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Stadtschlaining, Austria




Thesis submitted by


In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the MA in Peace and Conflict Studies







This thesis gives a comprehensive account of the Somali state collapse and how the

subsequent anarchy led to the emergence of extremist groups, particularly Al-Shabaab. The












connotation, organizational structure, recruitment, financing, tactics and the strategies to ‘win

minds and hearts’ of the Somali people. Most importantly, the study establishes possible

loopholes that Al-Shabaab has exploited to broaden its sphere of influence into the East

African Community (EAC).

The study then reveals that Al-Shabaab’s extremism in Somalia and later infiltration into

the EAC has negatively impacted on the region’s fragile foreign direct investment, tourism

sector and led to an influx of refugees, particularly in Kenya. Accordingly, the study focuses

on the Al-Shabaab related military interventions.

On the military front, the study assesses Kenya’s led Operation Linda Nchiand the

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), seeking to establish whether the operation

was based on unsubstantiated claims, or otherwise. Further, this research captures the

public’s reaction towards this operation and the eventual integration of the Kenyan Defense

Forces (KDF) into AMISOM.

The research finally proposes various avenues for countering Al-Shabaab in the context

of emerging regionalism, but remains pragmatic that not all the possible solutions can be

localised within Somalia without tackling the group's external support structures.




Introduction and background to the Study………………………………………………



Statement of Problem and Scope of study…………………………………………



Literature Review……………………………………………………………………….…4


Significance of the Study……………………………………………………………



Research Methodology ………………………………………………………………… 11


Constraints……………………………………………………………………………… 12





2.1 THE PATH TO STATE COLLAPSE………………………………….………….…


2.1.1 Background…………………………………………………………………………….14

2.1.2 The Siad Barre Regime, Cold War factor, and Civil War break out…………….



2.2.1 Chronology of the Al-Shabaab evolution………………………………………………21

2.2.2 Understanding the Al-Shabaab…………………………………………………………25

2.3 CONCLUSION………………………………………………………………………… 42






OPERATION LINDA NCHI (OLN)……………………………………………….……44
















Data Analysis………………………………………………………………………….…68


Nexus of the Somalia Collapsed Statehood, Emergence of the

Al-Shabaab, and the recent terrorist activities in the EAC……



Avenues for spill over of extremism and terrorist activities in

Kenya and the EAC……………………………………………………….……….



Impacts of the Al-Shabaab Instigated insecurity within the EAC……………….



Perceptions of the EAC citizens regarding the Operation

Linda Nchi (OLN) and the Integration of the KDF into AMISOM………..…….… 96


Reasons for or against the integration of KDF into AMISOM………………………….99


Mitigation: Addressing the Al-Shabaab threat in the

context of the emerging regionalism ………………………………………….








5.1 RECOMMENDATIONS……………………………………………………………….112

5.2 FUTURE AREA FOR RESEARCH…………………………………………………


5.3 CONCLUSION…………………………………………………………………………119

SOURCES………………………………………………………………………………… 121



ACRONYMS…………………………………………………… …



CODE BOOK……………………………………………………………






LIST OF KEY INFORMANTS…………………………………………



MAP OF SOMALIA…………………………………………….………






MAP OF LAPSSET PROJECT……………………………………………145


1.0 Introduction and background to the Study

Whereas the conflict in Somalia has become the centre of global debate on piracy,

Muslim extremism and terrorism over the years, a lot of existing literature has equally

focused on the instability, especially due to Al-Shabaab, but relative to the Horn of Africa.

Not much has been written on the ramifications of this instability with regards to the EAC,

even though the Al-Shabaab threat has become far too fraught for the EAC citizens to


The EAC with a population of 133.1 million 1 comprises of Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda,

Rwanda and Kenya. Nevertheless, Kenya is the only EAC state sharing a border with

Somalia (the border stretches 682 km from Mandera at the North to Ras Kamboni in the

Indian Ocean). 2 This expansive border and its corresponding porosity is at the core of the

infiltration of terrorist activities into Kenya and conceivably, one of the most predictable

avenues that has predisposed the entire EAC to Al-Shabaab related terror attacks.

Even though Kenya, given its proximity to Somalia and the fact that it hosts a portion of a

marginalised Somali group would easily face a backlash of extremism and terrorist acts from

Somalia, the prognosis could not be as clear for the rest of the EAC states. However, the July

1 “East African Community Facts and Figures – 2011”, EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY SECRETARIAT, October, 2011, p


emid=153 (accessed on January 3, 2012)

2 CIA, “Somalia”, CIA World Fact Book, APRIL 12, 2012, factbook/geos/so.html (accessed on January 3, 2012)

11, 2010 Al-Shabaab masterminded grenade attacks in Kampala, Uganda that claimed at least

74 lives 3 shifted the focus from the initial perception that the risk was predominantly Kenya's.

Following the terrorist attacks in Uganda, it is pragmatic postulation that Burundi, another

AMISOM troop contributor would gravely endure a similar fate. Arguably, this prediction is

not farfetched following Al-Shabaab's recent warning to the Burundian government to

consider withdrawing its troops, or face retribution attacks. 4

With three of the EAC states

having been attacked, or on the verge of it, the Al-Shabaab threat had ceased to be a Horn of

Africa issue, but rather a concern for the EAC with Kenya as the buffer between Somalia and

the rest of the EAC.

In light of terrorist activities that Kenya has experienced over the past one year, the focus

has shifted to the current state of affairs which prompted Kenya’s first military mission in a

foreign land since independence (1963). The incursion, code named ‘Operation Linda Nchi’

(OLN) or Operation Protect the Nation/Country, has equally put Kenya on a collision path

with Al-Shabaab. Notably, KDF has eventually joined their counterparts from Uganda and

Burundi in AMISOM, making it three out of five EAC states on a mission to militarily ‘wipe

outAl-Shabaab from Somalia.

Kenya is also a residence to almost half a million Somali refugees in addition to the

population of its native Somali speaking citizens. Whereas Rwanda and Burundi do not have

any statistically significant numbers of Somali nationals, Uganda and Tanzania have equally




respective countries as citizens.









3 Xan Rice “Uganda bomb blasts kill at least 74”, The Guardian, July 12, 2010,

4 ABDULKADIR KHALIF, “Al-Shabaab warns Burundi of revenge attack”, Africa Review, March 2, 2011,

/index.html (accessed on January 17, 2012)

In this thesis therefore, the author would argue that there exists a nexus between the

collapsed statehood of Somalia, and the emergence of Al-Shabaab related extremism or

terrorist activities. Further, terror insecurity in Kenya is as a consequence of the spill over of

violent extremism from Somalia and that the remaining EAC States are equally predisposed

given the myriad of factors that have so far encouraged spill overs as would be discussed.

1.1 Statement of Problem and Scope of study

This study seeks to explore the dynamics or fluidity of the EAC regional security relative

to the Somalia collapsed statehood and the complexity of neighbourliness relationships

following the current military interventions in the country. The scope of this study is

to identify Al-Shabaab and their terrorist-related activities as a universal security gap among

the EAC states vis-à-vis other transnational crimes arising from the collapsed statehood of

Somalia. Accordingly, this study seeks to answer the following questions:

i. What is the nexus between the Somalia collapsed statehood, emergence of Al-

Shabaab, and the recent terrorist activities in the EAC?

ii. What factors have made it feasible for Al-Shabaab related terrorist activities to

spill over to Kenya and possibly the rest of the EAC?

iii. What are the impacts of Al Shabaab related terrorist activities on the socio-

economic fronts of Kenya and the rest of the EAC States?

iv. What is the perception of the EAC citizens regarding the Operation Linda Nchi

(OLN) and the integration of the KDF into AMISOM?

v. How can the Al-Shabaab threat be addressed in the context of the emerging


1.2 Literature Review

The discourse of failed and collapsed statehood cannot be independently assessed without

incorporating the element of a violent conflict. 5 Notably, the violent nature of civil wars

presents opportune avenues for state failure and eventual collapse. Bates posits that state

failure encompasses an existing deterioration of the ability of the central authority to provide

public goods for its citizens, 6 and as Dearth suggests, a state is said to have failed if it does

not fulfil the most basic obligations of statehood. 7 This is in tandem with Carment’s

observation that, the leadership of a failed state “cannot provide sufficiently for the people to

attract minimal sufficient domestic support.” 8 The level of hopelessness in terms of the

functions of the government degenerates further as the state flips from the position of

‘failure’ to ‘total collapse’, a concept which has characterised Somalia since 1991.

Flotz attributes high risks of personal insecurity, lawlessness, and armed conflicts to state

failure, and hence the eventual collapse. He denotes that under these circumstances, citizens

develop a tendency to support virtually any group that can retain order. 9 Accordingly, the

inability of a state to assert its inherent monopoly of legitimate force “opens the door for

extremists to build their bases of political power.” 10 This argument puts an insight into the

emergence and the initial positive reception that ICU (Islamic Courts Union) of Somalia

received, even as its militant arm (Al-Shabaab) carried out terrorist related activities against

the population. The power void created by the Somali state failure and collapse has

consequently been filled by Al-Shabaab, an Islamist extremist group which has been thriving

5 Brennan M. Kraxberger, “Failed States: Temporary Obstacles to Democratic Diffusion or Fundamental Holes in the World Political Map?”, Third World Quarterly, 28 (2007) pp. 1055-71

6 Robert Bates, “The Logic of State Failure: Learning from Late-Century’, Conflict Management and Peace Science 25(2008) pp. 297-314

7 Carment David, “Assessing state failure:Implications for theory and policy”, Third World Quarterly, Vol 24, No 3(2003) pp. 407-427

8 Ibid

9 Zachary Devlin-Flotz, “Africa’s Fragile States: Empowering Extremists, Exporting Terrorism”, Africa Security Brief, No 6, August (2010) p. 1 10 Ibid

on the platform of ‘standing in for the government,’ which essentially means rendering

‘services’ to the people.

Civil war is a key component of state failure and eventual collapse as it emerges side by

side of the state disintegration. 11 This thesis would depart from the assumption that the

Somalia civil war was a recipe for the emergence of Al-Shabaab extremist group.

