Also known as:“al Shabaab,” Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, accessed February 4, 2015, http://www.trackingterrorism.org/group/al-shabaab.
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 whole Horn of Africa. Al-Shabab controls much of the southern Somalia region and small pockets in Kenya and Ethiopia along the Somali border. In areas under the group’s control, al-Shabab imposes its strict version of sharia (Islamic law), prohibiting activities like listening to music or shaving one’s beard. The group predominately conducts attacks targeting the Somali government and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
Following the group’s pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012, al-Shabab began executing a score of violent attacks in Somalia’s neighboring countries, including the September 2013 Westgate Mall attacks in Nairobi, Kenya, which left 68 people dead and 175 wounded. The group is also responsible for the April 2015 Garissa University attacks, wherein five al-Shabab fighters stormed the Kenyan university, killing nearly 150 people. Since then, the group has continued to attempt and conduct terrorist attacks outside of its stronghold in Somalia. In al-Shabab’s first attempt to attack Western targets, an assailant detonated a concealed laptop bomb on a Daallo Airlines flight leaving Mogadishu for Djibouti City on February 2, 2016. The explosion, which killed only the attacker, was not strong enough to down the plane. Al-Shabab reportedly killed more than 4,200 people in 2016, making it the deadliest Islamic terror group in Africa. In October 2017, al-Shabab was credited with the worst terror attack in Somalia to date––a truck bomb that killed over 300 people in Mogadishu.Jason Burke, “Mogadishu truck bomb: 500 casualties in Somalia’s worst terrorist attack,” Guardian (London), October 16, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/15/truck-bomb-mogadishu-kills-people-somalia; Jason Burke, “Mogadishu bombing: al-Shabaab behind deadly blast, officials say,” Guardian (London), October 16, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/16/mogadishu-bombing-al-shabaab-behind-deadly-blast-officials-say.
Al-Shabab’s ideology is typically described as a brand of Salafism and Wahhabism that supports takfir, the excommunication of apostates or unbelievers. Though it has stated many goals in the past, the group fights first and foremost to create a fundamentalist Islamic state in the Horn of AfricaJonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified March 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. that would include not only Somalia but also Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia.Abdisaid M. Ali, “The Al-Shabaab Al Mujahidiin: A Profile of the First Somali Terrorist Organization,” Das Institut für Strategie- Politik- Sicherheits- und Wirtschaftsberatung, June 2, 2008, http://kms2.isn.ethz.ch/serviceengine/Files/ESDP/55851/ipublicationdocument_singledocument/1dd66bc5-b0c9-488c-b7e9-d16eeac91018/en/AlShabaab.pdf.
Under al-Shabab’s strict brand of sharia, stonings, amputations, and beheadings are regular punishment for criminals and apostates. The group violently persecutes non-Muslims and clashes frequently with humanitarian and international aid workers.Jonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. Out of an estimated 6,000-12,000 fighters as of March 2016, only a small handful are believed to be ethnically non-Somali.Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Abdihakim Ainte, “The Return of al-Shabaab,” Daily Beast, March 15, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/15/the-return-of-al-shabaab.html.
The precursor to al-Shabab is Somali rebel group al-Itihad al-Islami (AIAI), which targeted the Siad Barre military regime during the Somali Civil War in the 1990s. After the Barre regime fell, a younger, more hardline group split from the AIAI, seeking to extend AIAI’s mission and establish a “Greater Somalia” ruled under sharia. This group of youths—in Arabic, “al-Shabab”—joined forces with the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in an attempt to enforce sharia throughout Mogadishu. In December 2006, U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia and drove the ICU out of the capital. Though the majority of the ICU fled to neighboring countries, al-Shabab retreated southward and began organizing attacks against the Ethiopian forces. In this way, al-Shabab transitioned from a rebel group into a guerrilla movement and began seizing territory in central and southern Somalia.Jonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. Al-Shabab grew from a few hundred fighters in the 2006 to thousands by 2008, as Islamist-nationalist fighters sought to drive out the Ethiopian occupation.Jonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. Since the end of the Ethiopian occupation in 2008, al-Shabab has continued to its efforts to establish sharia domestically and attack government representatives and African Mission forces, while also adapting its foreign targets from Ethiopia to Kenya following a brief Kenyan invasion in 2011. Al-Shabab views the AMISOM, as well as the Somalia Federal Government, as its primary enemies since they are purportedly influenced by Western countries.Jonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650.
Al-Shabab formally pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012, though ties between them existed since 2008, when the American-born al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) cleric Anwar al-Awlaki released a statement praising al-Shabab for fighting against the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion. In 2010, AQAP deputy leader Said al-Shihri also released a statement encouraging al-Shabab to work with his group in its fight against the United States.Ty McCormick, U.S. Attacks Reveal Al-Shabab’s Strength, Not Weakness,” Foreign Policy, March 9, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/03/09/u-s-attacks-reveal-al-shababs-strength-not-weakness-somalia/. Following the pledge of allegiance, some al-Qaeda fighters who trained at camps in Afghanistan moved to Somalia to train members of al-Shabab. The two groups continue to cooperate closely, on everything from indoctrination and basic infantry skills to advanced explosives and assassination training. Al-Shabab and AQAP partake in the transfer of fighters and weapons between Yemen and Somalia. Al-Shabab fighters have been able to obtain new weapons and develop new tactics from AQAP, including the use of laptop explosives and more destructive car bombs.Ty McCormick, U.S. Attacks Reveal Al-Shabab’s Strength, Not Weakness,” Foreign Policy, March 9, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/03/09/u-s-attacks-reveal-al-shababs-strength-not-weakness-somalia/. Al-Qaeda reportedly plays an important role in al-Shabab’s leadership, with one count reporting that foreigners comprise over half of al-Shabab’s executive council and that the group has embraced globalized rhetoric and propaganda.
Analysts cite the early militant Salafi extremist group al-Itihad al-Islami (AIAI, a.k.a. Unity of Islam) as the precursor to al-Shabab and the incubator for many of its leaders. AIAI peaked in the 1990s after the Siad Barre military regime fell and civil war broke out.Jonathan Masters, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified September 5, 2014, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. A younger, hardline group split from the elder AIAI, seeking to establish a “Greater Somalia” ruled under sharia. This group of youths joined forces with the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a group of sharia courts, to serve as a governance alternative once they overtook Mogadishu. The combined group was eventually pushed out by Ethiopia. Much of the ICU fled to the south of Somalia and al-Shabab emerged and continued asymmetrical attacks on Ethiopian targets.
This context is important in understanding a key characteristic of the group—it is not monolithic and is prone to internal fissures over strategy and tactics. These conflicts became particularly significant when whole clans broke from al-Shabab in 2008. Reports highlighted increased leadership conflicts over tactics, clan interests, affiliations with al-Qaeda, and policies toward international aid agencies.Ken Menkhaus, “Al-Shabab’s Capabilities Post-Westgate,” CTC Sentinel 7, no. 2 (February 2014): 4-9, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CTCSentinel-Vol7Iss2.pdf.
Ahmed Abdi Godane eventually triumphed over internal opposition with a series of purges in 2011 and a particularly bloody internal battle in June 2013. One of the implications of Godane’s victory is that the core group’s doctrine and affiliation seem to have been settled. Though al-Shabab has always had a Salafist jihadist orientation, the group’s leadership was once heterogeneous, including nationalist and politically pragmatic figures like Hassan Dahir Aweys and Mukhtar Robow. The al-Shabab that triumphed arose from the extreme fringe, steeped in the takfiri ethos that legitimizes the killing of other Muslims and a recommitment to global jihad and restoration of the Caliphate. Matt Bryden, “The Reinvention of Al-Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 2014, http://csis.org/files/publication/140221_Bryden_ReinventionOfAlShabaab_Web.pdf.
Godane, no longer faced with internal opposition to aligning with al-Qaeda, officially pledged al-Shabab’s allegiance to that group in 2012. Afterward, some al-Qaeda fighters who trained at camps in Afghanistan moved to Somalia to train members of al-Shabab. The two groups continue to cooperate closely on everything from indoctrination and basic infantry skills to advanced explosives and assassination training. Al-Qaeda reportedly plays an important role in al-Shabab’s leadership, with one count reporting that foreigners comprise over half of al-Shabab’s executive council and that the group has embraced globalized rhetoric and propaganda. Fred Dews, “Al Shabaab: Background on the Somalia-based Terrorist Group that Attacked a Nairobi Mall,” Brookings Institutition, September 23, 2013, http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/brookings-now/posts/2013/09/al-shabaab-somalia-terrorist-nairobi-mall-attack. Out of an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 fighters, 200 to 300 are non-Somali, with a number coming from the Somali diaspora.Fred Dews, “Al Shabaab: Background on the Somalia-based Terrorist Group that Attacked a Nairobi Mall,” Brookings Institutition, September 23, 2013, http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/brookings-now/posts/2013/09/al-shabaab-somalia-terrorist-nairobi-mall-attack.
Al-Shabab is a hierarchical organization led by its emir (“prince” or “commander”) Ahmed Umar Abu Ubaidah. Answering to Abu Ubaidah are a set of regional commanders who manage the group’s presence in southern Somalia and Mogadishu, Bay and Bokool, Puntland and Somaliland, and Juba Valley.Abdi O. Shuriye, “Research: Al-shabaab’s Leadership Hierarchy and its Ideology,” Horn Affairs, May 7, 2012, http://hornaffairs.com/en/2012/05/07/research-al-shabaabs-leadership-hierarchy-and-its-ideology/.
Abu Ubaidah has also appointed a Shura council of 10 members who oversee al-Shabab’s regional commanders. The council establishes al-Shabab’s policy, which is expected to be followed by local administrations within the group’s territory.Abdi O. Shuriye, “Research: Al-shabaab’s Leadership Hierarchy and its Ideology,” Horn Affairs, May 7, 2012, http://hornaffairs.com/en/2012/05/07/research-al-shabaabs-leadership-hierarchy-and-its-ideology/;
“Al Shabaab Leadership Profiles,” AEI Critical Threats, accessed September 13, 2016, http://www.criticalthreats.org/somalia/al-shabaab-leadership. Aiding the Shura council are junior leaders who are in charge of al-Shabab’s media branch, law enforcement, and military operations. The group’s media branch, al-Kataib (The Brigade), is responsible for producing video recruitment and propaganda content which is then disseminated for international audiences.“Mapping Militant Organizations: Al Shabaab,” Stanford University, accessed September 12, 2016, http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/61;
Abdi O. Shuriye, “Research: Al-shabaab’s Leadership Hierarchy and its Ideology,” Horn Affairs, May 7, 2012, http://hornaffairs.com/en/2012/05/07/research-al-shabaabs-leadership-hierarchy-and-its-ideology/.
The leader of al-Shabab’s military operations, previously Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, Bill Roggio, “US military targets senior Shabaab commander in Somalia,” Long War Journal, June 1, 2016, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/06/us-military-targets-senior-shabaab-commander-in-somalia.php. oversees two separate branches, the Jaysh Al-‘Usr (army of hardship) and the Jaysh Al-Hisbah (army of morality). Led by regional military leaders, the Jaysh Al-‘Usr serves as the group’s major external military apparatus. The Jaysh Al-Hisbah functions as the group’s religious police force, enforcing sharia in areas of al-Shabab’s control.Abdi O. Shuriye, “Research: Al-shabaab’s Leadership Hierarchy and its Ideology,” Horn Affairs, May 7, 2012, http://hornaffairs.com/en/2012/05/07/research-al-shabaabs-leadership-hierarchy-and-its-ideology/.
Al-Shabab has had several sources of income throughout its history, including varying degrees of support from the Somali diaspora, locals, sponsors, and sustained dawa (proselytizing).
Domestically, al-Shabab drew significant revenue from racketeering after seizing the southern port city of Kismayo in 2008. The charcoal trade was essential to the city’s economy and the group was able to receive proceeds from exporting charcoal, totaling an estimated $35-50 million annually.Jonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified March 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. Although AMISOM was able to take back Kismayo in October 2012, the United Nations has reported that al-Shabab’s illicit charcoal trade has continued in areas under the group’s control, such as Barawe, and estimates that profits from this city alone amount to millions of dollars monthly.“Letter dates 12 July 2013 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) ad 1907 (2009) concerning Somalis and Eritrea addressed to the President of the Security Council,” United Nations Security Council, July 12, 2014, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2013/413. The United Nations banned charcoal exports from Somalia in 2012. In October 2014, as part of an effort to target al-Shabab’s funding, the U.N. Security Council authorized the inspection of ships suspected of carrying Somali charcoal.Edith M. Lederer, “UN authorizes ship inspections for Somali charcoal,” Associated Press, October 24, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/e8fe2a9961754c3b80c00f68c550dc6e/un-authorizes-ship-inspections-somali-charcoal.
