War on Terror

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War on Terror
Clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the September 11 attacks; American infantry in Afghanistan; an American soldier and Afghan interpreter in Zabul Province, Afghanistan; explosion of an Iraqi car bomb in Baghdad
Clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the September 11 attacks; American infantry in Afghanistan; an American soldier and Afghan interpreter in Zabul Province, Afghanistan; explosion of an Iraqi car bomb in Baghdad.
Date 11 September 2001 – present
(15 years, 8 months and 1 day)[note 1]
Location Global (esp. in the Greater Middle East)
Status NATO-led international involvement in Afghanistan (2001–2014)

Insurgency in Yemen (1992–2015):[note 2]

Iraq War (2003–2011):

War in North-West Pakistan (2004–present):

  • Ongoing insurgency
  • Large part of FATA under Taliban control
  • Shifting public support for the Pakistani government
  • Killing of Osama bin Laden
  • Drone strikes being conducted by the CIA

International campaign against ISIL (2014–present):

Other:

Belligerents
Main participants:
 United States (leader)
 United Kingdom
 France
 Russia
 China[1][2]

Other countries:


(* note: most contributing nations are included in the international operations)

Main targets:

Flag of Taliban.svg Taliban
East Turkestan Islamic Movement


Commanders and leaders
George W. Bush
(President 2001–2009)
Barack Obama
(President 2009–2017)
Donald Trump
(President 2017–present)

Tony Blair
(Prime Minister 1997–2007)
Gordon Brown
(Prime Minister 2007–2010)
David Cameron
(Prime Minister 2010–2016)
Theresa May
(Prime Minister 2016–present)

Jacques Chirac (President 1995–2007)
Nicolas Sarkozy (President 2007–2012)
François Hollande(President 2012–present)
Vladimir Putin
(President 2000–2008, 2012–present)

Dmitry Medvedev
(President 2008–2012)
Jiang Zemin
(President 2001–2003)
Hu Jintao
(President 2003–2013)
Xi Jinping
(President 2013–present)

al-Qaeda

Osama bin Laden 
(Founder and first Emir of al-Qaeda)
Ayman al-Zawahiri
(Current Emir of al-Qaeda)
Saif al-Adel
(al-Qaeda Military Chief)
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi 
(Emir of al-Qaeda in Iraq)
Ilyas Kashmiri 
(Commander of Lashkar al-Zil)
Qasim al-Raymi
(Emir of AQAP)
Abdelmalek Droukdel
(Emir of AQIM)
Mokhtar Belmokhtar 
(Emir of AQWA)
Asim Umar
(Emir of AQIS)
Ahmad Umar
(Emir of al-Shabaab)
Abu Mohammad al-Julani
(Emir of al-Nusra Front)
Muhsin al-Fadhli 
(Leader of Khorasan Group)[37]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
(Caliph of ISIL)
Abu Ala al-Afri 
(Deputy Emir of ISIL)[38][39][40]
Abu Muslim al-Turkmani 
(Deputy Leader, Iraq)[41]
Abu Suleiman al-Naser 
(Head of War Council)[42]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Mohammad al-Adnani 
(Spokesperson for ISIL)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Omar al-Shishani 
(Senior ISIL commander)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Nabil al-Anbari (ISIL Emir of North Africa)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Abdullah al-Filipini (ISIL Emir of the Philippines)
Mohammed Abdullah
(ISIL Emir of Derna)
Ali Al Qarqaa
(ISIL Emir of Nofaliya)
Hafiz Saeed Khan  [43](ISIL Emir of Wilayat Khorasan)
Usman Ghazi[44][45]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abubakar Shekau[46]
(Emir of Boko Haram)

Taliban

Mohammed Omar
(1st Supreme Commander of the Taliban) 
Akhtar Mansour
(2nd Supreme Commander of the Taliban) 
Hibatullah Akhundzada
(Current & 3rd Supreme Commander of the Taliban)
Quetta Shura
(Senior Taliban council)

Abdul Ghani Baradar
Obaidullah Akhund 
Mohammad Fazl
Dadullah Akhund 

Tehrik-i-Taliban

Maulana Fazlullah
(Emir of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan)

Haqqani Network

Jalaluddin Haqqani 
(leader of the Haqqani network)
Sirajuddin Haqqani

East Turkestan Islamic Movement

Abdul Haq
(Emir of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement)

Abdullah Mansour
(Emir of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement)

The War on Terror (WoT), also known as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is a metaphor of war referring to the international military campaign that started after the September 11th attacks on the United States.[47] U.S. PresidentGeorge W. Bush first used the termWar on Terror” on 20 September 2001.[47] The Bush administration and the Western media have since used the term to argue a global military, political, legal, and conceptual struggle against both terrorist organizations and against the regimes accused of supporting them. It was originally used with a particular focus on countries associated with Islamic terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda and like-minded organizations.

In 2013, President Barack Obama announced that the United States was no longer pursuing a War on Terror, as the military focus should be on specific enemies rather than a tactic. He stated, “We must define our effort not as a boundless ‘Global War on Terror,’ but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.”[48]

In 2017 Donald Trump assumed presidency of the United States and vowed that the fight against ISIL is his number one priority.[49][50] A series of airstrikes were carried out at an ISIL stronghold in Syria in March 2017 and the Trump Administration announced the sending of more troops to ISIL-held territories in the Middle East to continue the fight against the terrorist organization.[51][52][53] Trump has also agreed to work together and carry joint operations with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the ongoing war on terror.[54]

Etymology[edit source]

Letter from Barack Obama indicating appropriation of Congressional funds for “Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism”

The phrase “War on Terror” has been used to specifically refer to the ongoing military campaign led by the U.S., UK and their allies against organizations and regimes identified by them as terrorist, and usually excludes other independent counter-terrorist operations and campaigns such as those by Russia and India. The conflict has also been referred to by names other than the War on Terror. It has also been known as:

History of the name[edit source]

In 1984, the Reagan Administration used the term “war against terrorism” as part of an effort to pass legislation that was designed to freeze assets of terrorist groups and marshal the forces of government against them. Author Shane Harris asserts this was a reaction to the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, which killed 241 U.S. and 58 French peacekeepers.[62]

The concept of America at war with terrorism may have begun on 11 September 2001 when Tom Brokaw, having just witnessed the collapse of one of the towers of the World Trade Center, declared “Terrorists have declared war on [America].”[63]

On 16 September 2001, at Camp David, President George W. Bush used the phrase war on terrorism in an unscripted and controversial comment when he said, “This crusade – this war on terrorism – is going to take a while, … “[64] Bush later apologized for this remark due to the negative connotations the term crusade has to people, e.g. of the Muslim faith. The word crusade was not used again.[65] On 20 September 2001, during a televised address to a joint session of Congress, Bush stated that “(o)ur ‘war on terror’ begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.”[66]

In April 2007, the British government announced publicly that it was abandoning the use of the phrase “War on Terror” as they found it to be less than helpful.[67] This was explained more recently by Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller. In her 2011 Reith lecture, the former head of MI5 said that the 9/11 attacks were “a crime, not an act of war. So I never felt it helpful to refer to a war on terror.”[68]

U.S. President Barack Obama has rarely used the term, but in his inaugural address on 20 January 2009, he stated: “Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”[69] In March 2009 the Defense Department officially changed the name of operations from “Global War on Terror” to “Overseas Contingency Operation” (OCO).[70] In March 2009, the Obama administration requested that Pentagon staff members avoid the use of the term and instead to use “Overseas Contingency Operation”.[70] Basic objectives of the Bush administration “war on terror”, such as targeting al Qaeda and building international counterterrorism alliances, remain in place.[71][72] In December 2012, Jeh Johnson, the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, stated that the military fight would be replaced by a law enforcement operation when speaking at Oxford University,[73] predicting that al Qaeda will be so weakened to be ineffective, and has been “effectively destroyed”, and thus the conflict will not be an armed conflict under international law.[74] In May 2013, Obama stated that the goal is “to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America”;[75] which coincided with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget having changed the wording from “Overseas Contingency Operations” to “Countering Violent Extremism” in 2010.[76]

The rhetorical war on terror[edit source]

Because the actions involved in the “war on terrorism” are diffuse, and the criteria for inclusion are unclear. Political theorist Richard Jackson has argued that “the ‘war on terrorism’ therefore, is simultaneously a set of actual practices—wars, covert operations, agencies, and institutions—and an accompanying series of assumptions, beliefs, justifications, and narratives—it is an entire language or discourse.”[77] Jackson cites among many examples a statement by John Ashcroft that “the attacks of September 11 drew a bright line of demarcation between the civil and the savage”.[78]Administration officials also described “terrorists” as hateful, treacherous, barbarous, mad, twisted, perverted, without faith, parasitical, inhuman, and, most commonly, evil.[79] Americans, in contrast, were described as brave, loving, generous, strong, resourceful, heroic, and respectful of human rights.[80]

Both the term and the policies it denotes have been a source of ongoing controversy, as critics argue it has been used to justify unilateral preventive war, human rights abuses and other violations of international law.[81][82]

Background[edit source]

Precursor to the 11 September attacks[edit source]

The origins of al-Qaeda can be traced to the Soviet war in Afghanistan (December 1979 – February 1989). The United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the People’s Republic of China supported the Islamist Afghan mujahadeen guerillas against the military forces of the Soviet Union and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. A small number of “Afghan Arab” volunteers joined the fight against the Soviets, including Osama bin Laden, but there is no evidence they received any external assistance.[83] In May 1996 the group World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders (WIFJAJC), sponsored by bin Laden (and later re-formed as al-Qaeda), started forming a large base of operations in Afghanistan, where the Islamist extremist regime of the Taliban had seized power earlier in the year.[84] In February 1998, Osama bin Laden signed a fatwā, as head of al-Qaeda, declaring war on the West and Israel,[85][86] later in May of that same year al-Qaeda released a video declaring war on the U.S. and the West.[87][88]

On 7 August 1998, al-Qaeda struck the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people, including 12 Americans.[89] In retaliation, U.S. President Bill Clinton launched Operation Infinite Reach, a bombing campaign in Sudan and Afghanistan against targets the U.S. asserted were associated with WIFJAJC,[90][91] although others have questioned whether a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan was used as a chemical warfare facility. The plant produced much of the region’s antimalarial drugs[92] and around 50% of Sudan’s pharmaceutical needs.[93] The strikes failed to kill any leaders of WIFJAJC or the Taliban.[92]

Next came the 2000 millennium attack plots, which included an attempted bombing of Los Angeles International Airport. On 12 October 2000, the USS Cole bombing occurred near the port of Yemen, and 17 U.S. Navy sailors were killed.[94]

September 11, 2001, attacks[edit source]

On the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners all bound for California. Once the hijackers assumed control of the airliners, they told the passengers that they had a bomb on board and would spare the lives of passengers and crew once their demands were met – no passenger and crew actually suspected that they would use the airliners as suicide weapons since it had never happened before in history, and many previous hijacking attempts had been resolved with the passengers and crew escaping unharmed after obeying the hijackers.[95][96] The hijackers – members of al-Qaeda’s Hamburg cell[97] intentionally crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both buildings collapsed within two hours from fire damage related to the crashes, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington D.C., to target the White House or the U.S. Capitol. None of the flights had any survivors. A total of 2,977 victims and the 19 hijackers perished in the attacks.[98]

U.S. objectives[edit source]

  NATO
  Major military operations (AfghanistanPakistanIraqSomaliaYemen)
  Other allies involved in major operations

Circle Burgundy Solid.svg Major terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda and affiliated groups: 1.1998 United States embassy bombings • 2. 11 September attacks 2001 • 3. Bali bombings 2002• 4. Madrid bombings 2004 • 5. London bombings 2005 • 6. Mumbai attacks 2008

The Authorization for the use of Military Force Against Terrorists or “AUMF” was made law on 14 September 2001, to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on 11 September 2001. It authorized the President to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on 11 September 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or individuals. Congress declares this is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The George W. Bush administration defined the following objectives in the War on Terror:[99]

  1. Defeat terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and demolish their organizations
  2. Identify, locate and demolish terrorists along with their organizations
  3. Deny sponsorship, support and sanctuary to terrorists
    1. End the state sponsorship of terrorism
    2. Establish and maintain an international standard of accountability concerning combating terrorism
    3. Strengthen and sustain the international effort to combat terrorism
    4. Work with willing and able states
    5. Enable weak states
    6. Persuade reluctant states
    7. Compel unwilling states
    8. Interdict and disorder Material support for terrorists
    9. Abolish terrorist sanctuaries and havens
  4. Diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit
    1. Partner with the international community to strengthen weak states and prevent (re)emergence of terrorism
    2. Win the war of ideals
  5. Defend U.S. citizens and interests at home and abroad
    1. Integrate the National Strategy for Homeland Security
    2. Attain domain awareness
    3. Enhance measures to ensure the integrity, reliability, and availability of critical, physical, and information-based infrastructures at home and abroad
    4. Implement measures to protect U.S. citizens abroad
    5. Ensure an integrated incident management capability

Afghanistan[edit source]

U.S. Army soldier of the 10th Mountain Division in Nuristan Province, June 2007

Operation Enduring Freedom[edit source]

Campaign streamer awarded to units who have participated in Operation Enduring Freedom

Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name used by the Bush administration for the War in Afghanistan, together with three smaller military actions, under the umbrella of the Global War on Terror. These global operations are intended to seek out and destroy any al-Qaeda fighters or affiliates.

Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan[edit source]

On 20 September 2001, in the wake of the 11 September attacks, George W. Bush delivered an ultimatum to the Taliban government of Afghanistan, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, to turn over Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda leaders operating in the country or face attack.[66] The Taliban demanded evidence of bin Laden’s link to the 11 September attacks and, if such evidence warranted a trial, they offered to handle such a trial in an Islamic Court.[100] The U.S. refused to provide any evidence.

Subsequently, in October 2001, U.S. forces (with UK and coalition allies) invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime. On 7 October 2001, the official invasion began with British and U.S. forces conducting airstrike campaigns over enemy targets. Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, fell by mid-November. The remaining al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants fell back to the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, mainly Tora Bora. In December, Coalition forces (the U.S. and its allies) fought within that region. It is believed that Osama bin Laden escaped into Pakistan during the battle.[101][102]

In March 2002, the U.S. and other NATO and non-NATO forces launched Operation Anaconda with the goal of destroying any remaining al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Shah-i-Kot Valley and Arma Mountains of Afghanistan. The Taliban suffered heavy casualties and evacuated the region.[103]

The Taliban regrouped in western Pakistan and began to unleash an insurgent-style offensive against Coalition forces in late 2002.[104] Throughout southern and eastern Afghanistan, firefights broke out between the surging Taliban and Coalition forces. Coalition forces responded with a series of military offensives and an increase of troops in Afghanistan. In February 2010, Coalition forces launched Operation Moshtarak in southern Afghanistan along with other military offensives in the hopes that they would destroy the Taliban insurgency once and for all.[105] Peace talks are also underway between Taliban affiliated fighters and Coalition forces.[106] In September 2014, Afghanistan and the United States signed a security agreement, which permits the United States and NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan until at least 2024.[107] The United States and other NATO and non-NATO forces are planning to withdraw;[108] with the Taliban claiming it has defeated the United States and NATO,[109] and the Obama Administration viewing it as a victory.[110] In December 2014, ISAF encasing its colors, and Resolute Support began as the NATO operation in Afghanistan.[111]Continued United States operations within Afghanistan will continue under the name “Operation Freedom’s Sentinel”.[112]

International Security Assistance Force[edit source]

Map of countries contributing troops to ISAF as of 5 March 2010. Major contributors (over 1000 troops) in dark green, other contributors in light green, and former contributors in magenta.

