Armed Hostilities

Activities of Al-Shabaab as a Threat to the World Peace

Table of Contents
  1. Origins and History of the Organization
  2. Structure and Tactics
  3. Cooperation with Al-Qaeda and Anti-American Activities
  4. Major attacks as a threat to the world
  5. Conclusions
  6. References

Terrorism has become one of the main problems of the world community. This fact results in huge interest for the study of terrorism as a major threat of the 21st century. Al-Shabaab is a jihadist terrorist group, designated by the US Government as Foreign Terrorist Organization on 18th of March, 2008. The activities of the organization constitute a menace to the whole world, as the group has a large experience in killing people of different origins and religious affiliations. The purpose of the paper is to investigate the activities of Al-Shabaab and demonstrate the danger of its radical ideas and possible influence on world peace.

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Origins and History of the Organization

Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, mostly known as Al-Shabaab, is a group of Somali Islamists, mainly operating in Somalia. The word “Shabaab” means “youth” in Arabic. The organization was founded in 2004 as a successor of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The main proclaimed goals of its activities are peace and the application of Shariah laws. But the primary urgent aim is jihad, a war against the “enemies” of Islam on the territory of Somali and out of its borders.

Being created as a youth movement, the organization experienced the highest activity and the culmination of its success in 2009-2010, when “it was without question the most powerful force in southern Somalia, controlling most major towns, including much of the capital, Mogadishu, and earning tens of millions of dollars each year” (Bryden, 2014, p. 1). In recent years, Al-Shabaab has experienced decline and lost most of its territories. It has led to the increase of its extremist acts and radicalization of its ideology. Though Ahmed Godane, a former leader of the group, was killed by US Special Forces in 2014, Al-Shabaab continues creating tenses on the territory of Somalia and organizing terroristic acts.

Structure and Tactics

Al-Shabaab is a multiethnic organization consisting of 3000-7000 members. Leading positions are mostly occupied by Somalis and foreigners who have attended training in Iraq and Afghanistan. The structure of the internal leadership is complex and has tendencies for decentralization. In 2011, the group was officiously divided into “national legion” under Aweys and “foreign legion” under Godane. After Godane’s death, Ahmad Umar became his successor.

The control over port cities, particularly the city of Kismayo, allowed the organization to receive big income in the past. Recently, the situation has changed and, after losing control over the main territories, the group faced the need to find other sources of funding. Al-Shabaab started importing sugar illegally. The group also uses foreign sources which come from other terrorist organizations sharing the same beliefs. Besides, people from different countries, who support the views of the organization, donate money through the Hawala system.

The study, conducted by the Institute for Security Studies and Finn Church Aid in 2014, shows that Al-Shabaab recruits very young people. Most soldiers join the group at the age of between 15 and 19 years old. The organization masterly uses the susceptibility of adolescents to outward influence (Botha & Abdile, 2014, p. 2).

In order to make the propaganda effect, the group uses different sources of mass media, mostly radio. The internet is another effective and cheap means of attracting an audience. As the internet becomes more and more popular among the youth, the organization can enroll new soldiers by posting messages in different languages. Before the expulsion from Mogadishu in 2011, Al-Shabaab had controlled local television, actively using it for the popularization of the righteousness of the organization.

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Besides, one of the methods of propaganda used by Al-Shabaab is music. It can easily attract the attention of teenagers and children, the main target audience of the group. Members of the organization create western-style music and supply it with subtitles. The subtitles call upon jihad and joining the army (Wright, 2011, p.136). In 2014, Al-Shabaab proclaimed cable and mobile internet outside the law.

Cooperation with Al-Qaeda and Anti-American Activities

Al-Qaeda has been interested in supporting Al-Shabaab from the very beginning of its formation. It can be proven with the fact that Bin Laden himself published a video, in which he explicitly praises Al-Shabaab and opposes it to the former president of the country. In 2012, the leader of the group confirmed the joining of Al-Qaeda.

The doctrine of the organization includes an anti-American position. After the designation of the group as a terrorist organization by the US, the leaders of the group proclaimed their intention to confront Western interests. Later, in 2009, the members of Al-Shabaab conducted an attack on the plane of the US congressman. In 2010, the group organized bombings in Uganda, where an American aid worker was killed. One of the organizers of the terrorism act stated the intent to attack places visited by Americans. Besides, Al-Shabaab recruits Somali youth from the US.

Al-Shabaab cooperates with Al-Qaeda and is connected to the system of international terrorism. It shares anti-American views and is ready to confront the Western world, regarding it as a crusader.

Major attacks as a threat to the world

The organization uses guerrilla war, assassinations, bombings, and suicide attacks. Since the foundation of the group, Al-Shabaab has already launched numerous terroristic acts. The soldiers widely use suicide bombings in the territory of official institutions managed by those, who are regarded by the group as the enemies of Islam. Bombings near such establishments as an African Union base, the United Nations compound, the Ethiopian consulate, the Presidential palace in Hargeisa are just a few examples of attacks at public institutions. Besides, Al-Shabaab has organized a lot of terrorism acts at public places attended by civilians. The most brutal of them include a series of bombings in Kampala during the World Cup final, a massacre at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, a massacre of non-Muslim passengers of the bus, an attack on workers in northern Kenya, attacks at hotels in Mogadishu.

All of these attacks resulted in hundreds of victims. People of different nationalities were killed in the ruthless acts of brutality organized by this Al-Qaeda-affiliated group. Al-Shabaab goes beyond Somalia, conducting attacks in Kenya and Uganda.

The organization with such a bloody history is not only a threat to Somalia. It can cause destabilization in the whole of East Africa. Such complications will inevitably lead to a tragic influence on the whole world.

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Though various attempts to stop this militant group have been taken by regional and foreign forces, all of them have not succeeded. The fight against this terroristic organization should be considered as a global one. If the world doesn’t unite to stop the terrorism in Somalia and save the country from more dreadful attacks, the victories of Al-Shabaab will result in a menace to the international community.


For years, the strength of Al-Shabaab has been underestimated by the world community. The attacks organized by this group have become well-planned and well-sponsored. Their propaganda methods are quite successful. Considering all of the activities held by the group, it is obvious that its dreadful plans go beyond Somalia and deliver a great threat to world peace. The world should unite against this terroristic organization, to stop the spread of death and destruction.


Botha, A., & Abdile, M. (2014). Radicalisation and Al-Shabaab recruitment in Somalia. Pretoria, South Africa: Institute for Security Studies.

Bryden, M. (2014). The reinvention of Al-Shabaab: a strategy of choice or necessity? Washington, DC: Center for Strategic & International studies.

Wright, R. (2012). Rock the casbah: rage and rebellion across the Islamic world. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

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