According to the U.N., sugar imports grew in late 2012, in connection with the increased production of charcoal, and thereafter increased for transport over the Kenyan border. “Letter dates 12 July 2013 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) ad 1907 (2009) concerning Somalis and Eritrea addressed to the President of the Security Council,” United Nations, July 12, 2014, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2013/413. This cyclical trade, with charcoal exports in return for sugar imports that are eventually sold in Kenya for a lower price, is one way the group has sustained itself, despite losing control of the Kismayo port. Al-Shabab is also able to facilitate cash flows within Somalia through the rise of mobile money transfer companies subject to less scrutiny.“Somalia: Al-Shabaab—It will be a Long War,” International Crisis Group, June 26, 2014, http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/africa/horn-of-africa/somalia/b099-somalia-al-shabaab-it-will-be-a-long-war.pdf. The International Crisis Group also reported in 2014 that al-Shabab copes with a volatile financial environment and intermittent cash flow by investing in gold. “Somalia: Al-Shabaab—It will be a Long War,” International Crisis Group, June 26, 2014, http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/africa/horn-of-africa/somalia/b099-somalia-al-shabaab-it-will-be-a-long-war.pdf.
After the June 2013 purge of Godane’s opposition within the leadership, al-Shabab shifted its attention toward “taxation”—specifically, collecting funds through voluntary support, extortion, and partnership with businesses, humanitarian agencies, and other non-governmental organizations that operate in south-central Somalia.Ken Menkhaus, “Al-Shabab’s Capabilities Post-Westgate,” CTC Sentinel 7, no. 2 (February 2014): 4-9, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CTCSentinel-Vol7Iss2.pdf.According to the United Nations, al-Shabab has generated up to $100 million per year, from fees levied at ports of entry, taxes on goods, taxes on domestic produce, “jihad contributions,” checkpoint fees, and extortion for payments of religious obligation. “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 1916,” United Nations Security Council, July 18, 2011, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2011/433.
Central to al-Shabab’s taxation and extortion practices is the use of roadblocks between Baidoa and Mogadishu as well as between Mogadishu and the Lower Shabelle region. Each roadblock along these paths earns al-Shabab $5,000 a day extorting merchants. This money largely comes from money distributed to internally displaced persons (IDPs) by the United Nations and associated aid agencies. The United Nations issues IDPs living in refugee camps in Baidoa cash cards of $80 to $90 a month, which allows them to purchase necessities from merchants traveling from Mogadishu. On their way to and from Baidoa, these merchants are stopped and taxed at al-Shabab roadblocks, thereby unwillingly transferring U.N. funds to the terror group. While the regional Somali government and the United Nations have confirmed these practices, the U.N.’s head of country, Michael Keating, has insisted that most of the aid still reaches IDPs.Sam Kiley, “Funding al-Shabaab: How aid money ends up in terror group's hands,” CNN, February 12, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/12/africa/somalia-al-shabaab-foreign-aid-intl/index.html.
Al-Shabab has also reportedly received funding from the governments of Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar, and Yemen, the majority of which have denied these claims.Holly Yan, “What is Al-Shabaab, and what does it want?” CNN, April 2, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/02/world/africa/al-shabaab-explainer/;
Jonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. Al-Shabab agents have also raised funds internationally. For example, in September 2014, prosecutors in Finland charged four people who allegedly collected “thousands of euros” for al-Shabab between 2008 and 2011.“Finland: 4 charged with funding Somali militants,” Associated Press, September 17, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/finland-4-charged-funding-somali-militants. In October 2016, two women in the United States were convicted for organizing a group of women from eight different countries that funded al-Shabab.“Two women convicted in US of Financing Somali Group Al-Shabab,” Voice of America, October 25, 2016, https://www.voanews.com/a/two-women-us-convicted-financing-somali-group-al-shabaab/3566479.html.
Al-Shabab’s recruitment efforts take place primarily within Somalia and Kenya, though its online recruitment strategy has targeted the United States as well. “Al-Shabaab Recruitment from Kenyan Universities Alarms Officials,” Jamestown Foundation, January 7, 2016, http://www.jamestown.org/programs/tm/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=44951&cHash=abb508bc030cbed438bb4b009236f6b5#.V9b_64WcGM8;
African terror group Al Shabaab finds American recruits to aid jihad missions, Fox News, February 4, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/02/04/african-terror-group-al-shabaab-finds-american-recruits-to-aid-jihad-missions.html;
Matt Smith, “Somali jihadists recruit in U.S., Canada, Europe, CNN, September 23, 2013, http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/22/us/kenya-attack-somalis/.
Staying true to its name, which means “The Youth,” al-Shabab seeks to recruit Somali adolescents and young adults. Anneli Botha and Mahdi Abdile, “Radicalisation and al-Shabaab recruitment in Somalia,” Institute for Security Studies, September 2014, 2, 6, http://www.issafrica.org/uploads/Paper266.pdf. Boys as young as 9 years old have been forced into al-Shabab’s ranks. Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somali Children Flee Al-Shabab Recruitment,” Voice of America, August 7, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/somali-children-seek-refuge-al-shabab-coastal-town-adale/3975825.html. In January 2017, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres estimated that more than half of al-Shabab’s fighters may be children. A Somali taskforce recorded the recruitment of 4,213 children—almost all boys—into al-Shabab between April 1, 2010, and July 31, 2016. According to a 2017 U.N. report, children “recruited and used by al-Shabab were victims of or were exposed to other grave violations including killing and maiming during military operations and air strikes targeting al-Shabab, and subjected to arrest and detention by Somalia security forces.”Edith M. Lederer, “UN alarm that most of al-Shabab’s force in Somalia are kids,” Associated Press, January 20, 2017, https://apnews.com/85093315baa644a6bee802b13fc343e5/un-alarm-most-al-shababs-force-somalia-are-kids.
According to Somali officials, al-Shabab needs younger recruits to replace aging fighters. The group has kidnapped children from schools, forcing others to flee al-Shabab-controlled areas to avoid conscription. In early August 2017 alone, more than 100 children fled from al-Shabab-controlled areas of Somalia for the safety of government-controlled areas of the country. Officials have estimated that more than 500 children have fled their homes to escape conscription into al-Shabab.Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somali Children Flee Al-Shabab Recruitment,” Voice of America, August 7, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/somali-children-seek-refuge-al-shabab-coastal-town-adale/3975825.html.
Al-Shabab uses children in combat and reconnaissance roles, according to the U.N. “Somalia,” United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, May 15, 2014, https://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/countries/somalia/. A 14-year-old Somali recruit, interviewed by the Institute for Security Studies in September 2014, said, “[W]hen you join, they give you a mobile phone and every month you get $50. This is what pushes a lot of my friends to join.” Another member recalled how during his recruitment experience “[P]reachers delivered sermons for hours about destiny and the sweetness of the holy war. They distributed leaflets on Islam [and] showed video recording from other jihadist [sic] in the world.” Anneli Botha and Mahdi Abdile, “Radicalisation and al-Shabaab recruitment in Somalia,” Institute for Security Studies, September 2014, 2, 6, http://www.issafrica.org/uploads/Paper266.pdf.
While al-Shabab recruits males, it has also kidnapped Muslim and Christian women in Somalia and Kenya as sex slaves. The group has forced some girls and women to work in brothels while forcing others into marriages with al-Shabab fighters. Charlotte Attwood, “The sex slaves of al-Shabab,” BBC News, May 25, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-40022953. Al-Shabab has regularly killed women and girls who refuse forced marriages to al-Shabab fighters. “No Place for Children,” Human Rights Watch, February 20, 2012, https://www.hrw.org/report/2012/02/20/no-place-children/child-recruitment-forced-marriage-and-attacks-schools-somalia.
Al-Shabab has attempted to influence Somali families toward Islamism. The group’s Education and Youth Engagement released its own curriculum in early 2017, focusing only on Quran, math, history, and geography. Ludovica Iaccino, “Al-Shabab Urges Parents to Send Their Children to Islamic Schools to Avoid Western Influences,” Newsweek, April 21, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/al-shabab-somalia-islamic-schools-militants-al-qaeda-587260. That April, the group released a statement instructing Somali parents to shun public schooling and send their children to Islamic schools. The group warned of “consequences” for parents and teachers who embrace secular education.Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Al-Shabab Warns Against Western Education,” Voice of America, April 20, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/al-shabab-warns-against-western-education/3818654.html.
Al-Shabab has a sophisticated public relations arm that “includes a Twitter account and video production abilities.” Tom Watkins, “Al-Shabaab grew amid Somalia’s lawlessness,” CNN, September 2, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/02/world/africa/somalia-al-shabaab-explainer/. The group’s use of social media for propaganda has attracted recruits from around the world. Al-Shabab also disseminates recruitment videos dubbed in English and Somali. A video released in 2010 depicts a combatant attempting to recruit young fighters: “So what are you waiting for my brothers, why don’t you leap forth for this act of worship? Join us so that we can together fight the forces of kufr [unbelief]…” Aaron Y. Zelin, “New video from Ḥarakat al-Shabāb al-Mujāhidīn’s media outlet al-Katāi’b: “Message to the Ummah and Inspire The Believers,” Jihadology, November 22, 2010, http://jihadology.net/2010/11/22/new-video-from-%E1%B8%A5arakat-al-shabab-al-mujahidins-media-outlet-al-kataib-message-to-the-ummah-and-inspire-the-believers/.
Another video includes an English-language rap: “[M]ortar by mortar, shell by shell, only going to stop when they go to hell.” Tom Watkins, “Al-Shabaab grew amid Somalia’s lawlessness,” CNN, September 2, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/02/world/africa/somalia-al-shabaab-explainer/.
Within Somalia, recruiters infiltrate remote, rural areas and approach potential recruits. There have been accounts of recruiters threatening the lives of Somali Muslim men who initially resist joining the group.Anneli Botha and Mahdi Abdile, “Radicalisation and al-Shabaab recruitment in Somalia,” Institute for Security Studies, September 2014, p. 8, http://www.issafrica.org/uploads/Paper266.pdf.
In 2013, Kenyan human rights lawyer Al Amin Kimathi described al-Shabab’s recruitment process based on information gathered from interviews with detainees:
“They are given quotations from the Koran, the Hadiths, but they do not have the benefit of a critical mind to look at it in any other context and they trust the people driving them to this. Advantage is taken of the person’s feeling of desperation and that is dangerous enough to drive them over the top. They are given the feeling that they are a very important person and that martyrdom is something to aspire to - the anger over their deprivation is lowered to a feeling of comfort, to a point where the only thing they aspire to is a collective action. Whether that action leads to their survival or death that doesn’t really matter any more [sic].”“In prison with al-Shabab: What drives Somali militants?” BBC News, last modified October 4, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-24379013.
Recruitment in Somalia
Al-Shabab provides social services to increase its support among Somalis, partaking in infrastructure construction and collecting money to be redistributed to the poor.“Mapping Militant Organizations: Al Shabaab,” Stanford University, accessed September 12, 2016, http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/61. Somali youths are also offered salaries of up to $700 a month for joining the militant group, and promised additional payments if they bring a wife and children. Since 2009, al-Shabab recruiter Sheikh Ahmad Iman Ali has recruited children between the ages of 12 and 16 living in Somalia’s impoverished regions. According to Kenyan authorities, children in those areas reportedly lack basic housing, clothing, and food, which al-Shabab typically provides in exchange for their recruitment.“Al-Shabaab Recruitment from Kenyan Universities Alarms Officials,” Jamestown Foundation, January 7, 2016, http://www.jamestown.org/programs/tm/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=44951&cHash=abb508bc030cbed438bb4b009236f6b5#.V9b_64WcGM8;
“Polic Warn of Shabaab Recruiters,” Daily Nation, November 1, 2015, http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Police-warn-of-Shabaab-recruiters/-/1056/2939148/-/format/xhtml/-/294nvnz/-/index.html. According to one report from 2012 the primary reason that former al-Shabab fighters claimed they joined the militant group was for a religious identity, the lack of education and employment, influenced by family or friends, and the need for a collective identity and a sense of belonging.Botha Anneli, Abdile Mahdi, “Radicalisation and al-Shabaab Recruitment in Somalia,” Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, 12/2014, https://frantic.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/kua-peacemakers/2014/12/Radicalisation-and-al-Shabaab-recruitment-in-Somalia_1.pdf.
