CategoryAl Shabaab

Beyond the Façade and what Operation Usalama watch exposes about the war on Terror in Kenya, by Hawa Noor

Kenya has witnessed series of terrorist attacks since the year 2011 when its soldiers began operation in Somalia dubbed: Operation Linda Nchi (Operation protect the nation). The most recent attacks, was the Likoni church attack on March 23rd 2014 and in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate on March 31st 2014 – each of which left behind 6 casualties. The Alshabaab has not claimed responsibility in any of them but following that, the government launched Operation Usalama Watch (Operation Peace Watch) on April 2 in a bid to alleviate the threat of terrorism from the country once and for all.

Continue reading

The Westgate shopping mall attack and Al-Shabaab in Somalia

“The bloody Shabaab attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall on September 21 was an act of desperation by a jihadi group beset by internal power struggles and plummeting support”, argues Somalia expert Ken Menkhaus in a blog post. The intent according to him is to stir up anti-Somali sentiments amongst Kenyans. Kenyans may thereby turn violent and target exiled Somalis in Kenya. If Somali’s are brutalized in great numbers Al-Shabaab hope to be seen as the true protectors of Somalis – in opposition to the Somali government which is seen as conniving with the Kenyan government. This is indeed a high risk plan by a movement that has over the past few years lost much of its previous power.

Very little is known of Al-Shabaab. There are many “experts” guessing, experts citing other experts’ guesses, thus producing a lot of half-truths. An exception to this is the recent book on Al-Shabaab in Somalia (Hurst 2013). It offers a deep and detailed reading of the movement. Below is a review that I recently did on the book. I am not seeking to legitimate the horrendous crime that the attack on the Westgate mall is, but see it as crucial getting a better understanding of what Al-Shabaab really is and Jarle Hansen’s book really helps us here:

Review of Al-Shabaab in Somalia: the history and ideology of a militant Islamist group, 2005-2012, by Stig Jarle Hansen

Outstanding.
Continue reading

RADICALIZATION AS A MIXED RESORT: THE DISILLUSIONED EUROPEAN

In a wealthy suburb of Nairobi there is a nightclub called Casablanca. It is owned by an Italian (probably part of what is called the Malindi mob), decorated in Arabic style and has a crowd of western businessmen, aid workers, some wealthy locals and high class prostitutes. In a corner, puffing on their water pipes, drinking an occasional beer, there is a crowd of young Somali men, some working for the current government in Somalia, some doing lucrative business in the war thorn country and others supporting the radical Islamist rebel group al Shabaab. They visit the place quite frequently and they feel at home they say, because the combination of crowd and environment resembles the countries where they grew up in Europe, North America or Australasia. There is a huge fellow who used to be a real talent in ice hockey until the day that he could no longer stand the fact that Somalia was going from bad to worse and he simply threw away his national passport and went back to a Somalia that he only knew from tales from relatives and through the catastrophic images in media. Naturally, due to his comprehensible size, he has since been hired as body guard to politicians and other strongmen in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country. Currently he is looking for a new job and in the mean time hanging out with likeminded friends at Casablanca. Likeminded; yet some of them support the, in the West (but also in Kenya), much feared al Shabaab. Continue reading

On Sporadic Radicalism

Last week I participated in the third Marrakech Security Forum which this year focused on “Issues and security consequences of transition in North Africa”. It also included several panels on the consequences for the Sahel region, as well as the problem of drugs trafficking in West Africa. In this well-ordered event organized by Federation Africaine Des etudes Strategiques/Centre Marocain des Etudes Strategiques  there were participants from some 50 countries, about 120 men but only 10 women, clearly indicating the male biased interest in the security business. Participants came chiefly from the MENA region but to quite some extent also from francophone Africa south of the Sahara. It was a crowd of senior diplomats, high rank militaries and professors. It appeared that everyone was a director of one institute or another other. There were naturally also a number of Europeans and Americans. Many of the more than hundred, too brief, presentations were quite general statements on the political situation in North Africa and in the Sahel region. Interestingly U.S. officials and academics choose to humbly downplay the U.S. role in Africa in the years to come, except for in a few strategic countries. French officials raised concern over the situation in Algeria and also talked about the situation in the Sahel as “war” and showed concern for the increasing interconnectedness of militant Islamist groups in the region and all the way down to Nigeria. Participants from Africa South of the Sahara gave quite divergent views on the possibilities of an “African spring”, but the Sahelialists were equally afraid of developments around AQIM, Boko Haram and other radical groups. Continue reading

On Sporadic Radicalism

Last week I participated in the third Marrakech Security Forum which this year focused on “Issues and security consequences of transition in North Africa”. It also included several panels on the consequences for the Sahel region, as well as the problem of drugs trafficking in West Africa. In this well-ordered event organized by Federation Africaine Des etudes Strategiques/Centre Marocain des Etudes Strategiques  there were participants from some 50 countries, about 120 men but only 10 women, clearly indicating the male biased interest in the security business. Participants came chiefly from the MENA region but to quite some extent also from francophone Africa south of the Sahara. It was a crowd of senior diplomats, high rank militaries and professors. It appeared that everyone was a director of one institute or another other. There were naturally also a number of Europeans and Americans. Many of the more than hundred, too brief, presentations were quite general statements on the political situation in North Africa and in the Sahel region. Interestingly U.S. officials and academics choose to humbly downplay the U.S. role in Africa in the years to come, except for in a few strategic countries. French officials raised concern over the situation in Algeria and also talked about the situation in the Sahel as “war” and showed concern for the increasing interconnectedness of militant Islamist groups in the region and all the way down to Nigeria. Participants from Africa South of the Sahara gave quite divergent views on the possibilities of an “African spring”, but the Sahelialists were equally afraid of developments around AQIM, Boko Haram and other radical groups. Continue reading

© 2019 Mats Utas

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