In light of recent events in Niger where four US Special Forces soldiers were killed, many people are wondering: who are these terror groups operating in Africa? How many terrorist groups are in Africa? There is no short story to the history of terrorism in Africa, and there have long been Islamic terror groups operating in the region. I will do my best in this article to give a look at the main groups and their area of operations.

Africa is one of the largest continents on the planet with many poor countries and vast stretches of land.  On top of that, many of the countries have poorly trained security forces. All of this culminates into a perfect breeding ground for extremist groups to gather pace. While there are a number of rich countries in Africa, you will find that within these countries there are certain places that are very poor and isolated from the wealthier regions.

Nigeria is one of these countries–in the south you find a lot of wealth and oil, and with that comes jobs and opportunities for the local population. But if you look at the vast, northern Nigeria, it’s a very poor area that relies primarily on agricultural opportunities to supply jobs to the population. Jobs are scarce, so people are unable to provide for their families and themselves.  This creates the perfect opportunity for terrorist groups to recruit new foot soldiers.

Nigeria also has a problem within its own religious populations and cultures.  The people in the south are generally Christian, and in the north they are mainly Muslims. These religious divides can give opportunities to the likes of the Islamic State, to come in and preach their shit and sway the people away from living alongside each other. They are essentially giving the people motivation to fight for their cause. Like most terror groups, they also often offer money and protection from their families that might not come from the current government. Nigeria is certainly not the only place in Africa that suffers from these problems.

Moving away from Nigeria, we can look at the northern part of Africa: Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt–this is where you will find a concentration of terrorist groups and terrorist activities. You will also find that a lot of the civilian population within these countries are predominantly Muslim. I’m not saying that all Muslims countries are bad, but it’s definitely easier for them to recruit and gain support in areas that share the same faith as them.

 

Mali: Terrorism Report

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Mali and Niger

Niger is one of those countries you just have to feel sorry for–it shares borders with Mali, Nigeria, Libya and Chad. On almost every border around Niger there are terrorist organizations operating, and as I said earlier, many of these African countries have poor security forces. Niger is no different, which is apparent when you realize that Boko Haram have attacked Nigerien soil, and that AQIM and ISIL have both attacked or conducted operations within Niger’s borders. The border regions around this country are large and poorly guarded, which allows attackers from different nations to easily conduct cross-border operations before returning to their place of origin.

 

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Mali

Above: Flag of AQIM

Let us take a look at Mali in 2012, when Mali was headline news around the world. Al Qaeda linked militants had rallied the local Tuareg community into a rebellion against the central government in Bamako. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had offered weapons and explosive training to the Tuareg rebels in northern Mali. AQIM would also participate in the rebellion against the Malian government, bringing some of its own hardened fighters. In secret, AQIM was using the Tuareg rebels to seize northern Mali for itself, actually fulfilling its own agenda in Mali.

This rebellion would soon be stopped by a French intervention that same year.  During this time, Tuareg rebels also realized that AQIM was using them, causing a split between AQIM and the Tuareg rebels. The French-led intervention was swift and effective in terms of pushing AQIM and Tuareg rebels back, and it stopped their advance on Bamako. Shortly after the intervention, Mali would face something similar to that of Afghanistan: French and Malian forces were waging a counterinsurgency war against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

In 1998, AQIM, originally known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), split from the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the main Islamist group fighting in the Algerian Civil War. In 2006, the GSPC became a formal affiliate of Al Qaeda (AQ) and changed its name to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The group is famous for kidnapping westerners for ransom in North Africa, and is an active participant in the drug, arms and human trafficking trade in the region. Through these pursuits, AQIM has become one of the wealthiest terrorist organizations in the world.

  • Their AO: Mali, Algeria, Niger, Burka Faso.
  • Size Approx: 1500+
  • Founded 2007

The leader of the AQIM: Abdelmalek Droukdel

Mali: 40 Tuareg civilians killed by armed men on motorbikes

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Ansar Dine (Mali)

Above: Flag of Ansar Dine

Over the years, there have been many offshoots of AQIM; one of those offshoots was Ansar Dine. Their leader, “Iyad Ag Ghaly”, one of the most prominent leaders of the Tuareg Rebellion (1990–1995). He is suspected of having ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is led by his cousin “Hamada Ag Hama”. Ansar Dine would coexist with AQIM up until late 2017, when they would merge with other groups in the region.

