence in the streets of Mogadishu and the US made unexpected losses.
There have been several attempts since then to form a government in the country but they have all failed. The fourteenth effort led to the formation of a transitional government in October 2004. The transitional government led to the inclusion of the warlords in parliament. The Warlords are said to hinder the formation of a government as this would lead to them loosing control and power that they are seeking. However after 15 years of recurrent violence in the country, it has been defined as a failed state as it is not able to come up with a controlling and powerful government to protect its citizens . There is a power vacuum in the country which has led to the terrorism that is now being experienced in the country.
Warlords in the country have formed an alliance called the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter – Terrorism that is opposing the militia in the country. There were clashes between the militia and the alliance in May 2006 that led to the worst violence that the country had ever seen in decades and in June 5 of the same year the Militia conquered and seized Mogadishu completely. This take over of Mogadishu by the militia has made the country become attractive to terrorists. Members of Al –Qaeda have sought refuge here since then and the lack of a functioning government has made the Somalia borders accessible. The borders can be crossed without visas and once inside the country the lack of a real law enforcer makes the place a good haven for the terrorists. This paper discusses terrorism in Somalia after 2008 and makes judgments about the prospects of terrorism in Somalia and in the neighboring countries.
2.0 Literature review
Several studies have been carried out on the terrorism challenge that is facing the government of Somalia. One of the studies by Daveed Gartenstein –Ross captures the strategic challenge that the country is facing that has been brought about by the rise of the al-Shabaab and the influence of the al-Qaeda on the country. The study compares Somalia with Pakistan in the fact that the country is now similar to Pakistan as it is providing a safe haven for the breeding of terrorists. The study also highlights the fact that there has been a relatively large number of Americans who are travelling to Somalia to receive military training. This makes the individuals that are linked to the al-Shabaab a major threat to the US domestic security.
Another study that has been carried out is one that centered on the terrorism that is being experienced in Somalia and its prospects by Michael and Hallundbaek. It centered on the history of the Al Shabaab and the nature of the Jihad in Somalia. It also concerns itself on the recruitment of other foreign fighters in the al Shabaab and other militia groups. It states that the history of such recruitments shows that they are not a new development, but they are traceable way back in the 1990’s but they are now changing and the influx of foreign fighters has been changing tremendously with time. It also identifies a correlation between the local conflicts being carried out in Somalia and the Muslim countries in foreign countries such as Europe.
3.0 Nature of terrorism and its activities in Somalia
Terrorism acts in the country continue to increase and the transitional government is unable to handle and curb the spread the increase of the terrorism groups. Over the years the numbers of terrorism acts continue to increase and they are even targeting members of the government. Not much is being done to reduce the terrorism levels in the country and the situation is becoming difficult to handle for the transitional government. The president of Somalia has openly stated that the government of Somalia is challenged by the existence of terrorism in the country . He has been seeking help and support from the Somalia citizens that are living in the Diaspora in order to make the war-torn country peaceful. He said that the fighting that was taking place in the country was not that of clans but it was a foreign idea that was taking hold of Somalia. He also mentioned that the country is in need of a strong and functioning government that can be able to take responsibility for its people’s security.
3.1 Terrorist Groups in Somalia
There are two known active terrorist groups that exist in Somalia; one of them is the Osama bin Laden terrorist group, the al-Qaeda. It is believed to have been responsible for the bombing that took place in 2008 on the US Embassy in Kenya. The group was also involved in the bombing of a Mombasa resort hotel in Kenya and the failed missile attack on a jet in 2002 that belonged to Israel. The International Crisis Group (ICG) has reported that there is also another group of terrorists that exists in Somalia. The second group is composed of local Jihads and it emerged in 2003. It has in the past carried out several massacres and assassinations that included the murder of an Italian nun. The group is led by Aden Hashi Ayro who received in Afghanistan and is referred to as the Al-Shabaab. The group is decentralized all over Somalia and it has no ideological agenda. The group is said to be the most dominant group in Somalia that is causing a lot of terror and destruction through merciless killings and suicide bombings.
a) Al Shabaab Militia group
The Al Shabaab militia group was formed out of the Union of Islamic Courts and rages war on the Ethiopian troops and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Al Shabaab which is the Arabic meaning of youth is an inspired militant group that has taken control of the Southern and Central Somalia . It is a violent and an extremist group that has affiliations with the al-Qaeda. It uses intimidation and violence to undermine the Somali government and continues to threaten the civil and society activists who are working to bring peace and reconciliation in the country. In 2008, they warned the participants of the reconciliation conference that was to take place in Mogadishu. They scattered leaflets in the town which said that they would kill everyone that attended the conference and bomb the conference venue. They did not carry out the threats they had made but they were able to threaten the lives of the people and instill fear among the activists.