Transnational terrorism has historically been carried out by non-state actors who carry out

terror related activities in a bid to compel the state to conform to their demands. 12 Groups

which exhibit terror tendencies like the Boko Haram of Borno state of Nigeria have employed

the tact in their quest for Islamic rule across the country, 13 similarly, the Somalia Al-Shabaab

equally prescribe to the same ideology. Whereas the threat posed by Boko Haram is still

confined to its national spheres and more particularly, the state of Borno, the converse is true

for the Al-Shabaab which has so far enhanced its ambitions and extended its sphere of

influence beyond the borders of Somalia into the EAC.The strategy adopted by the Al-

Shabaab extremist group in achieving its objectives puts it at par with the existing terrorist

groups. However, as Schmid puts it, arriving at an adequate definition of the phenomenon

has become problematic. 14 For the purposes of this thesis, the author adopts Hoffman’s

definition of terrorism, which identifies it as an act specifically designed to have far reaching

psychological effects beyond the immediate victim(s). He further posits that terrorism is

meant to instil fear within, and hence intimidates a “wider target” which in this case is the

audience. 15

11 Schneckene U., “How Transnational Terrorists Profit from Fragile States”, SWP Research Paper, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Germany 2004 p 5.

12 William H. McRaven, “SPEC OPS Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice”, New York: The Random House Publishing Group, 1996,p 335.

13 Zachary Devlin-Flotz, “Africa’s Fragile States: Empowering Extremists, Exporting Terrorism”, Africa Security Brief, No 6, August (2010) p. 4

14 Alex Schmid, “Terrorism-The Definitional Problem,Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, 36 (2-3) (2004), pp. 375-419 15 Bruce Hoffman, “Inside Terrorism”, 2 nd ed, New York, Columbia University Press, 2006, pp40-41

According to Pape, 'weak' groups engage in terrorism because it is cost-effective in terms

of fewer actors, finances and other resources. 16 Heinzen sums it up by postulating that the

choice of terrorism as an instrument for achieving political objectives is necessitated by the

depletion of any other political coercion avenues. 17 Al-Shabaab’s resort to the use of terrorist

activities as a means of widening its influence would be fundamental in this analysis.

Particularly, it portrays the groups as a ‘weak’ entity that cannot engage in a conventional

warfare with its adversaries in an attempt to seek military redress to its grievances, assuming

that peaceful mechanisms have been extensively exhausted.

The advent of the Al-Shabaab in the Somalia conflict and its religious connotations

highlights the sacralisation dimension of the conflict. According to Lorenzo Vildino: 18

Sacralisation of a conflict is a process through which religion, or; in most cases, a

militant interpretation of it evolves from being an irrelevant or secondary factor at the

onset of a conflict to shaping the views, actions, and aims of one or more of the

conflict’s key actors.

The infusion of militant religious undertones into a conflict is fundamental to the process

of radicalisation, a concept which this author will explore in detail. The fundamental

component of radicalisation is the existence of an ideology. An individual bearing this

conviction therefore justly perceive violence as an avenue for achieving the objectives of the

very conviction. As Picarelli aptly puts it, “radicalisation occurs when recruits align their

existing worldview with the ideology of a group and commit themselves to using violence to

achieve the group’s goals.”

According to Evans and Neumann, the success of this process

16 Robert A. Pape, “ Dying To Win: The Strategic of Suicide Terrorism”, New York, Random House, 2005

17 Karl Heinzen, “Murder” in Walter Laqueur (ed.) The Terrorism Reader: A Historical Anthology, (London: Wildwood House, 1979) pp. 53-64 (p.55)

18 Lorenzo Vidino , Raffaello Pantuccib, Evan Kohlmann, “Bringing Global Jihad to the Horn of Africa: al Shabaab, Western Fighters, and the Sacralization of the Somali Conflict”, African Security, Volume 3, Issue 4, 2010 pp. 216-238

can be based on four core pillars, otherwise known as ingredients for the radicalisation

process and includes; grievance, ideology, mobilisation, and tipping points. 19 Witktorowics

adds that grievance creates a sense of alienation or disenfranchisement that in turn gives rise

to a cognitive opening 20 , or the realisation to seek other options for redress. One of those

options could be extremism.

Modern technology, especially the internet has remained a vital propaganda tool for

extremists and terrorist groups. The groups use it as an avenue for radicalisation, fund raising,

and recruitment. Cronin argues that the rapid information transmission to a significantly







characteristically rendered



voyeuristic” has been attributed to the existing technological advancements. 21 Coll and

Glasser concurs that, the internet has “emerged as the critical new dimension of twenty-first

century global terrorism with websites and electronic bulletin boards spreading ideological

messages perpetuating terrorist networks providing links between operatives in cyber space

and sharing violent images to demonstrate ruthlessness and incite followers to action” 22

In this thesis, the author seeks to underscore the significance of technology in sustenance

of the life line of Al-Shabaab on the fronts of radicalisation, recruitment of far flung potential

members, raising funds, reaching out to allies, and perpetuating propaganda campaigns.

The most intrepid and tactful operation among terrorists, however, is to carry out an

attack in an unfamiliar territory. According to Cronin, terrorist groups are successful in

carrying out operations in foreign land with “passive support” or “active support” from the

19 Ryan Evans and Peter Neumann, “ Islamist Militant Radicalisation in Europe: A Critical Assessment of the Literature”, London: International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, April 2009),p 24

20 Quintan Wiktorowicz, “Radical Islam Rising: Muslim Extremism in the West” (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), 85135

21 Audrey Kurth Cronin, “How Terrorists Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns”, Princeton , NJ,: Princeton University Press, 2011, p. 4

22 Steve Coll and Susan B. Glasser, “Terrorists Turn to the Web as Base of Operations,” Washington Post, August 7, 2005

indigenous population. Whereas passive support includes mild activities such as being

uncooperative with the security institutions, active support is, on the other hand, very vivid

and includes activities such as: raising revenues, creating a safe haven, and even hiding the

group from the authorities. 23 This aspect would further be explored by the author in the

assessment of the role of the Somali community in Somalia, Kenya, and the rest of the EAC

in understanding the links between Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda.

Peter Chalk and Glen Robinson posit that transnational terrorist attacks are expedited by

the existence of “franchise cells” of one or two people in the targeted country. 24 The May

2003 Casablanca, Morocco bombing that claimed 45 lives is a typical example. 25 Robinson

further highlight that such bombings are carried out by local terrorist operatives in the

diaspora communities. 26

On another front, Chalk argues that terrorists are always keen on taking advantage of

unmanned borders. Many “borders in the East African corridor are porous and subject to little

if any control.” 27 In supporting the argument, he cites the 2004 Al-Qaeda’s successful

penetration into the Jebel Kurush mountain range northeast of Sudan that runs parallel to the

Red Sea and managing to set up training camps due to lack of border control. 28 Key to the

discussion in this thesis is the poorly governed 424-mile Kenya-Somalia border that stretches

from Mandera in the far north to Ras Kamboni which is right into the Indian Ocean. 29

23 Cronin, “How Al-Qaida Ends: The Decline and Demise of Terrorist Groups,” 27.

24 Glenn E. Robinson, Jihadi Information Strategy: Sources, Opportunities, and Vulnerabilities, in Information Strategy and Warfare: A guide to Theory and Practice, eds. John Arquilla and Douglas Borer (New York:

Routledge, 2007), 9698.

25 Ibid

26 Ibid

27 Peter Chalk, Case Study: The East Africa Corridor, in Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2007), 157,

28 Jamestown Foundation Briefs, “Al-Shabaab Expands Operational Zone with Kampala Bombing-But to What End?” Terrorism Monitor VIII, no. 28 (July 16, 2010): 2,

29 Ibid

Menkhaus argues that contrary to the conventional wisdom that collapsed states are safe

havens for international terrorists, the converse is true. 30 He instead postulates that it is the

quasi states that yield a working environment for terrorists due to the thriving corruption. 31

Such countries include: Pakistan, Yemen, Kenya, Indonesia, Philippines and Guinea, among

others. 32 The author would use this theory to advance his arguments for the undetectable

existence and flourishing of Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab cells in Kenya and possibly other

EAC states.

According to A. Philips, foreign fighters in a terrorist group are essential for a strike

beyond its regular boundaries, 33 and the principal role played by foreign Jihadists in the

Province of Anbar, Iraq in the year 2006 gives credence to this argument. Foreign fighters not

only conducted martyrdom operations against the US and allied forces, but also worked as








population. 34 Foreign


remained critical for the agenda of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) as they became the contact nodes

for the newly arrived terrorist groups from Jordan and Syria. 35 Philips denotes that it was not

only the diminishing support of the Anbar Sunni Muslims that contributed to the 2007 loss of

the Province from the grips of the AQI, but also the decline of the inflow of foreign

fighters. 36 In this thesis, the author will argue that Al-Shabaab’s stability and profile have

over the years been boosted by the strategic incorporation of foreign fighters within its ranks.

A special report by the United States Institute for Peace posits that innate factors

emanating from external policies or actors may determine the process by which terrorists

30 Ken Menkhaus, “Somalia: State Collapse and the Threat of Terrorism”, p 71

31 Ibid, p 74

32 Ibid, p 71

33 Andrew Phillips, “How AQI Lost Iraq,” Australian Journal of International Affairs 63, no.1 (March 2009): 65–66,

34 Frederick W. Kagan, “Al-Qaeda in Iraq- How to Understand it: How to Defeat it,” The Weekly Standard 012, no. 48 (September 10, 2007): p 3

35 Kimberly Kagan, “The Anbar Awakening: Displacing Al-Qaeda from its Stronghold in Western Iraq,” The Institution for the Study of War and Weekly Standard, (March 2007), pp 25

36 Phillips, “How AQI Lost Iraq,” p 65.

end. 37 Crenshaw



by arguing that


decline of





government’s response, the choices of the group, and the organisational resources. 38 Rapport

nevertheless, is hesitant to predict an end to terrorism noting that the religious connotation

synonymous with the modern wave of terrorism makes it complicated to make such a

prediction. 39 In this regard, the author would not only seek to explore some of the choices that

Al-Shabaab has undertaken, how those choices have impacted on the groups image among

the Somali populace, but also assess whether there is a declining trajectory in the authority

and power once wielded by Al-Shabaab following external interventions by AMISOM, KDF

and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF).

