(New York, N.Y.) - On July 24, 2019, a suicide bomber walked into a high-level security meeting in the mayor’s office in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, and detonated explosives. The attack has killed seven people, including the mayor, Abdirahaman Omar Osman, and seriously injured several others. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, but stated that the intended target was James Swan—an American diplomat who is the United Nations’ special representative for Somalia. Swan had visited the office earlier in the day, but left before the attack took place.The incident was the latest in a string of terror attacks by the radical Islamist group this year that have plagued the country.
Al-Shabab, or “the Youth,” is al-Qaeda’s formal affiliate in East Africa. Established in the late 1990s, the Somali-based terror group seeks to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in the country that it hopes will ultimately expand to encompass the entire Horn of Africa. The group often seeks out government offices and other high-profile places in an effort to overthrow Somalia’s Western-backed government.
In a May 2019 report to the U.N. Security Council, Secretary General António Guterres noted that the security situation in Somalia remained volatile. In March and April 2019, there was a surge of attacks in Mogadishu, with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) being used in near-daily attacks. There were 77 such incidents in Somalia in March alone—the most in any single month since 2016.
To read the CEP report, Somalia: Extremism & Counter-Extremism, please click here.
To read the CEP report on al-Shabab, please click here.