What al Shabaab Hopes for Your Town


CSP, by Nicholas Hanlon, April 14, 2015:

After the recent large scale attack in Garissa Kenya that was preceded by an assassination in Uganda, two massacres in Mandera near the Somali border of Kenya, and a gratuitous made-for-film raid of Mpekatoni near the Kenyan coast, al Shabaab has now slain seventeen people at the higher education ministry in Mogadishu.  Early reports hint at a level of sophistication where the security wall was first compromised by a car bomb allowing armed Shabaab fighters to enter.

Jan2014Setting aside al Shabaab’s long held international connections with al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other groups plus their ability to recruit from as far away as the United States, take a moment to look at what this series of attacks says about a jihadist movement’s ability to strike the home front in a regional context.  Remember that Shabaab, Boko Haram, and IS have all held varying quantities of territory.  Al Shabaab was the first to lose major tracts of territory along with the resources and logistical advantages including the holding of major coastal port cities.

Al Shabaab began as an outgrowth of the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia.  When, as a local Somali Islamist group they were defeated by the Somali government with the help of Ethiopia, factions of the ICU formed al Shabaab in 2006 and began to take large swaths of territory in the southern half of the country.  For a long time they controlled two strategically important ports, Kismayo and Barawe, where they could make a lot of money and import weapons and fighters.  Kenyan counter terrorism efforts along with the African Union mission, AMISOM, put boots on the ground, took ground in both cities and held it.  This was a strategic short term blow to the finances and logistical benefits enjoyed by al Shabaab.  Attacks in Kenya and Uganda showed an increasing diversity of tactics.  Al Qaeda style targeting and bombing, raids of armed gunmen, assassinations from motorcycle drive-by’s, and car bombs are all part of the al Shabaab play book.


Describing al Shabaab as a regionally focused group has it’s downsides.  Where al Shabaab saw defeat on the ground they were able to export the violent form of Jihad through out East Africa.  The bombing in Uganda that killed 76 World Cup fans in Kampala in 2010 had devastating consequences with an Al Qaeda-like signature that displayed the advantage Shabaab’s relationship with the group.  Al Shabaab has respectable propaganda and social media capability.  The group makes clear in their words, actions, and with their targets that they want Shariah law imposed and Christians and non-Muslims should either be submissive or dead.

It would be amiss to interpret the military defeat of al Shabaab in regions of Somalia as the main cause of their diaspora of diverse attacks across the region.  Yes, there is a cause and effect there but not one of such simplistic description.  Al Shabaab’s resilience and ability to adapt and survive is largely rooted in their religious ability to attach meaningfulness to killing.  Media and even regional officials often try to explain Shabaab’s recruitment of youth as exploitation of the poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised.  That is a tactic and a factor but not the answer to the equation.

Late last year, National Defense University issued a report on the rising Islamist threat in Tanzania.  Citing smaller scale and under-reported Shabaab attacks, Dr. Andre LaSage had this to say,

“Thus far, the attacks in Tanzania have been relatively unsophisticated.They have involved crude homemade explosives, handguns, and buckets of acid; they have been focused on poorly protected targets of opportunity;and they have not resulted in mass casualties. However, as events over the past few years in neighboring Kenya have demonstrated, today’s seemingly minor and manageable threats can evolve quickly into something far more lethal and intractable.”

Imagine being a Ugandan, Kenyan, Somali, or Tanzanian citizen.  Each of these societies are largely Western and share a very similar idea of what is normal with Europeans and Americans.  They have university, work, transportation, courthouses, and restaurants just like us.  They also live on the front lines of a religious war where some Imams recruit their children and raise them toassassinate parents to symbolize their coming conquest of the West.

After ascertaining scope and behavior patterns within East Africa, reconsider the international scope of this jihadist movement  and their threats to export the jihad to the U.S.  The regional pattern of al Shabaab’s adaptation will hint at the future behavior of Boko Haram and IS in the territories they hold in the near future.  Also keep in mind that these movements follow a message that is proliferated globally through the internet.  Al Shabaab has made clear that they want the experience of citizens in Bloomington Minnesota to resemble the experiences of citizens of Nairobi shopping at the Westgate Mall.  Al Shabaab, IS, Al Qaeda, AQIM, AQAP, and Boko Haram are all part of the global jihadist movement and all have made threats against the U.S.  What are now battlefronts in Africa will be the new normal if those who sign up for the global jihad have their way.

Germany’s Sharia No-Go Zones

f5fb0eabefc48b7b9aaedb1aa38f647b-450x337By :

“To mark No Go Areas, that is to say law-free areas with high danger potential, is nothing unusual,” Rüdiger Franz of Bonn, Germany’s General Anzeiger (GA) newspaper wrote, as travel guide entries for cities such as Detroit, Istanbul, Johannesburg, or Mogadishu show.  Considerable controversy, however, ensued after a language school posted an Internet No Go Area map of Bonn and environs, drawing ongoing, often unwelcome attention to the problems Germany’s once serene former capital faces from newly arrived Muslim immigrants.