Recruitment in Kenya
Al-Shabab recruiters radicalize young Kenyan Muslims—often converts to Islam— with extremist sermons. Personal accounts reveal that recruiters use psychological manipulation to increase enrollment in the terror group. A disillusioned former recruit said that deceased al-Shabab member and radical Kenyan cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed “used to tell us: ‘Instead of sitting in the slum doing nothing, it’s better to go to Somalia and fight for your religion, you’ll go straight to heaven.’”Peter Taylor, “On the trail of al-Shabab’s Kenyan recruitment ‘pipeline,’” BBC News, September 28, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-24263357.
Once the recruits are prepared to join al-Shabab, they travel to remote islands off of Kenya’s coast, which are only a couple hours away from Somalia by boat. From these islands, radical preachers guide them to their final destination, Somalia.Peter Taylor, “On the trail of al-Shabab’s Kenyan recruitment ‘pipeline,’” BBC News, September 28, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-24263357.
Recruitment in the United States
U.S. Representative Edward Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned in late 2013 that “al-Shabab has demonstrated a unique ability to recruit young members of the Somali diaspora in the United States….”Guy Taylor, “U.S. youths recruited for Somali terror group al-Shabab, hearing told,” Washington Times, October 3, 2013, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/3/us-youths-recruited-somali-terror-group-al-shabaab/?page=all.
Americans began traveling to Somalia to join al-Shabab in 2007 when the terror group stepped up its insurgency against Somalia’s transitional government. Most American fighters for al-Shabab have been radicalized in Minneapolis, Minnesota, home to the largest Somali diaspora in the U.S.
The FBI contends that al-Shabab has made an “active and deliberate attempt” to recruit American fighters in person and over the Internet. A 2011 U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security investigation found that al-Shabab recruiters have used mosques and cafes as meeting places to radicalize and recruit.House Homeland Security Committee, Majority Investigative Report: Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland, 112th Congress, July 27, 2011, http://homeland.house.gov/sites/homeland.house.gov/files/Investigative%20report.pdf. Alabama native Omar Hammami appeared in several online videos in which he urged foreigners in English to “live the life of a mujahid.” Al-Shabab has released a host of other online recruitment videos depicting American foreign fighters.
Due to the lack of governance in Somalia, al-Shabab has been able to manage specialized training camps with little domestic interference. In addition to a hand-to-hand combat camp in Ras Kiamboni and suicide bombing camps in Elberde and Mogadishu, al-Shabab has managed a hostage training camp in Eel Arfid.Scott Baldauf and Ali Mohamed, “Somalia’s Al Shabab recruits ‘holy warriors’ with $400 bonus,” Christian Science Monitor, April 15, 2010, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2010/0415/Somalia-s-Al-Shabab-recruits-holy-warriors-with-400-bonus. Al-Shabab has also recruited women, although they are reportedly sent to training camps for the sole purpose of being taken as brides.Scott Baldauf and Ali Mohamed, “Somalia’s Al Shabab recruits ‘holy warriors’ with $400 bonus,” Christian Science Monitor, April 15, 2010, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2010/0415/Somalia-s-Al-Shabab-recruits-holy-warriors-with-400-bonus.
Core al-Qaeda had an influence on al-Shabab training since before al-Shabab formally pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012. A 2011 report by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security found that American recruits were receiving training from senior al-Qaeda operatives, some with ties to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.House Homeland Security Committee, Majority Investigative Report: Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland, 112th Congress, July 27, 2011, http://homeland.house.gov/sites/homeland.house.gov/files/Investigative%20report.pdf. Also as of 2011, Pakistani-born al-Qaeda operative Abu Musa Mombasa was reported to be al-Shabab’s head of security and training.Rob Wise, “Al Shabaab,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, July 2011, http://csis.org/files/publication/110715_Wise_AlShabaab_AQAM%20Futures%20Case%20Study_WEB.pdf. Under the auspices of core al-Qaeda, the group has increasingly focused on its explosives and suicide-bomber training program.Rob Wise, “Al Shabaab,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, July 2011, http://csis.org/files/publication/110715_Wise_AlShabaab_AQAM%20Futures%20Case%20Study_WEB.pdf.
Today, al-Shabab recruits undergo a six-month training process.Jamal Osman, “Exclusive: inside an al-Shabaab training camp,” Channel 4, December 16, 2013, http://www.channel4.com/news/al-shabaab-somalia-kenya-westgate-al-qaeda. According to the FBI, training includes “reading and interpreting the Koran, physical exercise, and weapons handling.” Such weapons include AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.Ian Duncan, “Accused al-Shabaab fighter came from heart of Baltimore's African-American Muslim community,” Baltimore Sun, January 17, 2015, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-maalik-jones-al-shabbab-20160117-story.html. At one graduation ceremony open to media, 300 trainees became members. The new graduates were able to choose which sector of al-Shabab to join. Graduates can sign up for a combat unit, become bomb-makers, or work for the group’s security network, the Amniyat. Standout recruits have the special opportunity to join the years-long waiting list for the Istishhadyin unit, the group’s suicide brigade.Jamal Osman, “Exclusive: inside an al-Shabaab training camp,” Channel 4, December 16, 2013, http://www.channel4.com/news/al-shabaab-somalia-kenya-westgate-al-qaeda.
In September 2014, the U.S. conducted a drone attack on an al-Shabab training camp south of Mogadishu. The attack killed al-Shabab’s leader at the time, Ahmed Abdi Godane.Associated Press, “Somalia extremist group names new leader,” Fox News, September 6, 2014, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/06/somalia-islamic-extremist-group-al-shabaab-names-new-leader/. In March 2016, another al-Shabab training camp was targeted in a U.S. drone strike north of Mogadishu, which killed over 150 militants.“US: More than 150 al-Shabab fighters killed in air raid,” Al Jazeera, March 8, 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/03/drone-strike-somalia-kills-150-fighters-160307170607675.html. A U.S. strike in June 2017 reportedly destroyed an al-Shabab training camp near Sakow, Somalia, which also functioned as a “key command supply hub,” according to the Somali government.“U.S. air strike hits al Shabaab, Somalia says base destroyed,” Reuters, June 11, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-attack/u-s-air-strike-hits-al-shabaab-somalia-says-base-destroyed-idUSKBN1920RR?il=0.
As al-Shabab lost control of urban centers, its tactics shifted to asymmetrical attacks, with greater reliance on suicide bombs, IEDs, hit-and-runs, political threats, assassinations, and grenade attacks.Ken Menkhaus, “Al-Shabab’s Capabilities Post-Westgate,” CTC Sentinel 7, no. 2 (February 2014): 4-9, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CTCSentinel-Vol7Iss2.pdf. The group’s new tactics emphasized collaboration with its historical enemies in Somalia, resulting in alliances and deals that make it difficult for external actors to dismantle the group.Ken Menkhaus, “Al-Shabab’s Capabilities Post-Westgate,” CTC Sentinel 7, no. 2 (February 2014): 4-9, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CTCSentinel-Vol7Iss2.pdf. Godane’s suppression of internal opposition allowed him to drive al-Shabab towards more indiscriminate modes of violence similar to al-Qaeda’s.
Al-Shabab was reportedly responsible for more than 4,000 fatalities in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Defense-affiliated Africa Center for Strategic Studies, based on data collected from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). As a result, al-Shabab reportedly overtook Boko Haram as Africa’s deadliest terror group. ACLED attributed 3,499 fatalities to Boko Haram in 2016, while ISIS killed 2,350 people.Farah Abdi Warsameh, “How Al-Shabab Overtook Boko Haram to Become Africa’s Deadliest Militants,” Newsweek, June 2, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/isis-africa-al-shabaab-boko-haram-619010. A Washington Post analysis disputed the findings, however, claiming that al-Shabab actually killed 432 people in 2016, while Boko Haram killed 790. The Washington Post explained the discrepancy because ACLED included all acts of violence without specifically labeling which were acts of terrorism. The Post also counted only incidents where al-Shabab was the primary actor involved.Salem Solomon and Casey Frechette, “No, al-Shabab is not deadlier than Boko Haram. Here are better numbers,” Washington Post, July 21, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/07/21/no-al-shabab-isnt-more-deadly-than-boko-haram-here-are-better-numbers/?utm_term=.3c5036798b7d.
The majority of the group’s attacks are retaliatory against perceived injustices against Muslims and against al-Shabab’s mission in Somalia. Targets includes the U.S. and other Western countries, as well as those states, such as Uganda and Kenya, who have contributed to troops to AMISOM.
In April 2017, new Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared war on al-Shabab while offering al-Shabab fighters a 60-day amnesty period. The government offered to provide employment and education to fighters who surrendered during this period. The group formally rejected the offer and the declaration of war the following day. On April 9, an al-Shabab suicide bomber killed at least 15 people in an attack near a military base in Mogadishu.“Al-Shabab fighters offered amnesty as new Somali president declares war,” BBC News, April 6, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-39513909; Hussein Mohamed, “Somalia’s President Declares War on Shabab Militants,” New York Times, April 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/world/africa/somalia-shabab.html; “Al-Shabab dismisses Somali president war declaration,” BBC News, April 7, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-39527226;
As outlined below, al-Shabab has engaged in both guerrilla and terror tactics since its inception. A key differentiator and contributor to its sustainability as an organization is al-Shabab’s adaptability. This military and political flexibility is assisted by the leadership’s lack of direct accountability to a constituency,International Crisis Group, “Somalia: Al-Shabaab -- It will be a Long War,” Policy Briefing, Africa Briefing No. 99, June 26, 2014, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/b099-somalia-al-shabaab-it-will-be-a-long-war.pdf. enabling them to carry out any number of attacks on whatever targets they choose. One of the major developments within the organization has been its tactical shifts and hybridization of violent attacks, combining both suicide bombers and suicide infantry.Matt Bryden, “The Reinvention of Al-Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 2014, http://csis.org/files/publication/140221_Bryden_ReinventionOfAlShabaab_Web.pdf.. According to Matt Bryden at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Westgate Mall attack was the culmination of successfully tried and tested tactics, techniques and procedures honed back home in Somalia.Matt Bryden, “The Reinvention of Al-Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 2014, http://csis.org/files/publication/140221_Bryden_ReinventionOfAlShabaab_Web.pdf.. Specifically, al-Shabab understood from past experience that breaching the perimeter of the mall would be necessary to overtake it, so their typical suicide-bombing tactic would not work there. Consequently, the group used hand grenades to penetrate the structure.
Timeline of Violent Activities:
- October 29, 2008: The first known American suicide bomber for al-Shabab, Shirwa Ahmed, is part of attack in Hargeisa that kills 24 people. Ahmed was a Somali-American from Minnesota who trained with al-Shabab.Jonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified March 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650.
- February 2009: Al-Shabab successfully uses explosive vests in a sophisticated attack against African Union (AU) military bases in Mogadishu. They employ a mix of person-borne improvised explosive devices (PBIEDs) and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), followed by indirect fire. Similar tactics were used in a September bombing at an AU military base.Matt Bryden, “The Reinvention of Al-Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 2014, http://csis.org/files/publication/140221_Bryden_ReinventionOfAlShabaab_Web.pdf.
- June 19, 2009: Somalia National Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden is killed in a large-scale suicide car bomb attack in Beletwyne. Over 30 people are killed in the attack. The group seeks to intensify its strategy to strong-arm the Somali-population, focusing on high-target assassinations and clan elders.United Nations Security Council, “List of Individuals and Entities Subject to the Measures Imposed by Paragraphs 1, 3, and 7 of Security Council Resolution 1844,” March 11, 2014, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/751/pdf/1844_cons_list.pdf.
- September 17, 2009: Two VBIEDs penetrate the security perimeter of an AMISOM Force Headquarters, killing 17 peacekeepers, including the deputy force commander.Matt Bryden, “The Reinvention of Al-Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 2014, http://csis.org/files/publication/140221_Bryden_ReinventionOfAlShabaab_Web.pdf.
- July 11, 2010: Al-Shabab claims responsibility for several near-simultaneous bombings that kill dozens of people in sports bars in Uganda. The three coordinated blasts, which detonate just seven minutes apart, kill 76 people watching the World Cup in Kampala. In prison with al-Shabab: What drives Somali militants?” BBC News, last modified October 4, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-24379013. A fourth bomb left at a discotheque fails to go off. This is the group’s first attack on foreign soil. The group’s spokesman proclaims, “We are sending a message to every country who is willing to send troops to Somalia that they will face attacks on their territory.” Jonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified March 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. This attack brought together several of the elements from the 2009 bombings—near simultaneous attacks, employing PBIEDs, VBIEDs, and mobile-phone trigger.