  • Their AO: Mali
  • Size Approx: 500-800
  • Founded 2012-2017

 

The leader of Ansar Dine: Iyad Ag Ghaly

Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWO) (Mali)

Above: Flag of MUJWO

Another group that would spring out of Mali is the movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWO). The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) split from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in mid-2011, with the alleged goal of spreading jihad further into areas of West Africa–not within the scope of AQIM. Some analysts believe that the split of the Black African-led MOJWA is a consequence of the Algerian predominance on AQIM’s leadership.

  • Their AO: Mali, Niger
  • Size Approx 500-800
  • Founded 2011

The leader of MUJWO

Al-Mulathameen (“Masked Men Brigade”) also known as the al-Mua’qi’oon Biddam (“Those who Sign with Blood”) (Mali)

Above: Flag of Masked Men Brigade

Commanded by the famous “Mokhtar Belmokhtar” (The One-Eyed, The Uncatchable), this group has operated in multiple countries–Algeria, Niger, Libya and Mali. While the group operated independently, it took it orders and swore allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), with its main base of operations in Mali. They also operated alongside and had a brief merger with MUJWO. One of the largest attacks this group claimed responsibility for was an attack on the Algerian gas plant, where more than 800 hostages were taken. Mokhtar justified these actions based on the French led intervention in Mali which had happened a couple of days before.

  • Their AO: Mali, Algeria, Mauritania
  • Size: N/A
  • Founded 2012

The leader of Masked Men Brigade: “Mokhtar Belmokhtar”

Al-Mourabitoun (Mali)

Above: Flag of Al- Mourabitoun

This organization was formed by a merger between Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, and Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s Masked Men Brigade, and on 4 December 2015, it joined Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Now having said that, this group is a particularly hard one to follow–while they rally underneath one banner, they never really seem to get along with each other at the higher level. Therefore, when trying to claim responsibility for some of their attacks, they often still mention their previous organizations.

There have been a number of internal clashes within this organization. With the popularity of the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, some of the group wanted to swear allegiance to the Islamic State. Some of the older guys were still quite loyal to Al-Qaeda, which proved to be a fundamental source of divisiveness within this particular group. I am probably one of the only people that believe this organization never really existed–there were too many differences in which direction they wanted to take.

  • Their AO: Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso
  • Size Approx: 2000
  • Founded 2013-2017

Macina Liberation Front (Mali)

The Macina Liberation Front is a militant Islamist group that operates in Mali. It is an affiliate of “Ansar Dine” Very little is known about this organization, as once again it is an offshoot of an offshoot. You may see a trend developing–there are a lot of mixed groups offering themselves to these different organizations, swearing allegiance to one another, and swapping between one another. The leader of this group is Amadou Kouffa.

  • Their AO: Mali
  • Size Approx: 300-500
  • founded 2015-2017

The Leader of Macina Liberation Front, Amadou Kouffa.

 

Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) Mali

Above: Flag of JINM

Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’ (JNIM) (Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) is a jihadist terrorist organisation in the Maghreb and West Africa, formed by the merger of Ansar Dine, the Macina Liberation Front, Al-Mourabitoun and the Saharan branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). It is the official branch of Al-Qaeda in Mali, after its leaders swore allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri (AQ). As you can see once again, we have a merger of a number of different terrorist organizations to make another umbrella.

This particular group is pro-Al Qaeda, and has also claimed responsibility for several kidnappings in Mali. You can read about these in my previous article, note that two of them have been freed since writing those pieces: Stephen McGown and Johan Gustafsson. A French aid worker has been added to the collection.

  • Their AO: Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso,
  • Size Approx: 2000
  • Founded 2017

The leader of Ansar Dine, Iyad Ag Ghaly now one of leaders at JNIM

 

Islamic State in the Greater Sahara “ISGS” (Mali)

Above: Flag of ISGS

It should come as no surprise that the Islamic State would end up in Mali at some point, as the region has long been plagued with Islamic terrorism. With different groups popping up over the years, it was only a matter of time before an offshoot of the Islamic State would appear in Mali.

