September 18, 2006: A suicide bomber in Baidoa attacked TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf. He failed to kill the President, but killed the President's brother and ten other bystanders. The use of a suicide attack was noteworthy because it is a tactic attributed to Al Qaeda's influence in the region (11 killed).
November 6, 2011: Al Shabab sympathisers blamed for throwing a grenade into a Pentecostal Church in Garissa Kenya, a town near the Somali border. Meanwhile, another bomb was thrown targeting Kenya Power's transformer, but failed to impode (2 killed, 3 injured)
April 25, 2012
Al Shabab, or "The Youth" in Arabic, is believed to be the largest militant organization fighting the transitional government in Somalia. The group was previously the military wing of Islamic Court Union (ICU) that controlled central and southern Somalia starting in June-July 2006. In December 2006, competing warlords and UN backed Ethiopian troops drove the ICU out of Mogadishu. In September 2007 the ICU met with other opposition groups in Asmara, Eritrea to form an alliance and reemerged as the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS). However, Al Shabab refused to attend the conference and denounced the ARS for failing to adopt a global jihadist agenda. Furthermore, Al Shabab strongly opposed the Djibouti peace agreement, which involved the ARS signing a peace deal with the Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.
In January 2009, former ICU/ ARS member, Sharif Ahmed was sworn in as president of the Somali government along with one hundred and forty-nine ARS members also sworn in; however, Al Shabab said it would not recognize the new administration. Thus, Al Shabab refused to engage in the peace process and ever since has been waging war against Somali government forces.
The group's attacks have primarily targeted AU forces stationed in Somalia and Somali government officials. The most devastating of these attacks have included a suicide-vehicle bombings at the Hotel Medina in Beledweyne on June 8, 2009 and a suicide bombings during a graduation ceremony for a Mogadishu university on December 3, 2009. However, on July 11, 2010 Al Shabab was behind twin suicide bombings in Kampala bars in Uganda, where people were watching the World Cup, leaving 74 dead; this was the group's first external attack. The week before the detonations, the group's leader, Abu Zubeyr, accused AU peacekeeping troops of committing "massacres" against Somalis. He warned the world that he would seek revenge against Uganda and Burundi, both of whom make up the majority of peacekeeping troops. Al Shabab has also stated it will attack the US if President Obama refuses to embrace Islam in late December 2010, a threat which has caused concern due to the group's strong recruitment of US citizens along with other foreigners.
The group has attracted several fighters from foreign countries, which has caused concern for Al Shabab's ties abroad. Over twenty fighters have come from the United States, one of whom is Abu Mansoor al-Amriki from Alabama, Al Shabab's leading propagandist who joined the group in 2007. With the help of Al-Amriki, Al Shabab is actively recruiting US citizens, especially from the Minneapolis Somali community. Communities from Canada and Europe have also been targeted.
In August 2011 Al Shabab withdrew from Mogadishu. Al Shabab spokesman Rage stated that the withdrawal was a change in strategy so that militants could attack AU and TFG forces with "hit and run tactics.". The withdrawal was also linked to Al Shabab becoming largely unpopular with local Somalis after banning foreign aid to alleviate the famine that ravaged Somalia in the summer of 2011.
Yet Shabab was not defeated and in October 2011 was responsible for another attack in Mogadishu. Shortly after Kenyan troops invaded Somalia, seeing recent kidnappings of tourist and aid workers by Somali militants as "the last straw.". Ethiopia also sent troops into Somalia to eradicate Al Shabab, as both Kenya and Ethiopia consider Somalia's instability a handicap to their economic developement and Al Shabab with its ties to Al Qaeda, a regional threat. In January 2012 the AU Peace and Security Council renewed AMISOM's mandate in Somalia until January 2013 due to increased instability.
Though Al Shabab appears as one group, it is unclear how united the organizations is. Some Somali experts, such as Ken Menkhaus explain, "Al Shabaab faces multiple internal divisions...Each unit of Al Shabaab is led by individuals who must combine their ideological aims with pragmatic considerations of different clan-based agendas." Thus, discrepancies over loyalty, strategies, and policies such as whether or not to ban international aid groups, have been noted by affiliates of second in command, Abu Mansoor. . More apparently, a dispute between Mansoor and Abdi Godane erupted after a failed campaign to take over a failed Ramadan offensive in which a disproportionate number of Mansoor's troops fell casualty, including Shaykh Aryub was killed by troops loyal to Godane. Consequently, Abu Mansoor withdrew his troops from Mogadishu and demanded that Godane resign as leader, an investigation be conducted for the deaths of Shabab commanders on the front lines, and that aid agencies be allowed to run freely in Somalia. Though Abu Mansoor returned his troops to Mogadishu and made several speeches in October 2010 denying the rift in leadership, Godane's absence from the front lines and his ban on humanitarian aid agencies from Somalia clash with Abu Mansoor. Moreover, tensions between the two leaders rose during negotiations to absorb Hizbul Islam. The rift between Abu Mansoor and Godane was exacerbated as Hizbul Islam merged with Al Shabab. Stratfor contends that the tensions revolve around "nationalist and internationalist elements." Godane's group works closely with foreign jihadists from Al Qaeda and is responsible for pursuing Al Shabab's global jihadi agenda, while Abu Mansoor is more closely aligned with national elements of the struggle. Godane was opposed to negotiations with Aweys, leader of Hizbul Islam, because he believed that Aweys would side with Abu Mansoor and interfere with Al Shabab's transnational agenda. At a shura meeting on December 25th Godane was replaced as group leader by Ibrahim Al-Afghani, an ally of Abu Mansoor; yet the position to which Godane was demoted was unclear as Godane maintainted a strong presence in the leadership council. Moreover, the incorporation of Hizbul Islam with Al Shabab and change in leadership was viewed by some sources as a victory for the nationalists and a potential decline of transnational elements of Al Shabab. However, Al Afghani is rumored to have been killed in a US Predator Attack in June 2011.