The No Go map at the website of the Steinke Institut (SI) language school’s Bonn branch first drew significant public interest at the conservative German website Politically Incorrect (PI) with a July 18, 2013, entry. Attention only grew in the following weeks with an “unexpectedly large echo” of about 50 Bonn residents contacting SI with approval, queries, and criticism, as an SI Internet statement at the beginning of September noted.

SI explained therein the school’s emphasis on teaching German as a foreign language to students “from the entire world.”  The No Go map resulted “exclusively” from some 250 such students reporting in the last six years “extremely negative experiences”  in various Bonn neighborhoods, with over 80% of the reports agreeing upon the map’s red-marked problem zones.  SI elaborated that these “negative experiences” entailed harassment of women, theft, robbery, break-ins, assaults, and insults.

In contrast to the suspicions of “some concerned callers” at SI, these experiences had no “Neo-Nazi context.”  Rather, “above all” East Asian and East European students “had made pertinent experiences with adolescents, who almost exclusively seem to have an immigration background.”  A landlord from Bonn’s Bad Godesberg (BadGo) suburb confirmed in an October 23, 2013, GA article that many of her young renters suffered harassment from immigrants, particularly women, for “supposedly too short skirts and the wearing of shorts.” SI teaching personnel, many of whom “themselves live in these same city areas and are very often themselves connected with a partner with an immigrant background,” likewise agreed with the students, SI noted.  On the other hand, the “overwhelming majority of the language students had a thoroughly positive impression of the German and/or as German perceived citizens of Bonn and confirm therefore the image of Bonn as a tolerant and cosmopolitan city.”

For each red zone on SI’s map, SI sought confirmation in the media and linked many of these articles to the statement.  A subsequent PI entry criticized that SI “did not trust itself to name clearly what special kind of immigrants are responsible” for a “negative Germany image” among “peaceful and diligent foreign German learners.” Yet the linked “gruesome news reports” allowed an “unbiased observer” to surmise that the criticisms “all somehow had something to do with the I-word,” namely Islam.

Read more at Front Page

Shabaab plot to attack London planned to be ‘similar to … Mumbai’

Fazul-Abdullah-MohammedBy BILL ROGGIO:

A document found after Somali troops killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda’s former leader in East Africa and a senior Shabaab commander, details a plot to conduct multiple Mumbai-like attacks that target civilians in London. The plot highlights how al Qaeda and Shabaab seek to strike civilian targets outside Somalia, and foreshadowed Shabaab’s attack on the Eastgate Mall in Kenya this week.

The document and several others found in Fazul’s possession after he was killed by Somali troops at a checkpoint in Mogadishu in June 2011 were obtained by the Toronto Star. A copy of the document was also obtained by The Long War Journal. The Canadian newspaper reported that “dozens of documents, Internet frame grabs and media reports in English, Arabic, Somali and Swahili, along with more than 50 video clips” were also found in Fazul’s car.

Fazul’s document detailing a plot in London is titled “International Operations.” In the opening paragraph, he notes how Shabaab’s external terror teams are to emulate “the tactics used by our brothers in Mumbai.” In the Mumbai attack, small teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters armed with assault rifles, grenades, and bombs fanned out across the city and attacked civilians. More than 170 people were killed during the Mumbai siege, which lasted for three days. Shabaab targeted train stations, a theater, two posh hotels, and a Jewish center during the attack.

“Our objectives are to strike London with low cost operations that would cause a heavy blow amongst the hierarchy and Jewish communities using attacks similar to the tactics used by our brothers in Mumbai,” the first paragraph of Fazul’s memo said. “These will either be many individual random untraceable operations or the group will be trained to cause maximum damage to a single target.”

The Long War Journal noted on the first day of the Shabaab siege on the Westgate Mall that the attack was very similar to the Lashkar-e-Taiba assault on Mumbai in November 2008.

Read more at Long War Journal


Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Islam

Ayaan Hirsi AliMichael Coren interviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali:


Ayaan Hirsi Ali Responds to Questions at Ohio University:


Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken defender of women’s rights in Islamic societies, was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. She escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands in 1992 and served as a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. In parliament, she worked on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and defending the rights of women in Dutch Muslim society. In 2004, together with director Theo van Gogh, she made Submission, a film about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures. The airing of the film on Dutch television resulted in the assassination of Mr. van Gogh by an Islamic extremist. At AEI, Ms. Hirsi Ali researches the relationship between the West and Islam, women’s rights in Islam, violence against women propagated by religious and cultural arguments, and Islam in Europe.

See also:

The Counter Jihad Report’s Youtube playlist for Ayaan Hirsi Ali