This offshoot came in the form of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), and you can take a look at my previous article to get a quick low down on these guys. Once again, reports indicate that this group is responsible for attacks as early as mid-2016, and while this is possible, it probably would have been underneath one of the previous organizations. It appears that ISGS is a relatively new and small group that doesn’t have a lot of backing at this time. Having said that, they were able to launch an assault on U. S. special forces soldiers on the Mali-Niger border, which resulted in four U. S. soldiers KIA.

  • Their AO: Mali, Niger
  • Size Approx: 200-300
  • founded 2017

The leader of ISGS, Abu Walid Al-Sahraoui

Summary of Mali:

Mali is a mixture of separatist militant groups and terrorist organizations; the situation there is volatile and extremely fluid. With a number of offshoots and mergers between the terrorist organizations, it’s hard to say which group belongs to which, and which banner belongs to which organization. One thing for certain is that Mali will play a key role in the stabilization of northern Africa. With its extensive borders to Algeria, Libya, Niger and Burkina Faso, it will make targeting and dismantling these groups a large-scale effort, something that will not be achieved quickly. To learn a little more Mali, check out my previous article.

Also, check out Jack’s: Trans-Saharan Challenges: Smuggling, Terrorism, and the Struggle for a State (Part 1) SOFREP Original Content

 

Burkina Faso

Considering they share borders Mali, Burkina Faso have enjoyed a relatively peaceful recent history–though it will only be a matter of time before the terrorist organizations operating in Mali spread over into Burkina Faso. Terrorist organizations in Mali have claimed responsibility for a number of kidnappings that have happened in Burkina Faso.

 

Ansarul Islam ( Burkina Faso)

Above: Flag of Ansarul Islam

A relatively small terrorist organization that operates between the Burkina Faso and Mali border, the group swears allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The group has two bases in the Malian towns of Douna and Selba, but their focus is not on attacking French troops.  Rather, they seem to concentrate on assaulting Burkina Faso troops in the border regions. Their leader is Ibrahim Malam Dicko.

  • Their AO: Mali, Burkina Faso
  • Size Approx: 300-500
  • Founded 2016

 

The leader, Ibrahim Malam Dicko

 

Summary of Burkina Faso:

Burkina Faso will experience more terrorist attacks in the coming years. The number of different offshoots in Mali added to the rising number of mergers means one thing: these groups will be looking to expand their areas of operation, made easy by the poor border security and already established Al-Qaeda offshoot, paving the way for others to come on over.

 

Libya

Most of us know the story of the Libyan conflict in 2011, where a western collection force was set up to assist rebels in overthrowing “Colonel Gaddafi”, president of Libya. The western coalition force and the rebels were successful in overthrowing Colonel Gaddafi, and on the 20th of October, 2011, there was a video showing the dictator being dragged through a crowd of people, appearing to be injured. Later that day, they would confirm the death of Colonel Gaddafi.

To put it simply, after the fall of Gaddafi the country would spiral into complete chaos with more groups and more fractions than I care to list. It’s only a matter of time until these many groups start to turn on one another. Also, Gaddafi had a number of weapon stashes around the country, Libya was simply flooded with small arms and a number of different heavy weapons. These weapons would also be smuggled out of Libya and into another part of Africa to fuel other conflicts.

 

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya (Libya)

Above: ISIL Flag

After the 2011 Libyan civil war, hundreds of fighters would make their way to Syria to help opposition groups that are trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. In 2012, while fighting in Syria, a group of Libyans would declare themselves the “Battar Brigade”. Later on, we would see the rise of the Islamic State and soon after, the Battar Brigade would sour their allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

In 2014, after serving two years in the Syrian civil war, members of the Battar Brigade were battle-hardened and tested in combat, and around 200-300 made their way back to Libya. After arriving in Libya, this group would set up a new organization: the Islamic Youth Shura Council, and this group would go around and recruit new fighters from different military groups, including Ansar Al-Sharia (AQ). In September 2014, ISIL dispatched one of the most senior commanders, a veteran of the Iraq conflict and one of al-Baghdadi most trusted men, “Abu Nabil al Anbari” along with Saudi “Abu Habib al-Jazrawi”, and Yemeni “Abu al-Baraa el-Azdi”. On the 30th of October, 2014, the group would pledge allegiance to the Islamic state in Iraq and Levant, with al-Baghdadi accepting via a public statement.