Divisions within Al Shabab leadership increased towards the end of 2011. Some experts assert that the group has broken up into three factions, one led by Omar Hammami aka Abu Mansur Al-Ameriki who is allied with Godane, a second faction led by Berjawi and a Kenyan group led by Ahmed ImanAli who has ties to the Muslim Youth Council of Majengo and was appointed by Godane. Berjawi and local Somali Al-Shabaab leaders including Mukhtar Robow,Fuad Shongole, Ali Dheere and Hassan Dahir Aweys have condemend Godane's leadership for being "high handed" and "resistant to change." However, Godane has maintained high ranks as Omar Hammami threatened to cut off foreign funding and support if Godane was removed from power. In addition, tensions have been exacerbated between groups as Godane has been accused of involvement in Berjawi's assasination.
Ali Mohamed Rage, aka Ali Dhere (Unknown to Present): Spokesman
Issan Osman Issa (Unknown to Present): Field commander in Bay/Bakool regions.
Hassan Andillahi Hersi 'al-Turki' (Unknown to Present): Field commander in the Juba Valley.
Shaykh Mumhammad Abu Fa'id (Unknown to Present): Saudi national and top Al Shabab financier and “manager.”
Faud Shongole, known as Sheikh Faud Mohamed Khalaf (Unknown to Present): Head of mobilization.
Muhammad Abdy Fa'id, a Saudi citizen (Unknown to Present): Top financier and al-Shabab "manager."
Mohamoud Mujajir (Unknown to Present): Sudanese Al Qaeda operative serving as head of recruitment of suicide bombers.
Adan Hashi Ayro (Unknown to May 2008): Former military commander, former group leader. Was killed in a US missile attack May 2008.
Saleh Ali Nabhan (Unknown to September 2009): Former Al Shabab and al Qaeda leader, trainer. Was killed September 2009 in a US raid.
Sheikh Daud Ali Hasan (Unknown to 2010): Senior commander of Al Shabab. Was killed March 2010 near Kismayo.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (Unknown to June 8, 2011): Al Qaeda commander served as former al Shabab intelligence official, former top Shabab military leader.
Bilal al-Barjawi, aka Abu Hafsa (Unknown to 2012): Former Al Qaeda linked commander.
Abu Mansoor al Amriki (2007 to Present): Half-Syrian U.S. citizen who serves as Al Shabab military commander, recruiter, financier, and propagandist.
Sheikh Muhktar Robow Ali, aka Abu Mansoor (2008 to Present): Senior deputy and spokesman.
Sheikh Mukhatar Abdurahman, Ahmed Abdi Godane, known as Abu Zubeyr (May 2008 to December 2010): Former leader, current commander.
Abu Musa Mombasa (2009 to Present): Pakistani Al Qaeda operative serving as chief of security and training.
Hassan Dahir Aweys (2010 to Present): Senior member and former leader of Hizbul Islam.
Ibrahim Haji Jaama, known as Al-Afghani (December 2010 to June 2011): Former leader, former field commander in Somaliland/Puntland regions.
Sheikh Iman Ali (2012 to Present): Shabab leader and coordinator in Kenya.
Ideology & Goals
Al Shabab's overarching goal involves toppling the Somali interim government and implementing its own strict interpretation of sharia law. It iselieved that Adan Ayro was trained in Afghanistan and created Al Shabab based off of the principles of the Taliban. Al Shabab has shown its commitment to Islamism by carrying out punishments such as amputating the hands of thieves and stoning women accused of adultery. The group also banned music, videos, shaving and even bras in the areas it controls. As one Al Shabab soldier explains, the group is determined to forcefully implement their version of Islam, threatening that, "if the people refuse to pray, we will jail them and we will keep them without food until they return to praying." Hoping to rid the country of foreign influence, Al Shabab shut down BBC and banned its broadcasting in Somalia accusing the station of "broadcasting the agenda of crusaders and colonialist against Muslims." However, BBC is a popular channel in Somalia and claims to be unbiased in its coverage. Furthermore, Al Shabab upholds global jihadist ideology, believing that their regional conflict is part of a broader struggle.
Al Shabab has called for jihad against Ethiopia for extricating the ICU government and backing the Somali Transitional Government. It has also promoted jihad against Kenya, accusing the country of training Somali troops. Other countries that have been threatened include Djibouti, Eritrea, Ghana, Sudan, Israel, and the US. However, as a US senior intelligence official states, the group's "number one goal is not to win the global jihad, it's to turn Somalia into a Shabab-ville where strict Islamic law rules everything."