December 2001 saw the creation of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to assist the Afghan Transitional Administration and the first post-Taliban elected government. With a renewed Taliban insurgency, it was announced in 2006 that ISAF would replace the U.S. troops in the province as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The British 16th Air Assault Brigade (later reinforced by Royal Marines) formed the core of the force in southern Afghanistan, along with troops and helicopters from Australia, Canada and the Netherlands. The initial force consisted of roughly 3,300 British, 2,000 Canadian, 1,400 from the Netherlands and 240 from Australia, along with special forces from Denmark and Estonia and small contingents from other nations. The monthly supply of cargo containers through Pakistani route to ISAF in Afghanistan is over 4,000 costing around 12 billion in Pakistani Rupees.[113][114][115][116][117]

Iraq and Syria[edit source]

A British C-130J Hercules aircraft launches flare countermeasures before being the first coalition aircraft to land on the newly reopened military runway at Baghdad International Airport

Iraq had been listed as a State sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. since 1990,[118] when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Iraq had also been on the list from 1979 to 1982; it was removed so that the U.S. could provide material support to Iraq in its war with Iran. Hussein’s regime had proven to be a problem for the UN and Iraq’s neighbors due to its use of chemical weapons against Iranians and Kurds in the 1980s.

Iraqi no-fly zones[edit source]

Following the ceasefire agreement that suspended hostilities (but not officially ended) in the 1991 Gulf War, the United States and its allies instituted and began patrolling Iraqi no-fly zones, to protect Iraq’s Kurdish and Shi’a Arab population—both of which suffered attacks from the Hussein regime before and after the Gulf War—in Iraq’s northern and southern regions, respectively. U.S. forces continued in combat zone deployments through November 1995 and launched Operation Desert Fox against Iraq in 1998 after it failed to meet U.S. demands for “unconditional cooperation” in weapons inspections.[119]

In the aftermath of Operation Desert Fox, during December 1998, Iraq announced that it would no longer respect the no-fly zones and resumed its attempts to shoot down U.S. aircraft.

Operation Iraqi Freedom[edit source]

The Iraq War began in March 2003 with an air campaign, which was immediately followed by a U.S.-led ground invasion. The Bush administration stated the invasion was the “serious consequences” spoken of in the UNSC Resolution 1441, partially by Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration also stated the Iraq war was part of the War on Terror; something later questioned or contested.

The first ground attack came at the Battle of Umm Qasr on 21 March 2003 when a combined force of British, American and Polish forces seized control of the port city of Umm Qasr.[120] Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city, fell to American troops in April 2003 and Saddam Hussein’s government quickly dissolved.[121] On 1 May 2003, Bush announced that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.[122] However, an insurgency arose against the U.S.-led coalition and the newly developing Iraqi military and post-Saddam government. The rebellion, which included al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, led to far more coalition casualties than the invasion. Other elements of the insurgency were led by fugitive members of President Hussein’s Ba’ath regime, which included Iraqi nationalists and pan-Arabists. Many insurgency leaders are Islamists and claim to be fighting a religious war to reestablish the Islamic Caliphate of centuries past.[123] Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces in December 2003. He was executed in 2006.

In 2004, the insurgent forces grew stronger. The U.S. conducted attacks on insurgent strongholds in cities like Najaf and Fallujah.

In January 2007, President Bush presented a new strategy for Operation Iraqi Freedom based upon counter-insurgency theories and tactics developed by General David Petraeus. The Iraq War troop surge of 2007 was part of this “new way forward” and, along with U.S. backing of Sunni groups it had previously sought to defeat, has been credited with a widely recognized dramatic decrease in violence by up to 80%.

Operation New Dawn[edit source]

The war entered a new phase on 1 September 2010,[124] with the official end of U.S. combat operations. The last U.S. troops exited Iraq on 18 December 2011.[125]

Operation Inherent Resolve (Syria and Iraq)[edit source]

Tomahawk missiles being fired from USS Philippine Sea and USS Arleigh Burke at IS targets in Syria

In a major split in the ranks of Al Qaeda’s organization, the Iraqi franchise, known as Al Qaeda in Iraq covertly invaded Syria and the Levant and began participating in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, gaining enough support and strength to re-invade Iraq’s western provinces under the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), taking over much of the country in a blitzkrieg-like action and combining the Iraq insurgency and Syrian Civil War into a single conflict.[126] Due to their extreme brutality and a complete change in their overall ideology, Al Qaeda’s core organization in Central Asia eventually denounced ISIS and directed their affiliates to cut off all ties with this organization.[127] Many analysts[who?] believe that because of this schism, Al Qaeda and ISIL are now in a competition to retain the title of the world’s most powerful terrorist organization.[128]

The Obama administration began to re-engage in Iraq with a series of airstrikes aimed at ISIS starting on 10 August 2014.[129] On 9 September 2014, President Obama said that he had the authority he needed to take action to destroy the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, citing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, and thus did not require additional approval from Congress.[130] The following day on 10 September 2014 President Barack Obama made a televised speech about ISIL, which he stated: “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy”.[131] Obama has authorized the deployment of additional U.S. Forces into Iraq, as well as authorizing direct military operations against ISIL within Syria.[131]On the night of 21/22 September the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan and Qatar started air attacks against ISIS in Syria.[citation needed]

In October 2014, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Defense considers military operations against ISIL as being under Operation Enduring Freedom in regards to campaign medal awarding.[132] On 15 October, the military intervention became known as “Operation Inherent Resolve”.[133]

Pakistan[edit source]

Following the 11 September 2001 attacks, former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf sided with the U.S. against the Taliban government in Afghanistan after an ultimatum by then U.S. President George W. Bush. Musharraf agreed to give the U.S. the use of three airbases for Operation Enduring Freedom. United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and other U.S. administration officials met with Musharraf. On 19 September 2001, Musharraf addressed the people of Pakistan and stated that, while he opposed military tactics against the Taliban, Pakistan risked being endangered by an alliance of India and the U.S. if it did not cooperate. In 2006, Musharraf testified that this stance was pressured by threats from the U.S., and revealed in his memoirs that he had “war-gamed” the United States as an adversary and decided that it would end in a loss for Pakistan.[134]

On 12 January 2002, Musharraf gave a speech against Islamic extremism. He unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism and pledged to combat Islamic extremism and lawlessness within Pakistan itself. He stated that his government was committed to rooting out extremism and made it clear that the banned militant organizations would not be allowed to resurface under any new name. He said, “the recent decision to ban extremist groups promoting militancy was taken in the national interest after thorough consultations. It was not taken under any foreign influence”.[135]

In 2002, the Musharraf-led government took a firm stand against the jihadi organizations and groups promoting extremism, and arrested Maulana Masood Azhar, head of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and took dozens of activists into custody. An official ban was imposed on the groups on 12 January.[136] Later that year, the Saudi born Zayn al-Abidn Muhammed Hasayn Abu Zubaydah was arrested by Pakistani officials during a series of joint U.S.-Pakistan raids. Zubaydah is said to have been a high-ranking al-Qaeda official with the title of operations chief and in charge of running al-Qaeda training camps.[137] Other prominent al-Qaeda members were arrested in the following two years, namely Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who is known to have been a financial backer of al-Qaeda operations, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who at the time of his capture was the third highest-ranking official in al-Qaeda and had been directly in charge of the planning for the 11 September attacks.

In 2004, the Pakistan Army launched a campaign in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan’s Waziristan region, sending in 80,000 troops. The goal of the conflict was to remove the al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the area.

After the fall of the Taliban regime, many members of the Taliban resistance fled to the Northern border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan where the Pakistani army had previously little control. With the logistics and air support of the United States, the Pakistani Army captured or killed numerous al-Qaeda operatives such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wanted for his involvement in the USS Cole bombing, the Bojinka plot, and the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The United States has carried out a campaign of Drone attacks on targets all over the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. However, the Pakistani Taliban still operates there. To this day it is estimated that 15 U.S. soldiers were killed while fighting al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants in Pakistan since the War on Terror began.[138]

Osama bin Laden, who was of many founders of al-Qaeda, his wife, and son, were all killed on 2 May 2011, during a raid conducted by the United States special operations forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.[139]

The use of drones by the Central Intelligence Agency in Pakistan to carry out operations associated with the Global War on Terror sparks debate over sovereignty and the laws of war. The U.S. Government uses the CIA rather than the U.S. Air Force for strikes in Pakistan to avoid breaching sovereignty through military invasion. The United States was criticized by[according to whom?] a report on drone warfare and aerial sovereignty for abusing the term ‘Global War on Terror’ to carry out military operations through government agencies without formally declaring war.

In the three years before the attacks of 11 September, Pakistan received approximately US$9 million in American military aid. In the three years after, the number increased to US$4.2 billion, making it the country with the maximum funding post 9/11.

Baluchistan[edit source]

Brahamdagh Bugti stated in a 2008 interview that he would accept aid from India, Afghanistan, and Iran in defending Baluchistan.[140] Pakistan has repeatedly accused India of supporting Baloch rebels,[141][142] and Wright-Neville writes that outside Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).[143]

The uprising in Baluchistan started after Pakistan invaded and occupied the territory in 1948. Various NGOs have reported human rights violations in committed by Pakistani armed forces. According to reports, approximately 18,000 Baluch residents are reportedly missing and about 2000 have been killed.[144]

Trans-Sahara (Northern Africa)[edit source]

Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara[edit source]

Northern Mali conflict.svg

Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) is the name of the military operation conducted by the U.S. and partner nations in the Sahara/Sahel region of Africa, consisting of counter-terrorism efforts and policing of arms and drug trafficking across central Africa.

The conflict in northern Mali began in January 2012 with radical Islamists (affiliated to al-Qaeda) advancing into northern Mali. The Malian government had a hard time maintaining full control over their country. The fledgling government requested support from the international community on combating the Islamic militants. In January 2013, France intervened on behalf of the Malian government’s request and deployed troops into the region. They launched Operation Serval on 11 January 2013, with the hopes of dislodging the al-Qaeda affiliated groups from northern Mali.[145]

Horn of Africa and the Red Sea[edit source]

Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa[edit source]

This extension of Operation Enduring Freedom was titled OEF-HOA. Unlike other operations contained in Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF-HOA does not have a specific organization as a target. OEF-HOA instead focuses its efforts to disrupt and detect militant activities in the region and to work with willing governments to prevent the reemergence of militant cells and activities.[146]

In October 2002, the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) was established in Djibouti at Camp Lemonnier.[147] It contains approximately 2,000 personnel including U.S. military and special operations forces (SOF) and coalition force members, Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150).

Task Force 150 consists of ships from a shifting group of nations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Pakistan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The primary goal of the coalition forces is to monitor, inspect, board and stop suspected shipments from entering the Horn of Africa region and affecting the United States’ Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Included in the operation is the training of selected armed forces units of the countries of Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency tactics. Humanitarian efforts conducted by CJTF-HOA include rebuilding of schools and medical clinics and providing medical services to those countries whose forces are being trained.

The program expands as part of the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative as CJTF personnel also assist in training the armed forces of Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Mali. However, the War on Terror does not include Sudan, where over 400,000 have died in an ongoing civil war.

On 1 July 2006, a Web-posted message purportedly written by Osama bin Laden urged Somalis to build an Islamic state in the country and warned western governments that the al-Qaeda network would fight against them if they intervened there.[148]

Somalia has been considered a “failed state” because its official central government was weak, dominated by warlords and unable to exert effective control over the country. Beginning in mid-2006, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an Islamist faction campaigning on a restoration of “law and order” through Sharia law, had rapidly taken control of much of southern Somalia.

On 14 December 2006, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer claimed al-Qaeda cell operatives were controlling the Islamic Courts Union, a claim denied by the ICU.[149]

By late 2006, the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia had seen its power effectively limited to Baidoa, while the Islamic Courts Union controlled the majority of southern Somalia, including the capital of Mogadishu. On 20 December 2006, the Islamic Courts Union launched an offensive on the government stronghold of Baidoa and saw early gains before Ethiopia intervened for the government.

By 26 December, the Islamic Courts Union retreated towards Mogadishu, before again retreating as TFG/Ethiopian troops neared, leaving them to take Mogadishu with no resistance. The ICU then fled to Kismayo, where they fought Ethiopian/TFG forces in the Battle of Jilib.

