The Somali Islamist Group Al-Shabab - Striking Terror in the Horn of Africa


By Alfred Hackensberger

The bomb attacks it has carried out in Uganda and the US citizens it has succeeded in recruiting have propelled the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabab into the international headlines. The organisation in fact partly owes its existence to the intervention of Ethiopia and the US.

If the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, had his way, he would send 20,000 soldiers to Somalia to put paid once and for all to the Harakat Al-Shabab al-Mujahedin (The movement of youthful fighters). "We should take them on," he said in August during the 15th meeting of the African Union (AU) in Kampala. "This reactionary group has carried out aggression against our country. We have the right to self-defence."

The firm tone of his declaration followed attacks in the Ugandan capital on 11th July, in which two bombs exploded in a sport club while people were watching the Football World Cup final, and killed 76 people. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility.

"The Kampala bombs are just the beginning," said Al-Shabab's leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, in a radio broadcast. He described them as revenge for atrocities which the Ugandan army had committed against the civilian population of Somalia. But the AU did not follow the Ugandan president's request, and only increased the number of its 6,000 peace-keeping troops in Somalia by 2,000.

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