  • Their AO: Libya
  • Size: Approx. 6000-8000
  • Founded in 2015

 

Leader of ISIL in Libya, Abu Nabil al-Anbari

 

Ansar al-Sharia and Ansar al-Sharia Derna (Libya)

Above: Ansar al-Sharia

This organization would make an appearance after the 2011 Libyan civil war, with one part based in Benghazi and the other Derna. Ansar al-sharia was once one of the largest terrorist organizations in Libya, and is also responsible for the 2012 Benghazi attack on the US consulate. After this attack, the group went into hiding and rumors had it that they were disbanding, but later we would see this group participate in what they called their second Libyan civil war. By this time, the rise of the Islamic state in Libya was in full motion, gaining ground and momentum with more and more people defecting to the Islamic state.  On top of heavy losses fighting the Libyan National Army in 2017, this group just about ceased operations. But Ansar al-Sharia Derna would not give up, and they merged with the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna. They oppose the Islamic State.

  • Their AO: Libya
  • Size Approx: 2000-3000
  • Founded 2012-2017

The Leader of Ansar al-Sharia, Abu Khalid al Madani

Summary of Libya:

Since the fall of Gaddafi, Libyan descended into terminal chaos and has remained a very dynamic situation. I really don’t have the answer to the Libyan crisis, but it will surely remain this way for a long time to come. ISIL will remain active in the area and continue be the predominant force in the region.

 

Tunisia

ISIL insurgency in Tunisia refers to the ongoing militant and terror activity of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant branch in Tunisia. The activity of ISIL in Tunisia began in the summer of 2015 with the Sousse attacks. Though an earlier terror incident in Bardo Museum in March 2015 was claimed the Islamic State, the Tunisian government blamed the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade. Following massive border clashes near Ben Guerdance in March 2016, the activity of the ISIL group was described as an armed insurgency, switching away from the previous tactics of sporadic suicide attacks to attempt to gain territorial control.

 

ISIL (Tunisia)

Above: ISIL Flag

There is not too much information on the Islamic state cells that are operating in Tunisia, only that they are believed to be small, independent cells. They wish to gain support and potentially connect with the Libyan Islamic state cells to create a new swath of land.

Summary of Tunisia:

Tunisia is very different to the likes of Libya and Syria, and there is still a very stable government in the region. I predict that Tunisia will have similar experiences to Europe, in that the terrorist organizations, including the Islamic state, will conduct unpredictable terrorist attacks and will seek to become a destabilizing force in the area.

 

Egypt

This iconic African country also suffers from Islamic terrorism, and it has Islamic terrorist organizations operating within its borders. The Sinai insurgency is a conflict between Islamic terrorist groups and Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. This region in Egypt has long been known for its lawlessness, and it acted as one of the main supply routes of weapons and other illicit trade. This is due to the Egypt and Israeli peace treaty of 1979, in which neither side kept a high-security presence within the area. Allowing militants to pass through the area unchecked, the limited government-directed investment and development in Sinai have discriminated against the local Bedouin population, a group that values tribal allegiance over all else. The combination of Sinai’s harsh terrain and lack of resources have kept the area poor, once again creating the perfect breeding grounds for terror groups to operate and grow.

 

Al-Qaeda in Sinai Peninsula (AQSP) (Egypt)

Above: Flag of AQSP

This group was first announced on the 5th of August, 2006, and would allow AQ to have a firm foothold in Egypt. They have been involved in fueling the conflict in the Sinai Peninsula, and have since recruited a number of other groups to operate underneath the AQSP banner: Ansar al-Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Jamaat al-Murabiteen, Muhammad Jamal Network, Nasr City Cel, Jund al-Islam, and the military faction of al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya.  The leaders of this organization are Mohammed Eid Muslih Hamad and Ramzi Mowafi.

  • Their AO: Egypt, Israel
  • Size: Approx. 6000-7000
  • Founded 2006
  • Leader of AQSP: Ramzi Mowafi

 

Ansar al-Sharia (Egypt)

Above: Flag of Ansar al-Sharia

Following the Egyptian revolution in 2011, many of the imprisoned jihadist militants were released. This allowed radical followers of Salafist Jihadism to resume their activities and recruit followers. One of those released from prison was Ahmad Ashoush, aka Abu Nizar. In 1989, Ashoush was in Afghanistan, where he became a close friend of Mohammed Atef, who would later become the military chief of AQ. Ashoush also became friends with Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. In 1991, he returned to Egypt with a group of other Egyptians, founding the jihadi group Vanguards of Conquest.  He was arrested in 1993 along with 150 of his followers and remained imprisoned until the revolution.

