Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Al Shabaab’s Foreign Threat to Somalia

Al Shabaab’s Foreign Threat to Somalia

Abstract

This article focuses on the threat to Somalia by al Shabaab (The Youth), an extremist organization that controls most of southern and central Somalia. It learned its strategy and tactics from al Qaeda and the Taliban and relies heavily on a relatively small number of foreign fighters, most of whom are Somalis with foreign passports from the large Somali diaspora. The non-Somali contingent probably numbers only about 200 to 300, although it brings battlefield experience from Afghanistan and Iraq and provides al Shabaab with expertise in bomb making, remote-controlled explosions, suicide bombing and assassinations. Some of the foreigners occupy key positions in al Shabaab. The connection between al Shabaab and al Qaeda is growing stronger but has not yet reached the level of operational control by al Qaeda. Al Shabaab’s draconian tactics, which are imported from outside and are anathema to most Somalis, and its foreign component may be its undoing.

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