- August 24, 2012: Al-Shabab attempts a complex attack, targeting the Muna Hotel in Mogadishu. Al-Shabab gunmen, disguised as government security personnel, lay siege to the building and a two-hour gun battle ensues before one of the assailants detonates an explosive vest. The attack kills 32 people, including several members of parliament. Although the attack was deemed successful by al-Shabab, the group does not attempt another operation of such complexity until two years later, when they attempted to kill Somalia’s newly elected president at Mogadishu’s Jazeera Hotel.Matt Bryden, “The Reinvention of Al-Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 2014, http://csis.org/files/publication/140221_Bryden_ReinventionOfAlShabaab_Web.pdf.
- March 28, 2013: Al-Shabab detonates a car bomb aimed at Somali intelligence chief Kahlif Ahmed Ereg near the National Theater in Mogadishu. The bomb kills 10 civilians and injures 15. “Chapter 2. Country Reports: Africa Overview,” Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224820.htm.
- April 14, 2013: Al-Shabab attacks the Supreme Court using a VBIED to breach the main entrance. Gunmen, some wearing explosive vests, then enter the building to carry out a killing spree. All of the attackers are reportedly killed and more than 35 people are killed in the attack. Matt Bryden, “The Reinvention of Al-Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 2014, http://csis.org/files/publication/140221_Bryden_ReinventionOfAlShabaab_Web.pdf.
- June 19, 2013: Al-Shabab attacks the U.N. compound in Mogadishu. The attack follows a similar pattern as the Supreme Court plans, with a VBIED exploding at the main entrance, allowing a small team of gunmen to enter. A total of 22 people are killed, including four U.N. international personnel, four local security guards, and all attackers.Matt Bryden, “The Reinvention of Al-Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 2014, http://csis.org/files/publication/140221_Bryden_ReinventionOfAlShabaab_Web.pdf.
- June 2013: Al-Shabab’s bloodiest internal battle ever destabilizes the group, leading to a major purge. The purge is thought to have removed 200 members. Top leaders who opposed Godane meet varying fates, with Ibrahim al-Afghani and Maa’lim Hashi executed, Mukhtar Robow escaping, and Hasan Dahir Aweys fleeing but being captured by government militias and handed over to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.Ken Menkhaus, “Al-Shabab’s Capabilities Post-Westgate,” CTC Sentinel 7, no. 2 (February 2014): 4-9, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CTCSentinel-Vol7Iss2.pdf. Godane consolidates control over the weakened, smaller group and implements a hardline strategy and tactics.
- July 12, 2013: Al-Shabab attacks an AMISOM convoy en route to Mogadishu International Airport. The group publicly admits they had tried to target U.S. intelligence officers.“Chapter 2. Country Reports: Africa Overview,” Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224820.htm.
- July 27, 2013: Al-Shabab attacks the Turkish embassy housing complex in Mogadishu using a car bomb and small weapons, killing eight and injuring 13. “Chapter 2. Country Reports: Africa Overview,” Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224820.htm.
- September 3 and 4, 2013: Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s convoy strikes a roadside bomb as he travels to Merka, Lower Shabelle. No casualties are reported, though one Somali soldier is injured.“Chapter 2. Country Reports: Africa Overview,” Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224820.htm.
- September 7, 2013: Eighteen civilians are killed at the popular Villa Restaurant in Mogadishu. Al-Shabab employs a two-part VBIED and suicide attack.“Chapter 2. Country Reports: Africa Overview,” Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224820.htm.
- September 12 and November 5, 2013: Al-Shabab twice targets the convoy of Interim Juba Administration President Ahmed Madobe with a car bomb outside of Kismayo’s airport. Madobe is slightly injured in the first attack. Civilians are killed in both attacks. “Chapter 2. Country Reports: Africa Overview,” Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224820.htm.
- September 21 - 24, 2013: Al-Shabab militants, including a Norwegian citizen of Somali origin and three Somali nationals, raid Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. In the deadliest attack in Kenya in 15 years, the attackers kill 67 people and wound more than 200 over four days. The victims include six Kenyan security personnel.Matt Bryden, “The Reinvention of Al-Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 2014, http://csis.org/files/publication/140221_Bryden_ReinventionOfAlShabaab_Web.pdf.
- November 8, 2013: The group attempts to detonate a sophisticated IED embedded in a laptop at Maka al Mukarama, a popular hotel in Mogadishu frequented by high-level government and security officials. The attack kills six and injures 15. A secondary VBIED detonates in the parking lot.=“Chapter 2. Country Reports: Africa Overview,” Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224820.htm.
- November 19, 2013: Al-Shabab insurgents launch a complex attack against the central police station in Beledweyne, killing 24 Somali police officers and one Djiboutian AMISOM soldier, and injuring several others.United Nations Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia,” S/2014/140, March 3, 2014, http://unsom.unmissions.org/Portals/UNSOM/SG%20Report%20March%202014.pdf.
- December 5, 2013: A suicide car bomber hits a convoy of the Puntland security forces in central Boosaaso, killing three police officers and four civilians, while injuring several others. United Nations Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia,” S/2014/140, March 3, 2014, http://unsom.unmissions.org/Portals/UNSOM/SG%20Report%20March%202014.pdf.
- January 1, 2014: Al-Shabab claims responsibility for a suicide car bombing that kills at least 12 people and injures several others at the Jazeera Hotel in Mogadishu.United Nations Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia,” S/2014/140, March 3, 2014, http://unsom.unmissions.org/Portals/UNSOM/SG%20Report%20March%202014.pdf.
- January 15, 2014: Al-Shabab attempts to launch an attack on Somali National Army positions, but proves unsuccessful.United Nations Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia,” S/2014/140, March 3, 2014, http://unsom.unmissions.org/Portals/UNSOM/SG%20Report%20March%202014.pdf.
- January 21, 2014: Two roadside explosions kill three civilians and injure 13. United Nations Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia,” S/2014/140, March 3, 2014, http://unsom.unmissions.org/Portals/UNSOM/SG%20Report%20March%202014.pdf.
- February 13, 2014: A U.N. convoy is hit by a suicide car bomber en route to the Mogadishu International Airport, killing several Somali bystanders.United Nations Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia,” S/2014/140, March 3, 2014, http://unsom.unmissions.org/Portals/UNSOM/SG%20Report%20March%202014.pdf.
- February 21, 2014: Following a series of suicide bombings over a few weeks, al-Shabab attacks Somalia’s presidential palace with a combination of car bombs and engages in a gun battle with palace guards. Fourteen people are left dead, including five Somali officials and soldiers and nine attackers. The interior minister confirms that two government officials are among the dead.“Al-Shabab attacks Somali presidential palace,” Al Jazeera, February 22, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/02/somali-presidential-hq-attacked-al-shabab-201422112586270319.html.
- September 8, 2014: A suicide bomber attacks Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, killing 12 civilians and wounding two soldiers. Later, a second suicide attacker rams his car into the convoy escorting Somalian intelligence commander Abdifatah Shaweye to the scene of the first attack. Shaweye is lightly wounded. No further casualties are reported. Abdi Guled, “12 civilians killed in Somalia attack, say police,” Associated Press, September 8, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/5-civilians-killed-somalia-bombing-say-police.
- October 12, 2014: A car bomb explodes outside a café in Mogadishu, killing 11 and wounding eight. Al-Shabab is suspected.Abdi Guled, “Car bomb in Somalia’s capital kills 11,” Associated Press, October 12, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/55b8bab4b8e4484ba373c1d45309fe8f/car-bomb-somalias-capital-kills-least-7.
- October 15, 2014: A car bomb explodes near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing five and wounding seven, mostly children. Al-Shabab is suspected.Abdi Guled, “Car bomb in Somali capital kills 5, mostly kids,” Associated Press, October 15, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/7da0bdd1147542ec90b5f9ca1bb7d072/car-bomb-somali-capital-kills-5-mostly-kids.
- November 17, 2014: Al-Shabab militants open fire on the car of a 60-year old Somali-American in Mogadishu. Separately, militants shoot and kill a freelance journalist in central Somalia. Abdi Guled, “Somali-American who helped Mogadishu govt killed,” Associated Press, November 19, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/768422c036ad463d98479ba3ce922bb6/somali-american-who-helped-mogadishu-govt-killed.
- November 22, 2014: Al-Shabab hijacks a bus heading to Nairobi, Kenya, and separates Muslims from non-Muslims by challenging the non-Somali passengers to recite the shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith. The hijackers kill 28.Tom Odula, “Somalia’s al-Shabab kills 28 non-Muslims in Kenya,” Washington Post, November 22, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/somalias-al-shabab-kills-28-non-muslims-in-kenya/2014/11/22/d7571d5c-7272-11e4-ad12-3734c461eab6_story.html.
- December 2, 2014: After identifying non-Muslim workers at a quarry in Kenya, al-Shabab massacres 36 people, most of whom are reportedly “lined up, and shot in the head, at close range” while others are beheaded. “Al-Shabab massacres non-Muslims at Kenya quarry,” BBC News, last modified December 2, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30288137.
- December 3, 2014: Al-Shabab carries out a car bomb attack on a U.N. convoy near Mogadishu airport, killing four Somalis, including a policeman and a contractor, and wounding 13 others.Feisal Omar, “Al-Shabaab car bomb kills four Somalis in U.N. convoy,” Reuters, December 3, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/03/somalia-blast-idUSL6N0TN0L220141203.
- December 5, 2014: Al-Shabab suicide bombers kill up to seven people and wound dozens more in a restaurant in the northwest town of Baidoa in Somalia. Feisal Omar, “Suicide bombers kill up to seven in Somali town,” Reuters, December 5, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/05/us-somalia-blast-idUSKCN0JJ1WT20141205.
- December 12, 2014: Al-Shabab kidnaps and beheads Quran teacher Mohamed Hussein near the central Somali city of Bulo Berde because Hussein reportedly refused to obey al-Shabab’s order to leave his village. His headless corpse is later found dumped close to his home. Omar Nor, “Al-Shabaab blamed for five beheadings,” CNN, December 15, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/15/world/africa/somalia-violence/.
- December 15, 2014: Al-Shabab attacks a military base in southern Somalia, killing at least 10 soldiers. Abdi Sheikh, Feisal Omar, et al, “Islamist rebels kill 10 Somali soldiers in attack on base,” Reuters, December 15, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/15/somalia-attacks-idUSL1N0TZ09520141215.
- December 25, 2014: Eight al-Shabab militants storm an African Union (AU) building and kill three Ugandan peacekeepers and a civilian contractor. Al-Shabab claims that it killed 14 peacekeepers, explaining that it “targeted the enemies at a time they were celebrating Christmas…”Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Islamist gunmen attack African Union base in Somalia,” Reuters, December 25, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/27/us-somalia-security-idUSKBN0K503C20141227.
- December 26, 2014: In claiming responsibility for the African Union attack on December 25, al-Shabab state that it is in retaliation for a U.S. strike that killed its leader, Ahmed Godane.mar Nor, Mohammed Tawfeeq, and Susanna Capelouto, “Al-Shabaab: Attack on base was revenge for U.S. airstrike,” CNN, December 26, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/26/world/africa/somalia-violence/.
- January 2, 2015: Al-Shabab confirms it was responsible for killing at least seven Somali soldiers in an attack on a military base outside Baidoa.Feisal Omar and Abdi Sheikh, “At least seven killed in al Shabaab attack at Somali military base,” Reuters, January 2, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/02/us-somalia-attacks-idUSKBN0KB0ET20150102.
- January 4, 2015: Al-Shabab detonates a car bomb that kills four civilians and injures seven more in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.Abdi Sheikh, “Car bomb targeting Somali security forces kills four civilians,” Reuters, January 4, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/04/us-somalia-blast-idUSKBN0KD0E420150104.
- March 12, 2015: Al-Shabab militants attack government administration offices in Baidoa, Somalia. At least nine people, including four gunmen, die in the attack.Omar Nor, “Al-Shabaab launches deadly attack on government offices in Baidoa,” CNN, March 12, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/12/africa/somalia-violence/.
- April 2, 2015: Al-Shabab gunmen storm Garissa University in Kenya, killing 148 people. The gunmen specifically target Christian students. It is al-Shabab’s deadliest attack in Kenya to date. The university reopens nine months later. “Who are Somalia's al-Shabab?” BBC News, December 9, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-15336689; “Kenya's Garissa university reopens after deadly al-Shabab attack,” BBC News, January 4, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35221137.
