[QODLink]
Africa
Who are al-Shabab?
Armed group is waging a brutal war aimed at toppling Somalia's government and imposing Islamic law.
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2011 16:21
Al-Shabab was previously the military wing of the Islamic Courts Union

Al-Shabab - meaning "The Youth" in Arabic - are the largest group among several armed Somali groups and clans that aim to topple Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and impose Islamic law.

The group was formerly the military wing of the deposed Islamic Court Union (ICU) - which controlled much of central and southern Somalia in late 2006.

Al-Shabab's fighters were eventually forced out of Somalia by Ethiopian troops in support of the largely powerless UN-backed interim government.

The group refused to engage in the peace process that brought elements of the ICU into the government in 2009.

While Sharif Ahmed, a former leader of the ICU, was sworn in as president of Somalia's transitional government, al-Shabab accused him of betraying the country and vowed to topple its new government.

Since Ahmed's government took power, al-Shabab has been waging a brutal war against Somali state forces - killing and injuring scores of civilians in the process.

Leadership

Al-Shabab first emerged as a counter force to criminal gangs operating in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital.

Adan Hashi Farah, also known as "Ayro", was appointed the first leader of the group by former ICU leader Hassan Dahir.

It is believed that Ayro and his fellow al-Shabab patrons were trained in Afghanistan and modelled al-Shabab after the Taliban, which ruled Kabul until 2001.

Following Ayro's death in a 2008 US missile strike, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, also known as "Abu Mansur" took control of al-Shabab. He was later succeeded by Moktar Ali Zubeyr or "Godane".

Today, al-Shabab is led by Ibrahim Haji Jama Mee'aad, otherwise known as Ibrahim "al-Afghani".

'Terrorist organisation'

Al-Shabab, which is believed to have links to al-Qaeda, is regarded by the US and many other governments as a terrorist organisation.

The FBI has expressed concern that the group may be expanding its reach and actively recruiting western nationals to fight in Somalia.

Ahmed has confirmed such reports, repeatedly speaking of an influx of foreign fighters fueling al-Shabab's war on Somalia's government.

While it is not clear how al-Shabab funds its activities, Eritrea and some Arab nations have been accused of providing the organisation with financial and logistical support.

More recently, al-Shabab has been accused of kidnapping Western tourists along the Somali-Kenyan border and holding them ransom.

Marie Dedieu, a 66-year-old French woman who was suffering from cancer and heart disease, died while in the custody of her assailants in October, 2011.

Al-Shabab has denied carrying out any of the abductions.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.