Ashoush founded Ansar al-Sharia in November 2012. The same name has been used by Salafist Jihadist groups created in Yemen, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere. The group releases statements through its media branch, al-Bayyan Media Foundation.

  • Their AO: Egypt, Israel
  • Size: Approx: 700-1000
  • Founded 2012

The Leader of of Ansar al-Sharia (Egypt)

 

Ansar Bait al-Maqdis ISIL (Egypt)

Above: ISIL Flag

Once again, ISIL has gained another Salafi jihadist group. This group was active from 2011-2013, primarily focusing on attacking Israeli security forces on the border and the Egyptian Jordanian oil pipeline. Without going into it too much, most people are acutely aware of what the Islamic State capabilities are.

  • Their AO: Egypt
  • Size: Approx. 1000-2000

 

Summary of Egypt:

The situation in east Egypt remains an unpredictable one.  There are no signs of the central government seeking to create more opportunities in the poorer regions of the Sinai Peninsula. With that said, I do believe that they could take progressive steps toward building a better relationship with the Bedouin population. By doing so, the Bedouins could act as a key intelligence asset–AQ will remain in the region for years to come, and Islamic State will want to hold on in this peninsula to keep the smuggling route from Libya to Syria open.

 

Nigeria

I have covered a little on Nigeria already, but there is always more to learn. Nigeria is like two different countries: the south has rich and wealthy regions, and the north very poor farming communities. Nigeria is no stranger to terrorist organizations or extreme militant groups. Boko Haram has been around since 2002, and in the delta states to the south of Nigeria there have been a number of extreme militant groups opposing the oil companies for years. With the central government’s main focus on keeping the oil regions safe for the country’s financial benefit, the north was not on the priority list. Years later this would come back and bite the central government in the ass.

 

Boko Haram, also is known as Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) (Nigeria)

Above: Flag of Boko Haram

Boko Haram has a long and rich history in Nigeria. Mohammed Yusuf founded the organization in 2002, when he created a complex in Borno state northern Nigeria, a school/center that attracted poor Muslim communities. Even back then, Mohammed Yusuf had the ambition to create an Islamic state. He would often broadcast this on radio and television stations. Doing this caught Al-Qaeda’s eye, who had expressed some sympathy toward him and his organization.

In 2009, Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group and local security forces across several states clashed, killing over 1000 people. Mohammed Yusuf was arrested during the uprising and publicly executed by the police. The police would deny the execution, saying that he died from wounds in earlier clashes or that he was trying to break free from police custody.

The death of Mohammed Yusuf served as Boko Haram’s ascent, and turned Yusuf into a legendary figure among them. In 2012, Boko Haram had gained ground and followers; the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency, resulting in 115 attacks and killing 550 people.

The group’s leader was now Abubakar Shekau, and in 2014 the group ascended to the headlines of the world after kidnapping 276 schoolgirls in the Chibok kidnapping. The group also began expanding into new territories like Niger, Cameroon, and Chad.

They did, however, suffer minor setbacks when president Goodluck Jonathan used South African mercenaries. Since the president was voted back in, the South African mercenaries contract was canceled, thereby allowing a resurgence of Boko Haram. In March 2015, the group pledged their allegiance to the Islamic state in Iraq and Levant–a few days later, ISIL confirmed the Boko Haram was a part of the Islamic state in Iraq and Levant. After that, they renamed themselves the Islamic state west Africa province (ISWAP).

  • Their AO: Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon
  • Size: Approx. 10,000 plus
  • Founded in 2002

The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau.
Note: since ISIL took over, they placed Abu Musab al-Barnawi in charge, as seen below:

Summary of Nigeria:

With Boko Haram swearing allegiance to the Islamic state and operating across the borders, I feel as though the Nigerian army doesn’t know how to cope with them. Hiring South African mercenaries from Steps International was effective. Now the new central government refuses to use them, and I feel as though they have taken a step back from countering the threat. This will only allow a resurgence of Boko Haram, and they will have freedom of movement, gaining popularity within the region. With the assistance of the Islamic state, it may be able to draw on a wider pool of foot soldiers to use in the future.