- April 20, 2015: Al-Shabab bombs U.N. workers in Garowe, Somalia, killing nine.“Al-Shabaab bombs UN workers in Somalia,” Guardian (London), April 20, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/20/al-shabaab-suspected-of-bomb-attack-on-un-workers-in-somalia.
- May 22, 2015: Al-Shabab fighters attack the village of Yumbis in Kenya until security forces drive them out.Reuters, “Somalia's al Shabaab fighters attack village in Kenya,” Yahoo News, May 22, 2015, http://news.yahoo.com/al-shabaab-attacks-village-kenyas-garissa-063920870.html.
- July 7, 2015: Al-Shabab kills more than a dozen in an attack on the village of Soko Mbuzi near the Kenyan-Somali border weeks before U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Kenya. “Al-Shabaab kills more than a dozen in Kenya attack weeks before Obama visit,” Guardian (London), July 7, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/07/al-shabaab-kills-more-than-a-dozen-in-kenya-attack-weeks-before-obama-visit.
- July 15, 2015: Al-Shabab militants launch coordinated attacks on a stadium housing peacekeepers, as well as two hotels, in Mogadishu. According to police, six civilians and five militants are killed in the attacks.Robyn Kriel, “Al-Shabaab says it is responsible for three Somalia attacks,” CNN, July 15, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/10/africa/somalia-al-shabaab-attacks/.
- September 3, 2015: Al-Shabab launches an attack in southern Somalia against a remote African Union outpost that kills 37 in total, including 25 Somali and 12 Ugandan soldiers.Robyn Kriel and Briana Duggan, “Al-Shabaab attack in Somalia kills dozens of AU troops,” CNN, September 3, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/03/africa/somalia-al-shabaab-attack/.
- November 1, 2015: Al-Shabab attacks the Sahafi Hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least six and injuring 10. The siege ends when Somali security forces kill the five perpetrators.“Al-Shabaab extremists attack hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least 6,” CBC News, November 1, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/al-shabaab-extremists-attack-hotel-in-mogadishu-killing-at-least-6-1.3298891.
- January 15, 2016: Al-Shabab launches attack against an African Union military base, killing dozens of Kenyan soldiers. Kenyan soldiers abandon the camp 11 days later.Tony Oladipo, “What happened when al-Shabab attacked a Kenyan base in Somalia?” BBC News, January 21, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35364593;
“Kenyan troops abandon Somali camp to al Shabaab militants,” Reuters, January 26, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-somalia-idUSKCN0V41R2.
- January 21, 2016: Al-Shabab claims responsibility for an attack on a beachfront restaurant in Mogadishu, killing at least 26. The terrorist attack—involving suicide bombers and gunmen—lasts for eight hours before Somali security forces are able to restore security. Morgan Winsor, “Somalia Lido Beach Attack: Mogadishu Resident Loses Close Friends In Al-Shabab Violence,” International Business Times, January 25, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.com/somalia-lido-beach-attack-mogadishu-resident-loses-close-friends-al-shabab-violence-2276408.
- January 31, 2016: Al-Shabab militants kill three men in a village in Kenya’s coastal Lamu county.Alphonce Gari, “Suspected al Shabaab militia kill three in fresh Lamu attack,” Star (Nairobi), January 31, 2016, http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2016/01/31/suspected-al-shabaab-militia-kill-three-in-fresh-lamu-attack_c1286235.
- February 2, 2016: A suicide bomber detonates an improvised explosive device on a Daallo airbus flight from Mogadishu to Djibouti. There are no fatalities except the bomber, who is sucked out through a hole in the plane created by the bomb. Al-Shabab claims responsibility for the attack.“Foreign Travel Advice: Somalia,” U.K. Government, accessed September 8, 2016, https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/somalia/terrorism; Robyn Kriel and Susanna Capelouto, “Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for Somalia in-flight jet blast,” CNN, February 13, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/13/africa/somalia-plane-bomb-al-shabaab/.
- February 26, 2016: Purported al-Shabab gunmen and a suicide car bomber attack Mogadishu’s SYL hotel, leaving at least 14 people dead and others wounded.“Terror attack at Somali hotel leaves at least 14 daed, including 9 civilians,” Fox News, February 26, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/02/26/terrorists-storm-hotel-in-somali-capital-extent-damage-unclear.html.
- April 11, 2016: A car bomb detonates outside the Mogadishu mayor’s office, killing five people and wounding five more. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.Feisal Omar and Abdirahaman Hussein, “Mogadishu car bomb kills five at local government HQ,” Reuters, April 11, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-blast-idUSKCN0X8109.
- April 12, 2016: Suspected al-Shabab fighters attempt and fail to assassinate the District Commissioner of Beled Hawo in Somalia’s southern Gedo region, wounding three of his guards. “Five Arrested in Balad Hawo town for car bomb explosion,” Shabelle News, April 13, 2016, http://www.shabellenews.com/2016/04/five-arrested-in-balad-hawo-town-for-car-bomb-explosion/.
- April 14, 2016: Suspected al-Shabab militants attempt to assassinate a Somali member of parliament in the town of Balad Hawo near the Kenyan border using explosive devices, injuring four people.“Four people injured in bomb attacks on residential house of Federal MP in Balad Hawo town,” Goobjoog News, April 15, 2016, http://goobjoog.com/english/?p=27775.
- April 17, 2016: Suspected al-Shabab militants conduct a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu, killing a woman working for the U.N. High Commission on Refugees office and wounding at least one more.“One killed and two others injured in drive-by shooting in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, April 17, 2016, http://goobjoog.com/english/?p=27855; “Gunmen kill cleaning lady working for UN office,” Shabelle News, April 17, 2016, http://www.shabellenews.com/2016/04/gunmen-kill-woman-working-for-mogadishu-municipality/.
- April 19, 2016: Al-Shabab abducts between 10 and 12 children from a school in central Somalia’s Harardheere district.“Al-Shabaab Militants Kidnap 10 School Children in Central Somalia,” Somali Updates, April 22, 2016, http://somaliupdate.com/articles/8477/Al-Shabaab-Militants-Kidnap-10-School-Children-in-Central-Somalia.
- April 21: 2016: Al-Shabab militants attack an AMISOM convoy in Somalia’s Baay region, killing six Ethiopian soldiers.“Roadside bomb targets Ethiopian army convoy, 6 soldiers killed,” Shabellenews, April 21, 2016, http://www.shabellenews.com/2016/04/roadside-bomb-targets-ethiopian-army-convoy-6-soldiers-killed/.
- April 27, 2016: Suspected Al-Shabab fighters seize the town of Janale in Lower Shabelle region from Somali and African Union troops. According to residents, Somali and African Union troops allegedly withdraw from the town for an “unknown reason,” allowing al-Shabab to take control without resistance. “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 27, 2016,” AEI Critical Threats, April 27, 2016, http://www.criticalthreats.org/gulf-aden-security-review/gulf-aden-security-review-april-27-2016?mini=calendar-view/2016-04.
- June 25, 2016: Militants detonate a car bomb outside of a hotel in central Mogadishu and storm the building, killing at least 15 people, including a Somali cabinet minister, and wounding at least 34 more. Al-Shabab claims responsibility. Omar Nor and Ray Sanchez, “Gunmen storm hotel in Mogadishu; 15 killed, police say,” CNN, June 25, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/25/africa/mogadishu-hotel-explosion-gunfire/; Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Somali Islamist militants attack hotel in Mogadishu,” Reuters, June 26, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-blast-idUSKCN0ZB0KC.
- July 26, 2016: Two suicide bombers detonate car bombs near AMISOM’s headquarters at an airport in Mogadishu, killing 13 people. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.“Somalia attack: Twin car bombs explode by Mogadishu airport,” BBC News, July 26, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-36892048.
- August 25, 2016: Two militants detonate a car bomb and open fire at the Banadir Beach Restaurant near Lido beach in Mogadishu, killing 10 people. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.“At least seven dead in al-Shabaab attack on Mogadishu restaurant,” Telegraph (London), August 26, 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/26/at-least-seven-dead-in-gunmen-attack-on-mogadishu-restaurant-cla/; Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Car bomb outside Somali President’s Palace kills at least 10,” Reuters, August 30, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-blast-idUSKCN1150TV.
- August 29, 2016: Suspected al-Shabab fighters attack AMISOM military housing outside Mogadishu, killing at least one soldier. Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Car bomb outside Somali President’s Palace kills at least 10,” Reuters, August 30, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-blast-idUSKCN1150TV.
- August 30, 2016: A car bomb is detonated outside the presidential palace and two hotels reportedly frequented by government officials in Mogadishu, killing 22 people and wounding 50 others. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.Feisal Omar, “Death toll from Shabaabattack on Mogadishu hotels rises to 22 – police,” Reuters, August 31, 2016, http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/death-toll-from-shabaab-attack-on-mogadishu-hotels-rises-to-22-police/ar-AAii7zd?li=AA4Zpp&ocid=spartandhp.
- December 2016: Al-Shabab militants kill several government officials in Bosasso in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region. On December 15, gunmen shoot Colonel Jama Sahardiid, second deputy commander of Puntland Police forces, outside a restaurant in Bosasso. Sahardiid dies from his wounds the following day. On December 20, militants shoot and kill Aden Huruse, an aide in Puntland’s presidential palace, at a restaurant in Bosasso. On December 25, gunmen kill military prosecutor Abdikarim Hassan Firdiye as he is getting out of his car outside a restaurant in Bosasso.Abdiqani Hassan and Feisal Omar, “Al Shabaab militants shoot prosecutor dead in Somalia's Puntland,” Reuters, December 25, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-attacks-idUSKBN14E0BJ.
- January 25, 2017: Al-Shabab fighters attack a hotel in Mogadishu. A policeman dies of his wounds the following day. “Somalia’s al Shabaab group behind hotel attack: radio,” Reuters, January 25, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-air-france-klm-northkorea-missiles-idUSKBN1AJ2HA; “Somalia: Puntland Police official dies of wounds a day after attack,” Garowe Online, December 16, 2016, http://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/puntland/somalia-puntland-police-official-dies-of-wounds-a-day-after-attack.
- January 27, 2017: Al-Shabab fighters attack a Kenyan military base in the southern Somali town of Kulbiyow near the Kenyan border, killing nine soldiers. The Kenyan military claims to kill 70 militants in repelling the attack. Al-Shabab claims it killed dozens of Kenyan troops.Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Somalia's al Shabaab says kills dozens of Kenyan troops in raid on base,” Reuters, January 27, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-attacks-idUSKBN15B0C9.
- April 27, 2017: Al-Shabab gunmen kill national intelligence officer Mohamud Haji Ali while is his sitting in front of his home in Mogadishu.“Somalia's al Shabaab kills senior national security officer: police,” Reuters, April 27, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-security-idUSKBN17T19Y.
- May 8, 2017: A car bomb in Mogadishu kills at least five people. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.“Somali militant group al Shabaab claims Mogadishu car bomb attack,” Reuters, May 8, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somali-blast-al-shabaab-idUSKBN1841YE.
- May 9, 2017: Al-Shabab fighters attack a military base in Goofgaduud, killing at least seven soldiers. Al-Shabab claims it killed 16 soldiers and captured the entire town of Goofgaduud, which the Somali government does not immediately confirm. Aaron Maasho, “Al Shabaab militants attack Somali army base, killing several soldiers,” Reuters, May 9, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-security-idUSKBN185132.
- May 16, 2017: Four Al-Shabab gunmen break into the house of Kenyan government official Dekow Abbey Sirat and shoot him dead. The group claims it also killed several of Sirat’s bodyguards and took their weapons. Humphrey Malalo, “Al Shabaab gunmen kill official in northern Kenya: police, group,” Reuters, May 16, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-security-idUSKCN18C11V.
- May 24, 2017: A car bomb in Mogadishu kills five people and wounds six. Eight Kenyan soldiers are killed in two separate roadside bombings on the Kenyan side of the border. Al-Shabab claims responsibility for all three attacks. Feisal Omar, “Al Shabaab bombing in Somali capital kills five, injures six,” Reuters, May 24, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-blast-idUSKBN18K2AJ.
- May 31, 2017: A Kenyan police armored personnel vehicle runs over an improvised bomb, killing seven officers and one civilian. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.Tom Odula, “Police: 7 officers, 1 civilian killed in bombing,” Associated Press, May 31, 2017, https://apnews.com/18b9b0435eb84ddb9d2e7939e343307f/Police:-7-Kenyan-officers,-1-civilian-killed-in-bombing.