The Al-Shabaab has been known to carry out attacks that target the government and troops that belong to the AU. The UN called on the African Union member countries to assist Somali by sending them peacekeeping troops that will help them maintain peace and stability as the country tries to form a government that is powerful . The Al-Shabaab has since then be targeting these troops mostly from Ethiopia and some of the government officials in a bid to discourage the peacekeeping efforts and the formation of a government. They are seeking to establish a government that is state owned that they shall govern through their own conception of the Islamic law and remove infidels who may be Ethiopians or from the United States. Their leader, Aden Hashi Ayrow, had declared war on the African Union (AU) troops that were based in Mogadishu . They also attack any civilians who are Somali’s and are considered to be betraying Islamic morals and religion.
They carried out two bombings on the Somali port of Bossaso on 6th February 2008 and killed over twenty people and injured more that 100 people who were seeking treatment after that. The port is normally an entry point of Ethiopian nationals who use it as a transit point as they try to reach Yemen. The attack was deemed as one of the worst attacks in the country and they were caused by two grenades that went off in a span of two minutes and were targeting a place that was highly populated. The Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the two attacks through the internet and said that the reason for carrying out the bombing was targeting some Ethiopian and Putland soldiers who fought in Mogadishu. The soldiers had also brought their wives and they were therefore punishing them for their sinful acts of going for entertainment and their harmful culture that was against the Islamic morals and their religion.
They have also carried out several attacks that were targeting government officials. One of the incidences that have occurred has illustrated the existence of the Al-Shabaab in Somalia and proven their terrorism actions. In October 29 2008, a string of suicide bombings were reported to have targeted government buildings and the United Nations compound and they left at least twenty five people dead. The attack was said to have links to the al-Qaeda terror network that was in Somalia. Later it was confirmed that the attack had been carried out by the Al Shabaab. Among those that were reported dead were several U.N employees after the three suicide car bombers attacked the offices of the U.N and the Ethiopian consulate where several people were lined up to get visas. A Presidential palace was also bombed in Hargesia the capital of Somali land. At the exact same time other suicide bombers were striking anti terror police and killed about 6 people among them 4 police officers. These attacks were said to have been carried out by the al-Qaeda terrorists more specifically by the Al-Shabaab militant group who are said to have links to the al Qaeda and were trying to gain control of the Somali country and push the Ethiopian troops who were loyal to the transitional government out of the country. They killed several people but they were not able to push the troops out of the country.
The U.S has been trying to end the terrorism acts in Somalia by assisting the African Union troops through training and giving them advice that can help them to handle the militia groups. They have also helped to provide guns and ammunition that is helping the troops fight the militia especially the al-Shabaab. They have used special surveillance equipment to be able to locate the position of the militia groups and their leaders . This has helped in targeting and killing the leaders and some of the members of the groups before they carried out an attack. They have been searching for the leaders of the groups of terrorism in Somalia in order to reduce the influence the leaders have on the group. This would help reduce the spread of the group and also make them discouraged in their efforts.
The leader of the group, Aden Hashi Farah Ayro was killed by the U.S air strike in May 2008. They used their special surveillance equipment to spot him and got his exact location. They then flew to the exact location and killed him together with some of his followers. The Al-Shabaab leader was considered to be an instrumental leader of the al-Shabaab and was also involved with the Al Qaeda in Somalia. He was a member of the Ayr sub clan in Somalia and had also joined the Islamic court. He was trained in explosives and insurgency tactics in Afghanistan and was also assisting in the Islamic courts Union after he returned to Somalia. He was therefore very well conversant with the Islamic laws and guidelines. Through his relationship and involvement in the Islamic courts and his training and experience in the use of explosives and insurgency tactics he was able to form the Al Shabaab militia. He became their leader and came up with the aim of the group. The aim was to create an Islamic state in Somalia that was to be ruled by the Islamic Sharia law. The Al shabaab group has been linked to causing death and destruction in its wake and is thought to have sent hundreds of troops to Lebanon to fight against Israel.
