14 Items

An Al-Shabab insurgent in Somalia's northern Puntland region

Open source from an Al-Shabab film

Analysis & Opinions - War on the Rocks

The Saga of Mukhtar Robow and Somalia's Fractious Politics

| Jan. 30, 2019

The authors write that much has changed for Mukhtar "Abu Mansur" Robow, a key founding member of the Somali jihadist organization al-Shabaab, over the past decade. In November 2008, al-Shabaab was sweeping across southern and central Somalia toward the capital city of Mogadishu. Robow led the jihadists not only in their fight against the Somali government and allied international forces but also in their enactment of territorial governance and implementation of a harsh form of Islamic law. Ten years later, in October 2018, Robow, who once condemned democracy as "unbelief," announced his candidacy for the presidency of Somalia’s South West State.

An Al-Shabaab military training camp in Somalia

Al-Kataib

Journal Article - CTC Sentinel

Black Banners in Somalia: The State of al-Shabaab's Territorial Insurgency and the Specter of the Islamic State

| March 2018

"This article examines al-Shabaab's organizational state, including its strengths and potential weaknesses, through an analysis of its administrative, military, and media activities in 2017 and into the first quarter of 2018. Primary sources produced by al-Shabaab and core Islamic State and Islamic State–Somalia have been used in tandem with relevant secondary sources, including local and international news reporting and NGO, United Nations, African Union, and U.S. government publications, and in consultation with sources on the ground when possible so that the militant groups' claims are not simply taken at face value."

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

After the Mogadishu Attacks

| Nov. 03, 2017

On October 14, a terrorist bombing shook Somalia, one of the deadliest since its civil war in 1991. Hundreds were killed and wounded after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck along a main road between Mogadishu’s K4 and K5 districts. It was but one such attack that day. The others had failed. Two weeks later, a second major attack rocked the capital on October 28, targeting the popular Naso-Hablod Hotel and killing several senior government and military officials. The gunmen who carried out the attack used uniforms and identity cards from the country's National Intelligence and Security Agency to infiltrate the building. Despite the new signs of public unity across Somalia's divided society, the question remains: Is this violent episode a signal of a resurgent al Shabaab or will it finally trigger a fundamental and lasting change in the country's ongoing insurgency and political situation?

Report Chapter - Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Al-Shabab in Somalia: The Resilience of Al-Qaeda's East African Affiliate

| June 2017

This chapter examines the trajectory of Al-Shabab since 2011 and the factors behind its continued resilience in Somalia and East Africa including its expansion into Kenya and other neighboring countries and its responses to growing challenges from the Somali Federal Government, African Union Mission to Somalia forces, and Islamic State.

Sharing Expertise: Belfer Center research fellows share career tips and advice with Kennedy School students att a networking event in March.

Belfer Center

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Students Receive Career and Research Advice at Center’s First Speed-Networking Event

For two hours on a March afternoon, Harvard Kennedy School’s Bell Hall buzzed as Kennedy School students huddled for 15-minute one-on-one sessions with Belfer Center fellows and project directors to get career advice and to ask questions about the others’ career trajectories, research, and methods.

Journal Article - Agenda

Women and Jihadism: Between the Battlefield and the Home-front

| 2016

This article briefing offers preliminary reflections and insights into global jihadi discourses on women’s role as militant activists. It references primary source writings and audiovisual materials produced by jihadi groups and ideologues. The briefing will provide an overview of global jihadi discourses on Muslim women’s role as militant activists, firstly highlighting some of the more important contributions concerning women produced by jihadi ideologues, secondly, examining the place of the Muslim woman in jihadi media, and thirdly, comparing Sunni jihadi discourses on women with transnational Shi’i jihadi discourses. 

Saudi fighters in Islamic State

Islamic State film screenshot

Book Chapter - Oxford University Press

In the Shadow of the Islamic State: Shi'i Responses to Sunni Jihadist Narratives in a Turbulent Middle East

| 2016

This chapter examines how the Arab Spring was gradually sectarianized, leading to the emergence of much more rigid and puritanical sect-based identities and inter-communal conflicts across the Middle East and extending even further outside of the region and across the Muslim-majority world.

Report - Hate Speech International

Continuity and Change: The Evolution and Resilience of Al-Shabab's Media Insurgency, 2006–2016

| November 2016

A new report from Hate Speech International examines the history and evolution of al-Shabab's media operations capabilities and narrative messaging. The report gives particular attention to their strategic use and position within the insurgents' broader strategy of territorial control, survival, and rule in light of shifts on the ground inside Somalia and, since 2012, increasingly in neighboring countries such as Kenya.

Analysis & Opinions - Hate Speech International

IS Rival Al-Shabab Seeks to Regain Footing in East Africa

| November 25, 2016

"Local pro-IS figures are willing, it seems, to move away from the actual IS organization's general practices, in particular related to the violence of control, in order to win over new supporters.  In Kenya, for example, pro-IS voices are reportedly attempt to lure support with promises of a decrease in violence (such as the implementation of the hudud or 'set' punishments for certain crimes such as murder and theft in Islamic criminal law) and lower taxes than with Al-Shabab."