Who is Al-Shabaab? Darryl Everett Excelsior College Who is Al-Shabaab? The creation of life, the desire to remain plentiful and enjoying the fruits of the Fertile Crescent has caused wars due to rightful inheritance. This may sound like gibberish, but the Fertile Crescent area is also known as the cradle of civilization and has a history of being the birthplace of man; as well as, it is the home to many religions. Many of these habitants of this region have been involved in crusades or religious wars due to disagreement and rights of land to which each feel they are entitled to.
This area has a great amount of people that practice the Islamic religion, but there are a few that are more extreme and violent in their fight for cause the Jihad. The word Jihad or striving in the way of God is looked at as a duty and one of the main seekers of this group is the Al- Qaeda. This group has spread its ideas and views far across the globe and when speaking of Somalia, Africa, the group Al- Shabaab stands out. Who is Al- Shabaab? In 1988, Usama Bin Ladin headed a group of Arabs that fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.
The goal of this group, which is now known as Al-Qa’ida, is to unite the Muslim world and over throw the Western world with the United States being a main target. This group’s ideology of jihad has the belief that it is a religious duty to kill anyone involved or is in adherence with the United States (Blin, 2007). On September 11, 2001, Al-Qa’ida committed a major act of terrorism by hijacking airline planes and crashing them into the twin towers in New York City. The ideas and beliefs of the Al- Qa’ida have stretched the world internationally.
Their activities have been labeled extreme; as well as, other groups have viewed and deemed their ideas admirable. The United States, and other world powers, has titled Al- Qa’ida and its followers as being a terrorist group. Terrorist by definition are as a person that terrorizes or cause fear in others. Al-Shabaab is a group in Somalia that rose to power during the 2006 due to an invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia. Al- Shabaab is translated to mean the Youth, or Mujahidin Youth Movement.
They are an Islamic militant group that initially had the common goal of just driving Ethiopia out of their country, but the common driven idea became the same belief and ideology of the Al- Qa’ida of exterminating the Western Countries, mainly the United States. Al-Shabaab not only took on the ideas and beliefs of the Al- Qa’ida, they also altered their leadership making it predominately ran by the Al-Qa’ida leadership. Al-Shabaab is led by Sheikh Mohamed Mukhtar Abdirahman, but is divided into three geographical units, the Bay and Bokool region, the south central Somalia and Mogadishu region, and the Puntland and Somaililand region.
Intelligence has recovered information that these regions operate independently each other and are often in disagreement with each other. The groups that make up Somalia are of a small number, but were able to take over due to the lack of a central government. Al-Shabaab troops are estimated to contain several thousand soldiers (Butler, 1976). Al-Shabaab’s troop makeup also involves foreign entities mainly from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, and Bangladesh.
When compared to other troops in other countries, they seem small, but are a huge threat being that if they were to die for their cause of jihad, it is looked at as a form of obedience and honor. Like many organizations, the Al-Shabaab group utilizes the Internet and other types of media to get their views and propaganda out. Intelligence has found their members in chat rooms and forums; as well as, they have used radio and television as sources to gain more members through mass communication. Social media cites have been infected with their views.
On December 7, 2011, the social site Twitter, have stated that Al-Shabaab has put out tier views by means of creating accounts (Palete & Schmib, 1992). Just like many groups that are seeking the youth membership, Al-Shabaab is using the avenue of music. Al-Shabaab has an emblem or crest that represents their cause and symbolizes who they are. The emblem has a green circle with a yellow banner on top with Arabic writing. The Arabic writing translates into meaning, “The movement of the Shabaab Mujahideen. ” The center of the emblem includes a map of the horn of Africa and an open Qur’an from which they read scripture.
Written above the Qur’an is the Islamic declaration of faith stating, there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of God”. At the bottom of the emblem is banner that is also written in Arabic, but translates into stating,’ The Army of hardship in Somalia”. The big items that stand out on the emblem are the crossed AK-47 assault rifles. The Horn of Africa on the emblem represents the geographical location of Al-Shabaab’s home area of interest and the AK-47 assault rifles represent the militant mind of fighting for the Islamic state in Somalia. The rifles also stand for the commitment to die for jihad if required.
Their belief in following the anti- Sufism and the strict sharia law is evident in their actions. Sharia law is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia when translated literally means the watering hole. When thinking of a watering hole many would have to agree it’s a gathering place and most information is passed at a gathering. Sharia law is the anchor for the devout Muslim. Al-Shabaab follows the law by the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In his teachings laws dealing with sexual intercourse, prayer and diet are explained. The main source of Law for Al-Shabaab is the Qur’an.
In the sharia law, there are five categories for human behavior which they believes every human behavior falls into. They are stated as, fard or obligatory, mustahabb or recommended, mubah or neutral, makruh or discouraged, and haraam or forbidden. Things that are required in the law would include praying five times a day, obligatory charity, fasting, and a hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. Sharia Law is not only used as a legal system, but a moral system that is followed; as well as, the punishment for a Muslim not complying with Sharia law could result in, imprisonment, corporal punishment, or even death.