Even after the death of their leader, the militia group has continued to cause death and destruction all over Somalia. On 3rd December 2009, there was a suicide bombing that took place in the country and there were over 25 people who were killed in the deadly attack. The bombing took place at a hotel by the name Shamo where hundreds had gathered to celebrate the graduation of medical students of Benadit University. The bombing was carried out by a suicide bomber who was dressed up like a woman complete with female shoes and a veil. Those who were killed included the Health Minister at the time, Qamar Aden Ali, Education Minister Ahmed Abdulahi Waayee and Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Hassan Addow . Although there were claims that the government was involved in the bombing as some of the government officials had been spotted walking out of the building just before the incident, the President of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed described the incident as a national disaster and refuted these claims. The group had previously carried out several suicide bombings on government buildings targeting the government officials and had immediately claimed responsibility for them. Three journalists were also killed but most of the people who were killed were mainly students. Over 60 people were injured in the incident.
b) Other Jihadist terrorist groups
There are other groups of terrorists that exist in Somali and they are mostly involved with suicide bombing. They have been known to carry out this kind of attacks that are targeted on civilians, African union troops and the government officials. These groups are local and they do not have a destined role or purpose that they use as they are targeting and killing. This is in contrast to the Al-Shabaab group who has a purpose of forming their own government based on their Islamic laws that they have developed from their own understanding. These groups view the suicide attempts as part of their religious custom and in line with their belief of suicide being a deeply religious act that shows one strong belief and is deeply praised.
A top leader in Islam who is very radical called for more suicide attacks on the African Union peacekeepers in the country on September 2009 after several other deadly attacks that were also suicidal took place. He spoke during a public prayer at Elshabiyaha. About 21 other people had been killed in the same month in Mogadishu after a twin bomb attack that was performed by a member of the group. The jihadists were pushing for the African union peace keepers to leave the country threatening that there shall be no peace until they leave the country.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Somali jihadist pirates are also involved in the attacks that are being carried out on the US Navy ships. The pirates attack the ships and they threaten the lives of other humans and they end up disrupting international commerce. Some of them have been arrested and charged with piracy related offences involving the Navy Ships. In April 10 2010, 11 men Somali origin that are believed to be part of the terrorist group were charged with piracy which has a mandatory penalty of life in prison. They were also charged with other charges that were connected to the piracy.
3.2 Human Rights Violations
Reports that have been made on the conditions and the situations existing in Somali have shown that the existence of the terrorist groups has led to an increase in human rights violation and other rights and crime rates have increased. This situation has led to the increased urgency in the need to stop the terrorists. The al-shabaab has been controlling the south and central parts of Somali. They are known to have the largest controlling power more than the TFG who are found at Mogadishu and have limited power outside the city. The al-Shabaab has therefore taken upon them to dictate all the details of the civilians in how they should live. From the way they dress, pray and have also been observing the cell phone ring tones of the citizens to ensure that they are not against the morals and the Islamic laws in the tune and language used. Most of these restrictions fall on the women and they have taken to place harsh punishments on the women. Some of the punishments that are imposed on the wrong doers include head shavings, amputations and in some circumstances they kill the wrong doer through stoning. They have also been known to whip women and beat and slap men for the mistakes of their women whether they are their wives, daughters or mothers. Those who violate the verdicts made by the Al –Shabaab have been killed at the spot.
According to a report made by the Human Rights Watch Organization, there have been gross violations of human rights in the country that are carried out by mostly the al Shabaab. Through the laws they are inflicting on the people they have violated most of the human rights and they continue to fight with the AU troops and the TFG to have control of the whole country so that they are able force these laws on all the citizens of the country. One of the far reaching rules that they have come up with is the amputation of hands and the executions of wrong doers that are being carried out in broad daylight in front of a crowd as a lesson to any other wrong doer. These executions and amputation are carried out on the Islamic believers and any other person despite their religion and the punishments are based on their version of the Islamic law.