On February 29, 2008 the United States added Al Shabab to its FTO list under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224.  The group was also listed as a terrorist organization in Australia under the Rudd government on August 21, 2009 under subsection 15 (19) of the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 of a Commonwealth Gazette statement. 
U.S. State Department Foreign Terrorist Organizations: February 29, 2008 to Present
As far as manpower, Al Shabab is suspected to have several thousand members. However, since Al Shabab partakes in forced recruiting, it is unclear how many fighters actually believe in the group's ideology; experts predict the number who are hardcore ideologues to be around three hundred to eight hundred members. Numerous reports exist of foreign jihadists traveling to Somalia to join Al Shabab, including Somalis from the United Kingdom and the United States. For example, Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, whose real name is Omar Hammami, was born in the Untied States. Al-Amriki grew up in Alabama but left for Somalia to join Al Shabab in 2007, only to become the group's leading propagandists. Another two US citizens, Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, 20, and Carlos Eduardo "Omar" Almonte, 24, were arrested at the John F. Kennedy Airport for preparing to travel to Somalia to join Al Shabab. US court documents have recorded that between September 2007 and October 2009 20 young men left Minneapolis to travel to Somalia and train with al-Shabab. One of these men was Shirwa Ahmed, the first known American suicide bomber, a 26 year-old Somali-American. Sources such as NBC state that up to fifty US citizens could be fighting with the group in Somalia. In addition, Al Shabab draws fighters from other countries as well. According to the Integrated Threat Assessment Center report, Al Shabab is recruiting youths from Canada to travel to Somalia for jihadi training. Fighters also come from Europe, many of them originating from Scandinavian countries, where large numbers of Somali refugees reside. In addition to foreigners, hundreds of Somali soldiers trained with US dollars have deserted the Somali transitional government to join the insurgency after not receiving their monthly wage; an unknown number of these deserters have joined Al Shabab, who pay their fighters with cash and promises of martyrdom. The US believes that Al Shabab is able to carry out its attacks due to an influx of money and training from foreign jihadists linked to Al Qaeda. In addition, money flows from Somali communities abroad to Al Shabab, though the amount is unclear. On August 2010, fourteen Americans were accused of supporting and fundraising for Al Shabab as part ending what Attorney General Eric H, Holder Jr. called a "deadly pipelines of money and fighters to Al Shabab." One of those accused, Ms. Ali, raised money by deceiving donors that the funds were going to the poor, allegedly sending $8,600 to al-Shabab, according to the indictment. Her and others of the fourteen also participated in teleconferences that promoted speakers who encourage donations to jihad, subsequently raising thousands of dollars for al-Shabab. Furthermore, as Al Shabab leader Godane noted, funding comes from a variety of sources. He explained that, "A rich Muslim may wish to fund the jihad for the sake of Allah. We have supporters throughout the world." Yet Al Shabab has also gained resources from its own country. As for media equipment, Al Shabab has looted private media stations for its own broadcasts. It is also accused of looting UN compounds in Baidoa city, stealing emergency communication equipment along with two cars and furniture from the compound in Wajid. In addition, the connection between Al Shabab and Somali piracy is unclear. Some sources state that Somali pirates have requested arming and training by Al Shabab in exchange for a share of their spoils. However, other sources contend that the relationship is weak because Al Shabab condemns piracy as un-Islamic. Another potential source of funding comes from Eritrea.In August 2009 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Eritrea to stop supporting Al Shabab militants, threatening that otherwise the US would take action. The President of Somalia, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed told reporters, "We know for sure that the majority of the weapons in the hands of insurgents are coming from Eritrea." However, Eritrea has denied the allegations. Furthermore, a UN report claimed that several African and Middle Eastern countries are aiding the Islamic militants with machine guns, missiles, and training, violating the 1992 arms embargo imposed on Somalia. Among the accused countries were Eritrea, Djibouti, Iran Syria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and even Hezbollah in Lebanon; several of these countries have denied the veracity of the report.
In November 2011 Al Shabab banned NGO's and aid groups and overtook their offices. According to the NSP, 16 NGO's and 6 UN compounds had been overtaken by Al Shabab in 13 locations in 8 regions. Al Shabab ordered office personnel to leave and confiscated their equipment.
Countries that have sent AU troops and aid to Somalia are worried about Al Shabab's external influence. Both Burundi and Kenya, which are training forces for the Somali government, have large ethnic Somali populations and are thus concerned about infiltration by Al Shabab. Al Shabab is seen to have a growing impact in Kenya. The group is influencing somali communities in Nairobi neighborhoods such as Eastleigh, through mosque with radical Imams preaching for Somalis to return to Somalia and fight in the jihad. Al Shabab recruits students from schools, offering them money and free cell phones. The group controls restaurants and other local places in Kenya while dictating the lessons in many madrasas, teaching students math while simultaneously promoting jihad. Yet the presence of Al Shabab in Kenya has also created a backlash, with community members trying to build moderate Islamic schools, and bands writing songs to dissuade the youth from joining the Somali group. In 2011, Al Shabab increased attack in Kenya, which greatly concerned Kenyans about them pernicious effects the attacks would have on the country's tourism industry. Several departments such as the US State Department and British Foreign and Common Wealth Office issued traveling warnings to tourists destined for Kenya advising against traveling near the Somali border or coastal regions where tourists have been attacked and kdnapped by Al Shabab linked pirates. In addition, the US Embassy in Kenya stated that it has received, "credible information of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks directed at prominent Kenyan facilities and areas where foreigners are known to congregate, such as malls and night clubs." Thus, the accumulation of kidnappings and attacks caused Kenya to deploy troops to Somalia to fight Al Shabab.