The Prime Minister of Somalia claimed that three “terror suspects” from the 1998 United States embassy bombings are being sheltered in Kismayo.[150] On 30 December 2006, al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called upon Muslims worldwide to fight against Ethiopia and the TFG in Somalia.[151]

On 8 January 2007, the U.S. launched the Battle of Ras Kamboni by bombing Ras Kamboni using AC-130 gunships.[152]

On 14 September 2009, U.S. Special Forces killed two men and wounded and captured two others near the Somali village of Baarawe. Witnesses claim that helicopters used for the operation launched from French-flagged warships, but that could not be confirmed. A Somali-based al-Qaida affiliated group, the Al-Shabaab, has verified the death of “sheik commander” Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan along with an unspecified number of militants.[153] Nabhan, a Kenyan, was wanted in connection with the 2002 Mombasa attacks.[154]

Philippines[edit source]

Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines[edit source]

U.S. Special Forces soldier and infantrymen of the Philippine Army

In January 2002, the United States Special Operations Command, Pacific deployed to the Philippines to advise and assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines in combating Filipino Islamist groups.[155] The operations were mainly focused on removing the Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) from their stronghold on the island of Basilan.[156] The second portion of the operation was conducted as a humanitarian program called “Operation Smiles”. The goal of the program was to provide medical care and services to the region of Basilan as part of a “Hearts and Minds” program.[157][158] Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines disbanded in June 2014,[159]ending a successful 12-year mission.[160] After JSOTF-P had disbanded, as late as November 2014, American forces continued to operate in the Philippines under the name “PACOM Augmentation Team”, until February 24, 2015.[161][162]

Yemen[edit source]

The United States has also conducted a series of military strikes on al-Qaeda militants in Yemen since the War on Terror began.[163] Yemen has a weak central government and a powerful tribal system that leaves large lawless areas open for militant training and operations. Al-Qaeda has a strong presence in the country.[164] On 31 March 2011, AQAP declared the Al-Qaeda Emirate in Yemen after its captured most of Abyan Governorate.[165]

The U.S., in an effort to support Yemeni counter-terrorism efforts, has increased their military aid package to Yemen from less than $11 million in 2006 to more than $70 million in 2009, as well as providing up to $121 million for development over the next three years.[166]

U.S. Allies in the Middle East[edit source]

Israel[edit source]

Israel has been fighting terrorist groups such Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, who are all Iran’s proxies aimed at Iran’s objective to destroy Israel. According to the Clarion Project: “Since 1979, Iran has been responsible for countless terrorist plots, directly through regime agents or indirectly through proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah.[167] In 2006, U.S. President [George W Bush] said that Israel’s war on terrorist group Hezbollah was part of war on terror.[168]

Saudi Arabia[edit source]

Saudi Arabia witnessed multiple terror attacks from different groups such as Al-Queda whos leader Osama Bin Laden delcared war on the Saudi government. On June 16, 1996, the Khobar Towers bombing took place in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. soldiers. It is widely thought that Iran orchestrated it. The 9/11 Commission concluded that Hezbollah, likely with the support of the Iranian regime, was the perpetrator. It said there are “signs” that Al-Qaeda also played a role.[167]

Libya[edit source]

On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military action in Libya, ostensibly to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. The United Nations Intent and Voting was to have “an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute crimes against humanity” … “imposing a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace – a no-fly zone – and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters.” The resolution was taken in response to events during the Libyan Civil War,[169] and military operations began, with American and British naval forces firing over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles,[170] the French Air Force, British Royal Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force[171] undertaking sorties across Libya and a naval blockade by Coalition forces.[172] French jets launched air strikes against Libyan Army tanks and vehicles.[173][174] The Libyan government response to the campaign was totally ineffectual, with Gaddafi’s forces not managing to shoot down a single NATO plane despite the country possessing 30 heavy SAM batteries, 17 medium SAM batteries, 55 light SAM batteries (a total of 400-450 launchers, including 130-150 SA-6 launchers and some SA-8 launchers), and 440-600 short-range air-defense guns.[175][176] The official names for the interventions by the coalition members are Opération Harmattan by France; Operation Ellamy by the United Kingdom; Operation Mobile for the Canadian participation and Operation Odyssey Dawn for the United States.[177]

From the beginning of the intervention, the initial coalition of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain, UK and US[178][179][180][181][182] expanded to nineteen states, with newer states mostly enforcing the no-fly zone and naval blockade or providing military logistical assistance. The effort was initially largely led by France and the United Kingdom, with command shared with the United States. NATO took control of the arms embargo on 23 March, named Operation Unified Protector. An attempt to unify the military leadership of the air campaign (while keeping political and strategic control with a small group), first failed over objections by the French, German, and Turkish governments.[183][184] On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone, while command of targeting ground units remains with coalition forces.[185][186][187] The handover occurred on 31 March 2011 at 06:00 UTC (08:00 local time). NATO flew 26,500 sorties since it took charge of the Libya mission on 31 March 2011.

Fighting in Libya ended in late October following the death of Muammar Gaddafi, and NATO stated it would end operations over Libya on 31 October 2011. Libya’s new government requested its mission to be extended to the end of the year,[188] but on 27 October, the Security Council voted to end NATO’s mandate for military action on 31 October.[189]

An AV-8B Harrier takes off from the flight deck of the USS Wasp during Operation Odyssey Lightning, August 8, 2016.

NBC News reported that in mid-2014, ISIS had about 1,000 fighters in Libya. Taking advantage of a power vacuum in the center of the country, far from the major cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, ISIS expanded rapidly over the next 18 months. Local militants were joined by jihadists from the rest of North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Caucasus. The force absorbed or defeated other Islamist groups inside Libya and the central ISIS leadership in Raqqa, Syria, began urging foreign recruits to head for Libya instead of Syria. ISIS seized control of the coastal city of Sirte in early 2015 and then began to expand to the east and south. By the beginning of 2016, it had effective control of 120 to 150 miles of coastline and portions of the interior and had reached Eastern Libya’s major population center, Benghazi. In spring 2016, AFRICOM estimated that ISIS had about 5,000 fighters in its stronghold of Sirte.[190]

However, the indigenous rebel groups who had staked their claims to Libya and turned their weapons on ISIS — with the help of airstrikes by Western forces, including U.S. drones, the Libyan population resented the outsiders who wanted to establish a fundamentalist regime on their soil. Militias loyal to the new Libyan unity government, plus a separate and rival force loyal to a former officer in the Qaddafi regime, launched an assault on ISIS outposts in Sirte and the surrounding areas that lasted for months. According to U.S. military estimates, ISIS ranks shrank to somewhere between a few hundred and 2,000 fighters. In August 2016, the U.S. military began airstrikes that, along with continued pressure on the ground from the Libyan militias, pushed the remaining ISIS fighters back into Sirte, In all, U.S. drones and planes hit ISIS nearly 590 times, the Libyan militias reclaimed the city in mid-December.[190] On January 18, 2017, ABC News reported that two USAF B-2 bombers struck two ISIS camps 28 miles south of Sirte, the airstrikes targeted between 80 and 100 ISIS fighters in multiple camps, an unmanned aircraft also participated in the airstrikes. NBC News reported that as many as 90 ISIS fighters were killed in the strike, a U.S. defense official said that “This was the largest remaining ISIS presence in Libya,” and that “They have been largely marginalized, but I am hesitant to say they have been eliminated in Libya.”[190]

Other military operations[edit source]

Operation Active Endeavour[edit source]

Operation Active Endeavour is a naval operation of NATO started in October 2001 in response to the 11 September attacks. It operates in the Mediterranean and is designed to prevent the movement of militants or weapons of mass destruction and to enhance the security of shipping in general.[191]

Fighting in Kashmir[edit source]

Political Map: the Kashmir region districts

In a ‘Letter to American People’ written by Osama bin Laden in 2002, he stated that one of the reasons he was fighting America is because of its support of India on the Kashmir issue.[192][193] While on a trip to Delhi in 2002, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld suggested that Al-Qaeda was active in Kashmir, though he did not have any hard evidence.[194][195] In 2002, The Christian Science Monitor published an article claiming that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates were “thriving” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir with the tacit approval of Pakistan’s National Intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence.[196] A team of Special Air Service and Delta Force was sent into Indian-administered Kashmir in 2002 to hunt for Osama bin Laden after reports that he was being sheltered by the Kashmiri militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.[197] U.S. officials believed that Al-Qaeda was helping organize a campaign of terror in Kashmir to provoke conflict between India and Pakistan. Fazlur Rehman Khalil, the leader of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, signed al-Qaeda’s 1998 declaration of holy war, which called on Muslims to attack all Americans and their allies.[198] Indian sources claimed that In 2006, Al-Qaeda claimed they had established a wing in Kashmir; this worried the Indian government.[199] India also argued that Al-Qaeda has strong ties with the Kashmir militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan.[200] While on a visit to Pakistan in January 2010, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that Al-Qaeda was seeking to destabilize the region and planning to provoke a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.[201]

In September 2009, a U.S. Drone strike reportedly killed Ilyas Kashmiri, who was the chief of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, a Kashmiri militant group associated with Al-Qaeda.[202][203] Kashmiri was described by Bruce Riedel as a ‘prominent’ Al-Qaeda member,[204] while others described him as the head of military operations for Al-Qaeda.[205] Waziristan had now become the new battlefield for Kashmiri militants, who were now fighting NATO in support of Al-Qaeda.[206] On 8 July 2012, Al-Badar Mujahideen, a breakaway faction of Kashmir centric terror group Hizbul Mujahideen, on the conclusion of their two-day Shuhada Conference called for a mobilization of resources for continuation of jihad in Kashmir.[207]

American military intervention in Cameroon[edit source]

In October 2015, the US began deploying 300 soldiers[208] to Cameroon, with the invitation of the Cameroonian government, to support African forces in a non-combat role in their fight against ISIS insurgency in that country. The troops’ primary missions will revolve around providing intelligence support to local forces as well as conducting reconnaissance flights.[209]

International military support[edit source]

The United Kingdom is the second largest contributor of troops in Afghanistan

The invasion of Afghanistan is seen to have been the first action of this war, and initially involved forces from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Afghan Northern Alliance. Since the initial invasion period, these forces were augmented by troops and aircraft from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway amongst others. In 2006, there were about 33,000 troops in Afghanistan.

On 12 September 2001, less than 24 hours after the 11 September attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and declared the attacks to be an attack against all 19 NATO member countries. Australian Prime Minister John Howard also stated that Australia would invoke the ANZUS Treaty along similar lines.[210]

In the following months, NATO took a broad range of measures to respond to the threat of terrorism. On 22 November 2002, the member states of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) decided on a Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, which explicitly states, “[The] EAPC States are committed to the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights, as well as the rule of law, in combating terrorism.”[211] NATO started naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction as well as to enhance the security of shipping in general called Operation Active Endeavour.

Support for the U.S. cooled when America made clear its determination to invade Iraq in late 2002. Even so, many of the “coalition of the willing” countries that unconditionally supported the U.S.-led military action have sent troops to Afghanistan, particular neighboring Pakistan, which has disowned its earlier support for the Taliban and contributed tens of thousands of soldiers to the conflict. Pakistan was also engaged in the War in North-West Pakistan (Waziristan War). Supported by U.S. intelligence, Pakistan was attempting to remove the Taliban insurgency and al-Qaeda element from the northern tribal areas.[212]

Terrorist attacks and failed plots since 9/11[edit source]

Al-Qaeda[edit source]

Since 9/11, Al-Qaeda and other affiliated radical Islamist groups have executed attacks in several parts of the world where conflicts are not taking place. Whereas countries like Pakistan have suffered hundreds of attacks killing tens of thousands and displacing much more.

There may also have been several additional planned attacks that were not successful.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)[edit source]

So far, there has been only one failed plot by ISIL:[citation needed]

Post 9/11 events inside the United States[edit source]

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement helicopter patrols the airspace over New York City

In addition to military efforts abroad, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush Administration increased domestic efforts to prevent future attacks. Various government bureaucracies that handled security and military functions were reorganized. A new cabinet-level agency called the United States Department of Homeland Security was created in November 2002 to lead and coordinate the largest reorganization of the U.S. federal government since the consolidation of the armed forces into the Department of Defense.[citation needed]

The Justice Department launched the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System for certain male non-citizens in the U.S., requiring them to register in person at offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The USA PATRIOT Act of October 2001 dramatically reduces restrictions on law enforcement agencies’ ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records; eases restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States; expands the Secretary of the Treasury‘s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and broadens the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act’s expanded law enforcement powers could be applied. A new Terrorist Finance Tracking Program monitored the movements of terrorists’ financial resources (discontinued after being revealed by The New York Times). Global telecommunication usage, including those with no links to terrorism,[218] is being collected and monitored through the NSA electronic surveillance program. The Patriot Act is still in effect.

Political interest groups have stated that these laws remove important restrictions on governmental authority, and are a dangerous encroachment on civil liberties, possible unconstitutional violations of the Fourth Amendment. On 30 July 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the first legal challenge against Section 215 of the Patriot Act, claiming that it allows the FBI to violate a citizen’s First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment rights, and right to due process, by granting the government the right to search a person’s business, bookstore, and library records in a terrorist investigation, without disclosing to the individual that records were being searched.[219] Also, governing bodies in many communities have passed symbolic resolutions against the act.

John Walker Lindh was captured as an enemy combatant during the United States’ 2001 invasion of Afghanistan

In a speech on 9 June 2005, Bush said that the USA PATRIOT Act had been used to bring charges against more than 400 suspects, more than half of whom had been convicted. Meanwhile, the ACLU quoted Justice Department figures showing that 7,000 people have complained of abuse of the Act.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began an initiative in early 2002 with the creation of the Total Information Awareness program, designed to promote information technologies that could be used in counter-terrorism. This program, facing criticism, has since been defunded by Congress.

By 2003, 12 major conventions and protocols were designed to combat terrorism. These were adopted and ratified by many states. These conventions require states to co-operate on principal issues regarding unlawful seizure of aircraft, the physical protection of nuclear materials, and the freezing of assets of militant networks.[220]

In 2005, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1624 concerning incitement to commit acts of terrorism and the obligations of countries to comply with international human rights laws.[221] Although both resolutions require mandatory annual reports on counter-terrorism activities by adopting nations, the United States and Israel have both declined to submit reports. In the same year, the United States Department of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a planning document, by the name “National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism”, which stated that it constituted the “comprehensive military plan to prosecute the Global War on Terror for the Armed Forces of the United States…including the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and a rigorous examination with the Department of Defense”.

On 9 January 2007, the House of Representatives passed a bill, by a vote of 299–128, enacting many of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission The bill passed in the U.S. Senate,[222] by a vote of 60–38, on 13 March 2007 and it was signed into law on 3 August 2007 by President Bush. It became Public Law 110-53. In July 2012, U.S. Senate passed a resolution urging that the Haqqani Network be designated a foreign terrorist organization.[223]

The Office of Strategic Influence was secretly created after 9/11 for the purpose of coordinating propaganda efforts but was closed soon after being discovered. The Bush administration implemented the Continuity of Operations Plan (or Continuity of Government) to ensure that U.S. government would be able to continue in catastrophic circumstances.

Since 9/11, extremists made various attempts to attack the United States, with varying levels of organization and skill. For example, vigilant passengers aboard a transatlantic flight prevented Richard Reid, in 2001, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in 2009, from detonating an explosive device.

Other terrorist plots have been stopped by federal agencies using new legal powers and investigative tools, sometimes in cooperation with foreign governments.[citation needed]

Such thwarted attacks include:

The Obama administration has promised the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, increased the number of troops in Afghanistan, and promised the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq.