An 18 year old man was interviewed by the Human Rights Watch Organization and described one amputation that he had witnessed before he fled from the country. The amputation was carried out in public for all to see during the day. According to the laws of the Al-Shabaab if a thief is caught stealing or is reported stealing, his hand is chopped off and if he repeats the act of stealing the other hand is chopped off. The chopping of hands is normally rare but when it is to occur it is announced with loudspeakers for the people to come and see how the thieves are punished. The Al –shabaab converge every Friday after prayers near the hospital where they would try and woo the youth to join them. That day of the amputation, they had announced earlier during the day before the prayers that they will be punishing a person but they did not say how. During the Friday prayers they announced that they will be punishing a thief but they did not say how or give any more details. They invited everyone who was in the mosque to come and witness. After the prayers they gathered the people to form a crowd to witness the amputation of the thief’s hand. They said that the man was a bandit and that they would show him full justice. They never mentioned what the man had stolen. The men who carried out the amputation were wearing masks. They stretched the man’s hand until they pulled the joint apart and they then cut the hand off with a sword.
This is just one of the examples of situations that the Al-Shabaab and the other terrorist groups have carried out that grossly violate human rights in the country and instill fear and threat to the citizens. They have come up with their own laws that they want to enforce in the country and make Somali an Islam country with these laws that are based on their own understanding of the Quran. These laws are greatly violating the human rights of the people. According to Human Rights Watch, religious customs or laws should not affect or lead to the violation of the human rights of people and should not be forced down on people to follow them. This is what is happening in Somali.
4.0 Fighting Terrorism in Somali
There has been a fight that has been going on to stop the spread of terrorism and its effect in Somali. The formation of the Transitional government has helped to control power and provide some administration into the country, though it’s being targeted by the terrorist groups and most of the government officials are being killed. From the war that went on in Afghanistan between the U.S military troops and the terrorists to try and bring peace in Afghanistan, a valuable lesson was learnt from the devastating effects of that war. This was through the many lives that were lost by the Army, the terrorists and the citizens who were victims of the war more especially the women and children. The U.S government resolved the best way to fight terrorism does not include more violence.
This realization has led to the formation of a counter terrorism strategy to help stop the spread of terrorism in Somalia without the use of war or violence. The U.S is committed to deny the al Qaeda, the Al-Shabaab and other terrorists a safe haven in Somalia. It is currently providing the Somali military including the AU peacekeepers with training and support. It is providing training to the Somali intelligent officers and providing fuel to the military maneuvers in the country . Surveillance information of the insurgent whereabouts and the funding of arms are also being provided by the U.S to be able to track and provide information of the planned attacks before they take place and stop them. Majority of the training has gone to the African Union peacekeepers to help the Somali government and military to be able to cope with the militia and the terrorists. The U.S had also provided further support by carrying out air strikes on the leaders who have been spotted and tracked using the special surveillance equipment and killed them. This was the strategy that was used to kill the al Shabaab leader. The U.S has avoided being involved on the ground by sending troops to terrorize the militia; instead it is using the hit-and-take off strategy of elimination influential leaders of the militia groups.
Somalia lacks a legitimate and viable government; the transitional federation government’s span of authority is within the city blocks and has limits that do not reach the scarred part of the nation. International organizations like the U.N called on African Union peacekeepers to go to Somali and help form a stable environment in which a government can flourish. However Somali leaders were quick to add that peacekeepers from Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia were not welcome as they would be too eager to meddle in the affairs of the country. Peacekeepers from Sudan and Uganda were welcome. The country with the help of the African Union is in the process of getting ways to form another government that is more legitimate and strong. The current government is not recognized by most countries including the U.S and the Somali people have little faith on the government. It is regarded as a weak institution and it has yet to prove the capability of defending its citizens.
The TFG is also heavily involved with corruption and criminal activity. This is accordance to the UN, despite the foreign training that the military is receiving and the assistance it still remains corrupt and ineffective and also disorganized. A part of the military is loyal to only some of the government officials and military officials who are profiting from the business of wars and the resistance to integrate the country and for m a government with one source of command.
5.0 The future prospects of Terrorism
The Al –Shabaab have been recruiting more youth into their group for them to be in a position to have a fighting force in the country and implement their law. It has established training camps and many Muslims from western countries are being recruited and being trained in these camps and become part of the group. This is making the group to be a fearful threat in the country and the other foreign countries where the Muslim are coming from. There are concerns that since the terrorism groups in Somalia are linked to the al-Qaeda especially the al-Shabaab there is a chance that the threat of terrorism is far from over. The operations of Al-Shabaab that include terrorist training camps and the Islamic courts union camps are furthering the ideas, rules and the law of the al-Shabaab and making the threat of Somali terrorism even more real.