In late October 2011, Kenyan troops entered Somalia to drive out Al Shabab. The fear of Al Shabab's increasing influence in Kenya was reinforced when in 2012 Godane appointed Sheikh Iman Ali as Al Shabab's leader in Kenya. Sheikh Iman Ali is vital in the spread of Al Shabab in Kenya, as he established a community organization in 2008 Pumwani Muslim Youth. The organization claims to provide religious conseling for Kenyan youth, however according to UN Report in July 2011, the group also serves as a basin for the recruitment of young militants. Though some believe the appointment of Ali was to garner support for Godane during leadership divisions, the appointment could aslo be seen as a move to set up Ali as the Al Shabab leader who could take credit for an attack within Kenya. In a recent youtube video, Ali declared jihad against Kenya, stating that, "Kenya has declared war against Somalia and Jihad should now be waged inside Kenya which is legally a war zone."
After the World Cup bombings in Kampala in 2010, Al Shabab's spokesman, Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, promised to spread Al Shabab's targets in Uganda and begin attacks in Burundi if both countries do not withdraw from Somalia. In addition, foreign countries in which Al Shabab recruits are worried about the group's influence in carrying attacks abroad. Al Shabab leaders have spoken about exerting influence abroad to ignite a global jihad. In a 2008 propaganda video an Al Shabab fighter exhorted Muslims abroad to, "stand up and resist the oppression of the kuffar (infidels)…fight the kuffar and their apostate puppets." He also attacked Denmark for depicting the Prophet Mohammad in the form of a cartoon stating that the group will "never forget their mockery… So, sleep with the thoughts of our swords dripping with your blood." Such statements along with the recruitment of foreigners and funding from abroad leaves countries such as the US, the UK, and Canada concerned about the possibility of their citizens leaving to Somalia, training with Al Shabab, only to return and carry out an attack in their country of origin. The concern also spread to Australia as in early August 2009, five men with alleged links to Al Shabab were caught planning suicide attacks on an army base near Sydney. In January 2009 the New York Times reported that Somali extremists were conspiring to explode bombs in crowds at the National Mall during President Obama's inauguration. Furthermore, on December 27, Al Shabab's Faud Mohamed "Shongole" Qalaf threatened to attack the US, stating that, "We tell the American President Barack Obama to embrace Islam before we come to his country."
Al Shabab is divided into three geographical units: the Bay and Bokool regions, which are controlled by Abu Mansoor, south-central Somalis and Mogadishu and Putland and Somaliland. A fourth region called Juba Valley is led by a man that is closely aligned with Al Shabab, Hassan Andillahi Hersi "Turki." However, these regions "appear to operate independently of one another, and there is often evidence of friction between them, according to a December 2008 UN Monitoring Group report.
Targets & Tactics
Organizationally, Al Shabab is structured loosely so that senior commanders are not integral to the survival of the group. Senior leaders "give broad direction but leave day-to-day operations to individual commanders who control groups of around 100 fighters," making it a difficult group to combat. As for tactics, the group conducts suicide bombings and uses remote controlled IEDs, tactics which some believe are "distinctively Al Qaeda- not Somalia."
Much like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula with its magazine Inspire, Al Shabab implements the latest technology to achieve their goals. For example, the group's spokesman, Abu Mansoor, stated that there was a dearth of foreign fighters in Al Shabab. Thus, to bolster recruitment, the group has launched an online "news" channel called Al Kataib. The formation of the channel was announced on July 26, 2010 along with a statement that described the media war as "one of the fiercest battles and most important in the war against the infidel Zio-Crusade." The program is designed with sophisticated graphics, an on-screen Al Kataib logo, and live coverage of jihadis fighting on the "frontlines of Mogadishu." While Al Shabab utilizes the Internet and broadcasts to reach distant audiences, the group also uses more traditional tactics as propaganda to local communities, such as visiting madarassas, giving mosque lectures, and workshops.
Al Shabab refused to be part of a peace process that joined elements of the Islamic courts into the interim government in 2009. However, some militants have defected to the Somali transitional government due to disagreements in interpretations of Islam and accusing Al Shabab of extortion. Yet Al Shabab has acted as a political entity by its own accord in the areas it controls. The group has expelled international aid entities, such as CARE, International Medical Corps, Doctors Without Borders, and the UN World Food Programme in 2009. Al Shabab has instated its own judiciary system that involves "mobile Sharia courts," and made decrees regulating people's haircuts, banning women from wearing bras, and forbidding the teaching of science and English lessons in schools. The group has functioned as a government by building roads, organized markets and operating an Office of Zakat (charity).