Even though the author would conclude this paper by vouching for the engagement of the

Al-Shabaab in a peace process or deal, Fred Charles posits that governments have huge

difficulties in trying to negotiate with organisations against which they are fighting in either a

counter terrorism campaign or a traditional war. 40 Further, Al-Shabaab, like any other group

using terrorist acts, may equally not be keen on any negotiation arrangement which also

conforms to Guelke’s views. According to this perspective, negotiations may complicate a

terrorist organisation’s effort to perpetrate its own absolutist perception in the justification of

using terrorist violence. 41

37 United States Institute of Peace, “How Terrorism Ends,” Special Report, No. 48 (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, May 25, 1999),pp 2-4

38 Crenshaw, “How Terrorism Declines,” p. 80

39 David C. Rapoport, “The Four Waves of Modern Terrorism,” in Cronin and Ludes, Attacking Terrorism, pp. 46-73

40 Fred Charles like, Every War Must End, 2d ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), pp. 84-105.

41 Adrian Guelke, The Age of Terrorism and the International Political System (London: LB. Tauris, 1998), pp. 162-181.


Significance of the Study

This study is timely because the on-course EAC regional integration provides an

opportunity for its member states to be involved in the fight against Al-Shabaab, in one way

or another. Admittedly, the collective responsibility espoused in this thesis is for the security

of all the EAC citizens regardless of their respective country’s proximity to Somalia.

The study therefore gives an insight into possible areas of collaboration among member

states and further proposes mechanisms that can be employed on a state by state basis as well

as by the international community in an effort to combat Al-Shabaab-related terror threats.

1.4 Research Methodology

The findings presented in this thesis were based on an extensive desk research, interviews

with key informants as well as analysis of survey questionnaires from a sample of

respondents from the EAC states specifically Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The desk research involved heavy reliance on books, journals, reports, online data

sources, you tube clips, online news and United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The author conducted an asynchronous online interview with eight key informants who

were issued with the same questions thereby creating an opportunity for capturing divergent

views on the same areas of concern.

Issuance of survey questionnaires to a representative population of the EAC was equally

essential as it enabled the author to grasp citizenry perception on the terror threat posed by

Al-Shabaab, the KDF military incursion in Somalia as well as gather proposals for possible














questionnaires were issued through a snowball sampling procedure. The relevance of this

sampling technique was its discriminative attribute in the sense that the questions could only

be handled by well informed respondents who understood the developments and dynamics of

the EAC regional security. The questionnaires were consequently, restricted to at least

respondents with college education.

In total, the author received 102 questionnaires, with Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and

Kampala, Uganda sharing nine respondents each. The remaining 84 questionnaires were

received from different Kenyan towns as follows: Kisii-11, Kisumu-11, Migori-8, Mombasa-

10, Nairobi-34, and Nakuru-10. The questionnaires were then analysed by the SPSS analysis

software and results tabulated as shown in Chapter 4.

1.5 Constraints

As already noted, a lot has been written about the Somalia conflict including the Al-

Shabaab phenomenon. Nevertheless, the current transnational terrorism tendencies adopted

by the group (Al-Shabaab), which is the core of this thesis is relatively modern. The shifting

focus from Al-Shabaab’s threat to stability in the Horn of Africa to EAC and the KDF














developments. Based on this limitation, the author overwhelmingly relied on online news

reports some of which may not be feasible to authenticate.

It was also impossible to track down all the key informants, while others responded at a

time when some components of the interview had changed given the dynamics of the KDF

orchestrated military incursion in Somalia.

Finally, the number of respondents may not have been representative enough to capture

the overall perception of the actual EAC population. Consequently, findings from this study

should be interpreted with utmost caution.


Having given a breakdown of the various components of this study ranging from the

background, through literature review, to the research methodology, at this point, it is critical

to delve into the Somalia state collapse and subsequent outcomes which Chapter 2 presents.




2.1.1 Background

I. Elbadawi and N. Sambanis discount the notion that the principal drive behind African

civil strife is the continent’s diverse ethnic divide. 42 In their argument; the high prevalence of

war in Africa is not due to the ethno-linguistic fragmentation of its countries, but rather to the

high levels of poverty, failed political institutions and economic dependence on natural

resources. 43 Admittedly,




'narrow' aspect of





obscured the very fundamentals of the African civil wars. For Somalia, however, clan and

sub-clan allegiances which are



negative ethnicity are



become one of the continent's longest conflicts.



In an era where the dynamics of global politics is almost entirely embedded in economic

competition, Africa, given its vast natural resources, is at the epicentre of this abyss. This

predicament which the continent is sucked into has metamorphosed to the effect that the












then makes sense that












external mastermind. This analogy highlights the backdrop upon which the Somalia crisis

was bred and how this instability has guided the country into becoming a theatre of proxy

42 Ibrahim Elbadawi and Nicholas Sambanis, “Why are there so many civil wars in Africa? Understanding and preventing violent conflict”, Journal of African Economies 9, no. 3 (2000): 244-269

43 Ibid.

wars during and in the post-cold war era. The Somalia state collapse was therefore, an

eventuality that was realistically inevitable.

The concept of intractability, according to Burgess and Burgess entails intolerable moral

differences such as; culture, world view, religion, valuable essential resources for survival

and domination. 44 The Somalia community, however, experiences a minimal clash on culture,

religion, and to some extent, world views. This, therefore, implies that the Burgess' criterion

does not entirely apply to this context, yet it remains one of the most intractable conflicts in

the modern world.

Somalia is a rare example of an African State. In contrast to the rest in the continent, it is

largely composed of one ethnic community that predominantly proclaims Islam as the main

religion or faith. Despite her existence as a mono-ethnic African society, the Somali people’s

identity is a composite of a more overarching element- the Clan families. This phenomenon is

deeply rooted into the societal substratum and can be traced back to medieval times, long

before Somalia’s civil war or even independence. The genealogic discourse has therefore

taken precedence over any other facets of allegiance as it is the main premise for determining





for the population.



society, 45






Even though the Somali people share a common culture based on agro-pastoral customs,

their traditions, socio-economic and political lives have customarily revolved around the clan

structure. In essence, the clan and sub-clan families establish the foundation upon which the

44 Heidi Burgess and Guy Burgess, “Intractability and the Frontier of the Field,” Conflict Resolution Quarterly 24, no. 2 (Winter 2006): 177-186

45 Peter J. Pham, “State Collapse, Insurgency, and Famine in the Horn of Africa: Legitimacy and the Ongoing Somali Crisis,” The Journal of the Middle East and Africa 2, no. 2 (2011): 153-187

Somalia confederacy is founded, and hence governance is in accordance with the complex

relations where loyalty is determined by genealogy. 46

Somali Clan families can be broadly divided into two distinct groups:

i. The nomadic pastoralists,

ii. The cultivators and agro-pastoralists.

The Darood (largest clan in Puntland), Dir, Hawiye, Isaq (from Somaliland), Digil and

Rahanweyn were predominantly nomadic pastoralists, also known as ‘‘noble’’ (bilis) clans. 47

The Digil and Rahanweyn (located in Mogadishu, among other places), 48 collectively known

as Digil Mirifle, were traditionally cultivators and agro-pastoralists. 49 However, a third tier

also exists in the Somali social hierarchy and it consists of minority clans whose

members are known as the Sab. This group had a historical occupation on metal work and

tanning, something which rendered them ritually unclean in the eyes of the nomadic ‘‘noble

clans.’’ 50 To this extent, it is emergent that although the Somali people “considered

themselves bound together by a common language, an essentially nomadic pastoral culture

and by the shared profession of Islam” 51 , the clan structure remained the fundamental

determinant of the people's way of life and hence political trajectory.

Prior to independence, Somalia consisted of two territories, which were under Italian and

British administration. The south and east coast were formerly under Italian administration

46 Meredith 2005: p. 465

47 Peter J. Pham, “State Collapse, Insurgency, and Famine in the Horn of Africa: Legitimacy and the Ongoing Somali Crisis,” The Journal of the Middle East and Africa 2, no. 2 (2011): 153-187

48 Kaplan 2008: p. 116

49 Supra at Footnote 47.

50 I. M. Lewis, A Pastoral Democracy (London: Oxford University Press, 1961).

51 I. M. Lewis, ‘‘Visible and Invisible Differences: The Somali Paradox,’’ Africa 74, no. 4 (November 2004): 489-515

with Mogadishu as its capital, while the area along the Gulf of Aden's coastline was the

British colony otherwise known as the British Somaliland. 52 Historically, the present day

Djibouti was part of the French Somaliland.

The British protectorate of Somaliland became the first of Somali territories to gain

independence (June 26, 1960). A year later, the Somalia Italiana, a territory then administered

by Italy as a United Nations Trust and which had been an Italian colony before the second

World War attained its independence. 53 The founding of Republic of Somalia through a

merger of these two independent states was arguably a decision not so carefully thought

through. Securing a unified Somalia may have been beneficial to the Somali people, but was

equally a premature conception that disregarded critical considerations such as the respective

leadership’s failure to foresee the dangers that would possibly emanate from perceptible

factors, including: The fact that these two states were under different colonial regimes, and

hence their divergent experiences may not be instantly reconciled, and most importantly;

none of them had a sense of what it was to be an independent and self-governing country, 54

both were in a learning process.

The conception of African Nationalism was strongly evidenced by the founding of the

Republic of Somalia, which sought to highlight a strong sense of national identity. The

expectations of establishing an identity revolving around a durable and unified statehood

characterised the era that succeeded the attainment of independence. 55 Nevertheless, the

regime’s advocacy for the right to self-determination of all the Somali people in the

neighbouring countries of Kenya and Ethiopia was considered an affront to the concept of

good neighbourliness.