Casualties[edit source]

According to Joshua Goldstein, an international relations professor at the American University, The Global War on Terror has seen fewer war deaths than any other decade in the past century.[224]

There is no widely agreed on figure for the number of people that have been killed so far in the War on Terror as it has been defined by the Bush Administration to include the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and operations elsewhere. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the Physicians for Social Responsibility and Physicians for Global Survival give total estimates ranging from 1.3 million to 2 million casualties.[225] Some estimates for regional conflicts include the following:

Child killed by a car bomb in Kirkuk, July 2011

File:CollateralMurder.ogv

Footage of leaked Apache gunship strike in Baghdad, July 2007

  • Iraq: 62,570 to 1,124,000
  • Iraq Body Count project documented 110,937–121,227 civilian deaths from violence from March 2003 to December 2012.[226][227][228]
  • 110,600 deaths in total according to the Associated Press from March 2003 to April 2009.[229]
  • 151,000 deaths in total according to the Iraq Family Health Survey.[230]
  • Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted 12–19 August 2007 estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War. The range given was 946,000 to 1,120,000 deaths. A nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 Iraqi adults answered whether any members of their household (living under their roof) were killed due to the Iraq War. 22% of the respondents had lost one or more household members. ORB reported that “48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance.”[231][232][233]
  • Between 392,979 and 942,636 estimated Iraqi (655,000 with a confidence interval of 95%), civilian and combatant, according to the second Lancet survey of mortality.
  • A minimum of 62,570 civilian deaths reported in the mass media up to 28 April 2007 according to Iraq Body Count project.[234]
  • 4,409 U.S. military dead (929 non-hostile deaths), and 31,926 wounded in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom.[235] 66 U.S. Military Dead (28 non-hostile deaths), and 295 wounded in action during Operation New Dawn.[235]
  • Afghanistan: between 10,960 and 249,000[236]
  • According to Marc W. Herold’s extensive database,[238] between 3,100 and 3,600 civilians were directly killed by U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom bombing and Special Forces attacks between 7 October 2001 and 3 June 2003. This estimate counts only “impact deaths”—deaths that occurred in the immediate aftermath of an explosion or shooting—and does not count deaths that occurred later as a result of injuries sustained, or deaths that occurred as an indirect consequence of the U.S. airstrikes and invasion.
  • In a pair of January 2002 studies, Carl Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives estimates that “at least” 4,200–4,500 civilians were killed by mid-January 2002 as a result of the war and Coalition airstrikes, both directly as casualties of the aerial bombing campaign, and indirectly in the resulting humanitarian crisis.
  • His first study, “Operation Enduring Freedom: Why a Higher Rate of Civilian Bombing Casualties?”,[241] released 18 January 2002, estimates that, at the low end, “at least” 1,000–1,300 civilians were directly killed in the aerial bombing campaign in just the three months between 7 October 2001 to 1 January 2002. The author found it impossible to provide an upper-end estimate to direct civilian casualties from the Operation Enduring Freedom bombing campaign that he noted as having an increased use of cluster bombs.[242] In this lower-end estimate, only Western press sources were used for hard numbers, while heavy “reduction factors” were applied to Afghan government reports so that their estimates were reduced by as much as 75%.[243]
  • In his companion study, “Strange Victory: A critical appraisal of Operation Enduring Freedom and the Afghanistan war”,[244] released 30 January 2002, Conetta estimates that “at least” 3,200 more Afghans died by mid-January 2002, of “starvation, exposure, associated illnesses, or injury sustained while in flight from war zones”, as a result of the war and Coalition airstrikes.
  • In similar numbers, a Los Angeles Times review of U.S., British, and Pakistani newspapers and international wire services found that between 1,067 and 1,201 direct civilian deaths were reported by those news organizations during the five months from 7 October 2001 to 28 February 2002. This review excluded all civilian deaths in Afghanistan that did not get reported by U.S., British, or Pakistani news, excluded 497 deaths that did get reported in U.S., British, and Pakistani news but that were not specifically identified as civilian or military, and excluded 754 civilian deaths that were reported by the Taliban but not independently confirmed.[245]
  • 2,046 U.S. military dead (339 non-hostile deaths), and 18,201 wounded in action.[235]
  • Pakistan: Between 1467 and 2334 people were killed in U.S. drone attacks as of 6 May 2011. Tens of thousands have been killed by terrorist attacks, millions displaced.
  • Somalia: 7,000+
  • In December 2007, The Elman Peace and Human Rights Organization said it had verified 6,500 civilian deaths, 8,516 people wounded, and 1.5 million displaced from homes in Mogadishu alone during the year 2007.[247]
  • USA

Total American casualties from the War on Terror
(this includes fighting throughout the world):

U.S. Military killed 7,008[235]
U.S. Military wounded 50,422[235]
U.S. DoD Civilians killed 16[235]
U.S. Civilians killed (includes 9/11 and after) 3,000 +
U.S. Civilians wounded/injured 6,000 +
Total Americans killed (military and civilian) 10,008 +
Total Americans wounded/injured 56,422 +

[251][252][253][254][255]

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has diagnosed more than 200,000 American veterans with PTSD since 2001.[256]

  • Yemen

Total terrorist casualties[edit source]

On December 7, 2015, the Washington post reported that since 2001, in five theaters of the war (Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Somalia) that the total number of terrorists killed ranges from 65,800 to 88,600, with Obama administration being responsible for between 30,000 and 33,000.[257]

Costs[edit source]

A March 2011 Congressional report[258] estimated spending related to the war through the fiscal year 2011 at $1.2 trillion, and that spending through 2021 assuming a reduction to 45,000 troops would be $1.8 trillion. A June 2011 academic report[258] covering additional areas of spending related to the war estimated it through 2011 at $2.7 trillion, and long-term spending at $5.4 trillion including interest.[note 4]

According to the Soufan Group in July 2015, the United States government spends $9.4 million per day in operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.[259]

Expense CRS/CBO (Billions US$):[260][261][262] Watson (Billions constant US$):[263]
FY2001-FY2011
War appropriations to DoD 1208.1 1311.5
War appropriations to DoS/USAID 66.7 74.2
VA Medical 8.4 13.7
VA disability 18.9
Interest paid on DoD war appropriations 185.4
Additions to DoD base spending 362.2–652.4
Additions to Homeland Security base spending 401.2
Social costs to veterans and military families to date 295-400
Subtotal: 1283.2 2662.1–3057.3
FY2012-future
FY2012 DoD request 118.4
FY2012 DoS/USAID request 12.1
Projected 2013–2015 war spending 168.6
Projected 2016–2020 war spending 155
Projected obligations for veterans’ care to 2051 589–934
Additional interest payments to 2020 1000
Subtotal: 454.1 2043.1–2388.1
Total: 1737.3 4705.2–5445.4

Criticism[edit source]

Participants in a rally, dressed as hooded detainees

Criticism of the War on Terror addressed the issues, morality, efficiency, economics, and other questions surrounding the War on Terror and made against the phrase itself, calling it a misnomer. The notion of a “war” against “terrorism” has proven highly contentious, with critics charging that it has been exploited by participating governments to pursue long-standing policy/military objectives,[264] reduce civil liberties,[265] and infringe upon human rights. It is argued that the term war is not appropriate in this context (as in War on Drugs) since there is no identifiable enemy and that it is unlikely international terrorism can be brought to an end by military means.[266]

Other critics, such as Francis Fukuyama, note that “terrorism” is not an enemy, but a tactic; calling it a “war on terror”, obscures differences between conflicts such as anti-occupation insurgents and international mujahideen. With a military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and its associated collateral damage, Shirley Williams maintains this increases resentment and terrorist threats against the West.[267] There is also perceived U.S. hypocrisy,[268][269] media-induced hysteria,[270] and that differences in foreign and security policy have damaged America’s reputation internationally.[271]

Other Wars on Terror[edit source]

In the 2010s, China has also been engaged in its War on Terror, predominantly a domestic campaign in response to violent actions by Uighur separatist movements in the Xinjiang conflict.[272] This campaign was widely criticized in international media due to the perception that it unfairly targets and persecutes Chinese Muslims,[273] potentially resulting in a negative backlash from China‘s predominantly Muslim Uighur population.

Russia has also been engaged on its own, also largely internally focused, counter-terrorism campaign often termed a war on terror, during the Second Chechen War, the Insurgency in the North Caucasus, and the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[274] Like China‘s war on terror, Russia‘s has also been focused on separatist and Islamist movements that use political violence to achieve their ends.[275]

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MEDIA water carriers for Democrats promote alleged al-Shabaab video featuring Trump, while ignoring all the other terrorist recruiting videos which featured Obama, Clinton, and Bush

gw-bush-obama-clinton-isis-video

If what Donald Trump said about temporarily banning Muslim immigration into America actually caused Muslims to hate America more, they wouldn’t keep coming here, legally and illegally. We ARE at war with Islam because Muslims started it. Keeping them out of America WOULD make America safer.

Breitbart (h/t Mike F) The mainstream media is using a recent recruitment video released by the Somalian terrorist group Al-Shabaab that features Donald Trump as their latest weapon to smear the Republican presidential primary front-runner.

Screen-Shot-2016-01-02-at-11.53.22-AM

However, those same outlets failed to mention that prior recruitment videos by Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab and ISIS have prominently featured President Barack Obama, as well as Bill Clinton and George W Bush. Rather than providing factual and balanced coverage, the in-the-tank media can be counted on to leave significant information out of their stories. It’s not journalism. It’s the policy of personal character assassination, that the left wing media does so well.

Below are screen shots from terrorist recruiting videos using Obama, Clinton, and Bush.

isis-video-obama

isis-video-clinton

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Breitbart News has copies of previous videos released by both ISIS and Al-Shabaab. In those videos, which are excerpted above, Barack Obama is featured as a way to recruit anti-American jihadists for the Al-Qaeda affiliated group. The video also features British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The is still the question of whether or not Al-Shabaab actually made the current video or if the Clinton campaign did.

RELATED STORY/VIDEO:

was-somali-muslim-terror-group-al-shabaabs-alleged-new-recruitment-video-featuring-donald-trumps-proposed-ban-on-muslim-immigration-created-by-hillary-clintons-team

Was Somali Muslim terror group Al-Shabaab’s alleged new ‘recruitment’ video, featuring Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration, created by Hillary Clinton’s team?

rita

Timely coincidence or campaign hoax? Western media are alleging that Al-Shabaab put out this recruitment video, right on the heels of Hillary Clinton falsely claiming that ISIS was using Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigrants to recruit jihadists from the West. So, who really created this video?

UK Daily Mail  During the December 20 Democratic presidential debate, Clinton said ISIS and other groups were ‘going to people showing them videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.’

trump-630894

The video clip features now-deceased al-Qaeda operative and ‘underwear bomb plot’ mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki (killed by an American drone after he fled America for Yemen) is shown in which he tells Western Muslims they face being persecuted and locked in concentration camps.

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It then cuts to ‘Donald J Trump calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.’

The video then cuts back to the footage of Awlaki, in which he adds: ‘My advice to you is this. You have two choices, either hejira or jihad, you either leave or fight. ‘You leave and live among Muslims or you stay behind and follow the example of Nidal Hassan and others who fulfilled their duty of fighting for Allah’s cause.’

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15 YEARS OF TERROR, AN ANIMATED TIME-LAPSE

Al Shabab

 

Annual turnover: about 70 million

Main funding sources: kidnappings and ransom, illegal trade and pirate activity, sponsorship fees and taxes

Region: Somalia, Kenya, Uganda

Purpose: removal of foreign forces from Somalia and the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.
Al-Shabab is the largest militant organization in Somalia and was founded in 2006. The military arm of the United Islamic Courts, an Islamist opposition to the weak regime. Today, al-Shabab aims to overthrow the government, eliminate foreign forces from the country (Ethiopia and Kenya backed by the US) and to establish an Islamic caliphate in Somalia under the laws of Sharia. al-Shabab carried out a series of deadly attacks, including blowing up car bombs, shootings and sending suicide bombers to target civilians and military personal in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Apart from hundreds of attacks carried out within the country, the group was responsible for several attacks outside Somalia, including the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013 that claimed the lives of more than 60 people, and injuring hundreds.

Al-Shabab operatives, who ruled most parts of the country until 2006, collect taxes and ransom from the population under their control. Until 2011 Al-Shabab held parts of the capital Mogadishu, gaining profits from taxes and ransom. Until 2012 it controlled Makisamui, the third most important port city in the Horn of Africa, taking advantage of one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

Somali extremist organization holds a number of airports and small ports, which it uses as hubs of illegal trade and pirate activity. Al-Shabab is also involved in mining (mainly coal), and enjoys generous donations from Somali expatriates.

al-Shabaab

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
al-Shabaab
الشباب
Participant in Somali Civil War
ShababLogo.png

ShababFlag.svg
War flag

ShababAdmin.svg
Administration flag

Active 2006–present
Groups Multi-ethnic[1]
Leaders Ahmad Umar (Abu Ubaidah) (6 September 2014 – present)[2]
Ahmed Godane (December 2007 – Sep 2014)[3]
Headquarters Kismayo (22 August 2008 – 29 September 2012)
Barawe[4]
Area of
operations
Southern Somalia
Uganda
Kenya
Strength 5,000-7,000 [5]
Part of al-Qaeda
Originated as Islamic Courts Union (ICU)
Allies  al-Qaeda
Foreign Mujahedeen
Allied Democratic Forces
Opponents Somalia Somalia

AMISOM

 Australia

 United States

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”, or “The Youngsters“, is a jihadist terrorist group based inSomalia. In 2012, it pledged allegiance to the militant Islamistorganization al-Qaeda.[6] As of 2013, the group has retreated from the major cities, but imposes strict forms of Sharia law in some rural regions.[7][8] Al-Shabaab’s troop strength as of 2013 was estimated at 4,000 to 6,000 militants.[9] In February 2012, some of the group’s leaders quarreled with Al-Qaeda over the union,[10] and quickly lost ground.[11]

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.[12] Al-Shabaab describes itself as waging jihad against “enemies of Islam”, and is engaged in combat against the TFG and theAfrican 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.[13] Al-Shabaab has been designated a terrorist organization by several Western governments and security services.[14][15]

As of June 2012, the US State Department has open bounties on several of the group’s senior commanders.[16]

In early August 2011, the TFG’s troops and their AMISOM allies reportedly managed to capture all of Mogadishu from the al-Shabaab militants.[17] 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.[18] Due to its Wahhabi roots, Al Shabaab is hostile to Sufi traditions and has often clashed with the militant Sufigroup Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a.[19][20][21][22] 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.

Al-Shabaab has also been accused of being responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of elephants every year for their ivory, and for killing rangers hired to protect them. The proceeds from the ivory trade allegedly supply Al-Shabaab with income with which to carry out their operations.[23][24][25][26] At the same time, the group also had some social support during its time in administration within Somalia as it partook in some reforms.[27]

In August 2014, the Somali government-led Operation Indian Ocean was launched to cleanup the remaining insurgent-held pockets in the countryside.[28] On 1 September 2014, a U.S. drone strike carried out as part of the broader mission killed Al-Shabaab leader Moktar Ali Zubeyr.[29] U.S. authorities hailed the raid as a major symbolic and operational loss for Al-Shabaab, and the Somali government offered a 45-day amnesty to all moderate members of the militant group. Political analysts also suggested that the insurgent commander’s death will likely lead to Al-Shabaab’s fragmentation and eventual dissolution.[30]

Name[edit]

al-Shabaab is also known as Ash-Shabaab, Hizbul Shabaab (Arabic: “Party of the Youth”),[31] and the Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations (PRM).[32] For short, the organization is referred to as HSM, which stands for “Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen”. The term Shabaab means “youth” in Arabic, and the group should not be confused withsimilarly named groups.