Unknown: Al Shabab launched a suicide attack in a restaurant frequented by government employees. Two members of parliament were amongst those injured. (34 wound, 15 killed).
September 18, 2006: A suicide bomber in Baidoa attacked TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf. He failed to kill the President, but killed the President's brother and ten other bystanders. The use of a suicide attack was noteworthy because it a tactic attributed to Al Qaeda's influence in the region (11 killed).
March 23, 2007: Al Shabab shot down a Belarusian Il-76 cargo aircraft supporting AU peacekeeping forces right after takeoff from Mogadishu Airport (11 killed).
February 2, 2008: Al Shabab was behind twin bombings in the port city of Bosasso, injuring at least 70 (25 killed).
March 13, 2008: The group beheaded a Somali soldiers along with killing two other soldiers in an ambush along a road from Mogadishu to Baidoa, a week after Al Shabab threatened to begin beheading soldiers at checkpoints (3 killed).
April 14, 2008: Two British along with two Kenyan teachers were murdered by Islamist fighters with believed links to Al Shabab in Beledweyne, a town near the Ethiopian border (4 killed).
May 22, 2008: Al Shabab claimed an attack in Mogadishu against Ethiopian solders (57 wounded or killed).
August 25, 2008: The group posted on several messages on extremist forums taking credit for a serious of attacks that include the killing of thirty-five militia members of a local warlord in Kismaayo, seven Ugandan peacekeepers in Mogadishu, five Ethiopian soldiers in Beledweyne, three Somali police, attacking Somali soldiers and the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu (at least 50 killed).
September 10, 2008: Al Shabab claimed responsibility for shooting Somali Legislator, Mohammed Osman Maye, as he was leaving a mosque in Baidoa (1 killed).
October 29, 2008: Al Shabab carried out three suicide attacks in Hargeysa, the capital of Somaliland at the UN Development Program Office, the Ethiopian Consulate Office, and the President's palace. Similar attacks were carried out in Boosaaso, the Puntland capital, against the Puntland Intelligence Service. (30 killed).
January 2009: Al Shabab was behind a suicide car bomb targeting African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, however 12 of the killed were civilians and 1 was a police officer (13 killed, 20 wounded).
January 2009: Al Shabab seized control of the Somali parliament building and presidential palace in Baidoa. They captured five members of parliament, forced them to publically surrender and later released them (0 killed).
February 22, 2009: Al Shabab conducted a suicide car bomb attack against African Union soldiers in Mogadishu (11 killed, 15 critically wounded).
April 13, 2009: Al Shabab claimed responsibility for attacking an aircraft carrying US Congressman Donald Payne who was departing from Mogadishu airport after visiting the Somali President (0 killed).
June 8, 2009: The group conducted a suicide-vehicle bombing against the Hotel Medina in Beledweyne. Among the dead were the Somali security minister and Somalia's former ambassador to Ethiopia (20 killed).
August 2009: Five men in Australia were convicted of plotting a suicide attack against an army base in Sydney. Officials believe these men of Somali and Lebanese descent were linked to Al Shabab (0 killed).
September 17, 2009: Al Shabab suicide bombers penetrated an African Union in Mogadishu. Among the dead was the deputy African Union commander along with 16 other peacekeepers (21 killed).
December 3, 2009: The Somali government blamed Al Shabab for a suicide bombing during a graduation ceremony for a Mogadishu university. Among the dead were three Somali cabinet ministers, medical students, doctors, and journalists (22 killed).
January 10, 2010: A 28-year old Somali with reported connections to Al Shabab attempted to assassinate Denmark cartoonist Kurt Westergaard (0 killed).
July 11, 2010: Al Shabab claimed responsibility for twin bombings in Kampala, Uganda during the World Cup final (74 killed).
August 24, 2010: Two Al Shabab fighters disguised as security forces opened fire before blowing themselves up in a Mogadishu hotel close to the presidential palace. Among the dead were eight members of parliament, five government soldiers and twenty-two civilians (35 killed).
September 9, 2010: Al Shabab fighters attacked Mogadishu International Airport in a suicide assault (5 killed).
February 22, 2011: Al Shabab carried out a suicide bombing, loading a van with explosives and detonating it at a police checkpoint on the streets of Mogadishu. Half of those killed were civilians, while the other half were police (20 killed).
September 11, 2011: Two British guests at a resort at a remote Kiwayu Safari Village were attacked by armed men who burst into their cottage. David Tebbutt was shot dead while his wife Judith was abducted and taken across the border to Somalia. Somalia's Defense Minister, Hussein Arab Issa, accused Al Shabab of conducting the attack and kidnapping (1 killed).
October 1, 2011: Somali militants kidnapped Marie Dedieu from a beachfront bungalo on the island of Manda. Marie, a French citizen, had lived on the island for years. She was taken without her wheelchair or medication and died in captivity. According to Lamu Police, at least 10 sailors were shot while trying to rescue Marie. Al Shabab was accused for their involvement, but the group denied their responsibility for the attack. (11 killed).