52 Meredith 2005: pp. 464-465

53 Peter J. Pham, Supra.

54 Ibid 55 Meredith 2005: pp. 464-465

2.1.2 Siad Barre Regime, Cold War factor and Civil War break out

Having attained its independence three years ahead of Kenya, Somalia had an upper hand

in charting their future. The time for pan-Somalism (greater Somalia), a conception the

regime inherently believed in was therefore ripe. The preamble of the approved 1961 Somalia

constitution thus read: The Somali Republic promotes by legal and peaceful means, the

union of the territories.56 Further, the constitution provided that all ethnic Somalis, no matter

where they resided, were citizens of the Republic. 57 It can then be argued that the regime’s

meticulous insertion of its philosophy into the constitution was to raise national awareness of

the ‘legal right' to pursue the dream of pan Somalism. Again, it could have also been a

purposeful coercion of the neighbours (Kenya and Ethiopia) to cede territories occupied by

the Somali speaking population since it had become a constitutional provision. In the author’s














neighbourliness phenomenon' between Somalia and its two neighbours.

Siad Barre’s nationalistic tendencies took shape one year after seizing power following

the assassination of President Shermarke in October, 1969. This was evidenced by his










state 58 ,


determination “to stamp out clan identity as an anachronistic barrier to progress and that

which had to be replaced by nationalism and “Scientific Socialism.” 59 He advocated for the

concept of “Soomaaliweyn”- a greater Somalia, which comprised those regions in the Horn

of Africa that had historically served as residences for ethnic Somali population. The Star in

the Somali flag therefore bears a symbolic connotation with its individual points representing

56 Global Security, “Somalia-Ethiopia, Kenya Conflict,” Military, (accessed on March 30, 2012)

57 Ibid

58 Peter J. Pham, Supra

59 Ibid

five historical regions inhabited by the Somali people: Italian Somaliland (Somalia), British

Somaliland (Somalia), French Somaliland (Djibouti), the Ogaden region of Ethiopia and

Northern District Frontier of Kenya which Siad Barre sought to unite under a Greater

Somalia. Notably, even as Siad Barre struggled to achieve his ambitious project, the volatility

of Somalia and its strategic location relative to the Red Sea put it at the epicentre of Cold

war. Whereas Ethiopia, a long-time adversary of Somalia had the United States of America as

her ally, Somalia was an ardent client of the Soviet Union. 60 The United States under

President Jimmy Carter was later to sever links with the Ethiopian regime of Mengistu Haile

Mariam over its repressive human rights record. 61

The strained relationship between the US and Ethiopia earned Somalia army a momentary

victory following her invasion of Ethiopia (1977-1978) in support of the self-determination

seeking Somalis in Ogaden region. They successfully captured most parts of the territory with

the initial backing of the Soviet Union. 62 However, it was at this point that the theatrics of

Cold War manifested itself as the Soviet Union deserted Somalia amidst the war and opted to

shift allegiance to camp Ethiopia. 63

According to this author, the Soviet Union’s abrupt shift in support from the Somalis to

Ethiopians put two theories into focus: It may have been unexpected by the Carter

administration and hence a miscalculation on the possible effects of withdrawing support for

Somalia. In this regard, the US not only granted Ethiopia a military triumph over Somalia,

but equally guaranteed a Soviet Union win against her. The other theory focuses on the

geopolitics of the two countries (Somalia and Ethiopia). Somalia's strategic position relative

to Ethiopia may have prompted the US's decision to sever links with Ethiopia well aware that

60 Peter Woodward, U.S. Foreign Policy and the Horn of Africa (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006), 2227.

61 Ibid

62 Meredith 2005: pp. 464-465

63 Ibid p. 467

the Soviet Union would take the bait (abandon the strategic Somalia and cross over to

Ethiopia’s side), which it actually did. From this point of view, the US long term agenda

carried the day. The switch in allegiance, though not morally justifiable (following the close

association between Somalia and The Soviet Union) underscored an existing paradigm of

weaker nations being a pawn in a more complex chess of global politics.

In view of these developments,

the US subsequently became the Barre regime’s

ardent supporter, providing both economic and military aid until 1989. As a Cold War proxy,

Somalia navigated through a foreign funded hyper militarization spending with an average of

20.45% of its budget being channelled to the military agenda. 64 In the 1980s, foreign aid was

equivalent to half the gross domestic product. The US contributed 800 million dollar worth of

aid, a quarter of which was in support of the military capacity of Somalia. 65

Oscillating between the two powers at the centre of the Cold War, the Somalia military

junta benefited immensely from the proceeds of this global dilemma. The end of Cold War

and subsequent withdrawal of the initial massive financial support that sustained then one of

Africa's largest military forces, attested to the fact that it was never about Somalia or

Ethiopia, rather the main players in the Cold War.

Soldiers from the Somali army, one of Africa's biggest and most well equipped, no longer

received their salaries from the government, and as such were confined to selling their

weapons in order to survive. 66 The state's lack of capacity to protect its citizens encouraged

reliance on the respective clans as the guardians and providers of security. 67 For a population

that had endured years of nonexistence of basic human needs, regular organized clan-based

militia and uncontrolled weapon proliferation, the advent of economic decline became the

64 Osman and Souaré 2007: p. 13

65 Meredith 2005: p. 468

66 Osman and Souaré 2007: p. 15

67 Ibid p. 10

tipping point for an explosive outbreak of violence. 68 As the central government finally

collapsed, there subsequently existed a vacuum that was soon to be rapidly filled by rival

political factional leaders turned warlords.

The most catastrophic period in Somalia's path to political obscurity was the overthrow of

Siad Barre's regime (1991) and the subsequent failure by the bickering clans to agree on the

way forward in the appointment of a universally acceptable leader. 69 As Lyons and Samater

put it, “this departure marked the formal end of a difficult era, but did not usher in a new

one," 70 instead, it was the beginning of the civil war.


2.2.1 Chronology of the Al-Shabaab evolution

STATE COLLAPSE 2.2.1 Chronology of the Al-Shabaab evolution It is significant to point that Al-Shabaab did

It is significant to point that Al-Shabaab did not emerge at the ouster of Siad Barre.

Nevertheless, circumstances that succeeded the coup, like the civil war outbreak laid down

68 Ibid p.14

69 “Somalia profile”, BBC, February 10, 2012, (accessed April 13, 2012)

70 Lyons and Samater: 1995. P.7

the necessary infrastructure upon which the group was to be founded. This narrative,

therefore, seeks to validate the presumed linkage between the emergence of Al-Shabaab and

the lawlessness attributed to the absence of a functioning government in Somalia.

Al Itihad al Islami (AlAI), an armed Islamist movement and an “early prototype of an

islamist group that is both a product of radicalisation process and a radicalising agent in its

own right” 71 came into prominence to fill in the power void. This group subscribed to the

Salafi Jihadi ideology and radicalisation within the Somali speaking region was critical to its

agenda. 72

Even though there is little evidence linking AIAI with radicalisation of other non-Somali

populations beyond the country's borders, this may not have been entirely true for the

neighbouring Kenya. The Crisis Group thus reports: 73

AIAI maintained a formidable clandestine support network in North Eastern Province

throughout the 1990s and beyond. It actively recruited Jihadis, raised fund and kept a low-

level presence along the border districts of Mandera and Garissa. It infiltrated the influential

Wahhabi clerical establishment that controls most mosques in the province; gained control of

charities and funnelled zakat (Islamic tax) money to support its activities and start commercial

ventures for its members; and radicalised and recruited Kenyan Somalis.

Pan Somalism, the philosophy that defined Siad Barre's regime became a pillar of the

AIAI brand of Salafi Jihadism in its quest for “re-establishing the Islamic caliphate.” 74

Evidently, the tenacity of the AIAI's pursuit for this intention was strategically reinforced by

two schemes:

71 Crisis Group Africa Briefing No 85, Kenyan Somali Islamist Radicalization, 25 January 2012

72 Ibid

73 Ibid

74 Crisis Group Africa Report No 45, Somalia: Countering Terrorism in a Failed State, 23 May 2002


Endear itself to the Somalia people.


Attempt to infiltrate the neighbouring countries with Somali populations. The second

objective, though superficially ambitious, was easy to achieve in NEP of Kenya due

to an existing disenfranchisement among the Kenyan-Somalis. Political and

developmental marginalisation of NEP coupled with the inherent belief in Pan

Somalism catalysed the process of radicalising the population. 75

The AIAI expansion of influence from NEP to the Coast Province of Kenya, as well as

the attempts to infiltrate the Ogaden region of Ethiopia could, in part, justify the Pan

Somalisim philosophy. However, its links with Al-Qaeda East African franchise (that was

responsible for the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania) was an affirmation

of the group's subscription to a different, or at least more than one cause. The broader picture

may have been to take advantage of the vulnerability of members of the ethnic Somali and

Muslim community in these regions to entrench the ideology of Salafi Jihadism. In this

respect, AIAI ceased to be a Somalia predicament, but a regional, if not global one. By the

beginning of 2000, military pressure from Ethiopia, “strategic miscalculation and internal

dissent led AIAI to lose its influence and splinter into several groups.76

The ICG notes that: 77

Military defeat did not lead to the demise of its (AIAI) extremist ideology. If anything, it

added to its virulence, increased its force and inspired the emergence of the Al-Shabaab. Nor

was the organisational disintegration total, as most accounts suggest. Key members scattered

over the Somali-speaking Horn of Africa-Kenya included-and beyond, blending in and even

75 Crisis Group Africa Briefing No 85, Kenyan Somali Islamist Radicalization, 25 January 2012

76 Lorenzo Vidino et al: p.220.Bringing global Jihad to the Horn of Africa

77 Crisis Group Africa Briefing No 85, Kenyan Somali Islamist Radicalization, 25 January 2012

regaining political and business influence. A year later, they formed the leadership of nucleus

of the Union of Islamic Courts and later Al-Shabaab.

The rise of Islamic Courts Union (ICU) after the military defeat of AIAI highlighted the

resilience of Islamic extremism in Somalia and the durability of an ideology underscored by

unwavering resolve of the new actors to construct a Somalia State under Sharia. The ICU

was mainly composed of a loose coalition of clerics and militia 78 whose governance

framework was informed by strict adherence to Sharia law. Their strict interpretation of

Islam had little in common with the local traditional Sufi practices of most Somalis, yet the

population was willing to tolerate ICU’s zeal in exchange for some long desired security.” 79

For a citizenry helplessly watching their country degenerate into a war economy, security

remained critical and it did not matter who could offer it. The group’s popularity against the

Transitional Federal Government (TFG) therefore soared on the premise of its ‘commitment’

to end banditry and reign on war lords.