Organization and leadership[edit]

See also: Mujahideen

Al-Shabaab’s composition is multiethnic, with its leadership positions mainly occupied by Afghanistan– and Iraq-trained ethnic Somalis and foreigners.[33] According to the National Counterterrorism Center, the group’s rank-and-file members hail from disparate local groups, sometimes recruited by force.[34] Unlike most of the organization’s top leaders,[35] its foot soldiers are primarily concerned with nationalist and clan-related affairs as opposed to the global jihad. They are also prone to infighting and shifting alliances.[34] According to the Jamestown Foundation, Al-Shabaab seeks to exploit these vulnerabilities by manipulating clan networks in order to retain power. The group itself is likewise not entirely immune to local politics.[35] More recently, Muslim converts from neighbouring countries have been conscripted, typically to do undesirable or difficult work.[36]

Although al-Shabaab’s leadership ultimately falls upon al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the internal leadership is not fully clear, and with foreign fighters trickling out of the country, its structure is increasingly decentralized. Ahmed Abdi Godane was publicly named as emir of al-Shabaab in December 2007.[37] In August 2011, Godane was heavily criticized by Al-Shabaab co-founder Hassan Dahir Aweys and others for not letting aid into the hunger stricken parts of southern Somalia. Although not formally announced, Shabaab was effectively split up into a “foreign legion,” led by Godane, and a coalition of factions forming a “national legion” under Aways. The latter group often refused to take orders from Godane and the two groups hardly talked to each other. In February 2012, Godane made Bay’ah, or an oath of allegiance, to al-Qaeda. With it he likely hoped to reclaim and extend his authority, and to encourage foreign fighters to stay. This move will further complicate the cooperation with the “national legion” of al-Shabaab.[6] Godane was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Somalia on September 1, 2014.[38] Ahmad Umar was named Godane’s successor on 6 September 2014, he is believed to have previously played a role in al-Shabaab’s internal secret service known as Amniya.[39]

Leaders[edit]

Other leaders:

Foreigners[edit]

al-Shabaab is said to have many foreigners within its ranks, particularly at the leadership level.[33][53] Fighters from thePersian Gulf and international jihadists were called to join the holy war against the Somali government and its Ethiopian allies. Though Somali Islamists did not originally use suicide bombing tactics, the foreign elements of al-Shabaab have been blamed for several suicide bombings.[54][55] A 2006 UN report identified Iran, Libya, and Egypt, among countries in the region, as the main backers of the Islamist extremists. Egypt has a longstanding policy of securing the Nile River flow by destabilizing Ethiopia.[56][57]

Formerly a predominantly nationalist organization, al-Shabaab repositioned itself as a militant Islamist group that also attracted a large cadre of Western devotees.[58] As of 2011, the group’s foreign recruitment strategy was active in the United States, where members attempted to recruit from the local Muslim communities.[59] According to an investigative report by theU.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, Al Shabaab recruited over 40 Muslim Americans since 2007.[59] In 2010, theNew York Times reported that after more than a dozen Americans were killed in Somalia, the organization’s recruiting success had decreased in the US.[60]

These American and foreign recruits played a dual role within the organization, serving as mercenaries and as a propaganda tool for radicalization and recruitment. These individuals, including Omar Hammami, appeared in propaganda videos posted in online forums in order to appeal to disaffected Muslim youth and inspire them to join the Islamist struggle.[61] This was a top-down strategy, wherein Islamist agents attempted to use mosques and legitimate businesses as a cover to meet, recruit, and raise funds for operations in the US and abroad.[61] By mid-2013, the U.S. Congress reported that such militant recruitment appeared to have halted.[62]

Most of the foreign al-Shabaab members come from Yemen, Sudan, the Swahili Coast, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. As of 2010, their number was estimated at between 200 to 300 militants, augmented by around 1,000 diasporan ethnic Somalis.[33] Many of Al-Shabaab’s foot soldiers also belong to Somalia’s marginalized ethnic minorities from the farming south.[63]

Of the foreign members, Jonathan Evans, the former head of MI5, addressing a London security conference in 2010,[64]advised that “a significant number of UK residents” were training with al-Shabaab. Linking this increased involvement with a reduction in Al Qaida activity in Pakistan’s tribal areas, he also suggested that since Somalia, like Afghanistan, at the time had no effective central government, the presence of foreign fighters there could inspire terrorist incidents in the UK. “It is only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside al-Shabaab.”[65] The actual number has been estimated at between 50[66] and 100[67] persons; one source estimating around 60 active Al-Shabaab recruiters, including 40 Somalis and an additional 20 mainly British-based ‘clean skins‘, individuals who have not committed any crimes but are believed to have ties with the group.[68] There is also evidence of funding of the group by Somalis resident in Britain.[65][69]

Of the ten people subject to control orders (now Tpim orders) in 2012, at least five are associated with al-Shabaab: (pseudonymously) CC, CE “a British citizen of Iranian origin, aged 28 in 2012”, CF, and DD “a non-British citizen […] believed […] to have been associated with the funding and promotion of [terrorism-related activity] in East Africa.”[70] At least two British Somalis, Ibrahim Magag[69] (referred to as BX in Court documentation) and Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed,[71] have absconded.

In 2012, it was also reported that the group was attracting an increasing number of non-Somali recent converts from Kenya, a predominantly Christian country in the African Great Lakes region. Estimates placed the figure of Kenyan fighters at around 10% of al-Shabaab’s total forces.[1] Referred to as the “Kenyan Mujahideen” by Al-Shabaab’s core members,[36] the converts are typically young and overzealous. Poverty has made them easier targets for the group’s recruiting activities. The Kenyan insurgents can blend in with the general population of Kenya, and they are often harder to track by law enforcement.[72]Reports suggest that al-Shabaab is attempting to build an even more multi-ethnic generation of fighters in the larger region.[1]One such recent convert, who helped carry out the Kampala bombings but now cooperates with the Kenyan police, believes that the group is trying to use local Kenyans to do its “dirty work” for it, while its own core members escape unscathed.[36]According to diplomats, Muslim areas in coastal Kenya and Tanzania, such as Mombasa and Zanzibar, are especially vulnerable for recruitment.[1]

Foreigners from Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Afghan-trained Somalis, play an important role in the group’s leadership ranks owing to their combat experience. Bringing with them specialized skills, these commanders often lead the indoctrination of new recruits, and provide training in remote-controlled roadside bombings, suicide attack techniques, and the assassination and kidnapping of government officials, journalists, humanitarian and civil society workers.[33]

Foreign al-Shabaab commanders include:[73]

Foreign leaders and members:

  • Fazul Abdullah Mohammed: Mohammed, a Kenyan national, was appointed by Osama bin Laden as al Qaeda’s leader in East Africa in late 2009. Before the death of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, Mohammed served as the military operations chief for al Qaeda in East Africa. He was an experienced al-Qaeda leader who is known to be able to move in and out of East African countries with ease. In August 2008, he eluded a police dragnet in Kenya. Mohammed had been hiding in Somalia with Shabaab and the Islamic Courts for years. Mohammed was considered to be Shabaab’s military leader, while Muktar Abdelrahman Abu Zubeyr was Shabaab’s spiritual leader. He was killed on June 8, 2011.[74]
  • Shaykh Muhammad Abu Fa’id: Fai’d, a Saudi citizen, serves as a top financier and a “manager” for Shabaab.
  • Abu Musa Mombasa: Mombasa, a Pakistani citizen, serves as Shabaab’s chief of security and training.
  • Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki: Amriki, whose real name was Omar Hammami, was a U.S. citizen who converted to Islam and traveled to Somalia in 2006. Once in Somalia, he quickly rose through the ranks. He served as a military commander, recruiter, financier, and propagandist. Amriki appeared in several Shabaab propaganda tapes. He became a primary recruiter for Al Shabaab; issued written statements on their behalf and appeared in its propaganda videos and audio recordings. An indictment unsealed in August 2010 charged him with providing material support to terrorists.[75] In January 2013, Amriki was ousted from al-Shabaab because it felt he had joined in a “narcissistic pursuit of fame”. He then publicly voiced ideological differences with the group via YouTube and Twitter, asserting that local militant leaders were only concerned with fighting in Somalia and not globally. He was assassinated by the insurgents in September 2013.[76] He was removed from the FBI‘s Most Wanted Terrorists list in November 2013.[77] He was removed from the US State Department’s Rewards for Justice list in January 2014.[78]
  • Abdikadar Mohamed Abdikadar “Ikrima”: a Kenya-born Somali Al-Shabaab commander alleged by the Kenyan government to have planned several attacks in the country, including a plot to target the UN’s bureau in Nairobi, the Kenyan parliamentary building, and an Ethiopian restaurant patronized by Somali government representatives. According to US officials, Abdikadar was also a close associate of the late Al-Qaeda operatives Harun Fazul and Saleh Nabhan.[79][80]
  • Mahmud Mujajir: Mujajir, a Sudanese citizen, is Shabaab’s chief of recruitment for suicide bombers.
  • Samantha Lewthwaite: Allegedly an Al-Shabaab member, she is believed to have been behind an attack on a sports bar in Mombasa in 2012. Widow of 7/7 suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay.
  • Issa Osman Issa: Issa serves as a top al-Qaeda recruiter and military strategist for Shabaab. Before joining, he participated in the simultaneous attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. He has been described as a central player in the simultaneous attacks on the Paradise Hotel in Kikambala, Kenya, in 2002, and the attempt that year to down an Israeli airliner in Mombasa.[81][82]

Terrorist designation[edit]

Countries and organizations below have officially listed Al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization.

Country Date References
 Australia [83]
 Canada [84]
 New Zealand 10 February 2010 [85]
 Norway [15]
 United States [14]

History and activities[edit]

Map showing territorial gains made by al-Shabaab from January 31, 2009 to December 2010; the period when a civil war against the Transitional Federal Government commenced

While Al-Shabaab previously represented the hard-line militant youth movement within the Islamic Courts Union(ICU),[86] it is now described as an extremist splinter group of the ICU. Since the ICU’s downfall, however, the distinction between the youth movement and the so-called successor organization to the ICU, the PRM, appears to have been blurred. Al-Shabaab had recently begun encouraging people from across society, including elders, to join their ranks. In February 2012, Fu’ad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole, the chief of awareness raising of al-Shabaab, said that “At this stage of the jihad, fathers and mothers must send their unmarried girls to fight alongside the (male) militants”. The addition of elders and young girls marks a change in the movement, which had previously involved only men, particularly young boys.[87]

Their core consisted of veterans who had fought and defeated the secular Mogadishu warlords of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) at the Second Battle of Mogadishu.[88] Their origins are not clearly known, but former members say Hizbul Shabaab was founded as early as 2004. The membership of Al-Shabaab also includes various foreign fighters from around the world, according to an Islamic hardliner Mukhtar Robow “Abu Manssor”.[89]

In January 2009, Ethiopian forces withdrew from Somalia and Al-Shabaab carried on its fight against former ally and Islamic Courts Union leader, President Sharif Ahmed, who was the head of the Transitional Federal Government.[8] Al-Shabaab saw some success in its campaigns against the weak Transitional Federal Government, capturing Baidoa, the base of the Transitional Federal Parliament, on January 26, 2009, and killing three ministers of the government in a December 3, 2009 suicide bomb attack on a medical school graduation ceremony.[90]

Before the drought in 2010, Somalia, including the Al-Shabaab controlled areas, had its best crop yield in seven years. Al-Shabaab claimed some credit for the success, saying that their reduction of over-sized cheap food imports allowed Somalia’s own grain production, which normally has high potential, to flourish.[91] They asserted that this policy had the effect of shifting income from urban to rural areas, from mid-income groups to low-income groups, and from overseas farmers to local farmers. However, in response to the drought, Al-Shabaab announced in July 2011 that it had withdrawn its restrictions on international humanitarian workers.[92]

In 2011, according to the head of the U.N.’s counter-piracy division, Colonel John Steed, Al-Shabaab increasingly sought to cooperate with other criminal organizations and pirate gangs in the face of dwindling funds and resources.[93] Steed, however, acknowledged that he had no definite proof of operational ties between the Islamist militants and the pirates. Detained pirates also indicated to UNODC officials that some measure of cooperation on their part with Al-Shabaab militants was necessary, as they have increasingly launched maritime raids from areas in southern Somalia controlled by the insurgent group. Al-Shabaab members have also extorted the pirates, demanding protection money from them and forcing seized pirate gang leaders in Harardhere to hand over 20% of future ransom proceeds.[94]

Despite routinely expelling, attacking and harassing aid workers, Al-Shabaab permits some agencies to work in areas under its control. At the height of its territorial control it implemented a system of aid agency regulation, taxation and surveillance. Where agencies are allowed to operate, this is often due to the desire of Al-Shabaab to coopt and materially and politically benefit from the provision of aid and services.[95] Senior aid agency representatives often strongly rejected claims that they talked with Al-Shabaab, while aid workers working in Al-Shabaab controlled areas often reported they directly negotiated with the group out of necessity.[96]

While Al-Shabaab has been reduced in power and size since the beginning of the coordinated operation against it by the Somalian military and the Kenyan army, the group has continued its efforts at recruitment and territorial control. The group maintains training camps in areas near Kismayo in the southern regions of Somalia. One such camp was constructed in Laanta Bur village near Afgooye, which is also where the former K-50 airport is located.[97] On July 11, 2012, Somali federal troops and their AMISOM allies captured the area from the militants.[98]

Opposition[edit]

The U.S. has asserted that al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda pose a global threat.[99] Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that “U.S. operations against al-Qaida are now concentrating on key groups in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.”[citation needed]

Complaints made against the group include its attacks on aid workers and harsh enforcement of Sharia law. According to journalist Jon Lee Anderson:

The number of people in Somalia who are dependent on international food aid has tripled since 2007, to an estimated 3.6 million. But there is no permanent foreign expatriate presence in southern Somalia, because the Shabaab has declared war on the UN and on Western non-governmental organizations. International relief supplies are flown or shipped into the country and distributed, wherever possible, through local relief workers. Insurgents routinely attack and murder them, too; forty-two have been killed in the past two years alone.[8]

Shabaab have persecuted Somalia’s small Christian minority, sometimes affixing the label on people they suspect of working for Ethiopian intelligence.[100] The group has also desecrated the graves of prominent Sufi Muslims in addition to a Sufi mosque and university, claiming that Sufi practices conflict with their strict interpretation of Islamic law.[101][102] This has led to confrontations with Sufi organized armed groups who have organized under the banner of Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a.[103]

Echoing the transition from a nationalistic struggle to one with religious pretenses, Al Shabaab’s propaganda strategy is starting to reflect this shift. Through their religious rhetoric Al Shabaab attempts to recruit and radicalize potential candidates, demoralize their enemies, and dominate dialogue in both national and international media. According to reports Al Shabaab is trying to intensify the conflict: “It would appear from the alleged AMISOM killings that it is determined to portray the war as an affair between Christians and Muslims to shore up support for its fledgling cause… The bodies, some beheaded, were displayed alongside Bibles and crucifixes. The group usually beheads those who have embraced Christianity or Western ideals. Militants have begun placing beheaded corpses next to bibles and crucifixes in order to intimidate local populations.”[104] In April 2010 Al Shabaab announced that it would begin banning radio stations from broadcasting BBC and Voice of America, claiming that they were spreading Christian propaganda. By effectively shutting down the Somali media they gain greater control of the dialog surrounding their activities.[105]

Timeline[edit]

2006[edit]