- June 5, 2017: A bomb planted at a police station in the southern Somalia city of Kismayu kills one policeman and wounds several others. Al-Shabab claims responsibility and alleges the bomb killed four policemen and wounded 27.“Al Shabaab claims bomb attack on Somali police station,” Reuters, June 5, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-blast-idUSKBN18W1NL.
- June 8, 2017: Al-Shabab gunmen and suicide bombers attack a military base in Af Urur in Somalia’s Puntland state, killing 59 people and wounding 38 others. The attackers shoot and behead victims, including civilians. Authorities does not immediately release exact casualty numbers. Abdi Guled, “Nearly 70 dead in al-Shabab attack on Somalia military base,” Associated Press, June 8, 2017, https://apnews.com/463c87ff4f3e436c80bcb9c85867b207/Nearly-70-dead-in-al-Shabab-attack-on-Somalia-military-base; Abdiqani Hassan and George Obulutsa, “Number of dead in al Shabaab attack in Somalia's Puntland rises to 59: officer,” Reuters, June 10, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-attack-idUSKBN1910IR.
- June 14-15, 2017: A car bomb explodes at the gates of the Pizza House restaurant in Mogadishu. Five gunmen storm the restaurant and take customers hostage. The gunmen kill 31 and wound 40. Security forces kill the gunmen after an overnight standoff. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.Abdi Guled, “Somali survivors tell of restaurant siege by rebels; 31 dead,” Associated Press, June 15, 2017, https://apnews.com/66ab79a75a624fa79e7170cc2901dded/Somali-survivors-tell-of-restaurant-siege-by-rebels;-31-dead.
- June 20, 2017: A suicide car bomb disguised as a milk delivery van explodes at Wadajir district headquarters in Mogadishu, killing 15 people and wounding 18. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.Abdi Guled, “Car bomb in Somalia capital kills at least 15, police say,” Associated Press, June 20, 2017, https://apnews.com/56bf173bcfed45cb89a6936cd34d2d87/Car-bomb-in-Somalia-capital-kills-at-least-15,-police-say.
- June 22, 2017: A suicide car bomb explodes at a police station in Mogadishu, killing seven and wounding 12. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.“7 dead in suicide blast at police station in Somalia capital,” Associated Press, June 22, 2017, https://apnews.com/a9fd90fc0431409e834e9f976772fd73/7-dead-in-suicide-blast-at-police-station-in-Somalia-capital.
- June 27, 2017: A roadside bomb in Kiunga town in Kenya’s Lamu County kills four policemen and four children. Police suspect al-Shabab of planting the bomb.Tom Odula, “Road bomb in Kenya’s Lamu County kills 8, including 4 kids,” Associated Press, June 27, 2017, https://apnews.com/6b3f8c8fa8eb4d5db6b9530753687109/Road-bomb-in-Kenya's-Lamu-County-kills-8,-including-4-kids.
- July 5, 2017: Gunmen attack a village in Kenya’s Lamu County, killing three police officers and wounding seven others during a seven-hour gun battle with police. Authorities suspect al-Shabab.“Kenya: 3 policemen killed as Islamic militants attack town,” Associated Press, July 5, 2017, https://apnews.com/402d4593475f4d07b785efd9c7c78d0c/Kenya:-3-policemen-killed-as-Islamic-militants-attack-town.
- July 8, 2017: About 15 al-Shabab militants attack Jima village in Kenya’s southeastern Lamu County. The attackers behead nine men from the village.Tom Odula, “Al-Shabab beheads 9 civilians in attack on Kenya village,” Associated Press, July 8, 2017, https://apnews.com/25ed6c032ed74fcfaebed4ae9465e528/Al-Shabab-beheads-9-civilians-in-attack-on-Kenya-village.
- July 13, 2017: Al-Shabab fighters attack a government convoy in southeastern Kenya, killing two police officers and a civilian while kidnapping public works official Maryam Elmaawy. It is al-Shabab’s highest-profile kidnapping in the country to date. Kenyan forces rescue Elmaawy later in the day. Tom Odula, “Kenya: 3 dead as extremists kidnap top government official,” Associated Press, July 13, 2017, https://apnews.com/5d78cf07e419492a80743a7efc61da7b/Kenya:-3-dead-as-extremists-kidnap-top-government-official.
- July 23, 2017: A roadside blast targeting a security convoy kills four soldiers near the town of Baidoa in southwestern Somalia. Al-Shabab claims responsibility.“Soldiers killed in Somalia blast,” Al Jazeera, July 23, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/somali-soldiers-killed-roadside-blast-170723164125287.html.
- July 30, 2017: Al-Shabab fighters ambush an African Union convoy on a joint patrol with Somalia forces in Somalia, killing 23 AMISOM soldiers and one Somali soldier. Al-Shabab claims it kills 39 soldiers, though there is no official verification of the claim.Rodney Muhumuza, “Uganda says al-Shabab kills 12 soldiers in Somalia ambush,” Associated Press,” July 31, 2017, https://apnews.com/37e02a7fdbea4d4eb070237d951bca83/Uganda-says-al-Shabab-kills-12-soldiers-in-Somalia-ambush; “Twenty-four killed in fighting between Somali, AU troops and al Shabaab, official says,” Reuters, July 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-attacks-official/twenty-four-killed-in-fighting-between-somali-au-troops-and-al-shabaab-official-says-idUSKBN1AF0QG.
- August 2, 2017: Militants open fire on a bus in Kenya’s Kamu county, killing three people. Police suspect al-Shabab of responsibility. Tom Odula, “Kenya official: 3 killed in suspected al-Shabab attack,” Associated Press, August 2, 2017, https://apnews.com/06a17cb681894c3abc873bbd6d4d1889/Kenya-official:-3-killed-in-suspected-al-Shabab-attack.
- August 3, 2017: Al-Shabab militants attack the Lafey police station in Kenya near the border with Somalia. One officer is killed and two vehicles are burned.Tom Odula, “Somalia extremists kill Kenyan police officer in attack,” August 3, 2017, https://apnews.com/3c6300b869a54ce8922b1e6e09d49277/Somalia-extremists-kill-Kenyan-police-officer-in-attack.
- August 4, 2017: Al-Shabab seizes the Somalia town of Leego after the Somali military and AMISOM peacekeepers withdraw from the town. Al-Shabab military spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab tells Reuters, “The town is now under our control.”Feisal Omar and Abdi Sheikh, “Al Shabaab militants seize town in south of Somalia: residents,” Reuters, August 4, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-india-border-idUSKBN1AJ1TP.
- August 18, 2017: Three men are beheaded in an attack in the Maleli village in Kenya. Authorities suspect that Al-Shabab is responsible. “Suspected al-Shabab attackers behead 3 in Kenya’s Lamu,” Al Jazeera, August 18, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/suspected-al-shabab-attackers-behead-3-kenya-lamu-170818100001888.html.
- September 1, 2017: A bomb planted in a market in Af-Urur, near the Galgala hills area controlled by al-Shabab, kills at least 12 people. Al-Shabab claims responsibility, alleging it killed five soldiers and wounded 10 others.Abdiqani Hassan, “Al Shabaab bomb kills 12 in Somalia's Puntland,” Reuters, September 1, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-security/al-shabaab-bomb-kills-12-in-somalias-puntland-idUSKCN1BC512.
- September 2, 2017: Al-Shabab attacks a Somali army base in Bula Gudud near the southern port town of Kismayu. The group claims to kill 26 soldiers, though the Somali government does not immediately offer casualty figures. On November 13, 2017, al-Shabab releases a video of the attack alleging that at least 20 Somali soldiers were killed.“Al-Shabab attacks Somalia army base,” Al Jazeera, September 3, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/al-shabab-attacks-somalia-army-base-170903072842617.html; Bill Roggio and Caleb Weiss, “Al-Shabaab releases video showing deadly raid on Somali military base,” Business Insider, November 13, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/al-shabaab-attack-somali-military-base-video-2017-11.
- September 11, 2017: Al-Shabab detonates a suicide car bomb and storms a military base in the town of Balad Hawo on the Somali border with Kenya. Authorities report at least 10 soldiers killed.“Several dead as al-Shabab storms Somali border town,” Al Jazeera, September 11, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/dead-al-shabab-storms-somalia-border-town-170911055926717.html.
- September 27, 2017: Al-Shabab militants kill the secretary general of Somalia’s national women’s organization and the son of the organization’s chairwoman in a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu.Mohamed Olad Hassan, “At Least 7 Killed in Mogadishu Car Bombing,” Voice of America, September 28, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/somalia-police-say-car-bomb-blast-kills-five-capital/4048297.html.
- October 14, 2017: A truck bomb explodes in the center of Mogadishu, killing at least 320 and injuring even more, in Somalia’s worst terror attack to date. Authorities attribute responsibility to al-Shabab.Jason Burke, “Mogadishu truck bomb: 500 casualties in Somalia’s worst terrorist attack,” Guardian (London), October 16, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/15/truck-bomb-mogadishu-kills-people-somalia; Jason Burke, “Mogadishu bombing: al-Shabaab behind deadly blast, officials say,” Guardian (London), October 16, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/16/mogadishu-bombing-al-shabaab-behind-deadly-blast-officials-say.
- November 16, 2017: Al-Shabab attacks a Somali military base near Mogadishu with no reported civilian or military deaths.“Al-Shabaab attack military base near Mogadishu,” Middle East Monitor, November 17, 2017, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171117-al-shabaab-attack-military-base-near-mogadishu/.
- December 30, 2017: Al-Shabab militants set fire to two police camps in the Kenyan town of Ijara, near Somalia’s southernmost border with Kenya. No casualties are reported.“Al Shabaab attack two police camps in Ijara,” Capital News, December 30, 2017, https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2017/12/al-shabaab-attack-two-police-camps-ijara/.
- January 3, 2018: Al-Shabab militants kill five Kenyan policemen on patrol around the Kenyan border town of Mandera.“Al Shabaab kills five Kenyan policemen who were out on patrol,” Reuters, January 3, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-attacks/al-shabaab-kills-five-kenyan-policemen-who-were-out-on-patrol-idUSKBN1ES0G6.
- January 13, 2017: Al-Shabab militants ambush a Kenyan police convoy in Lamu, eastern Kenya, killing one and wounding several other police officers.“One killed, cops injured after suspected al Shabaab attack Lamu buses,” Star (Nairobi), January 13, 2018, https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2018/01/13/one-killed-cops-injured-after-suspected-al-shabaab-attack-lamu-buses_c1697581.
- February 6, 2018: Al-Shabab militants injure four policemen in a nighttime attack on a police station in Bosaso, Somalia.“Somalia: 4 injured in al-Shabaab attack on Bosaso police station,” Garowe Online, February 6, 2018, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/puntland/somalia-4-injured-in-al-shabaab-attack-on-bosaso-police-station.
- February 8, 2018: At least three al-Shabab militants are killed in an attempted attack on a police camp in Kutulo, Kenya.Cyrus Ombati, “Bodies of Al-Shabaab fighters found after attempted attack on AP camp,” Standard Digital, February 12, 2018, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001269375/bodies-of-al-shabaab-fighters-found-after-attempted-attack-on-ap-camp.
- February 16, 2018: Suspected al-Shabab militants kill three teachers and one of their wives and injure dozens in an attack on a primary school in Kenya. One suspect is later arrested on February 20.Stephen Astariko, “Suspect arrested after al Shabaab attack on Wajir teachers,” Star (Nairobi), February 20, 2018, https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2018/02/20/suspect-arrested-after-al-shabaab-attack-on-wajir-teachers_c1717670.
- February 23, 2018: Al-Shabab militants detonate two car bombs near the presidential palace and a hotel in Mogadishu, killing 18 and wounding dozens.Christina Maza, “Mogadishu Attack: Al-Shabab Militants Attack Government Buildings in Somalia’s Capital, Killing Civilians,” Newsweek, February 23, 2018, http://www.newsweek.com/mogadishu-attack-al-shabaab-militants-attack-government-buildings-somalias-818684.
- March 2, 2018: Al-Shabab militants launch three separate attacks across Somalia killing at least 16 AU and Somali soldiers. Militants drive an SVBIED into a military camp near the town of Agooye, killing at least five Somali soldiers. At the same time, an IED kills six more soldiers on the road from Afgooye to Mogadishu. Separately, militants briefly capture the southern town of Bal’ad and kill five Burundi peacekeepers just north of it.“Somalia: Five AU soldiers among 16 killed in al-Shabaab attacks,” Garowe Online, March 3, 2018, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-5-au-soldiers-among-16-killed-in-al-shabaab-attacks.