As the ICU expanded its influence, the fragility of the TFG increased proportionately,

leading to further de-legitimisation. The ENDF invaded ICU strongholds, but this time at the

invitation of the TFG. Notably, ENDF was once again instrumental in slowing down the

momentum of another emerging extremist outfit it Somalia.

The ENDF invasion achieved one vital objective, the dispersion of ICU and associated

militia groups. Following its previous dismantling of AIAI and re-emergence of extremism

through ICU, the prospects of an absolute eradication of the ideology by forceful means was

realistically low. Even though the past ENDF interventions ostensibly uprooted AIAI outfit,

the emergence of another group with the same ideology reveals otherwise. It is then

reasonable to argue that the period of calm that succeeded the incursions created necessary

78 Lorenzo Vidino et al: p.220.Bringing global Jihad to the Horn of Africa

79 Ibid

platforms for the individual members to retreat, regroup, re-strategise and return to the fold in

a different form as long as the structures for widening the ideological influence remained

unparalleled. With the ICU dispersed, not necessarily sent into oblivion, there emerged a new

group, the Al-Shabaab.

2.2.2 Understanding the Al-Shabaab

Objective and Composition of the group

Kenya is currently grappling with the challenges of Al-Shabaab related insecurity, but in

the wake of East African regional integration, the growing influence of Al-Shabaab has

consequently shifted the threat focus from frontline states (Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya) to

the rest of the EAC.

Al-Shabaab is not an entirely new group. As has been discussed, the ICU was a loose

coalition between the clerics and militia. Al-Shabaab was therefore the militant wing of the

ICU whose prominence can be traced back to the point of Ethiopian led invasion (2006-2009)

of Somalia at the invitation by TFG.

That Al-Shabaab is at the core of extremism in the EAC is no doubt, but the main concern

is the resilience of the group amidst its current crisis. Whereas it can be argued that both

AIAI and ICU had a primary aim of creating a stable Somalia state based on Islamic tenets,

the same argument cannot be distinctively extrapolated for Al-Shabaab’s discourse. The Al-

Shabaab “espouses a strict global Jihadist ideology, seeing itself simply as a regional foot

soldier in a larger millenarian struggle between Islam and infidelity80 with the current socio-

economic and political landscape in Somalia providing the necessary impetus for achieving

this objective. It is therefore plausible to reason that the stability of Somalia is not part of the

80 Ibid

group’s agenda as it would not only put their activities under scrutiny, but also shut down

their life line. Still, other sources single out Al-Shabaab’s primary objective as having to do

with building of an army that places Islamic identity above clan loyalties. 81 Importantly, Al-

Shabaab has equally admitted to waging jihad against the West and other foreign

interventions as part of the Al-Qaeda. 82

Even at the emergent stages, the notion that Al-Shabaab was holistically a Somali

challenge was disputable. However, the roots of the group have since ramified to cover the

rest of the EAC at unprecedented rates with Kenya and Tanzania being easy targets for

reasons which will be explained later in this thesis. To date, there is overwhelming evidence

that Al-Shabaab is not only recruiting from its Somalia population, or among Kenyan

Somalis, but also other Muslim communities in the neighbouring countries. 83

Recruitment: Within and beyond

The exact number of Al-Shabaab’s membership may not be publicly known, but it is

estimated that by the fall of ICU, the number was ranging between 3000 and 7000. 84 Still,

this might not be entirely true as other militants were fighting alongside the Al-Shabaab.

For an extremist group struggling to establish itself amidst innumerable difficulties, it is

logical to submit that Al-Shabaab has fared beyond expectations in driving its recruitment

agenda. Since its inception in 2006, the group has proven that it has the capability of

recruiting members from within Somalia and beyond. Despite this elaborate recruitment

drive, the numbers have remained fairly low.

82 Ibid

83 Al-Jazeera: Kenya blast suspect claims al-Shabab ties

Like many other extremist groups or militia in different conflicts across the globe, Al-

Shabaab equally targets children as potential fighters. In the year 2010, approximately 2000

children had been abducted by Al-Shabaab and arraigned for military training in

varied camps within Somalia. 85 The recruitment was found to be systematic, widespread and

aggressively executed in central and Southern Somalia. 86

Existing data is in line with the popular belief that local Somali community forms the

backbone of the organisation’s recruitment platform. It is also notable that Al-Shabaab cuts

across the clan substratum thereby defeating the historical inter clan animosities. In some

quarters, the group may be seen as a unifying figure, perhaps on the premise of a fallacious

perception that it is fighting for the sovereignty and dignity of Somalia. This narrative, if true,

may explain in part why the outfit has progressively secured the services of Somali volunteer


Key to Al-Shabaab recruitment drive is the Somalia diaspora, an achievement which puts

the group at a prestigious position relative to other global extremist organisations. Using its

stealth network among the Somali diaspora, Al-Shabaab has thus penetrated North America,

East Africa, Europe and Middle East. 87 Through these structures, the group has recruited

about 1000 diaspora members as well as 200-400 non Somali Muslims. 88 The highly

publicised cases of the ‘Minneapolis 20’ and Toronto 6’ are global case studies pointing to

the recruitment of 20 Somalia-US citizens from Minneapolis and six Somali-Canadian

citizens from Toronto and further attests to the overwhelming success attributed to its

diaspora recruitment drive. 89


86 Ibid

88 Ibid



The Majority investigative report on Al-Shabaab emphasised the reality of Al-Shabaab’s

active recruitment and radicalisation network inside the US targeting Muslim-American

converts, such as a top Al- Shabaab Commander. 90 It further reveals that: 91

• At least 40 or more Americans have joined Al-Shabaab;

• So many Americans have joined that at least 15 of them have been killed fighting with

Al-Shabaab, as well as three Canadians;

• Three Americans who returned to the U.S. were prosecuted, and one awaits extradition

from The Netherlands;

• At least 21 or more American Al-Shabaab members overseas remain unaccounted for

and pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland.

Shirwa Ahmed became the first known American suicide bomber to have blown up

himself in Somaliland as part of the Al-Shabaab attack. 92 This event may have been the

clearest indicator of Al-Shabaab’s infiltration of the country (US). Nevertheless, it is not

only the US, Canada and Europe that have made contributions to Al-Shabaab’s regiment,

other countries including Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan and Kenya have had their

share of subscriptions. 93

According to Washiala of the Supreme Council of Muslims, Taita Taveta, Al-Shabaab

recruitment drive runs deep into Kenya, citing various incidences where parents have

disclosed that their children were recruited by the Al-Shabaab. 94 Harper concurs with his

94 Interview with Mohammed Washalla Abdi, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Taita Taveta Country 10, 2012

(accessed on March 27, 2012)

Chariman, April

observation identifying NEP of Kenya and the Somali-dominated parts of Eastleigh as areas

prone to Al-Shabaab radicalisation and recruitment. 95

As been noted, Al-Shabaab’s ability to recruit within and beyond its borders puts it in a

very admirable position relative to other extremist groups. The successful US recruitment

programme “inside the tight-knit and culturally isolated Somalia-American community,

which Al-Qaeda Central based in Pakistan does not have inside the US” 96 is critical to the

group’s strategy for upgrading its profile. The number of recruits, though minimal, remains

consequential as long as the message resonates across the globe. This capability, the author

opines, could be why Al-Shabaab must be at the centre of the Al-Qaeda strategy.

Funding and arming the Al-Shabaab

The Al-Shabaab’s continued existence is hinged on its ability to muster monetary

resources that facilitate its running uninterrupted. However, given the group’s incapability to

penetrate the entire Somalia in addition to the country’s inordinate poverty levels, there is an

overwhelming credibility to the existing evidence that points at its financial muscle as being

constantly boosted by the diaspora.

95 Interview with Mary Harper, BBC Africa Editor and Author of Getting Somalia Wrong? March 3, 2012

According to the UN Monitoring Group report on Somalia and Eritrea, Al-Shabaab

revenue stream can be divided into four distinct categories: 97

• Taxation and extortion

• Commerce, trade and contraband

• Diaspora support

• External assistance

Given the insecurity that has engulfed Somalia for over two decades, it is understandable

that the population is constantly weary about the corresponding lawlessness. Al-Shabaab

seeks to bridgethis security gap by presenting itself as the alternative to insecurity while, in

fact, it is a major composite of the very insecurity. This gesture of provision of security,

however, does not come for free. The group consequently solicits monetary support from

local mosques, imams, communities and even businesses in exchange for the much needed

security. 98 But, that is not the extent to which Al-Shabaab can go in consolidating its revenue

base within Somalia as both taxation and extortionist tendencies are employed in equal

measure. The report by Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states

that: 99

Al-Shabab instructed aid agencies operating in Beletweyne to pay 10,000 USD within 15

days, in order to work for the next six months, after which agencies should pay an additional

6,000 USD for another six-month work permit, and transmitted similar instructions to all aid

agencies operating in Middle and Lower Shabelle, Bay, Bakool, Middle and Lower Juba


99 OCHA, Somalia, Humanitarian access August 2010,


Commerce, on the other hand, is Al-Shabaab’s greatest strategy in keeping its monetary

stream afloat. The port of Kismayu, which the group took control of after a decisive battle

against the Ras Kamboni forces in October 2009, together with the secondary ports of Marka

and Baraawe constitute the most important sources of income for the group. 100 Al-Shabaab

generates between $35 million and $50 million per annum from port revenues, of which at

least $15 million is based on trade in charcoal and sugar.101

Businesses involving contraband goods have been thriving in Somalia to the benefit of

Al-Shabaab 102 with ports under its control acting as the hub for both reception and dispatch.