  • June 10, 2006—The Guardian reports “An unnamed network run by one of Aweys’s proteges, Aden Hashi Farah “Ayro” is linked to the murder of four western aid workers and over a dozen Somalis who allegedly cooperated with counter-terror organisations.”[106]
  • June 15, 2006—Al-Shabaab leader Aden Hashi Farah “Eyrow”, was said to have taken arms sent from Eritrea[107] (see page 12).
  • July 26, 2006—Mukhtar Robow or “Abu-Mansur” was reported accepting another load of arms from Eritrea[107] (see page 15).
  • July—720 Somali volunteers were selected by Aden Hashi Farah “Eyrow” to travel to Lebanon to fight against the Israelis. Of those, only 80 returned to Mogadishu. In September, another 20 returned, along with five members of Hizbollah.[107](see page 24).
  • The bankruptcy of a remittance company, Dalsan International, whose staff included the brother of Aden Hashi Farah “Eyrow”, involved the suspicious disappearance of $10 million. It was alleged, “an ICU military leader managed to divert a large amount of money to help financially support the organization in their fight for the control of Mogadishu during the June 2006 confrontation with the former counter terrorism alliance”[107] (see page 39). (Also see ARPCT, Second Battle of Mogadishu)

2007[edit]

  • As of January 6, 2007, after the Fall of Mogadishu and Kismayo to the TFG, the leaders of the Shabaab were in hiding still at large.[108] A member of the disbanded group said they once numbered about 1,000 (lower than other claims by former members), but they do not have any weapons any more. Still, there was support for the call of leaders to maintain jihadagainst the Ethiopians and secular government.[109]
  • January 19, 2007—Pro-Islamic Courts Union website featured a video describing the reformation of the ICU into the “Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations” (PRM), alternatively translated and referred to in press reports as the “Somali People’s Insurgent Movement” (SPIM) or “Somali People’s Resistance Movement” (SPRM). On January 24, Sheikh Abdikadir was announced to be its commander of the Banadir region.[110]
  • January 31, 2007—Al-Shabaab made a video warning African Union peacekeepers to avoid coming to Somalia, claiming “Somalia is not a place where you will earn a salary — it is a place where you will die.”[111]
  • February 9, 2007—800 Somali demonstrators in north Mogadishu, where Islamist support was strongest, burned U.S., Ethiopian, and Ugandan flags in protest of the proposed African Union (AU) led and United Nations endorsedpeacekeeping mission, known as AMISOM. “Abdirisaq”, a masked representative of the resistance group, the PRM, said Ethiopian troops would be attacked in their hotels.[32][112][113]

2008[edit]

  • February 28: United States Department of State designates al-Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in accordance with section 219 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).[14]
  • August: Al-Shabaab achieve a military victory in the Battle of Kismayo. After several days of fighting in which scores of deaths are reported, Al-Shabaab fighters defeat the militia of Barre Adan Shire Hiiraale and took control of the port city. Kismayo had been held by the TFG since January 2007.[114] The fighting in Kismayo is reported to have displaced an estimated 35,000 people. After the withdrawal of Hiiraale’s fighters, Al-Shabaab commence a peaceful disarmament process targeting local armed groups that had been contributing to insecurity in Kismayo.[115] The group has been blamed or claimed responsibility for, among other attacks, the February 2008 Bosaso bombings and the 2008 Hargeisa–Bosaso bombings.[116][117] By late 2008, it was estimated that the group controlled the whole of southern Somalia, except for some pockets of Mogadishu. This was more territory than that controlled by the Islamic Courts Union at the height of their power.[118]
  • October 27: After being sentenced to public execution by Al-Shabaab courts, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow is stoned to death by around 50 militants in the southern port town of Kismayo. Initial reports of the killing stated that she was a 23-year-old woman found guilty of adultery. However, Duhulow’s father asserted that she was only 13, under the age of marriage eligibility, and that she was arrested and executed after trying to report that she had been raped. The stoning took place in a public stadium with roughly 1,000 bystanders in it, several of whom attempted to intervene but were in the process shot by the militants.[119][120]
  • December: Anwar al-Awlaki sends a communique to Al-Shabaab, congratulating them. He thanks them for “giving us a living example of how we as Muslims should proceed to change our situation. The ballot has failed us, but the bullet has not”. In conclusion, he writes: “if my circumstances would have allowed, I would not have hesitated in joining you and being a soldier in your ranks”.[121]

2009[edit]

  • January: UN-sponsored peace talks conclude in Djibouti with Ethopians agreeing to withdraw from Somalia and Islamist leader Sharif Ahmed “agreed to stop fighting.”
  • January 31: Shiekh Sharif Ahmed is elected present of the Transitional Federal Government. Opposing any negotiatied settlement with Ethiopia, al-Shabaab “declares war on him.”[8]
  • February 22: 2009 African Union base bombings in Mogadishu: al-Shabaab carried out a suicide car bomb attack against an African Union military base in Mogadishu, killing at least six Burundian peacekeepers.[122]
  • May: al-Shabaab, along with allied group Hizbul Islam, launched a major offensive in the city of Mogadishu to take over the city, leaving hundreds killed and injured and tens of thousands displaced. The group made large gains, taking over most of the capital.
  • June 18: Al-Shabaab claimed the 2009 Beledweyne bombing, which killed 35 people including Somali security ministerOmar Hashi Aden.
  • June 18: U.S. Diplomatic Security Daily cable, 09STATE63860, includes the death of Omar Hashi Aden and al Shabaab’s shift of tactics to include suicide bombings.
  • July 8: A video message featuring an American commander in al-Shabaab, Abu Mansur al-Amriki, is released in which he responds and denounces U.S. President Barack Obama‘s June 2009 Cairo speech to Arabs and Muslims.[123]
  • August 4: Four men allegedly connected with al-Shabaab in Melbourne, Australia were charged over the Holsworthy Barracks terror plot, a plan to storm the Holsworthy Barracks with automatic weapons; and shoot army personnel or others until they were killed or captured.[124][125] Al-Shabaab has denied any connection with the men.[126] It has subsequently been listed as a terrorist organisation in Australia.[127]
  • August 11: Reuters reports residents in Marka complain “al Shabaab has been rounding up anyone seen with a silver or gold tooth and taking them to a masked man who then rips them out using basic tools.” Residents told Reuters that al Shabaab declared that since gold and silver teeth “are used for fashion and beauty,” they are against Islam.[128]
  • September 14: Members of the group were killed in a raid targeting Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who was also killed.[129][130]
  • September 17: The group claims a second bombing of an AU base, which kills 17 peacekeepers.
  • September 20: Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen released a 48-minute video, “Labayka Ya Usama,” (“Here I am at Your Service, Usama”) on transnational jihadi web sites. The video is framed around Usama bin Laden’s March 2009 audio message “Fight On, O’ Champions of Somalia,” and features footage of African Union “atrocities” in Somalia and Harakat al-Shabaab units undergoing military training. Bin Laden and the Amir (leader) of Harakat al-Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Abu al-Zubayr, criticize Somalia’s interim president, Sharif Ahmed, and the religious scholars of Somalia (‘ulama al-Sumaal) for apostasy. Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, the American field commander in the group, is also briefly featured.[131]
  • October 15: Al-Shabaab began publicly whipping women for wearing bras that they claim violate Islam as they are deceptive. They sent gunmen into the streets of Mogadishu to round up any women who appear to be being deceptive. The women were then inspected by other women to see if they are being deceptive, if they are then they are ordered to stop.[132]
  • November 1: Al-Shabaab announced the establishment of Al Quds Brigade, a military unit specifically tasked with attacking Israel and Jewish interests in Africa. In a rally held the previous week in Mogadishu, a top Al Shabaab official said, “It is time to go for open war against Israel in order to drive them from the holy cities.”[133]
  • December 3: Suspected of being behind the 2009 Hotel Shamo bombing, which kills 24, including three government ministers.

2010[edit]

  • January 2: A man linked to al-Shabaab tried to kill Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard at his home in Aarhus, Denmark. Westergaard was not hurt and the assailant was shot, wounded, and arrested.[134]
  • February 1: al-Shabaab declares for the first time that it maintains strong ties with al-Qaeda.[135][136]
  • February 7: The militant group declares jihad on Kenya over allegations that it is training Somali troops although Kenya denied involvement.[137]
  • February 15: an al-Shabab suicide car bomber attempted to assassinate Somalia’s state minister for defence, Yusuf Mohamed Siyad when he drove his explosive-laden vehicle towards Mr Siyad’s car and detonated, injuring two of his security guards.[138]
  • March 5: The Government of Canada lists Al Shabaab as a terrorist group.[139]
  • March 26: al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb that exploded in Mogadishu killing a Somali government official and injuring the deputy DC for security.
  • March 27: al-Shabaab destroys grave sites of foreign soldiers and a prominent Sufi scholar and hides the body of the scholar.[140]
  • April 15: The group bans the ringing of school bells as un-Islamic since bell ringing is, in the words of Sheik Farah Kalar, “a sign of the Christian churches.”[141]
  • June 5: Two New Jersey men, Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, who were bound for Somalia seeking to join Al Shabab were arrested at Kennedy International Airport in New York City.[142] The men, who have been charged with conspiring to kill, maim, and kidnap persons outside the United States, allegedly planned to kill American troops who they thought would soon be deployed to Somalia to help fight Al Shabaab.[143]
  • July 11: Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for the July 2010 Kampala attacks, which killed 74 people. The Wall Street Journal quotes an International Crisis Group analyst as saying, [Al-Shabaab is] “sending a message: Don’t come here propping up the Somalia government … It’s a message of deterrence.”[144]
  • July 21: Zachary Chesser, the Virginia man who threatened the creators of South Park for satirizing issues surrounding the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, was arrested and charged in July 2010 for providing material support to Al Shabaab. Chesser was originally apprehended in New York as he attempted to board an Africa-bound plane. He later told federal authorities that he had attempted to join Al Shabaab in Somalia on two previous occasions.[145]
  • July 22: African Union ministers agree to expand AMISOM’s mandate from a peacekeeping focus to a peace-enforcement focus that would engage al-Shabaab more directly. The decision was to be discussed at upcoming meetings of the AU Security Council and the UN Security Council for final approval.[146]
  • August 23–24: Al Shabaab is accused of launching attacks in the Somali capital Mogadishu that kill over 300.
  • October 28: Al-Shabaab publicly executed two teenage girls, by firing squad, on charges of spying. Residents gave conflicting information regarding the girls’ ages, but they were believed to have been 17 and 18 years old.[147]
  • December 20: Hizbul Islam and the Somali Islamic party merged with Al-Shabaab, retaining the name ‘Al-Shabaab’.[148][149]

2011[edit]

  • February 4: Al-Shabaab launch terrestrial news channel “Al-Kata’ib” to broadcast propaganda. The first footage shown is a recording of confessions of an alleged foreign spy captured in Somalia[150]
  • March 5: Al-Shabaab loses control of the border town of Bulo Hawo in a joint offensive conducted by government forces working with AMISOM; the militia had controlled the city for two years beforehand. It was also reported that al-Shabaab was resisting against UN/Government forces for control of three of Mogadishu’s sixteen districts, with six still remaining in their control.[151]
  • March 16: Abdikadir Yusuf Aar aka Sheikh Qalbi a senior Al-Shabab official serving as the groups leader in Juba andGedo region was killed in Mogadishu.[152][153]
  • April 3: Al-Shabaab loses control of the town Dhobley near the Kenyan boarder. TFG forces together with Raskamboni movement had been fighting for several days before they took control of the town with support from helicopters of theKenya Air Force.[154][155] The same day as Al-Shabab lost control of the town Hassan Abdurrahman Gumarey, an Al-Shabaab official was killed in action (KIA) in Dhobley.[156]
  • June 11: Wanted Al-Shabaab operative and Al-Qaeda collaborator Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is killed by security forces of the SNA in Afgooye northwest of Mogadishu; one other terrorist was killed and $40,000 worth of U.S. dollars are recovered.
  • July 5: Al-Shabaab officially lifts its ban on some aid agencies, but upholds it later in the month vis-a-vis certain organizations. As an explanation for this discrepancy, the group’s spokesman Sheikh Ali Dhere indicates that the group has no issue with allowing both Muslim and non-Muslim individuals from helping the drought-impacted people as long as those groups harbor no ulterior motives in doing so. Dhere adds that his organization believes that many aid agencies are exaggerating their relief requirements so as to satisfy their own selfish objectives. He also suggests that the actual nature of many of the relief operations are twofold: first, some of the aid workers are in effect attacking as “spies”, while others, including the UN, he charges have a tacit political agenda not in keeping with what they claim to be doing. In addition, Dhere alleges that aid agencies that are providing assistance in neighboring countries are attempting to siphon away the various Muslim peoples of Somalia in order to more easily indoctrinate them into Christianity. Al-Shabaab members are reported to have intimidated, kidnapped and killed some aid workers, leading to a suspension of humanitarian operations and an exodus of relief agents.[13] As a result, AU troops step up efforts in late July 2011 to protect civilians and aid workers from attacks.[157]
  • July 26: Al-Shabaab members ban samosas (sambusas) in regions they control, deeming the snack too Christian on account of its triangular, allegedly Holy Trinity-like shape.[158]
  • August 6: The Transitional Federal Government’s troops and their AMISOM allies reportedly manage to capture all of Mogadishu from the Al-Shabaab militants. Witnesses report Al-Shabaab vehicles abandoning their bases in the capital for the south-central city of Baidoa. The group’s spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage describes the exodus as a tactical retreat, and vows to continue the insurgency against the national government. Observers suggest that the pullout may at least in part have been caused by internal ideological rifts in the rebel organization.[17]
  • August 9: An ideological split reportedly emerges within Al-Shabaab’s leadership. Muktar Ali Robow, Hassan Dahir and other southern commanders who hail from the areas of the country worst-hit by the effects of the drought, reportedly want to extend relief efforts to the impacted peoples. However, they are overruled by Ahmed Abdi Godane, a northern commander credited with strengthening the group’s ties with Al-Qaeda. Observers suggest that the move is a manifestation of Godane’s increasing paranoia since the assassination of his close ally Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the latter of whom Godane suspects was set up by his foes within the organization.[18] Hassan Dahir also proposes that the group change its tactics by “abandoning Mogadishu to launch Taliban style attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan”, but is rebuffed by leaders within the organization.[159]
  • October 4: A truck carrying explosive was driven into a government ministry in Somalia killing 139 and injuring 93. The group has claimed responsibility for these attacks.[160]
  • October 16: A coordinated operation against Al-Shabaab begins between the Somali military and the Kenyan military, as Kenyan troops cross over into Somalia after having met with Somali military officials.[161]
  • October 20: Two women, Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, both from Rochester, Minnesota were arrested for sending money and fighters to aid the group.[162]
  • November 26: Martyrship video of Mansur Nasir al Bihani, an al Qaeda veteran of Afghanistan, who trained al Shaabab fighters, is “killed in a clash with American forces off the coast of Somalia.”[163]
  • December 31: The Transitional Federal Government retakes control of the central town of Beledweyne from the Al-Shabaab militants. Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers and around 3,000 allied Ethiopian army troops attacked the city in the early morning, capturing it after hours of fighting. Around 20 people were killed in the battle, mainly consisting of Ethiopian soldiers and Al-Shabaab insurgents.[164]

2012[edit]