- March 14, 2018: Al-Shabab militants unsuccessfully attempt to raid two AMISOM military bases in southern Somalia staffed by Ugandan and Ethiopian troops. No AMISOM fatalities are reported.Goldberg, “Ugandan, Ethiopian AMISOM Troops Repel Al Shabaab Attacks In Lower Shabelle And Gedo Regions,” Strategic Intelligence News, March 14, 2018, https://intelligencebriefs.com/ugandan-ethiopian-amisom-troops-repel-al-shabaab-attacks-in-lower-shabelle-and-gedo-regions/.
- March 19, 2018: Al-Shabab attacks a Somali military base in the town of Buurdhuubo with small arms and RPGs. There are no casualties.“Al-shabaab attacks Somali Military base in Gedo region,” Radio Kulmiye, March 19, 2018, http://radiokulmiye.net/2018/03/19/al-shabaab-attacks-somali-military-base-in-gedo-region/.
- April 1, 2018: Al-Shabab attacks a joint Somali and African Union base in the lower Shabelle the morning after Somali and AU forces had attacked al-Shabab in a nearby village. At least four Ugandan soldiers are killed in the attack, which reportedly included two car bombs.“Al Shabaab attacks an African Union base in Somalia,” Reuters, April 1, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-security/al-shabaab-attacks-an-african-union-base-in-somalia-idUSKCN1H815F.
- April 9, 2018: Al-Shabab militants attack a Kenyan Defence Force base in southern Gedo region of Somali with an unknown number of casualties on both sides.“Somalia: Al-Shabaab raids KDF base in Gedo region,” Garowe Online, April 9, 2018, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-al-shabab-raids-kenyan-military-camp-in-gedo.
- August 13, 2018: A construction vehicle heading toward the Kenya-Somalia wall drives over a landmine, killing at least three and wounding two. Al-Shabab claims responsibility through its Radio Onduras station.Stephen Astariko, “Three border wall workers killed in Mandera landmine attack,” The Star, August 13, 2018, https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2018-08-13-three-border-wall-workers-killed-in-mandera-landmine-attack/.; “3 killed in landmine explosion along Kenya-Somalia border,” Xinhua, August 14, 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-08/14/c_137387785.htm.
- August 21, 2018: A vehicle carrying General Service Unit officers runs over an improvised explosive device in Garissa County, killing five and wounding three. Authorities suspect al-Shabab.Mumbi Mutuko, “5 GSU Officers Killed in Morning Explosion,” Kenyans, June 6, 2018, https://www.kenyans.co.ke/news/30225-5-gsu-officers-killed-morning-explosion.
- August 29, 2018: An explosion in Lamu County kills five Kenyan soldiers and injures 10 others. Al-Shabab is suspected to be responsible for the attack.Associated Press, “5 Kenyan soldiers killed in roadside bombing in Lamu County,” News24, August 29, 2018, https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/5-kenyan-soldiers-killed-in-roadside-bombing-in-lamu-county-20180829.
- October 13, 2018: Al-Shabab carries out two bombings in the town of Baidoa, a financial hub located between Mogadishu and the Ethiopian border. The first blast targets a restaurant and another explosion strikes a nearby hotel, killing 20 people and wounding dozens more.Abdi Guled, “At least 16 dead in pair of bombings in Somalia’s Baidoa,” Associated Press, October 13, 2018, https://apnews.com/ed74d0fe5e914a80bebda311d9d02d94.; “Death toll from twin suicide bombings in southern Somalia rises to 20,” October 14, 2018, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-attack/death-toll-from-twin-suicide-bombings-in-southern-somalia-rises-to-20-idUSKCN1MO07C.
- November 9, 2018: Al-Shabab militants detonate a series of car bombs near Somalia’s Criminal Investigations Department in Mogadishu and the Sahafi Hotel, which is frequented by government officials and security forces. The jihadists attempt to storm the hotel and exchange gunfire with police officers. The bombings and gun attacks kill 52 people and injure at least 100 others, according to hospital officials.Rael Ombuor, “Car bombs rock Somali capital, killing at least 20 in attacks claimed by al-Shabab,” Washington Post, November 9, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/car-bombs-rock-somali-capital-killing-at-least-20-in-attacks-claimed-by-al-shabab/2018/11/09/960bff40-e431-11e8-8f5f-a55347f48762_story.html.; “Somalia: UN Security Council condemns terrorist attack in which dozens were killed or injured,” United Nations, November 11, 2018, https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/11/1025451.
- November 20, 2018: Six armed men open fire in Kilifi. The gunmen kidnap an Italian charity worker and wound five others. The attack is reportedly the work of al-Shabab.“Kenya: Gunmen kidnap Italian woman, shoot children in Kilifi,” Al Jazeera, November 21, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/kenya-gunmen-kidnap-italian-woman-wound-coast-181121062552098.html.
- January 15, 2019: Four gunmen and one suicide bomber storm a complex in Nairobi. The 19-hour siege claims the lives of 26, including the attackers, and injures 28. Al-Shabab claims responsibility for the attack as it was “a response to the witless remarks of U.S. president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the capital of Israel.”Max Bearak, “Deadly Nairobi attack comes as U.S. military ramps up airstrikes against al-Shabab in Somalia,” Washington Post, January 17, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/deadly-nairobi-attack-comes-as-us-military-ramps-up-airstrikes-against-al-shabab-in-somalia/2019/01/17/ebf40936-1a6c-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html.; Farai Sevenzo, Faith Karimi and Laura Smith-Spark, “At least 21 killed as Kenya hotel siege is declared over,” CNN, January 17, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/16/africa/kenya-hotel-complex-terror-attack/index.html.; Laurel Wamsley, “American Among Those Killed As Explosions, Gunfire Rock Nairobi Hotel,” NPR, January 15, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/01/15/685573115/nairobi-rocked-by-explosions-gunfire-in-attack-claimed-by-al-shabab-militants.
- February 28, 2019: Al-Shabab militants detonate a bomb that tears the façade from a hotel frequented by government officials on the main street of Mogadishu. Gunmen then charge the hotel, open fire on its occupants, and kidnap hostages to use as human shields. The attack leaves at least 29 people dead and injures 80 others.Adrian Blomfield, “Gunmen battle police in Somalia capital as al-Shabaab Islamists kill at least 29,” Telegraph, March 1, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/03/01/gunmen-battle-police-somali-capital-bombing/.; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/03/01/gunmen-battle-police-somali-capital-bombing/, New York Times, March 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/01/world/africa/somalia-shabab-hotel-bombing-mogadishu.html?module=inline.
- March 23, 2019: Al-Shabab gunmen storm a government building in the Somali capital, killing at least five people, including the country’s deputy labor minister. An hours-long gun fight ensues between the assailants and security forces. Police officials place the death toll at 15 following the battle.“Gunmen Storm Somalia Government Building, Killing Minister and Others,” New York Times, March 23, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/23/world/africa/somalia-bombing-gunfight-shabab.html?module=inline.
- April 13, 2019: Two Cuban doctors working for the Kenyan government are kidnapped by gunmen reportedly affiliated with al-Shabab. One police officer is shot and killed during the abduction. It is suspected that the gunmen took the doctors to Somalia.“Gunmen abduct Cuban doctors near Kenya's border with Somalia,” Al Jazeera, April 13, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/gunmen-abduct-cuban-doctors-kenya-border-somalia-190412082110117.html.
- May 22, 2019: Members of al-Shabab detonate a car bomb at a security checkpoint near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, killing at least nine people and injuring 13 others.Abdi Guled, “Suicide car bomb kills at least 9 in Somalia’s capital,” Associated Press, May 22, 2019, https://apnews.com/124b7ab0dc94401d85bfc17305b9f3ef.
- June 15, 2019: Al-Shabab carries out a series of attacks in Mogadishu. In one incident, a car bomb explodes near the Somali parliament headquarters, killing at least eight people and injuring 16 others. A separate roadside bomb hits a police vehicle, killing 11 officers inside. Another blast explodes at an intersection leading to the city’s airport, but does not cause casualties.“Deadly Shabab Explosions in Mogadishu Kill at Least 8,” New York Times, June 15, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/15/world/africa/mogadishu-attack-shabab.html.; “Islamists claim double attack in Somali capital Mogadishu,” France 24, June 15, 2019, https://www.france24.com/en/20190615-somalia-car-bomb-revenge-mogadishu-al-shabaab-explosion-parliament-qaeda-galkayo.
- June 21, 2019: Security forces in Kenya kill three suspected al-Shabab militants following an attack on a police outpost in Garissa county. No security personnel were injured in the operation.“Three al Shabaab fighters killed in Kenya after attack on police,” Reuters, June 22, 2019, https://af.reuters.com/article/kenyaNews/idAFL8N23T0I6.
- July 13, 2019: A suicide car bomber and gunmen attack a hotel in Kismayo, killing 26 and wounding more than 50. Al-Shabab members stormed the hotel after detonating a car bomb in an attack that lasted more than 14 hours.“26 killed in hours-long al-Shabab hotel siege in Somalia,” Al Jazeera, July 13, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/somalia-security-forces-al-shabab-hotel-siege-13-dead-190713053920981.html.
- July 15, 2019: Three suspected al-Shabab extremists detonate an improvised explosive device on the Kenyan-Somali border. The three assailants are killed by border police while two officers are injured in the attack.“Kenya: 3 militants killed, 2 officers wounded in attack,” Associated Press, July 15, 2019, https://apnews.com/1fb01c303f5649d48d67653cd835bcaf.
- July 22, 2019: An al-Shabab militant detonates a vehicle near a busy junction in Mogadishu. The suicide attacks claims the lives of 17 and injures 28. Al-Shabab claims responsibility for the attack which is believed to be in response to the killing of senior al-Shabab intelligence officer Mohamed Nur Ikhlaas in a U.S. airstrike four days earlier.Harun Maruf, “Somalia Car Bombing Kills at Least 17,” Voice of America, July 22, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/africa/somalia-car-bombing-kills-least-17.
- July 24, 2019: A member of al-Shabab detonates explosives during a high-level security meeting at the mayor’s office in Mogadishu. At least six people were killed and another six were seriously injured, including the mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman—who ultimately dies from his wounds.“Mogadishu Mayor Dies of Injuries From Suicide Bombing,” New York Times, August 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/world/africa/mogadishu-mayor-dead.html.; Hussein Mohamed and Anemona Hartocollis, “Suicide Bomber Kills Officials in Mayor’s Office in Somalia’s Capital,” New York Times, July 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/24/world/africa/suicide-bomber-mayor-somalia.html.
- August 14, 2019: Al-Shabab ambushes a newly established military camp in Mogadishu. Troops manage to fend off two car bombs and a gun raid, but three people are killed in the attack.Omar Nor and Zahid Mahmood, “3 people killed in a foiled Al-Shabaab attack on a Somali military camp,” CNN, August 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/14/africa/somalia-military-base-foiled-attack-intl/index.html.
- September 14, 2019: Al-Shabab launches a series of attacks in Lower Shabelle region. The first attack, in Qoryoley, saw militants using rocket propelled grenades and heavy machines guns. The attack kills nine. The second attack, in Marka, saw militants fire mortars during a visit by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister escapes unharmed, however two civilians are killed. Also on the 14th, in the neighboring Middle Shabelle region, al-Shabab carries out a roadside explosion. The attack kills five and injures six others. In a separate al-Shabab raid, three district-administration officers are forced out of their homes in Beled Hawo town near Somalia’s border with Kenya, shot and killed, according to the region’s authorities.Harun Maruf, “Somalia: Al-Shabab Attacks Kill 17,” Voice of America, September 15, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/africa/somalia-al-shabab-attacks-kill-17.; Mohamed Sheikh Nor, “Al-Shabaab Militants Kill Eight Government Officials in Somalia,” Bloomberg, September 14, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-14/al-shabaab-militants-kill-eight-government-officials-in-somalia.
- September 15, 2019: Al-Shabab launches a remote-controlled explosion targeting the convoy of Governor of Lower Shabelle. The attack kills two and injures four others.Harun Maruf, “Somalia: Al-Shabab Attacks Kill 17,” Voice of America, September 15, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/africa/somalia-al-shabab-attacks-kill-17.
- September 22, 2019: Al-Shabab militants and a suicide bomber storm an army base near Mogadishu. Although unconfirmed by Somali military officials, al-Shabab claims to have killed 23 soldiers.“Somalia’s al Shabaab raid military base, loot weapons,” Reuters, September 22, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-violence/somalias-al-shabaab-raid-military-base-loot-weapons-idUSKBN1W70CG.
