THE INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE TO END GENOCIDE
Somalia Genocide Emergency Alert
4 September 2014
Al-Shabab, meaning “The Youth” in Arabic, emerged as the radical wing of Somalia’s now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.
Al-Shabab seeks to spread the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam, while most Somalis are Sufis. It has imposed a strict version of Sharia in areas under its control, including stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of thieves. In addition, Al-Shabab fighters would like to overthrow the internationally supported Somali government. They frequently attack government targets as well as neighboring countries that provide troops to the AU force combatting Al-Shabab.
The group, led by Ahmed Abdi Godane, has claimed to be allied with Al-Qaeda. This alliance triggered internal struggles over the group’s direction and leadership. An Anti-Godane faction emerged, asserting that Shabab should focus on regaining power in Somalia over waging a global militancy.
Somali Al-Qaeda fighters are accused of terror attacks in Kenya in 1998 on the US embassy, and in 2002, on Israeli targets around Mombasa. In 2011, Al-Shabab carried out a series of attacks and kidnappings across the border in Kenya. Kenya responded by sending troops into Somali territory to battle the militants. Since then sporadic attacks have continued across Kenya. The biggest attack was on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013 when at least 200 people were injured and 68 people died.
There have been numerous reports that Al-Shabab may have formed some links with other militant groups in Africa, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, based in the Sahara desert and even ISIS. This prospect of collusion among Islamist extremist groups poses a grave threat to international peace and security that warrants Chapter VII action by the UN Security Council.
Although the US military has carried out air strikes in Somalia to target the leaders of Al-Shabab, including Godane, Al-Shabab militants continue to carry out bombings and assassinations in Mogadishu. In Somalia, al-Shabab has taken over large swaths of territory, from which it must be driven by AU forces. AU forces need a significant increase in assistance with arms, communications, and finances provided by NATO nations and other opponents of terrorism.
As a result of continuous warfare and forced displacement, Somalia faces serious famine in the coming year. The US, EU, UN, and other food relief suppliers must urgently increase their shipments of food and medical aid to Somalia this year.
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