  • January 6: US Army veteran Craig Baxam is charged in Maryland with attempting to lend material support to Al-Shabaab. Baxam had been en route to Somalia when he was detained in Kenya on December 23 and repatriated to the United States.[165]
  • January 20: TFG forces and their AU allies launch a successful offensive against Al-Shabaab positions on the northern outskirts of Mogadishu.[166] The move was intended to secure the city’s outer perimeters from external attack. Two AMISOM soldiers were wounded in the ensuing battle.[167]
  • January 9: Reports indicate that Al-Shabaab leader Moallim Jinwa is sacked from his leadership position. Over 1,000 frontline troops loyal to the commander subsequently follow him to his home town of Ramcadey in the southern Bay region.[168]
  • January 22: Bilal el-Berjawi, a British national and alleged Al-Qaida member and Al-Shabaab trainer, is killed in a U.S. drone attack. The car he was traveling in was struck by three missiles on the outskirts of Mogadishu.[169]
  • February 9: Al-Shabaab’s leader, Mukhtar Abu al-Zubair, announces that the group would be joining al-Qaeda.[6]
  • February 19: The Somalian embassy in Yemen indicates that 500 Al-Shabaab militants have fled to Yemen to join forces with Al-Qaeda operatives in the region.[170]
  • February 22: TFG and Ethiopian forces capture the strategic southern town of Baidoa, an Islamist stronghold. Al-Shabaab confirm that it had made a “tactical retreat”, vowing a guerrilla war in retaliation.[171]
  • February 25: Reports indicate that hundreds of Al-Shabaab militants, including many foreigners, are fleeing Kismayo and other southern towns for Yemen so as to escape drone attacks and an on-land offensive by allied Somali, Ethiopian, Kenyan and AMISOM forces. Al-Shabaab members deny that they are fleeing and indicate instead that they are regrouping in nearby islands. They also charge that the rumours of their flight are intended to demoralize their fighters.[172]
  • March 9: Schoolteacher Shabaaz Hussain convicted of sending over £9,000 in 2010 to three Somalia-bound friends who had left the UK to allegedly join Al-Shabaab.[173]
  • March 11: Al-Shabaab is blamed for a grenade attack which killed 4 people at a bus station and injured dozens others inNairobi, Kenya. The grenade was hurled from a vehicle passing the bus station.[174]
  • March 17: Abu Mansur Al Amriki (Omar Hammami) releases a new video intimating that he fears fellow Al-Shabaab members may assassinate him due to differences in opinion over strategy and sharia law.[175]
  • May 25: Somali government troops and their AMISOM allies capture the strategic town of Afgoye from Al-Shabaab.
  • May 31: Somali government forces and African Union troops from Kenya capture Afmadow from Al-Shabaab, a southern town considered important in the military campaign owing to its network of roads that grant access to many different parts of the country. Prime Minister Ali also announces that Kismayo, situated 115 km (71 miles) to the south and the seat of Al-Shabaab’s headquarters, would be the next likely target, followed by other towns and cities in the larger region.[176]
  • June 26: Somali government forces assisted by AMISOM soldiers and tanks capture the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Balad, situated 30 km (20 miles) to the north of Mogadishu, in addition to the surrounding villages. The insurgents reportedly fled the area prior to the arrival of the allied troops. Securing Balad gives the Somali authorities and AMISOM control of a key bridge over the Shebelle River leading toward Jowhar and more northerly areas.[177]
  • July 11: Somali government troops and their AMISOM allies capture the town of Lanta Buuro from Al-Shabaab. Situated approximately 40 km west of Mogadishu, the area had been used as a training base for the militant group. 11 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed in the battle; a few allied casualties were also reported.[98]
  • August 27: Somali government forces assisted by AMISOM troops capture the port town of Merca from Al-Shabaab. Residents indicate that the militants had fled a few hours earlier to Kismayo, which represents the group’s last major stronghold.[178]
  • August 29: Somali government forces backed by African Union troops battle Al-Shabaab militants in the villages of Aglibah, Janaay, Abdulle and Birta Dheer, situated between Afmadow and Kismayo. According to General Ismail Sahardiid, the commander in charge of Somali Army troops in the Lower Jubba region, over 60 insurgents died in the crossfire. Al-Shabaab claims in turn to have killed dozens of government soldiers in the ensuing gun battle. With the allied forces reportedly around 50 kilometers (31 miles) near Kismayo, General Sahardiid indicates that his men are advancing toward the stronghold with caution but expect to capture it within a period of seven days. According to a local resident, Al-Shabaab have also positioned armored vehicles on the circumference of the town and are patrolling the area in heavy battle gear and wagons.[179]
  • September 1: Somali government forces assisted by African Union troops continue their march toward Kismayo, capturing the southern town of Miido, situated 86 km from the Al-Shabaab stronghold. As many as 36 insurgents were reportedly slain in the assault. AMISOM also deny claims that the insurgents had seized back Afmadow, and dismiss as “untrue Al Shabaab propaganda” reports that the militant group had gunned down an AU helicopter. Additionally, an AMISOM spokesman characterizes as a “very despicable and a shameful act” photos released by Al-Shabaab showing bodies of four allied soldiers being dragged through the Kismayo streets.[180]
  • September 28: According to AMISOM official Col. Cyrus Oguna, the Somali National Army and Kenyan AU naval, air and ground forces launched a surprise attack on Kismayo, capturing the city with little resistance mounted by Al-Shabaab. The spokesman asserts that the insurgents incurred “heavy losses” during the offensive, whereas no allied soldiers were wounded or killed. Fighters from the Ras Kamboni militia also reportedly assisted the SNA and AU troops, who led the charge. Al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab states that “fierce fighting” is underway between his comrades and the Somali and AMISOM forces. Local residents similarly indicate that the allied troops have seized the port, but the militants are still present elsewhere in the town and are quickly making their way toward the frontlines in vehicles. The Islamist group’s propaganda radio station is also still reportedly broadcasting material and allegedly attempting to trick residents into fleeing toward the oncoming Somali government and AMISOM troops. Kismayo is regarded as Al-Shabaab’s last major stronghold on account of the revenue that the group has been able to generate for itself through exporting charcoal and levying port taxes on imported goods. Col. Oguna indicates that capturing the city “may signal the end of al-Shabab because Kismayo has been the bastion which has financed activities of the al-Shabab in other regions of Somalia”. Owing to uncertainty as to who will administer the town after the Islamists have been completely ousted, the AU spokesman adds that the offensive was “meticulously planned”.[181][182]
  • October 14: Somali government soldiers assisted by AMISOM troops capture the strategically important town of Wanla Weyn, located 93 km south of Mogadishu. The victory permits a direct route connecting the capital with the recently secured city of Baidoa. According to Somali government and AU officials, it also cuts off Al-Shabaab’s access to other regions, and denies the militants another key source of funds. Additionally, the allied forces seize control of a formerSomali Air Corps (SAC) base, situated within 15 km of Wanla Weyn.[183]
  • October 23: Al-Shabaab posts a series of 11 messages on Twitter condemning the United Kingdom for the extradition of radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza to the United States, threatening a terrorist attack in Britain which would be “bound to eclipse the horrors of 7/7 and 21/7 combined”.[184]
  • October 29: Somali military sources report that General Mohamed Ibrahim Farah (Gordan) is killed in an ambush attack by Al-Shabaab insurgents. The surprise assault occurred in the town of El Waregow, near the port of Marko (Merca). Al-Shabaab did not comment on the assassination.[185]
  • December 9: Somali government forces assisted by AMISOM troops capture the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Jowhar, situated 90 kilometres (60 miles) north of Mogadishu.[186]
  • December 17: Al-Shabaab posts a message on Twitter publicly chatising the group’s senior American commander Abu Mansuur al-Amriki (Omar Shafik Hammami) for releasing videos in a “narcissistic pursuit of fame.” The tweet also asserts that attempts behind the scenes by the group to talk to Al-Amriki were in vain, so Al-Shabaab was morally obligated to divulge his “obstinacy”.[187]

2013[edit]

  • January 4: Al-Shabaab issue an ultimatum to estranged American commander Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki (Omar Hammami) to either turn himself in to his comrades by Saturday, January 19, or face execution. The move came after Al-Amriki had issued a series of criticisms of the group’s leaders via several online videos and his abumamerican Twitter account. He accused senior Al-Shabaab commanders of keeping the spoils of war for themselves while not sharing it with the rank-and-file insurgents who fought for it, and instead imprisoning them for touching it. He also charged the group’s senior commanders of focusing too much on internal struggles in Somalia rather than the global jihad, and of assigning assassins to kill fellow militants.[188]
  • January 5: Somali military troops and their Ethiopian army allies fend off an Al-Shabaab ambush attempt in an area between the southern towns of Luuq and Garbaharey. According to Somali military representatives, two of their men were killed in the ensuing battle, with seven other soldiers injured. Insurgent casualties are unconfirmed. The allied forces are marching towards the rebel group’s last remaining strongholds in the southern Gedo region, including Bardhere.[189]
  • January 11: Al-Shabaab fighters kill intelligence officer Denis Allex and two other French soldiers in a botched rescue attempt by French forces. A DGSE operative, Allex had been held since 2009, when he was taken hostage by the insurgents while training Somali government troops. In exchange for his release, Al-Shabaab had demanded cessation of French support for the Somali authorities and the complete withdrawal from Somalia of AMISOM forces. According to the French Ministry of Defence, 17 militants were also slain in the crossfire.[190]
  • January 29: a suicide bombing on the president’s compound killed many people.[191]
  • March 18: a similar attack near the president’s palace.[192]
  • April 14: terrorist attacks in Mogadishu killed 28 people.[193]
  • May 5: a suicide bomber attacked a government convoy.[194]
  • June 20: al-Shabab members loyal to Godane clashed with rival factions in the southern port of Barawe. Among the dead were two leaders and co-founders of the group, Ibrahim Haji Jama Mee’aad and Abul Hamid Hashi Olhayi.[195]
  • June 28: UN reports that the Al-Shabaab spiritual leader Hassan Dahir Aweys has turned himself in to pro-government officials in the central town of Adado. Local elders assert that he and his militia are stationed in the central Galmudug region, having fled from their own comrades in Al-Shabaab-controlled territory after a bout of infighting. According to the Shabelle Media Network, legislators and elders flew in to the town in an attempt to persuade Aweys to negotiate with the government. However, the elders indicate that their efforts were unsuccessful.[196]
  • June 30: Aweys is arrested by Somali government forces, after flying in to Mogadishu for talks with the federal authorities.[197]
  • September 4: In a phone interview with VOA, Omar Hammami (Abu Mansour al-Amriki) announces that he has renounced links with both Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda. He cites Al-Shabaab commander Godane’s assassination attempt against him, as well as the murder by Godane’s faction of an individual who reportedly offered shelter to his two wives as the main reasons for his severing of ties with the insurgent group. Hammami also asserts that he still regards himself as a jihadist, and indicates that he is hiding in parts of the southern Bakool and Bay regions.[198]
  • September 12: Al-Shabaab member Sheik Abu Mohammed announces that Omar Hammami (Abu Mansour Al-Amriki) is killed in an ambush in the southern Bay region. Mohammed asserts that his associates carried out the assassination on the orders of the militant group’s leader. However, the insurgents did not offer any evidence of Hammami’s death.[76][199]
  • September 19: Somali National Army forces assisted by AMISOM troops seize the Middle Shebelle provincial town of Mahadeey from Al-Shabaab. The militants withdrew from the area following an early morning raid by the allied forces, with no casualties reported. It was one of the last urban centers that the insurgent group controlled. The raid is the first major territorial gain by the allied forces in several months after a hiatus in military operations. According to government officials, the offensive represents the start of a mobbing out operation intended to eliminate remnants of Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda.[200]
  • September 21: Al-Shabaab claims responsibility over Twitter for the Westgate centre shooting, an armed attack in a Nairobi shopping mall. The insurgent group asserts that its militants shot around 100 people in retaliation for thedeployment of Kenyan troops in Somalia, with the Kenyan Red Cross confirming 62 fatalities and over 120 injuries.[199][201]
  • September 25: Somali government forces assisted by AMISOM troops capture the town of Biyo Adde from Al-Shabaab. Remnants of the insurgent group withdrew from the Middle Shebelle settlement following a march toward the city by the allied soldiers and their armed trucks. According to local reports, three militants were killed during the skirmish.[202]
  • October 5: Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab announces that Western naval forces launched an assault on a house in the insurgent stronghold of Barawe, a town situated around 180 km south of Mogadishu. He states that the foreign soldiers had silencer guns, and exchanged gunfire and grenades with the militants before being driven away. Musab later asserts that the attack was launched by the UK SAS unit as well as Turkish special forces, and that one British commander was killed during the raid and four other SAS operatives were fatally wounded. Additionally, a Somali intelligence official indicates that a Chechen Al-Shabaab leader was the target of the mission, and that the insurgent commander was wounded during the offensive and one of his guards was killed.[203] Somali police also state that the operation had the approval of the Somali government, and that seven individuals were killed during the mission.[80] BothNATO and EU Navfor deny involvement in the raid, as does a Turkish Foreign Ministry representative. A spokeswoman for the British Defence Ministry also says that she and her colleagues are not aware of any British involvement in the operation.[203] According to another Somali intelligence official, the target of the raid was Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane (Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr). A senior US military representative also indicates that Seal Team Six, the special force unit responsible for killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, launched the offensive but later abandoned the mission after coming under more fire than expected. Speaking about the aborted mission, US Secretary of State John Kerry says that the insurgents “can run but they can’t hide”. A spokesman for the Pentagon likewise asserts that US soldiers had been involved in a counter-terrorism mission in Somalia against a known Al-Shabaab member, but does not elaborate. He also indicates that there were no US fatalities during the operation.[204] US officials later confirm that the target of the raid was Al-Shabaab commander Abdikadar Mohamed Abdikadar “Ikrima”.[80]
  • November 10: As an initiative sponsored by Prince Charles and Prince William, the British Army sends 25 members of the3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment to Kenya to be based 200 miles north of Nairobi, where they are to train Kenyan rangers engaged in elephant conservation efforts in the face of poaching by Al-Shabaab.[25][205]
  • November 16: The Elephant Action League, an independent organization fighting elephant exploitation and wildlife crime, asserts that the illegal export in poached ivory by Al-Shabaab via ports in southern Somalia provides the group a monthly income of between $200,000 to $600,000 USD. The tusks are cut into blocks and hidden in crates of charcoal, the latter of which is under a UN-imposed embargo.[206][207] Al-Shabaab is also accused of killing 60 wardens and 30,000 elephants in 2012 alone, and reportedly hiring poachers to kill the elephants and remove the tusks, for which the group pays the poachers $50–100 per kilogram. The majority of the ivory is shipped to customers in China, where it is sold for $3,000 per kilogram.[26]

2014[edit]