There has been a mass exodus of young men of Somali origin from other countries such as United States, Canada, and Europe, Australia and Saudi Arabia who are joining these training camps to receive military training by the al-Shabaab and the al-Qaeda and other small militia groups that are present in the country. One of the camps that are being used is the Ras Kamboni camp that has been reopened as a training facility to train the young men. This is an example that proves that the terrorism in Somalia is far from over. These young men are trained and then they get back to the foreign countries. The training they are receiving in the training camps is both ideological and military in nature. They are taught the Islamic law that the al-Shabaab is advocating for and the military tactics that they can use in times of battle. The al-Shabaab is preparing itself to be battle ready and be a strong force that can be able to overcome the AU troops and any other troops that may come to Somali to fight them and their ideologies.
The Al-Shabaab is a major threat to the security of Somalia and many other foreign countries. It has led to the increased terrorism that is being experienced in the countries that are neighboring Somalia and other countries that have citizens of Somalia origin. It has also led to the fear and terror that is being experienced in the country by its citizens. Terrorism has been given a new phase by the al-Shabaab grouping in Somalia and its counterparts the al-Qaeda. The country is proving to be a safe haven to the terrorist groups due to the lack of a single controlling power and the instability that is being felt in the country. With its increasing numbers it is making the possibility of terrorism being a problem that is going to be felt from time to time and for a long time to come .
It is up to the other countries to help and assist the country to reduce the effects of terrorism in the country by helping in the formation of a stable government and providing the country with military support and any other support that the country may need in order to be able to fight the terrorist groups. The terrorism threat being felt in the country should not be left to Somali government alone to handle as the effects of the terrorism acts will spread and affect countries all over the world in one way or the other.
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 Bill.Roggio, Five suicide bombers strike in northern Somalia. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/10/five_suicide_bombers.php>. para 4
 Somaliland. International community condemns the Terrorist attack in Somaliland. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://www.somalilandnet.com/news/headline_news/2008/20083936.shtml>. para 2
 Brutuon, Bronwyn E. Somalia: Council on Foreign Relations report urges USA to accept Islamist authority . March 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://www.africafiles.org/article.asp?ID=23148>. Para 42
 BBC News. Italian nun shot dead in Somalia . 18 September 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5353850.stm>. para 1
 Ibid para 9
 BBC News. Italian nun shot dead in Somalia . 18 September 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5353850.stm>. para 11
 Roggio, Bill. Five suicide bombers strike in northern Somalia. 29 October 2008 Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/10/five_suicide_bombers.php>. para 10
 Kellerhals, David Merle Jr. U.S. Charges 11 Somalis with Maritime Piracy. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://www.america.gov/st/peacesec-english/2010/April/20100428135453dmslahrellek8.427066e-02.html>. para 3
 Kaplan, Eben. Somalia’s Terrorist Infestation. 6 June 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://www.cfr.org/publication/10781/>. Para 6
 Human Rights Watch. Harsh War, Harsh Peace. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2010.pp 28
 Human Rights Watch. Harsh War, Harsh Peace. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2010.pp 2
 Ibid pp 32
 Human Rights Watch. Harsh War, Harsh Peace. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2010.pp 32
 Ibid pp 2
 Aljazeera.net. Who are al-Shabab. 4 August 2009. 9 May 2010 <http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/08/20098432032479714.html>. para 6
 Kaplan, Eben. Somalia’s Terrorist Infestation. 6 June 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://www.cfr.org/publication/10781/>. Para 8
 Blog heritage. Don’t Let Somalia Become a Black Hole for U.S. Counter-Terrorism Funding. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://blog.heritage.org/2010/03/26/don%E2%80%99t-let-somalia-become-a-black-hole-for-u-s-counter-terrorism-funding>. Para 2
 Emerson, Steve. How Designated Terror Organization al-Shabaab Targets Western Youth. 30 January 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.5394/pub_detail.asp>. para 1
 Emerson, Steve. How Designated Terror Organization al-Shabaab Targets Western Youth. 30 January 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010 from <http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.5394/pub_detail.asp>.
Cite this Terrorism in Somalia
Terrorism in Somalia. (2017, Feb 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/terrorism-in-somalia/