- September 30, 2019: A car bomber and a group of gunmen strike the Bale Dogle airfield in southern Somalia that American forces use in the fight against al-Shabab. No casualties or injuries are reported. Earlier that day, another car bomb detonates in Mogadishu. The explosion misses its apparent target, a group of Italian peacekeeping troops, but injures an unconfirmed number of Somali civilians.Richard Pérez-Peña, “Car Bombers in Somalia Hit U.S. and European Military Bases,” New York Times, September 30, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/30/world/africa/somalia-us-eu-attacks.html.
- October 12, 2019: A Kenyan police vehicle strikes a homemade bomb near the border with Somalia. At least ten police officers are killed. Al-Shabab is suspected to have planted the bomb.“At least 10 Kenyan police killed by bomb near Somali border: police,” Reuters, October 12, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-security/at-least-10-kenyan-police-killed-by-bomb-near-somali-border-police-idUSKBN1WR0M4.
- October 13, 2019: Several mortar rounds land inside the U.N. and African Union compounds in Mogadishu. The attack injures seven. Al-Shabab claims responsibility for the attack. Also that day, a grenade targets a deputy governor’s house in Hirshabele state. The deputy governor and his son are killed in the attack. Al-Shabab is suspected as being responsible for the attack.“Several wounded as mortars hit UN compound in Mogadishu,” Associated Press, October 13, 2019, https://apnews.com/0ae10d5ec37142e0a51c82ca7eec5347.; Mohammed Dhaysane and Magdalene Mukami, “Grenade attack kills deputy governor, son in Somalia,” Anadolu Agency, October 13, 2019, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/grenade-attack-kills-deputy-governor-son-in-somalia/1612699.
- December 6, 2019: Suspected al-Shabab militants attack a bus in Kotulo, Kenya near the border with Somalia. The attack kills at least 8.“At least eight killed in Kenya in suspected Islamist militant attack,” Reuters, December 6, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-attack/at-least-eight-killed-in-kenya-in-suspected-islamist-militant-attack-idUSKBN1YA27Z.
- December 7, 2019: Al-Shabab militants attack a commuter bus between Wargadadud and Kutulo town in Wajir county. At least 10 people are killed and an unconfirmed number are injured.“10 killed as militants attack bus in NE Kenya,” Xinhua, December 7, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-12/07/c_138611694.htm.
- December 10, 2019: Five heavily armed gunmen overpower security guards and storm the upscale SYL hotel in Mogadishu. The attackers, claimed by terrorist group al-Shabab, began shooting at responding Somali security forces. Fighting ensues for seven hours before the militants are overpowered by security forces. The attack kills all five attackers and injures 11.Omar Nor, “Al-Shabaab claims attack on elite hotel in Mogadishu,” CNN, December 11, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/10/africa/somalia-mogadishu-attack-al-shabaab/index.html.
- December 21, 2019: Al-Shabab suicide bombers detonate a vehicle outside Galkayo, Somalia. The attack targeted military commanders as they were leaving a hotel to attend a meeting. The attack killed at least eight people and wounded another 55.“Al-Shabab Attack Kills 8 as US Launches Record Airstrikes in 2019,” Voice of America, December 22, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/africa/al-shabab-attack-kills-8-us-launches-record-airstrikes-2019.
- December 24, 2019: Al-Shabab militants attack the Gofgadud base in southwest Somalia. The attack kills three soldiers before the Somali troops regain control of the base. It is unreported if any soldiers are wounded.“Al-Shabab extremist attack on Somali base kills 3 soldiers,” Associated Press, December 24, 2019, https://apnews.com/8526ab96a876fd31a6d192bfa2d7c95f.
- December 28, 2019: A truck bomb explodes at a security checkpoint in Mogadishu. At least 78 people are killed and another 125 are injured in the attack. Al-Shabab is suspected as being responsibility for the explosion. The bombing was the worst attack in Mogadishu since 2017.Abdi Guled, “Somalia bombing kills dozens; airstrikes target militants,” Associated Press, December 29, 2019, https://apnews.com/6f7839c0cff441bee9beef6ac2264519.
- January 2, 2020: Suspected al-Shabab militants attack a bus in Lamu County, Kenya. The attack kills at least three and injures three others.Rael Ombuor, “3 Killed in Suspected Al-Shabab Attack on Kenya Bus,” Voice of America, January 2, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/africa/3-killed-suspected-al-shabab-attack-kenya-bus.
- January 5, 2020: Al-Shabab militants launch an attack on the U.S.-Kenyan shared Manda Bay Airfield, near Kenya’s border with Somalia. The attack, which involves indirect and small-arms fire, kills three Americans. Among those killed are U.S. service member Henry Mayfield Jr., and two Department of Defense contractors. Two U.S. military contractors are also injured. The assailants destroy six civilian aircraft and three military vehicles before being repelled by Kenyan Defense Forces and U.S. African Command. The ambush is the first al-Shabab attack against U.S. forces inside Kenya.Luis Martinez and Elizabeth McLaughlin, “1 US service member, 2 DOD contractors killed in terror attack on US base in Kenya,” ABC News, January 5, 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/International/us-service-member-dod-contractors-killed-terror-attack/story?id=68075337.; Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “3 Americans Die in Shabab Attack on Kenyan Base,” New York Times, January 5, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/05/world/africa/al-shabab-camp-simba-kenya.html.; Kyle Rempfer, “Soldier killed in Kenya attack identified by family,” Military Times, January 6, 2020, https://www.militarytimes.com/newsletters/daily-news-roundup/2020/01/06/soldier-killed-in-kenya-attack-identified-by-family/.; Nicholas Bariyo and Jessica Donati, “U.S. Says Attack in Kenya Kills Three Americans,” Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-and-kenyan-forces-repel-airfield-attack-by-al-shabaab-11578238596.
- January 7, 2020: Al-Shabab militants open fire in Garissa County, Kenya, near the border with Somalia. The attackers kill four children and wound three others before security forces repel the assailants. The extremists were targeting a telecommunications mast.Tom Odula, “4 children shot dead in latest al-Shabab attack in Kenya,” Washington Post, January 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/6-dead-including-4-residents-after-extremist-raid-in-kenya/2020/01/07/ddbffab0-3117-11ea-971b-43bec3ff9860_story.html.; “Four Kenyan school children killed in al Shabaab attack on telecom mast,” Reuters, January 7, 2020, https://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFKBN1Z60Z4-OZATP.
- January 8, 2020: Al-Shabab militants detonate a bomb that hits Sayidka junction, a security checkpoint near the presidential palace and other government buildings in Mogadishu, Somalia. The attack kills three and injures 11 others.Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Islamist group al Shabaab claims Somalia bomb attack that killed three,” Reuters, January 8, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-blast/islamist-group-al-shabaab-claims-somalia-bomb-attack-that-killed-three-idUSKBN1Z70TQ.
Designations by the U.S. Government:
|February 26, 2008: The Department of State designates Al-Shabab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).“Transnational Criminal Organizations Designations; Counter Terrorism Designations,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, April 21, 2015, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20150421.aspx.||February 26, 2008: The Department of State designates Al-Shabab as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (under Executive Order 13224).Department of State, Public Notice, “In the Matter of the Designation of al-Shabaab, aka al-Shabab, aka Shabaab, aka the Youth, aka Mujahidin Al-Shabaab Movement, aka Mujahideen Youth Movement, aka Mujahidin YouthMovement, aka MYM, aka Harakat Shabab al-Mujahidin, aka Hizbul Shabaab, aka Hisb’ul Shabaab, aka al-Shabaab al-Islamiya, aka Youth Wing, aka al-Shabaab al-Islaam, aka al-Shabaabal-Jihaad, aka the Unity of Islamic Youth, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended, Public Notice 6136,” Federal Register 73, no. 53 (March 18, 2008): 14550, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2008-03-18/pdf/E8-5444.pdf.|
|November 20, 2008: The Department of the Treasury designates Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed (a.k.a. Godane) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. “Hammami Press Release,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 29, 2011, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/20110729_Somalia.pdf; “OFAC Recent Actions,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 29, 2011, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20110729.aspx.||November 20, 2008: The Department of the Treasury designates Mukhtar Robow as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on November 20, 2008. “Treasury Targets Somali Terrorists,” U.S Department of the Treasury, November 20, 2008, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/hp1283.aspx.|
|July 29, 2011: The Department of the Treasury designates Omar Hammami as a Specially Designated National.“Hammami Press Release,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 29, 2011, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/20110729_Somalia.pdf; “OFAC Recent Actions,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 29, 2011, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20110729.aspx.||July 29, 2011: The Department of the Treasury designates Hassan Mahat Omar as a Specially Designated National. “Hammami Press Release,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 29, 2011, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/20110729_Somalia.pdf; “OFAC Recent Actions,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 29, 2011, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20110729.aspx.|
|July 29, 2011: The Department of the Treasury designates Omar Hammami as a Global Terrorist (under Executive Order 13536).“Hammami Press Release,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 29, 2011, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/20110729_Somalia.pdf.||July 29, 2011: The Department of the Treasury designates Hassan Mahat Omar as a Global Terrorist (under Executive Order 13536).“Hammami Press Release,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 29, 2011, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/20110729_Somalia.pdf.|
|April 21, 2015: The Department of the Treasury designates Ahmed Diriye as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on April 21, 2015.https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20150421.aspx.|
Designations by Foreign Governments and Organizations:
|Australia listed Al-Shabab as a Terrorist Organization on August 22, 2009.“Al-Shabaab,” Australian National Security, accessed February 4, 2015, http://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/JemaahIslamiyahJI.aspx.||Canada listed the Al-Shabab as a Terrorist Entity on March 5, 2010.“Currently Listed Entities,” Public Safety Canada, last modified March 24, 2010, http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2009.|
|The United Kingdom— listed Al-Shabab as a Terrorist in March 2010.“Lists Associated with Resolution 1373,” New Zealand Police, http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/personal-community/counterterrorism/designated-entities/lists-associated-with-resolution-1373.||Norway listed Al-Shabab as a Sanctioned Group.“Arms Embargo,” Norwegian Police Security Service, accessed February 4, 2015, http://www.pst.no/blogg/vapenembargo/.|
| New Zealand listed Al-Shabab as a Terrorist Entity on February 10, 2010.“Lists Associated with Resolution 1373,” New Zealand Police, http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/personal-community/counterterrorism/designated-entities/lists-associated-with-resolution-1373.
|The United Nations Security Council Committee designated Al-Shabab on April 12, 2010. “List of Individuals and Entities Subject to the Measures Imposed by Paragraphs 1, 3, and 7 of Security Council Resolution 1844,” United Nations Security Council, March 11, 2014, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/751/pdf/1844_cons_list.pdf.|
|The European Union designated al-Shabab in April 2010. “Listed Terrorist Organizations,” Australian National Security, accessed September 15, 2017, https://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/default.aspx.|
Ties to Entities Designated by the U.S. or Foreign Governments:
Al-Shabab publicly praised al-Qaeda between 2006 and 2008, condemning U.S. oppression of Muslims worldwide. In 2010, the group announced that it sought to “connect the horn of Africa jihad to the one led by al-Qaeda.”Jonathan Masters, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified September 5, 2014, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. Al-Shabab officially announced its union with al-Qaeda in February 2012. Following Godane’s death in September 2014, the group and its new leader reaffirmed the alignment.Reuters, “Al-Shabaab pledge allegiance to new leader,” Al Arabiya, September 8, 2014, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/2014/09/08/Somalia-s-al-Shabaab-pledge-allegiance-to-new-leader.html.
Ties to Other Entities:
Al-Shabab has an affiliated network, including al-Hijra (formerly known as the Muslim Youth Center) in Kenya.Fredrick Nzes, “Al-Hijra: Al-Shabab’s Affiliate in Keyna,” CTC Sentinel 7, no. 2 (May 2014): 24-26, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/CTCSentinel-Vol7Iss5.pdf. After the Westgate mall attack in September 2013, evidence emerged that al-Hijra assisted al-Shabab militants in executing the attacks. Al-Hijra is a group of primarily Kenyan-Somali and non-Somali Muslim followers of al-Shabab in East Africa.Fredrick Nzes, “Al-Hijra: Al-Shabab’s Affiliate in Keyna,” CTC Sentinel 7, no. 2 (May 2014): 24-26, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/CTCSentinel-Vol7Iss5.pdf.