Al-Shabaab has built a business empire revolving around export of charcoal whose proceeds

“in turn finances the import of sugar, much of which is subsequently smuggled across borders

as contraband into neighbouring countries, particularly Kenya.” 103

Beyond the Somalia borders, Al-Shabaab has developed a sophisticated money

remittance regime through its diaspora networks. The role of the diaspora remittances is

critical to the group’s financial lifeline and is aided by a fully utilitarian infrastructure. While

remittances to Somalia are estimated at USD 1 Billion per annum, it is uncertain if all the

money is used for legitimate purposes. 104

In the US (San Diego’s Heights neighbourhood), federal prosecutors pointed an accusing

finger at the al-Masjid Al-Ansar Mosque imam (Mohammed Mohamud) and three other

Somali-Americans for sending cash to a top Al-Shabaab leader (late Aden Hashi Ayrow).

According to the prosecutors, a co-defendant in a taped telephone contact with Ayrow

instructed Mohamud to “hold back 20 or 30 trusted people at the mosque to tell them to

101 Ibid

102 Interview with Dr. Kimani J, Free-Lance Consultant, Conflict Resolution and Peace Building in East Africa, March


p 28

contribute money.”” 105 Other judicial proceedings against individuals suspected to have

aided Al-Shabaab, either materially or financially have also been witnessed in other countries

such as Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. 106

There are insurmountable evidence and literature on Al-Shabaab's sources of funding, but

it is also in the public domain that the group is highly militarised. The evolving debate is thus

the presumed link between the funds at the group's disposal and the acquisition of weapons.

Nevertheless, even in the absence of such a link, the group, which is not a conventional army,

has had a regular supply of weapons over the years, the question then becomes: Where do

they come from?

The emanating situation in Somalia following the ouster of Siad Barre motivated the

passage of the UNSC Resolution 751 (1992) which sought to impose an arms’ embargo on

Somalia. 107 However, the evolving situation called for the passage of other successive

resolutions to keep pace with the latest developments. The 2006 partial lift on the Somalia

arms' embargo pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) Resolution

1725 (2006) was not only to provide leeway for the regional forces to intervene in Somalia,

but also to “arm and train the TFG security forces.” 108 Even though one may be tempted to

conclude that the arms' proliferation during the Somalia proxy cold war and post Barre's

regime is to blame for arming the Al-Shabaab operatives, it is equally plausible that the

necessary exemptions provided for by UNSC Resolution 1725 (2006) necessitated the vice.

The United Nations (UN) report on Somalia and Eritrea unearths a worrying trend, but

the evidence that AMISOM’s ammunition were found in the hands of Al-Shabaab operatives,

pp 31-32

the very outfit being fought is even tragic. 109 The discovery opens a new Pandora’s Box and

puts into perspective very dire concerns, which run deep into the Somalia war economy. The

monitoring group identifies lack of international support to the TFG and corruption at the

ministerial level” as being the driving forces behind TFG’s soldiers’ low wages which are in

the range of USD (100-150). 110 This insensitivity is seen as the impetus for the sales of arms

and ammunition to Al-Shabaab and other militia groups as compensation for the low

earnings. However, the challenge is not just confined to the TFG as other reports have come

to a logical conclusion that Ethiopian and AMISOM personnel have equally sold weapons to

non-state actors in the conflict. 111

The blurred or absence of concrete evidence against Eritrea has done little to absolve the

country from her alleged role in the Somalia conflict. The country has however responded to

these accusations viciously and discredited them as mere allegations. Regardless of her

assertion, the Monitoring Group reported in 2005 that Eritrea had supported and armed

groups in Somalia fighting the TFG. 112 The March 2010 report also states that Eritrea had

provided significant and sustained support ranging from political to financial and material, as

well as arms, ammunition and training to armed opposition groups in Somalia since at least

2007. 113

Yemen has equally been repeatedly mentioned as a possible hub for the Somalia destined

weapons, but the Monitoring Group was quick to add that “the assertion is impossible to

110 Ibid pp 42

112 United Nations, Security Council, Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1639 (2005), annex to S/2006/229, 4 May 2006, pp. 1013.

113 Ibid pp 22-24

quantify." Further, the government of Yemen denies that arms and ammunition are smuggled

from its area of jurisdiction. 114

Weapon infiltration in Somalia does not give a clear indication as to which militia group

ends up being the beneficiary, but the distinct position held by Al-Shabaab as the main TFG

antagonist and the fact that it controls the most strategic positions through which the same

weapons may get into Somalia leaves little doubt that the group end up with a majority of the

shipment if not all of it.

Organisational Structure

Al-Shabaab has evolved as a group that boasts hierarchical structure typical of any

regular organisation. Whereas the exact dimensions of this structure are not fully known,

hints from the group have led to identification of particular leaders being associated with

specific positions. This has also been verified by various global intelligence agencies, but

with the war on terror campaign being stepped up, many of these leaders have died under

different circumstances, yet their replacements have never been hard to come by.

Supreme to the Al-Shabaab’s structure is the ten member shura council that determines

all major objectives and operations. 115 It is led by an emir whom, despite his significance,

does not exude independent authority. 116 Politics, media and military operations are

subdivisions falling under the council. 117 Al-Shabaab has also established a military branch

(army of hardship) under shura council and a more judicial branch (army of morality) to help

116 Ibid

117 Ibid

uphold rule of law and order. 118 These two armies are thus referred to as Jaysh Al-Usra and

Jaysh Al-Hesbah respectively. 119

A notable facet of the Al-Shabaab’s governance structure is that the regions (matching the

pre-existing districts) under its control are manned by the leadership’s appointed governor

(wali). 120 Al-Shabaab administration at the district level comprises Shari‘a courts, offices of

zakat and military units allied with either the movement’s Jaysh al-‘Usrah, or the Jaysh al-

Hisbah. 121

Mechanisms for ‘winning hearts and minds’ of the Somali people

After many years of civil war that resulted into the installation of 14 separate

governments between 1991 and 2010 122 (all of which have been unable to restore stability),

there was an understandable sense of desperation among the Somali citizens. The advent of

ICU on June 5, 2006 and consequent defeat of CIA backed Warlords led to the capture of

Mogadishu, thereby instigating what for the first time became a period of relative peace.123

This would conceivably be the initial positive impression that the ICU and Al-Shabaab

coalition had on the Somalia population, thus endearing itself to the people.

As already been accounted for in this thesis, the Somali people are nationalistic with

vested pride in both their country and religion. To this extent, even though Ethiopian invasion

of Somalia at the invitation of the TFG led to the collapse of the ICU, it equally invoked

undertones of nationalism among the population. The perceptions of Ethiopia being a

historical enemy among the Somalis, coupled with the invasion arguably prompted the full

118 Somalia: Understanding Al-Shabaab’, Institute of Security Studies Situation Report, 3 June 2009

119 Ibid

: also see Somalia: Understanding Al-Shabaab’, Institute of Security Studies Situation Report, 3 June 2009

123 Ibid

fledge formation of Al-Shabaab as a viable force to counter the ‘enemy’ and ostensibly

restore the lost ‘glory.’

Whereas other militant groups within Somalia have been confined to their own backyard,

the influence (negative or positive) of Al-Shabaab in South Central Somalia has remained

unparalleled. Its ability to draw membership from across the population despite

irreconcilabledifferences among individual clans enhances the perception that it ascribes to

“a broader irredentist vision of uniting Somalia-inhabited areas of East Africa under an

Islamist caliphate.” 124 Prospects of an Al-Shabaab led pan Somalism, which was an original

vision of the independent Somalia, revived the pride of nationalism, which, in effect, made

the group more endearing to a section of the population.

The Al-Shabaab also uses coercion to instil fear and authority among the population. The

submission of the Somalia people to the group’s leadership is not entirely on a willing basis

and hence a confirmation to an existing sense of hopelessness. In 2009, the extremist group

grabbed the headline for publicly amputating a hand and a foot from each of the four

‘convicts’ suspected of stealing guns and mobile phones. 125 This harsh implementation of the

Shari’a has not only alienated Al-Shabaab from the population it purports to serve, but has

also imbued fear which has enabled it to operate without boundaries.

Warfare Tactic

The Al-Shabaab does not necessarily engage in conventional warfare, instead, the group

prefers to employ guerrilla tactic against formal armies. The remarkable success recorded by

the group so far can be attributed to the opponent’s inability to distinguish between who Al-

Shabaab is and who is not, a tactic that the group has greatly exploited to its advantage.

However, the Al- Shabaab’s current engagement in suicide bombings 126 has been a

fundamental shift to its approach to war and given credence to its political branding as a

terrorist organisation. In a wider scheme to popularize this mode of operation, the Al-

Shabaab has sought to exhibit its resolve to ‘adversaries’ by targeting key facilities including

a UN compound, the Ethiopian consulate, a presidential palace and two intelligence facilities

in Puntland and Somalia. 127 Other tactics include bombings, grenade attacks, kidnappings and

targeted assassinations, including those of the leading Sulufi clerics. 128,129,130


The most essential tool for the proliferation of Al-Shabaab's propaganda is the media.

Aware of the power of this component, Al-Shabaab has extensively utilised multiple media

sources, including radio, TV and the internet to propagate its ideals and propaganda. 131, 132

The internet has predominantly worked to the advantage of Al-Shabaab as it is a means that

has not only facilitated the group’s interaction with the youth beyond the borders of Somalia

at minimal costs, but has also been critical for their correspondences with the Al-Qaeda. As

Lauren Ploch states, “Al Shabaab uses the internet to emphasize its commitment to global

Jihad and to pledge fealty to Al Qaeda, which serves both its fundraising and recruitment

goals.” 133

Al-Shabaab-Pirates nexus

So far, there exists no documented proof of a link between Al-Shabaab and Somali

pirates, but this does not rule out such possibilities. According to Cole who is the programme

127 Ibid

coordinator at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime- Counter Piracy Programme,

interviews with Somali Pirates in custody reveal the existence of this nexus. 134 His sentiments

are echoed by Hon. Justice Gaswaga who is credited for trials of Piracy cases in the East

Coast of Africa. Justice Gaswaga concurs that piracy related funds are channelled to Al-

Shabaab’s programmes. 135 It is agreeable that United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime-

Counter Piracy Programme and the Hon. Justice Gaswaga courts have had numerous one on

one interaction with the Somali pirates and consequently established a deeper understanding

of the group’s dynamics, operations and associations. This therefore gives credibility to the

mentioned observations.