The Qur’an states that thievery constitutes amputation of the limb that took the item. Many of the texts that the Muslim people follow have the same issues that many of other religious text have and that are the interpretation of truth and application. The many interpretations have led to many conflicts and a divide in the ways of the Muslim religion, which has led to groups taking the laws to the extreme. Al-Shabaab has been involved with many world terrorist acts. On January 24, 2008, they implemented the tactic of using a suicide car bombing to initiate fear near the African Union base, which resulted in thirteen people killed.
In the same year they initiated twin bombings in the port of Bossaso, which killed twenty-five people, and injured seventy people. On September 3, 2008, Al-Shabaab attacked the Somalia presidential compound resulting in fifteen people killed and twenty-five people injured. The 2008 year ended with a mortar aimed at the presidential palace in Mogadishu actually striking a marketplace killing seventeen people; as well as, the 2008 year came to an end with the coordinated suicide bombings at the United Nations compound, the Ethiopian Consulate, and the Presidential palace in Haegesis (Reeves & Houreld, 2012).
In 2009, Al-Shabaab committed a suicide care bombing against the African Union military base in Mogadishu; as well as, they committed a suicide bombing during a graduation ceremony for a Mogadishu university. The year 2009, concluded with their death toll totaling thirty-four people killed due to Al-Shabaab seeking jihad and western civilization termination. In 2010, their wrath of violence continued with twin bombings that exploded within two civilian filled venues and a suicide bombing that included a raid of the presidential palace.
The death toll for, 2010, totaled 116 death and 125 injured. Al-Shabaab’s presence and terror has continued to increase the death toll to higher numbers this present day. These crimes against humanity continue to occur today and many American’s are aiding their cause. Al-Shabaab’s influence has extended beyond their Horn of Africa territory and has recruited members far beyond their homeland boundaries. The United States is known for its diverse mix of people with different ethnic backgrounds; however, this mix houses its Achilles heel.
The state of Minnesota has over 32,000 Somalis and has become the center for their recruitment in the United States. Many of the Al-Shabaab propaganda videos star two Americans, Jehad Mostafa and Omar Hammami (Reich, 1998). Jehad Mostafa is a 30 year California man that was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He has been placed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation list for providing material to support a terrorist organization. He served as one of the top lieutenants to Saleh Nabban, a senior Al-Qa’ida operative.
Omar Hammami is also on the Federal Bureau of Investigations list for aiding a terrorist group (White, 2012). He was born in Daphne, Alabama to a Syrian- born Muslim father, and a Southern Baptist mother. It was while he was growing in age that he started to lean toward his father’s Muslim side and eventually growing up to leave his family and fight for the cause of Al-Shabaab. Mostafa and Hammami are heavily used in the recruitment of members for the cause. Hammami has thought to have been killed, but recent videos have stated otherwise.
It’s been estimated that over forty Americans and twenty Canadians have joined the Al-Shabaab cause. Investigations have revealed that many of the recruitment are taking place in the Somali-American mosques. Information pours in everyday of Somali-Americans like Ahmed Hussein Mahamud, admitting to help raising money for Al-Shabaab and their cause (Herman, 1982). When American and Al-Shabaab allies feed information to the terrorist group, it makes it harder for Homeland Security Specialist to protect the American way; as well as, the American Dream that others came to the United States to seek.
In response to the recruitment of members and the increase in threat against public safety, the United States has joined the fight against Al-Shabaab by assisting Kenya. The United States has launched drones to gain counter intelligence against the group; as well as, air strikes to target high-level members of the group (Murphy, 2011). Al-Shabaab has a high level of it’s funding coming from the involvement in piracy off of Somalia waters; as well as, they have over a hundred million dollars coming from control of seaports, airports, and taxes on goods, services, livestock, and produce.
They also operate checkpoint fees and collect funds from the exportation of coal. A significant amount comes from business around the world that supports their cause. Due to this piracy, presidential executive orders have been placed to block the finances received by the group. The United States has stated that it will help fight Al-Shabaab terrorist activities by assisting the African Union Mission in Somalia (Smith, 2010). The United States also agreed to aid the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, helping them defeat the terrorist opposition.
Through out the world there are Muslims that disagree wit the extremist Muslim views. Even though the world has been more media fed the horrors and extreme views of the Al’Quida and Al-Shabaab, there are Muslim groups that are speaking their non-terrorist Islamic views (Ploch, 2010). Groups such as Muslims against Terrorism, which was founded in Calgary, Canada on January 11, 1998, has made it their goal to work with the western world media to depict the Muslim world in the light that it should be and that not of a world of violence.
Since the increase in terrorism many Muslims have been stereotyped and assaulted because of the misconception that all Muslims have the same views as groups like Al-Shabaab. “He, who makes peace between people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar. ”
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