  • January 8: Al-Shabaab announces that it is banning the Internet in the areas of Somalia that it controls. Internet Service Providers were given 15 days to terminate their service and warned of sanctions for non-compliance. The insurgent group is on Reporters Without Borders‘ list of “Predators of Freedom of Information”.[208]
  • January 26: Sahal Iskudhuq, a senior Al-Shabaab commander and confidant of the militant group’s spiritual leader, is killed between Barawe and Sablale in Somalia’s southern Lower Shabelle region.[209][210] Abu Mohamed, a leader within the insurgent outfit, indicates that Iskudhuq and his driver died when the vehicle they were in was struck by a drone missile. Mohamed blames U.S. authorities for the attack, with two American military officials later in the day confirming the missile strike. However, the representatives do not specify the target of the operation, and one of the officials indicates that U.S. intelligence was still ascertaining just how efficacious the strike had been.[210] Somalia’s Presidential office concurrently issues a press statement welcoming the drone attack by its U.S. partner. Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed also suggests via Twitter that the missile strike would serve as an effective deterrent against the arrival of additional jihadists, and would impede attempts by the militants to impose a blockade locally.[211]
  • February 21: Al-Shabab militants launch a surprise attack on Villa Somalia, when a car loaded with heavy explosives rams into the concrete barrier surrounding the perimeter of the palace.[212] A group of ten armed men penetrate the area where the first bomb hit. All of the attackers are carrying suicide vests and fight a lengthy gun-battle with presidential guards inside the compound. The assault ends when Somali government troops and AMISOM forces reinforce the presidential guards in retaking several key buildings. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is unarmed. Government casualties are estimated at five palace guards killed, including the deputy intelligence chief Mohamed Nur Shirbow and Mohamed Abdulle, a close aide to the prime minister. All nine of the attackers were later found and confirmed dead.[213]
  • March 6: Somali forces and their Ethiopian AMISOM allies capture Rabdhure in the southwestern Bakool region, a key Al-Shabaab stronghold. Witnesses report the arrival in the town of Ethiopian infantrymen and battle tanks, as residents vacate their households ahead of the allied offensive. According to Somali federal government officials, dozens of Al-Shabaab insurgents are killed in the ensuing battle,[214][215] with early reports putting the figure at 12 dead militants. Casualty figures for the Somali army soldiers and AMISOM troops are as yet unconfirmed.[216] The insurgent group had previously used the town and its environs as a base from which to launch attacks. Additionally, an Al-Shabaab spokesman confirms that an intense battle for control of Rabhure took place, but does not elaborate on the seizure of the town. He also asserts that the militants managed to fight off an attack on their bases. The allied forces continue their march towardHudur.[214][215]
  • March 7: Somali government forces assisted by Ethiopian troops capture Hudur, the capital of the southern Bakool province, from Al-Shabaab militants. The insurgent group had seized control of the town about a year earlier, following a surprise withdrawal by Ethiopian troops. Hudur since that time served as the militant outfit’s largest remaining stronghold. Additionally, AMISOM confirms on Twitter that the allied forces have seized the town.[217] According to AMISOM spokesman Colonel Ali Aden Houmed, the Al-Shabaab militants retreated after attempting to engage the allied forces, with three Somali army soldiers incurring minor injuries and no AMISOM casualties.[218] Hudur’s Mayor Mohamed Moallim Ahmed also announces that Somali soldiers and Ethiopian AMISOM troops are conducting door-to-door investigations in a joint security operation, with a number of suspects apprehended.[217]
  • March 9: Somali government forces assisted by an Ethiopian battalion with AMISOM captured Wajid District in the southern Bakool province. According to the district Governor Abdullahi Yarisow, the siege took a few hours and local residents welcomed the allied forces. He did not specify any casualties.[219] Somali government troops assisted by AMISOM soldiers concurrently engage Al-Shabaab militants in a gun battle on the outskirts of Burdhubo in the southernGedo province. It is the second largest of the remaining towns in the region that are under Al-Shabaab control.[220]According to a senior Somali military officer stationed in the province, Col. Abdi Bule Abdi, the allied forces captured three of the insurgents during the operation. The official also indicates that they killed at least six other fighters, but declines to comment on casualties by the joint Somali and AMISOM troops.[221] Within a few hours, the allied forces capture Burdhubo.[222] According to the Gedo region Governor Mohamed Abdi Kali, the Somali and AMISOM troops are now marching toward Bardera, Al-Shabaab’s largest remaining stronghold and a place of residence of several of its senior commanders.[220]
  • March 13: Somali army forces backed by AMISOM troops capture Bulobarte from Al-Shabaab. Situated in the Hiranregion, the town was the insurgent group’s strongest base in central Somalia. According to the tenth Somali national army contingent commissioner, Colonel Mohamed Ammin, the militants vacated Bulobarte thereby allowing the allied forces to seize control of the area. He adds that Somali government soldiers and AMISOM forces are now headed toward the other parts of the region under insurgent control, with the joint troops expecting to remove the militants altogether from Hiran over the next few days. Additionally, the allied forces seize control of Buqdaaqable; the insurgents mount no resistance. The town is located around 90 km from Beledweyne, Hiran’s capital.[223]
  • May 24: Al-Shabaab militants traveling in a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) attempt to trespass the entrance to the parliamentary compound in Mogadishu. After the VBIED explodes, the uniformed gunmen in it enter an unoccupied portion of the building. They are immediately counter-attacked by Somali National Army soldiers assisted by AMISOM security personnel, who have been deployed to the area. The ensuing gunfight lasts five hours. All legislators are in the meantime safely evacuated from the premises. Three MPs, Omar Mohamed Finish, Abdalla Boos and Mohamed Moallim, sustain minor injuries from the blast and are taken to local hospitals for treatment. Medical teams are also dispatched onto the scene, and other wounded parties, most of whom are security guards, are receiving treatment at the AMISOM hospital. All of the attackers are killed.[224][225]
  • May 24: A pair of suicide bombers launch an attack on a restaurant popular with foreigners in downtown Djibouti. 20 deaths and 15 wounded individuals are reported.[226] Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for the incident four days later, asserting that the attack was in retaliation for the Djiboutian military’s participation in AMISOM, the French military’s operations against Islamists in the Sahara, and the American military presence in Djibouti.[227]
  • May 31: Somali National Army soldiers and AMISOM troops launch a morning raid on Ceel-Waare and Dhabadey, two towns situated about 18 km from Buloburte on the main road from Beledweyne. According to SNA Colonel Mohamed Ali, the allied forces have liberated the villages from Al-Shabaab, confiscated three rifles from the militants, and killed a number of insurgents while others fled ahead of the offensive. The joint forces have in the process freed a dozen civilian-owned trucks carrying commercial goods to Buloburte, one of several supply routes that Al-Shabaab had attempted to block.[228]
  • July 8: Al-Shabaab militants attempt to breach the gated perimeter of the Villa Somalia presidential compound in Mogadishu with a car bomb. At a joint press conference on the abortive terrorist attack, Information Minister Mustafa Dhuhulow indicates that government soldiers assisted by AMISOM troops managed to repel the raid, with no public officials injured. He adds that security forces killed three of the insurgents in the car park during the Iftar assault, while the fourth was taken into custody. Bomb disposal specialists also reportedly managed to deactivate a suicide vest that one of the attackers had on, which had failed to go off, in addition to several other explosive devices. Dhuhulow likewise states that a thorough investigation into the attack would be launched.[229] Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab claims that the militant group’s fighters killed 14 soldiers during the raid. Additionally, police Colonel Abdullahi Aden indicates that there was an earlier gunfight near an underground cell holding insurgents. Residents also report hearing intermittent bursts of gunfire into the night.[230] Dhuhulow indicates that chief of intelligence Bashir Gobe and police commander Abdihakim Saaid have been immediately replaced. As part of a broader security reform, Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed also announces that a new national security minister has been named.[231] Speaking from Villa Somalia, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was at another location at the time of the attack, dispels as wild rumours suggestions that the insurgents controlled state buildings and of ongoing gunfights. He confirms that state forces assisted by AMISOM troops have secured the compound, and urges the citizenry to work with the government to further strengthen security.[229][230]
  • July 13: Somali national security forces assisted by AMISOM troops capture Saydhelow and Labatan from Al-Shabaab. The two villages are situated around 60 km from the Bay region center of Baidoa. According to the Berdaale district governor Mohamed Issack (Caracase), fatalities vis-a-vis the insurgents are unreported, while two government soldiers were wounded during the gunfight. He also indicates that the allied forces seized several armed vehicles from the militants.[232]
  • August 17: Somali national army forces assisted by AMISOM troops begin a major military operation against Al-Shabaab in central Somalia. The move comes 24 hours after the national chief of military announced the start of new offensives against the insurgent group. Hiran Governor Abdifatah Hassan indicates that the allied forces are slated to liberate the remaining parts of the province that are under militant control, and in the process remove roadblocks that the insurgents erected. An RBC Radio correspondent in Beledweyne also reports that the allied forces have left Buloburte in Hiran and are heading toward Burane in the Middle Shabelle province. Additionally, Hassan indicates that AMISOM’s Ethiopian contingent left Elbur in the Galgadud province and are bound for Al-Shabaab controlled areas.[233]
  • August 25: Somali government forces assisted by Ethiopian AMISOM troops capture Tiyeglow from Al-Shabaab. The offensive is part of a larger military cleanup operation dubbed Operation Indian Ocean. Situated around 530 km northeast of Mogadishu along the main road linking Beledweyne and Baidoa, Tiyeglow previously served as a strategic base for the insurgent group. Witnesses indicate that the Al-Shabaab fighters mounted no resistance during the raid, fleeing instead to adjacent forested areas. According to AMISOM, the successful military operation deprives the insurgent group of high extortion fees that it would previously charge to vehicles traveling along the town’s principal road. The siege also now gives the Somali government full control of the Bakool province. Additionally, AMISOM representatives indicate that, in an attempt to slow the allied forces’ march, the insurgents planted roadside explosive devices before fleeing, which they were presently defusing.[234]
  • September 1: U.S. special forces and drones attacked a target south of Mogadishu, killing Al-Shabaab’s leader, Ahmed Godane[235]
  • September 6: Al-Shabaab acknowledge that its leader Ahmed Abdi Godane has been killed in a joint U.S.-Somalia operation.[236] The militants concurrently appoint Ahmad Umar (Abu Ubaidah) as his replacement.[2][236] Additionally, Somali government forces assisted by Ethiopian troops seize El Garas in the Galguduud province from Al-Shabaab. According to the Somali military spokesman Mohamed Kariye Roble, the village was a main base for the insurgent group, serving as both a springboard from which it would launch attacks and a supply storage area.[237]
  • September 13: The French magazine Le Point reports that French intelligence services assisted the U.S. military in its airstrike that killed Al-Shabaab commander Godane. According to the weekly, the French authorities, including PresidentFrançois Hollande, provided support in the form of intelligence and coordination. Among other information, French intelligence officials reportedly forwarded to the Pentagon details as to which exact truck the militant leader was being transported in and on which road he was traveling. France reportedly holds Godane responsible for the abduction of two French intelligence agents in 2009, which ended in the execution of one of the officials, Denis Allex, after an unsuccessful rescue attempt by commandos in 2013.[238] According to Pentagon spokesperson Admiral John Kirby, the Ugandan AMISOM forces had also informed U.S. intelligence as to where Godane and other Al-Shabaab leaders were meeting and provided information on the convoy of vehicles in which he was traveling.[239] Al-Shabaab subsequently threaten an attack in Uganda for the UPDF contigent’s role within AMISOM and the strike on Godane. [240] [241] The Ugandan security services, with the assistance of the U.S. military and intelligence, also identify and foiled a major Al-Shabaab terrorist attack in the Ugandan capital Kampala. They recovered suicide vests, other explosives, and small arms and detained Al-Shabaab operatives.[242][243][244]

Defections[edit]

In 2009, Al-Shabaab witnessed a number of its fighters, including several leaders, defect to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government. One such high profile defection was that in early November 2009 of Sheikh Mohamed Abdullahi (also known as “Sheikh Bakistani”), who commanded the Maymana Brigade. Sheikh Bakistani told Voice of America (VOA) Somali Services that he found the group’s suicide missions and executions unbearable. He also indicated that his father, a well-known local religious leader, had visited him several times and helped convince him to defect. However, a spokesman for Al-Shabaab denied that Sheikh Bakistani was a member of the group.[245] During the same month, in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Villa Somalia arranged by the Somali federal government, one former Al-Shabaab fighter reported being disillusioned with the group’s direction, indicating that while he began fighting in 2006 “to kick out the Ethiopian invaders”, he defected a month ago, “disgusted by the false interpretations Al-Shabaab give of Islam”. Similarly, a former Hizbul Islamcommander recently defected to the Somali government; one of his family members (another Hizbul Islam commander) had been murdered by Al-Shabaab militants as punishment for having escorted a UN convoy. He said in the VOA interview that “if you don’t want to fight anymore, there’s no point. That’s why I quit”.[246] In December 2009, Sheikh Ali Hassan Gheddi, who at the time served as Deputy Commander in-Chief of Al-Shabaab militants in the Middle Shabele region, also defected to the government, indicating that “Al-Shabaab’s cruelty against the people is what forced me to defect to the government side. They extort money from the people and deal with them against the teaching of Islam”. Another reason he gave for defecting was Al-Shabaab’s then prohibition on the UN World Food Programme (WFP) because he felt that it directly affects civilians.[247]

With money from extortion dwindling in areas like Mogadishu,[248] defections in the face of AMISOM forces, among other internal issues, Al-Shabaab is turning to other militant Islamic groups for support. Al Shabaab has declared their support in order to bolster their numbers and has made a number of strategic operational ties to both Al Qaeda and AQAP in Yemen. In some cases Al Shabaab has begun flying the Al Qeada-Iraq banner at some of its rallies in order to demonstrate solidarity with the group. There are signs that Al-Shabaab militants are learning from Al Qaeda’s propaganda methods. “Shabaab’s propaganda has increasingly been slicked up to resemble messages produced by Al Qaeda’s ‘As-Sahab’ (‘The Clouds’) media wing and AQAP’s Inspire magazine, including the release of rap songs by Omar Hammami.”[61] It is unclear how the death of AQAP leader Anwar al-Aulaqi and others has affected this bourgeoning relationship between the two. As is evident by their merger with Hizb-ul-Islam in December 2010, Al-Shabaab is turning to former rivals for assistance as their numbers decrease due to defections and casualties directly resulting from battles with AMISOM forces.[249]

In June 2012, TFG spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman announced that around 500 militants had already defected from Al-Shabaab to fight alongside government forces. He added that the defections were reportedly increasing on a daily basis since TFG forces had captured the strategically important town of Afgooye from the insurgent group. AMISOM spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda similarly indicated that AU commanders were witnessing more defections than at any previous time, a fact which he suggested was “a sign al-Shabab is losing cohesion, losing command and control.”[250] Al-Shabaab’s increasingly strident rules, compounded by extortion, harsh punishments, indiscriminate killings and forced conscription of young men and boys, had also reportedly alienated local residents, encouraging a wave of defections.[251]

On September 5, 2012, a further 200 Al-Shabaab militants and a few senior commanders in Afmadow surrendered to the coalition forces. The defections were interpreted as substantially enhancing the allied offensive since the insurgents could provide details on the Islamist group’s combat strategy.[252]

On September 22, 2012, an additional 200 Al-Shabaab insurgents in the town of Garsale near Jowhar surrendered to allied troops. This followed a round of internal battles between rival militants, which left eight of the group’s fighters dead, including two top commanders. AMISOM announced in a press statement that it expects the total number of Al-Shabaab defections in the area to reach 250 men.[253]