Lt. Col. Ankunda, AMISOM spokesman suggests that: “As Al-Shabaab’s sources of

income continue to shrink, they have looked to piracy as an alternative source of funds to

finance their activities,” 136 an observation that Hon. Mulongo, Vice Chairman of the Defense

and Security Committee in the Parliament of Uganda agrees with. According to Hon.

Mulongo, the returns from Piracy are equally ploughed back to the Al-Shabaab course, an

observation that is at par with that of Cole and that of Justice Gaswaga. 137 Other experts

however strike a cautious tone, and as E.B-Gaswaga, a legal officer, UN Department of Peace

Keeping Operations notes: “The nexus between these two groups is a possibility….therefore,

more leaning towards reality”. 138 She argues that acts of terrorism require access to unlimited

funds of which piracy could be a source in that regard. 139

134 Interview with Alan Cole, UNODC-CPP Programme Coordinator, February 2, 2012. *The views presented by Mr. Cole are individual and does not depict the official position of the UN

135 Interview with Justice Duncan Gaswaga, Head of Criminal Division, Supreme Court of Seychelles, May 10, 2012. * The views presented here are of Justice Duncan Gaswaga and does not depict the official position of the Supreme Court of Seychelles.

136 Interview with Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, AMISOM spokesman, April 20, 2012.

137 Interview with Hon. Simon Mulongo, Vice Chairman Defense and Security Committee, Parliament of Uganda, May 11,


138 Interview with Elizabeth Bakibinga-Gaswaga, Legal Officer, UN Dept. of Peace Keeping Operations, Kosovo, February

24,2012 * The views presented by Ms E.G-Gaswaga does not depict the official position of the UN

139 Ibid

Even though there is a common understanding among these experts on the possible

relationship between Al-Shabaab and the Somali Pirates, others discount the notion. As

Harper, a BBC Africa Senior editor and author of Getting Somalia Wrong?’ put it, the nexus

is imaginary, noting that: 140

Al-Shabaab’s precursor, the Islamic Courts Union was the only power base that managed

to effectively tackle Piracy , which decreased dramatically during the last six months of 2006

when the ICU was in power in South Central Somalia. Pirates and their lifestyle is considered

haram by Islamist groups.

Her observations are supported by Hon. Ateenyi, Chairperson of the Parliamentary

Committee on Defense and security, Parliament of Uganda. According to Hon. Ateenyi, there

is no direct connection between the two groups, arguing that pirates show no interest in

having any ideological affiliation with the Jihadis. 141 Further, “while Al-Shabaab seeks to be

less xenophobic and accept foreign fighters, so far, the pirates prioritise their clan above any

other alliance.” 142

In view of these positions, the author remains cautious of the presumed nexus, but does

not disregard the possibilities. Even though Somali Piracy comes out as a purely economic

oriented enterprise, it is observable that the lawlessness of the state provides room for its

survival. However, the fact that Al-Shabaab is accountable for the larger part of Somalia’s

insecurity may possibly facilitate a line of engagement that prompts the Pirates to

acknowledge the “role” of Al-Shabaab in creating a “business friendly” environment.

140 Interview with Mary Harper, BBC Africa Editor and Author of Getting Somalia Wrong? March 3, 2012

141 Interview with Hon. Tinkasiimire Barnabas Ateenyi, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security, Parliament of Uganda, May 11, 2012.

142 Ibid

Affiliations: Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsular (AQAP) and Al-Qaeda Central

According to the US counter terrorism officials, proximity of Somalia and Yemen is very

much to blame for the close working relationships between Al-Shabaab and the AQAP. 143

Reports alluding to the possibility of the AQAP having shared chemical bomb making

technology with Al-Shabaab 144 can only act to reinforce the phobia for a close association of

the two groups. The dynamics of this complexity is further compounded by the large numbers

of disenfranchised Somali refugees in the unstable Yemen. Admittedly, this group could be

an easy target for Al-Shabaab, AQAP, or Al-Qaeda central.

The debate around Al-Shabaab is inconclusive without establishing its affiliations with

Al-Qaeda central. Over the years, Al-Shabaab has been associated with Al-Qaeda for various

reasons. Notably, the group has itself portrayed public display of reverence for

the presumed association on numerous occasions.

Speculations for the Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda being a common entity have mostly been

exaggerated, noting that it is the former that has been keen on confirming the existence of

such an association. Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda have had a habitual understanding on a

number of issues, nevertheless the allegations of Al-Qaeda aided operations in Somalia, if

true, can only be to a limited extent.

The link between the two groups can, however, be traced back to the era of ICU where it

was alleged that the Al-Shabaab and the ruling ICU harboured Al-Qaeda operatives who

were suspected of taking part in the “black hawk down” operation. 145 Notably, one of the

143 Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman, “U.S. Weighs Expanded Strikes in Yemen,” Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2010.

144 Greg Miller, “CIA Sees Increased Threat from al-Qaeda in Yemen,” Washington Post, August 24, 2010

suspects was also allegedly involved in the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and

Tanzania. 146

Before his killing in 2009, Al-Shabaab leader Saleh Ali Saleh Al-Nahban was an Al-

Qaeda senior operative who masterminded the Mombasa attacks. 147 It is then clear that the

close association between the two groups has not been farfetched, but as noted earlier, there

has not been any hard evidence indicating an elaborate Al-Qaeda/Al-Shabaab’s association to

the effect that they can be referred to as a single entity or involvement in Somalia since the

establishment of Al-Shabaab in 2006. Nevertheless, Al-Shabaab has repeatedly pledged

allegiance to Al-Qaeda, which it recognises as the ‘pinnacle of global jihad.’ The recent

proclamation that Al-Shabaab finally joined the Al-Qaeda was therefore not a

surprise. According to the SITE translation, Al-Zawahiri, while accepting Al-Shabaab into

the fold said: 148

Today, I have pleasing glad tidings for the Muslim Ummah that will please the believers

and disturb the disbelievers, which is the joining of the Shabaab al Mujahideen Movement in

Somalia to Qaedat al Jihad, to support the jihadi unity against the Zio[nist]-Crusader

campaign and their assistants amongst the treacherous agent rulers who let the invading

Crusader forces enter their countries.

With this proclamation, Al-Shabaab officially joined the Al-Qaeda. However, what

remains unsubstantiated is why this moment was significant for the two groups to finally

have a formal union. Lt Col. Ankunda opines that the decision to merge at this point was a

critical mistake, arguing that the Somali people who are not known to have embraced a

culture of radicalism would not find the merger appealing, but was quick to add that Al-

146 Ibid

147 Ibid

Shabaab had to join hands with Al-Qaeda for three reasons: Get a new lease of life as it was

being weakened militarily, enhance its sources of funding and gain some visibility.149

Harper looks at the Al-Shabaab/Al-Qaeda merger differently arguing that ‘this is not

something new’ as the two groups have had a history of encouraging each other. She opines

that the recent ‘merger’ statements are a sign of weakness of both the groups. 150


Despite the existence of a common language and a shared religious belief, which, indeed

are fundamental ‘unifying elements’ in an African context, Somalia continues to remain

volatile as the citizens pledge allegiance to ‘a more overarching element’, the Clan.

The proliferation of arms (thanks to Cold War machinations), citizenry

disenfranchisement, as well as insurmountable clan differences created enough incentive for

the Somalia civil war break out. The fall of the repressive Siad Barre’s regime was, therefore

the tipping point of the State collapse.

The deteriorating security situation, dilapidated social amenities and infrastructure,

coupled with intense inter-clan wars created an environment ripe for extremism and terrorist-

related activities. The advent of radical groups like AIAI, ICU and the Al-Shabaab

aggravated the conflict by infusing sacralisation as an additional component to the already

existing complex. This new aspect to the conflict did not just entrench hard core extremism in

Somalia, but also created a forum for its export in the neighbouring countries.

149 Interview with Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, AMISOM spokesman, April 20, 2012.

150 Interview with Mary Harper, BBC Africa Editor and Author of Getting Somalia Wrong? March 3, 2012

Al-Shabaab, the latest prototype of Somalia extremism has not only destabilised the TFG,

but equally extended its influence to the EAC particularly Kenya. Key to the outfit’s success

is its vision which is founded on religious indoctrination, ability to recruit in Somalia and

beyond, a well-coordinated organisational structure, established stream of funding, strategic

mechanisms for ‘winning hearts and minds’ of the population, propaganda machinery, a non-

conventional warfare tactic, as well as its affiliations with the AQAP and Al-Qaeda central.

An assembly of these features not only make Al-Shabaab a threat to TFG and Somalia

citizens, but a regional, if not a global challenge. So far, there is overwhelming evidence

linking the Al-Shabaab or its Al-Qaeda ally to bombings in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Burundi (fourth EAC member) has equally been threatened by the Al-Shabaab on numerous

occasions. From a community of five States, it is just Rwanda (sandwiched between Uganda

and Burundi) which has not been ‘earmarked’ by the Al-Shabaab or its allies.

As the threat of Al-Shabaab orchestrated extremism escalates in the region, so are the

military interventions. Distinctively, Ethiopia has been on the forefront in Somalia missions,

but its exit in 2007 was followed by the entry of AMISOM. In the wake of a wave of attacks

and kidnappings in Kenya, the government responded swiftly through a military incursion

which was ostensibly to protect Kenya’s integrity and sovereignty.




OLN: What informed the incursion?

Kenya’s incursion into Somalia, dubbed the operation ‘Linda Nchi’ a Swahili statement

for ‘Protect the Nation’ was informed by the increased government’s perception that the Al-

Shabaab extremism had encroached into the country to an extent that the sovereignty of

Kenya was under disrepute. While addressing the executive session of the Commonwealth

heads of states and Governments in Perth Australia (2011), President Kibaki of Kenya stated:

“The mission in Somalia is based on a legitimate right to protect Kenya’s sovereignty and

integrity;" 151 a statement that was echoed by his minister for internal security who observed

that “Kenya had no intentions of annexing Somalia.” 152 Based on these accounts, the

decision, notably Kenya’s largest military operation since independence (1963) was arguably

triggered by three key events:

i. The October 2011 kidnappings of two Spanish Aid workers from the Daadab refugee

camp; 153

ii. The shooting of a British holiday maker and subsequently abducting his wife (Mrs.