October 4, 2011: Al Shabab was behind an attack against Somali ministry buildings and the Somali public. A truck packed with explosives was driven into a crowd of students and parents waiting to find out the results of a Turkish scholarship. Militants claimed the attack was a warning that Al Shabab has not left Mogadishu and that "big broad blows are to come against the infidels," (100 killed, 100 wounded).
October 14, 2011: Al Shabab was blamed for kidnapping two Spanish doctors from Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. The doctors were working with the organization Doctors Without Borders (0 killed).
October 18, 2011: Al Shabab blamed for a car filled with explosives that was detonated by a government building as Kenya ministers visit the capital. The suicide bomber was amongst the dead (5 killed, 10 wounded).
November 6, 2011: Al Shabab sympathisers blamed for throwing a grenade into a Pentecostal Church in Garissa Kenya, a town near the Somali border. Meanwhile, another bomb was thrown targeting Kenya Power's transformer, but failed to impode (2 killed, 3 injured).
April 4, 2012: An Al Shabab female suicide bomber detonated herself amidst a crowd gathered at Mogadishu's Natural Theater where the Prime Minister and government officials gathered to celebrate Somali TV's one year anniversary. (6).
Relationships with Other Groups
Somalia has been considered a failed state for the past 20 years. The lack of an effective national government and constant fighting has created ripe conditions for Al Qaeda to create connections. While Al Shabab has openly claimed affiliation with al Qaeda since 2007, the group has been accused of hosting terror training camps while also housing Al Qaeda cells while they were planning the 2002 twin attacks on Israeli targets close to the Kenyan resort of Mombasa. Also, the US upholds that Al Qaeda militants who planned the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi fled to Somalia. Furthermore, many Al Shabab leaders have trained at Al Qaeda camps, such as Al Shabab leader Ibrahim Haji Jama, who trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Tariq Abdullah who was Al Qaeda's leader in East Africa and is deemed to be the financier for its African operations. In addition, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, killed in a US raid in September 2009, was a senior All Qaeda leader who trained terrorists in Somalia and took the lead in consolidating relations between Al Shabab and al Qaeda. Adan Hashi Ayro, the first leader of Al Shabab, was according to the New York Times, "long identified as one of the Al Qaeda's top operatives in East Africa." In March 2007, Shaykh Abu Yahy al-Liby, head of the Al Qaeda in Libya, called Al Shabab, "the lions of Somalia and champions of the deserts and jungles," while al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's second in command, and Bin Laden have praised Al Shabab and issued statements to, "call on the international mujahideen to rush to the aid of their Muslim brothers in Somalia." Shabab reciprocated the camaraderie and on January 29, 2010 announced that, "jihad of the Horn of Africa must be combined with the international jihad led by the Al Qaeda network" and that they "agreed to join the international jihad of Al Qaeda." Yet there are disagreements on the strength of connection between Al Qaeda and Al Shabab.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, strong links between both group's leaders exist, but overall organizational links are weak with a dearth of evidence indicating that Al Shabab and Al Qaeda "coordinate with one another in a systematic way." In addition, Brookings Institute stipulates that some do support al Qaeda, with foreign jihadists being involved in tactical operations, but "others within the movement -- probably the majority, in fact -- oppose the foreigners' control, with some even publicly condemning terrorism and even working with international humanitarian relief efforts." Such differences could lead to a split if the group were to become "Al Qaeda of the Horn of Africa."
However, ideological ties between the two groups undoubtedly exist. In 2008 Al Shabab's lead military strategist publically declared allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Furthermore, in 2009 Al Qaeda's second in command, al Zawahiri, released a video called "From Kabul to Mogadishu" that praised al Shabab for seizing control of Baidoa, a former base of the Somali transitional government. In late 2009 Osama Bin Laden appointed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed as al Qaeda's operations chief of East Africa at a ceremony held in Mogadishu and attended by al-Shabab's leader, Ahmad Godan Zubayr.Furthermore, though al-Shabab appears to be focused on attacking the Transitional Federal Government and AU forces in the short term, according to Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair in February 2009, there is a fear that in the long term, "East Africa-based Al Qaeda leaders or Al Shabab may elect to redirect to the Homeland some of the Westerners, including North Americans, now training and fighting in Somalia." Fortifying such fears, on May 8, 2011 Al Shabab announced that they will avenge the death of Osama Bin Laden, "their hero and role model." Meanwhile, this announcement caused security officials to put Mogadishu on "high alert" while Kenyan security officials fear another al-Shabab attack.
In February 2011, The Long War Journal claimed that Al Shabab merged with Al Qaeda "requesting to join the international terror group." The Journal also clarified the confusion around the two group's ambiguous ties, stating that "al Qaeda's leadership instructed Shabab to downplay its links to the terror group but to continue to target US interests in the region." In addition, strong ties have been observed as Al Qaeda has sent a delegation to Somalia to provide humanitarian aid for victims of the ravaging famine.
In October 2011 Al Qaeda, al Zawahiri stated that Al Qaeda was eager to help suffering Somalis who are dying from starvation and thirst. Powdered milk and food was distributed,in sacks marked, "Al Qaeda campaign on behalf of Martyr Bin Laden. Charity relief for those affected by the drought." This action caused critics of Al Shabab to denounce the aid, stating that "They want to take advantage of the hungry people, in order to get child recruits," said Abdulkadir Hussein Mohamed, the transitional government's information minister.