 

Somalia

Where to start–most of you will know Somalia from the film, “Black Hawk Down”, but there is a long history prior to that. If we look further back into the past, Somalia was once a major power in Africa. Having been to Somalia a number of times, I would like to think that I have a good understanding of the situation there.

If we look back, Somalia was once ruled by the Islamic courts and al Shabaab was the enforcement wing. In 2006, Ethiopians alongside the new transitional federal government of Somalia waged a war against the Islamic courts. Due to this intervention, the Islamic courts were defeated–but out of these ashes, al-Shabaab would rise. In 2011, the transitional federal government of Somalia alongside the African Union Mission seized full control of Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab appears to have one of the best intelligence wings of all terrorist groups, given their ability to operate in Mogadishu and all over Somalia. It has left the new Somali government stunned. The African Union Mission has also suffered heavy losses in its forward operating bases in southern Somalia.

In my opinion, Somalia is one of those places that makes Iraq look like Disneyland. Experience has told me that the government does not even control Mogadishu to this day, and al-Shabaab has proven time and time again that it can strike wherever and whenever it wants. This is partly due to the failing of the security forces in Somalia and the heavy corruption that cripples the government.

Somalia remains one of the worst failed states in the world.  It has natural resources–the oil and uranium alone could make it one of the richest countries in Africa, but due to the volatile and violent security situation, this country will continue to be a failed state.

 

Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabaab) Somalia

Above: Flag of Al-Shabaab

Al-Shabaab is a is well trained and experienced combat organization operating in Somalia, and they are also extremely loyal to the cause and loyal to al-Qaeda. This was proven when the Islamic state approached al-Shabaab and ask them to join their organization. In a 15-minute video, commanders of al-Shabaab told all of the soldiers that they should cease communications within any Islamic state members, and those that don’t will be punished. Furthermore, al-Shabaab released a statement claiming that interested some of its fighters due to the pro Islamic state statements. While this did cause a rift within the organization, only a small number of fighters and one commander left the al-Shabaab organization and fled north to Puntland.

Al-Shabaab still commands the respect and prayers from some of the local communities. Their fearless style of fighting and early morning raids on African Union Mission bases have made them a very fierce fighting force within Somalia. Their renowned intelligence wing is allegedly one of the most clandestine in the world, and their ability to continue to assault the central government within Mogadishu is a testament to their capabilities. Al-Shabaab is probably one of the most fierce and reliable terrorist organizations in Africa.

  • Their AO: Kenya, Somalia
  • Size: Approx. 8000-9000
  • Founded in 2006

The Leader of Al-Shabaab, Ahmad Umar

 

Islamic state in Somalia (ISS)

Above: ISIL flag

Once again, it should come as no surprise that the Islamic state would eventually try and reach out to Somalia. It’s the ideal scenario for an organization like the Islamic state to expand its operational area. As I said before, al-Shabaab was denied Islamic state their opportunity, but this would not stop them from establishing a significant presence within Somalia. This is thanks to Abdul Qadir Mumin, who was actually sent to Puntland in northern Somalia in 2012, feeling rather cut off and alone and very distant from al Shabaab. He began taking note of the Islamic state message to al Shabaab and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic state, and out of the 300 fighters in the area only 20 would leave al-Shabaab. Of course, al-Shabaab would try to find the defectors and kill them, but the small group took off into the mountains regions.

The Islamic state in Somalia does not pose a major security concern just yet, mainly because they are too small and lack any real support–but this may not last forever.  If they continue to gain support, it will most likely come from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Yemen Province.

  • Thier AO: Puntland
  • Size: Approx. 100-200
  • Founded in 2015

The leader of ISS, Abdul Qadir Mumin

Summary of Somalia:

Unless there is a real change within the central government and the corruption stops, Somalia must invest more money into its security forces. While the United States of America, alongside Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, continues to invest money in the region, all of the states have failed to create a more effective unit within the region. As long as the security situation in Somalia and the security forces in Somalia stays the same, then, of course, this country will remain a failed state and a breeding ground for terrorist organizations to thrive.

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Twitter