Judith Telbutt) from a Kenyan beach resort; 154

151 “Kenya Defence Forces capture key town”, NTVKenya, October 28, 2011, (accessed on March 15, 2012)

152 Ibid

153 “Spanish aid workers abducted from Kenyan refugee camp”,AljazeeraEnglish, October 13, 2011,! (accessed on February 2, 2012)

154 “Murdered Brit's Wife Taken Hostage In Kenya”, Sky News, September 12, 2011,


The kidnapping of an elderly French woman from a Kenyan resort of Lamu (near the

location from which Judith Telbutt was abducted). 155

For a country that is heavily dependent on tourism as a foreign exchange earner, the

kidnappings, especially at the beach resorts presented Kenya on the international arena as a

dangerous destination, a rationale that the government exploited to justify its military

operation in Somalia. Arguably, these three incidents cannot entirely be the main causation

for the intervention.

Being a frontline state with Somalia, Kenya has borne the brunt of spill overs of violence

and extremism emanating from Somalia’s State failure and collapse. A historical example

would be the August 7, 1998 bomb attack of the US embassies in both Nairobi and Dar es

Salaam, which was responsible for the demise of 225 lives and a further 4,000 wounded

ones. 156,157 It has since been alleged that the attacks were masterminded by the Al-Qaeda East



with Somalia being instrumental





execution. 158 Yet,










Kenya or



the 7/11

Kampala bomb attack was planned and executed by a new Somalia extremism outfit, the Al-


OLN can therefore be envisioned as a military incursion that was neither random nor

informed by a single incidence observable as having breached the security of Kenya as a

sovereign state, but rather it was triggered by a series of past extremist events which had

155 “French woman kidnapped from north Kenyan coast”, The Telegraph, October 1, 2011,

Kenyan-coast.html (accessed on February 2, 2012)

156 ICG, “The Kenyan Military Intervention in Somalia”, International Crisis Group African Report No 184, p 1, February 15, 2012

157 “Attacks on US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania” Global Security, (accessed on April 5, 2012)

158 ICG, “The Kenyan Military Intervention in Somalia”, International Crisis Group African Report No 184, p 1, February 15, 2012

constituted a dangerous pattern. Still, some observers argue that Kenya’s initial agenda was

not to pursue the Al-Shabaab into Somalia, citing that the whole idea was to create a buffer

zone by leading a covert operation and subsequently installing a Kenyan controlled proxy

government in Jubaland. 159

Aims and progress of the Operation Linda Nchi

Whereas the above accounts are presented as the legal and sometimes moral reasons for

the incursion, the main goal for the operation has remained vague given the recurrent shift in

positions by the military handlers. According to the Crisis Group: 160

First came “hot pursuit” of kidnappers identified as Al-Shabaab. At the 21 October 2011













establishing a buffer zone between Kenya and Somalia. Ten days later, the chief of the

defence forces, General Julius Karangi, declared the operation had no time limit and would

continue until Kenya was safe. Over time, it has come to appear that another aim is to capture

the port city of Kismayo. Al-Shabaab earns substantial revenue there, the loss of which, it is

argued, would break its economic back.

Even as the KDF set its eyes on Port Kismayu, another twist emerged with the minister

for Defence insisting that the Kenyan forces would not capture the port city without the








community. 161 This



determining the operation’s main goal was likely to increase public scrutiny both in Kenya

and Somalia as the war against Al-Shabaabs continued. However, the fears seem to have

been calmed by Augistine Mahiga, Head of the UN Political Office for Somalia who

159 Robert Young Pelton,“Kenya Modified Invasions to Suit US concerns”, Somalia report, November 14, 2011, (accessed January 3, 2012)

160 ICG, “The Kenyan Military Intervention in Somalia”, International Crisis Group African Report No 184, p 5, February 15, 2012

161 Fred Oluoch and Mwaura Kimani,“Haji says no to Kismayu attack without back-up”, The East African, January 15,2012,

reiterated that KDF’s primary mission was to capture Kismayu from Al-Shabaab and then

continue north to the port city of Marka. 162

Strategy and Achievements

Whereas KDF’s main goal in this war had been subjected to a series of discussions, the

approach of the incursion pointed to the capture of port Kismayu as the priority. The KDF

launched its assault from three fronts, namely: The Northern, Central, and Southern fronts.

162 Yara Bayoumy, “INTERVIEW: AU, Kenya Forces Move to Squeeze Rebels Out of Somalia,” Reuters, January 30, 2012, (accessed March 24, 2012)


163 1 6 3 “Kenya’s Operation Linda Nchi Week One (16 - 22 October, 2011) ”,

163 “Kenya’s Operation Linda Nchi Week One (16-22 October, 2011) ”, Critical Threats, (accessed on January 5, 2012)

Even though it appeared obvious that all the three axes of the Kenyan battalion were

Even though it appeared obvious that all the three axes of the Kenyan battalion were

headed for Kismayu, Prof. David Anderson argues that KDF tactical objective was not to

march straight to Kismayu, but rather circle the port city by first capturing Afmadow, which

lies on River Juba, thereby sealing off any crossing by Al-Shabaab. 164 He posits that this

would be followed by the capture of Jibil on River Shibeli, before matching to Mogadishu.

Port of Kismayu, as already discussed in this thesis is one of the key sources of the Al-

Shabaab financial lifeline, it, therefore, makes more sense sealing off the region from the rest

of the Al-Shabaab held regions as this would cause serious shortages to the group's supplies.

As evidenced by the Crisis Group report, the government volunteered very little about

“which and how many forces” were involved in Somalia. Nevertheless, Statfor’s African

analyst, Mark Schoreder revealed that prior to January 2012; Kenya deployed 4,000 of its

military personnel in Somalia. 165 This figure sharply differs with the ICG estimates which

were at 2,000 troops, 166 but the discrepancy highlights how tight-lipped the government has

remained about many aspects revolving around the operation.

The KDF worked closely with the TFG forces (remnants of the 2,500), and 500 strong

Ogaden forces it trained at the beginning of the Jubaland project in 2009 and the proxies such

164 Al Shabaab and Kenya's Somali invasion” hjemmesidefilm, January 30, 2012,! (accessed on February 2, 2012)

165 “Dispatch: Kenya's Military Engagement Against Al Shabaab”, STRATFORvideo, October 31, 2011, (accessed on February 2, 2012)

166 ICG, “The Kenyan Military Intervention in Somalia”, International Crisis Group African Report No 184, p 5, February 15, 2012

as the Ras Kamboni brigade. 167 This alliance remained critical to KDF’s mission in Somalia

given the unpredictability of Al-Shabaab and the unfamiliar terrain. Yet, as the ICG notes,

lack of cohesion between these groups, especially the TFG (whose members’ loyalties are to

individual commanders and not the institution) and the Ras Kamboni brigade jeopardized the

entire mission. 168 The ICG, therefore, attributes the slow progress of KDF’s offensive along

the Liboi-Afmadow-Kismayu road to these competing interests. 169





downpours, 170 Al-Shabaab





effective allies 171 became the primary challenges that KDF was to encounter at the onset of

the war making meaningful advances limited. Despite these constraints, KDF's Director of

Military Operations Information, Col. Oguna exudes confidence, noting that KDF had made

very significant achievements by liberating “a total of 95,000 Km 2 of Southern Somalia from

the Al- Shabaab172 (in 126 days at the time of the press conference in February 2012.)

On the March 18, 2012 press conference, Col. Oguna reiterated that after 154 days of the

operation, the Kenyan troops had captured 22 towns 173 from the Al-Shabaab extremist group

and secured twice the size of both Rwanda and Burundi combined. 174

167 Ibid

168 Ibid

169 Ibid

170 Abdi Guled and Tom Odula, “Heavy Rains Slow Kenyan Army’s Hunt for Militants Inside Somalia,” AP, October 18,


somalia/2011/10/18/gIQAibRztL_story.html (accessed on March 24, 2012)

171 ICG, “The Kenyan Military Intervention in Somalia”, International Crisis Group African Report No 184, p 6, February 15, 2012

172 Ronald Njoroge and Chrispinus Omar, “Kenya's military says making further advances in southern Somalia”, Xinhua, February 19, 2012, (accessed on March 27, 2012)

173 Steve Mkawale, “KDF to operate under Amisom in Mogadishu”, The Standard, March 17, 2012, (accessed on April 22, 2012)

174 “Press briefing: Operation Linda Nchi”, Standard Group Kenya, March 18, 2012,! (accessed on April 22, 2012)

Safety of Kenya since the incursion

Any person with rational thinking would come to a logical conclusion that that the

decision to pursue Al-Shabaab beyond Kenyan borders had inherent repercussions both in

Kenya and Somalia. The targets in Somalia (the Kenyan military personnel) were in a war

zone, and hence prepared for eventualities. In the homeland, however, the security stakes

were different with the population remaining highly vulnerable as a consequence of the

factors identified in chapter 4 as the loopholes for spill over of extremism into Kenya and the

rest of EAC.

It is apparent that Al-Shabaab would not have wished to get into a massive military

confrontation with Kenya; such an approach would have been a serious miscalculation for its

long term agenda of expanding its influence and capabilities in the EAC region. Nevertheless,

the incursion may have changed the group’s approach to a more volatile mode as it basically

had nothing to lose. The outcome of this confrontation may eventually lead to large scale

retaliatory attacks on the Kenyan soil or the rest of the region.

Indeed, Kenya has been synonymous with grenade attacks with North Eastern town of

Garissa, Nairobi and Mombasa being the targeted areas so far. As already noted by this

author, these are the three cardinal areas where the Muslim populations are most concentrated

in Kenya. Still, there is negligible evidence tying the Al-Shabaab to some of these terrorist

activities, thus the emergent school of thought that criminal gangs may as well take

advantage of the existing security gap to carry out Al-Shabaab like terrorist acts and get away

with it for two reasons:

Al-Shabaab would take responsibility, or the security agencies will

pin it on them (<