In February 2012 al Zawahiri announced that Al Shabab had officially joined the ranks of Al Qaeda. In a video al Zawahiri stated, ""I will break the good news to our Islamic nation, which will... annoy the crusaders, and it is that the Shabab movement in Somalia has joined al-Qaeda." One of Al Shabab's leaders, Godane confirmed the allegiance stating to Zawahiri in the video, "We will move along with you as faithful soldiers." 
Less than three weeks later Al Shabab announced the merge with Al Qaeda, Al Shabab also merged with Galgala Militia in Puntland. The militia in Galgala fights the Christian government in Puntland and is led by Yassin Khalid Osman (Yassin Kilwe) who declared allegiance to Al Shabab and Al Qaeda. Sheikh Atom, an arms dealer of Galgala but close associate of Fazul (whose death was linked to Godane), was absent from the merger announcement. This absence could have signaled a potential power move by Godane to strengthen Al Shabab and rid the group of potential opposers such as Atom. 
Within Somalia, a moderate Sufi group named Ahlu Sunnah, strongly opposes Al Shabab. Ahlu Sunnah, also called Ahlu Sunnah's Waljama group, is led by Sheikh Omar Sharif Muhammad. Sheikh Omar had expressed hope for defeating Al Shabab after signing the Framework for Cooperation Agreement on March 15, 2010. This agreement signified the group's alliance with the Mogadishu government to band together militarily to bring a resolution to the Somali conflict. Sheikh Omar noted that Ahlu Sunnah does not believe in al-Shabab's recruitment of youth to become suicide bombers, a disgrace to Islam in his view. He elaborated on why Ahlu Sunnah vehemently opposed the group, stating that, "Al Shabab are not even humans. They're desecrating our culture, and destroying our sovereignty and our religion." While Ahlu Sunnah has opposed Al Shabab, Hizbul Islam has been a long-time ally.
Hizbul Islam has been an ally of al-Shabab in fighting the Somali transitional government, however, the two group's relationship has been shaky due to differences in leadership and political agendas. In July 2010 al-Shabab members attacked Hizbul Islam fighters killing 6 fighters; the reason of the attack is unclear, yet reports from the area indicated that there was a tense situation between the two groups. In December 2010, al-Shabab attacked Hizbul Islam forces in Buur Hakaba after demanding that the group cease taxing public transport vehicles on route to Baidoa, a Shabab controlled city. Members from both sides were killed in the exchanged gunfire, after which al-Shabab took over the town. However, the two factions held a conference at a mosque in Mogadishu discussing a merge. Al-Shabab had already taken over areas previously controlled by Hizbul Islam, which could have promulgated the merge. The two groups hoped to spread the news of their merge to "mujahideen brothers" all over the world, vowing to "concentrate our power on how we can redouble our attacks on foreign invaders." Hizbul Islam leader, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, was present when al-Shabab threatened the US, reinforcing the merge. He stated, "We share the same enemy with Al Shabab, and any possible way that the enemy can be destroyed is a solution." With Al Shabab fortified, new indications existed that Al Shabab was increasing its control in the region in the summer of 2011.
In July 2011 Quillaim release a report caliming that Al Shabab has been seeking to exert international influence on other jihadist group in the region. According to the report, Al Shabab has been cooperation with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and with new jihadist groups in Libya. In addition, the group has strengthened ties with militants in Yemen, sending al Shabab fighters to the country. Reasons for flow of fighters and money to Yemen include Somali fighters being sent to Yemen to help AQY regain its stronghold over the population, and or the evacuation of al-Shabab troops from Somalia to evade air attacks from the West. Reinforcing these conjectures, Al Qaeda leader Abu Al Zubeir admitted to the existence of direct contact between Al Shabab and Al Qaeda in Yemen (which merged with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP). He claimed that AQ wishes to strategically enmesh itself in the population by offering services, much like Al Shabab has done. Al Shabab has also made contact with Anwar Awlaki, another central AQAP figure currently based in Yemen. Exchanges of weapons and communication between Al Shabab and AQAP has been carried out through men like Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali currently facing terrorism charges in New York after traveling between Yemen and Somalia. Another AQAP leader, Qasim al-Raymi, is also thought to have have played a pivotal role in tightening ties, afer traveling to Somalia post his escape from a Yemeni prison. Such individuals are accused of enhancing relations between the two groups. In February 2012 Al Shabab spokesman Sheikh Raage made a specific statement that Al Shabab is connected to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. “We will work with other brothers of AQAP in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the world and we are part of them. We are the branch of AQAP in Somalia." .
Al Shabab also has ties with Boko Haram, a terrorist group whose goal is to institute Shariah law over Nigeria. Boko Haram's members have reportedly been trained in Somalia with Al Shabab. 
