Continuity and Change: The Evolution and Resiliance of Al-Shabab’s Media Insurgency, 2006-2016

The Somali jihadi-insurgent movement Al-Shabab has established itself, since emerging in 2007 after the overthrow of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) umbrella in the wake of the December 2006 Ethiopian invasion and occupation of parts of Somalia, as one of the relatively few jihadi organizations to succeed in the capture, control, and governance of territory for a significant period of time. When Islamic State was masquerading as a «paper state» in 2008 and 2009, Al-Shabab’s leadership was busy constructing a bureaucracy of power, divided into regional and local nodes of authority, designed to implement and maintain insurgent rule over rapidly expanding territories. In establishing itself as a self-proclaimed and seemingly viable alternative governing authority, even if only in the short to medium term, Al Shabab continues to present a major challenge to the internationally recognized but weak and corrupt Somali Federal Government (SFG), the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the international community. The Somali insurgents, in successfully implementing a form of law and order, however harsh and philistine their interpretation of Islamic law and specifically their imposition of hudud («set») punishments for crimes such as highway robbery, banditry, theft, zina (various forms of fornication), and murder, provided other Sunni jihadi groups with an example of how jihadi-insurgent governance can be enacted in practice.

Tags: Al Shabaab, Counterterrorism, Diaspora Support, Quantitative, Recruitment, Social Media, Violent Jihadism