Al Shabab is the Largest Muslim Criminal Group and Gang in Somalia
Al Shabab is the Largest Muslim Criminal Group and gang in Somalia
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM) (Arabic: حركة الشباب المجاهدين; Ḥarakat ash-Shabāb al-Mujāhidīn, Somali: Xarakada Mujaahidiinta Alshabaab, “Mujahideen Youth Movement” or “Movement of Striving Youth”), more commonly known as al-Shabaab (Arabic: الشباب), meaning “The Youth”, “The Youngsters” or “The Boys”, is the Somalia-based cell of the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda, formally recognized in 2012. As of 2012, the group controls large swathes of the southern parts of the country, where it is said to have imposed its own strict form of Sharia (law). Al-Shabaab’s troop strength as of May 2011 was estimated at 14,426 militants. In February 2012, Al-Shabaab leaders quarreled with Al-Qaeda over the union, and quickly lost ground.
The group is an off-shoot of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which splintered into several smaller factions after its defeat in 2006 by the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the TFG’s Ethiopian military allies. Al-Shabaab describes itself as waging jihad against “enemies of Islam”, and is engaged in combat against the TFG and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). Alleging ulterior motives on the part of foreign organizations, group members have also reportedly intimidated, kidnapped and killed aid workers, leading to a suspension of humanitarian operations and an exodus of relief agents. Al-Shabaab has been designated a terrorist organization by several Western governments and security services. As of June 2012, the US State Department has open bounties on several of the group’s senior commanders.
In early August 2011, the TFG’s troops and their AMISOM allies reportedly managed to capture all of Mogadishu from the Al-Shabaab militants. An ideological rift within the group’s leadership also emerged in response to pressure from the recent drought and the assassination of top officials in the organization. Al Shabaab is hostile to Sufi traditions and has often clashed with the militant Sufi group Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a. The group has also been suspected of having links with Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram. The group has attracted some members from western countries, notably Samantha Lewthwaite and Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki.