To examine Terrorism it is important to first understand the definition of terrorism. The Oxford English Dictionary states “the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims” (Oxford English Dictionary Online). More depth is included in defining it as “a premeditated and unlawful act in which groups or agents of some principal engage in a threatened or actual use of force or violence against human or property targets” (Understanding Terrorism Gus Martin). Terrorism is all around us from the UK, 28th June 2012 “Al-Qaeda terror suspect caught at Olympic Park” (Telegraph) and the world, 20th May 2013 “Car bombs hit Dagestan capital Makhachkala” (Euronews). It is clear we must gain as much knowledge and understanding of terrorism in order to attempt to prevent attacks.
Modern terrorist groups are plentiful. For this assignment I have decided to look outside the scope of UK based terrorism and into the most recent of groups as well as most topical. Somalia has come to the forefront of Terrorism in recent years mainly due to the much published “Pirate attacks”.
Al Qaeda is probably the most infamous terrorist group currently active in the world. Founded by the notorious Osama bin Laden in the late 1980s, they have been responsible for numerous attacks worldwide. These include the September 11 attacks on America and the 2002 Bali bombings. Less well known is the modern cell of al Qaeda called Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen based in Somali, known for short as al-Shabaab. In Arabic this means “The Boys” or “The Youth” (The Oxford English – Arabic Dictionary). The cell is in control of much of southern Somalia operating its own strict version of Sharia Law. Al-Shabaab was founded in the mid-2000s. They were formed from a branch of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which then broke into many smaller factions after its loss in 2006 to the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the TFG's Ethiopian military allies. Al-Shabaab propaganda describes the cell as waging jihad against “the enemies of Islam”. However because Somalia has been drowned in anarchy since the early 1990s, many Somalis find even Al-Shabaab's strict version of Sharia preferable to lawlessness.
Recruits to Al-Shabaab are sourced from many different areas. The backbone is al Qaeda trained Somalis who were trained in Afghanistan and Iraq. The cell is multi-ethnic. With many foreigners amongst its ranks, particularly large amounts of Westerners, the cell is truly multi-ethnic. The unit has a strategy to recruit from the United States and has active members there recruiting. They rely heavily on use of modern media such as YouTube with its digital video and Twitter accounts (Lights, Camera, Jihad: Al-Shabaab’s Western Media Strategy ICSR2012 Pg 4). The group has also produced a magazine entitled Gaidi Mtaani, which means “Street Terrorist” in Kiswahili which is a more traditional propaganda tool. (‘Al-Shabaab attempts to terrorise Kenyans with online magazine’, Sabahi Online, 8 August 2012). The estimated strength of Al-Shabaab is said to be not less than 14,000 members, including both local Somalis and foreign fighters. (“Somalia: Report on Al-Shabaab Military Force,” Suna Times, May 06, 2011) The U.S. has confirmed that al-Shabaab poses a global threat.
The ideology Al-Shabaab has is based on militant Islamism, a radical right wing religious-political ideology of political Islam that adheres to a very strict, intolerant, and puritanical interpretation of Islam. It is anti-secular, anti-Western, anti-democratic, anti-pluralist, and anti-infidel. It has characteristics that are revivalist as well as revolutionary with a violent aspect. It is violently revolutionary stating that because in order to reach the goal of establishing an Islamic Emirate in Greater Somalia, and eventually the world, the current political system has to be overthrown by violent means.
References: Al-Shabaab attempts to terrorise Kenyans with online magazine’, Sabahi Online, 8 August 2012
“Somalia: Report on Al-Shabaab Military Force,” Suna Times, May 06, 2011
Reuters, Oct. 29, 2008
Al-Shabaab, the Internationalization of Militant Islamism in Somalia and the Implications for Radicalisation Processes in Europe, Pages 19–20 Taarnby and Hallundbaeks
Bariyo, Nicholas (July 12, 2010). "Deadly Blasts Rock Uganda 's Capital". The Wall Street Journal
Woolwich attack suspect arrested for alleged attempt to join al-Shabaab The Guardian 26th May 2013.
The New York Times, Dec. 29, 2008
The Washington Post, Jan
Please join StudyMode to read the full document