Al Shabab first emerged as a vigilante organization that fought criminal gangs in Mogadishu and worked to purge the city of its kidnapping rings. In 2008 the group began a public outreach program to sustain and expand its jihadi efforts. The group worked to win the support of local communities by providing services the government has failed to do. Al Shabab began visiting towns, talking to local clan leaders, handing out food and money to the poor, providing law and order with "mobile Sharia courts," used to settle local disputes. It has entrenched itself in local communities by providing infrastructure that includes the clearing of roadblocks, repairing roads, and organizing markets. In addition, before taking over Southern towns, Al Shabab would meet with local leaders to assure them their goodwill. Moreover, Al Shabab has advertised their involvement in the community, using it as propaganda. Their video production, "Breezes from the Winds of Victory," released November 14, highlighted Al Shabab members handing out books, money, and prizes to children who won a competition, and distributed gifts before Eid al-Fitr prayers. Thus Al Shabab has attempted to construct an image that it does care about public opinion, distancing the group from bombings with high civilian death tolls to avoid popular outrage.
While people from southern Somalia have given Al Shabab credit for bringing some form of stability to the region, many view Al Shabab as an extremist group. For example, when women activists organized a peaceful march in Mogadishu in March 8, 2010 for International Women's Day, the demonstrators strongly criticized Al Shabab for its tactic of recruiting underage children. Furthermore, Somalis have disagreed with Al Shabab's forceful implementation of their version of Islam. For example, one man complained that Al Shabab killed his brother for selling phone cards to Ethiopian troops, brutal actions, which according to Time has called the "repressive Al Shabab to be viewed by most Somalis with disapproval and fear." In 2008 Al Shabab sentenced to death by stoning a 13 year-old, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, for adultery after being gang-raped by three men. However, none of the men accused of rape had been punished. In addition, Al Shabab men expect women to be covered from head to toe, even if they are toiling in the field in very high temperatures, a practice considered alien to rural Somali women.
Other points of contention lie around local cinemas, which thrive in Somalia, showing Bollywood films. Al Shabab has closed down these places, punished anyone who dissented, and branded those who have refused to stop using the cinemas. Thus, the group's extreme practices have clashed with many Somalis more moderate and tolerant version of Islam, as "there is no history of widespread support for radical religious movements in Somalia."
Overall, the group's harsh treatment of women and severe punishments has dissuaded people from joining. As Ms. Farah explains, a Somali refugee who Al Shabab has tried to recruit, "what identifies them is how they react inside their community. One day, they will slaughter people in the market. Chop off arms because of some crime. This is how they create fear and make us their hostages." Another segment of society that is under attack by Al Shabab has been Sufis. Al Shabab views Sufism as an anathema to their strict interpretations of Islam. After taking over large parts of southern Somalia, Al Shabab has worked to destroy Sufi mosques and graves of important religious leaders. The large majority of Somalis practice Sufism and therefore, this idelogical clash is a major point of contention between local populations and Al Shabab that has incited protests.
In February 2010 Al Shabab banned World Food Program (WFP) operations in Somalia. It accused the organization of creating a disadvantage to local farmers while being politically motivated. Al Shabab stated it was responding to complaints from Somali farmers and to WFP expired food that was causing people to fall ill. However in July 2011 Al Shabab lifted the ban due to severe famine and drought conditions. As spokesman Rage claimed that they now allow "all Muslim and Non-Muslim aid agencies whose objective is only humanitarian relief are free to operate in our area," urging these organizations to operate in conjunction with Al Shabab's drought committee. In July 2011 Quillium also released a report characterising Al Shabab's entrenched relationship in Somali society, presenting itself as a "force multiplier" for tribes rather than as a rival to them." The report explained that Al Shabab gains clout because it identifies with national struggles, such as the national movement to protect Somalia from Ethiopian meddling. In return for protecting the national sovereignty of Somalia, Somali tribal leaders have donated capital, weapons and tribesmen to the group along with along them to operate in tribal territories.
Yet towards the end of July 2011 Al Shabab re-imposed the ban amidst one of the harshest famine and drought in Somalia's history. An Al Shabab spokesman accused relief agencies of having political aims and thus expelled them. In addition, he denied the severity of the situation, admitting to a drought but claiming that reports of the famine were, "Utter nonsense, 100% baseless and sheer propaganda." Due to lack of resources, As of August 5, 29,000 children under the age of five have died of malnutrition and thousands have fleed Shabab controlled areas to camps maintained by the TFG and to refugee camps. Al Shabab's lack of response to the famine has aroused anger amongst Somalia's population. This lack of community support could have contributed to Al Shaba's withdrawal from Mogadishu in early August 2011.
However, in November 2011, Al Shabab tried to display their power by banning 16 aid groups from operating within Somalia. These aid groups included half a dozen UN agencies, UNICEF, the World Health ORganization, UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Danish Refugee Council, German Agency for Technical Co-operation, Action Contre la Faim, Solidarity, Saacid and Concern, all of which were major famine relief providers. Al Shabab's decision was based off of their accusation that aid groups are serving as fronts for spying on Al Shabab and are undermining Al Shabab's implemenatation of strict Isam. The bans came at a time when 250,000 Somalis faced immediate risk of starvation, according to the UN. According to experts, Al Shabab's reputation was greatly damaged by "its criminally negligent handling of the famine. Blocking aid into famine zones, denial of the famine itself, and preventing famine victims from fleeing for help appalled Somalis and the world."