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Who is Al-Shabaab who gained attention as a Somali terror group?
  • Choi Ga-yun, reporter
  • 승인 2017.10.23 21:00
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In Somalia, East Africa, there was a terrorist incident that caused one of the worst human casualties in history. On the 16th, a truck carrying a bomb exploded in downtown Mogadishu, causing a lot of buildings to collapse and vehicles were burnt down. Furthermore, two hours later, another truck bomb exploded in another downtown part of Mogadishu. This was an area of Somalia where government offices and foreign consulates are located and it was analyzed that the damage was especially large because it was a weekend evening. The bombed city became a heap of ashes and the entire city has been chaotic as people are searching for lost families in collapsed buildings. Many bodies were badly burned or turned to ashes by the attacks. At least 320 people were killed and more than 300 were injured and it is believed to have been done by the Islamic extremist militant group, Al-Shabaab. The group did not officially announce that it was their work until the 19th. However, the Somali government has already pointed out Al-Shabaab as the mastermind of the terror. Almost all of the bombs and gun terror in recent years in Somalia have been linked with Al-Shabaab, so major foreign press also think it was their act.

So, who is Al-Shabaab? Al-Shabaab means ‘young people’ and they have been campaigning for the Islamic revival in Somalia for over 40 years. Western governments such as the United Kingdom and the United States concentrate less attention on Al-Shabaab as they focus on Islamic groups such as IS. Unlike IS, they thought Al-Shabaab wouldn’t be a threat if they didn’t leave their base. Al-Shabaab is one of the most brutal groups in the African continent and is linked to the international terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda. Al-Shabaab has ruthlessly purged those who pledge allegiance to IS. Although they recruit members from the west, they don’t dispatch their members to other countries like IS does. At present, Al-Shabaab has grown into a powerful military force in Kenya and Somalia. The Somali Civil War, the worst drought in 40 years and the incompetent rule of the Somali government helped boost Al-Shabaab’s power who succeeded in taking the southern and central countryside of Somalia and they blocked humanitarian aid to that area. Therefore, hundreds of thousands are suffering death, famine, disease and severe punishment. More than 20,000 members of the African Union are stationed in Somalia, but they are criticized for their incompetence, arrogance and atrocities towards residents. Because of this, Al-Shabaab grew into a huge organization with political, administrative and military systems.

So, why is Al-Shabaab causing massive terror that attracts international attention? The AP diagnosed the incident saying, “This is a strong signal to the international community that Al-Shabaab is sending.” They also said, “This bombing exposes the side effects of Somalia and the US army’s air attack that used a pilotless jet plane.” The New York Times also noted that this terror attack occurred during a period of repelling Al-Shabaab by President Donald Trump. They suggested the possibility that Al-Shabaab attacked civilians as revenge because the US continuously attacked Al-Shabaab. The US army conducted drone attacks several times against Al-Shabaab this year. The US military has also announced that it has removed Al-Shabaab members with these attacks. Earlier this year, Al-Shabaab mentioned the Trump administration and President Muhammad's military act and implied retaliating with terror.

International society also criticized this historically worst terror attack in Somalia. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres emphasized, “I’m upset by the news of the Somali terror. Everyone should be united against terror.”

Also, the Korean government said, “We strongly condemn the acts of terror. Terror can’t be justified for any reason. We will continue to join the solidarity of the international community to eradicate terror,” and they expressed concern over the many casualties. It’s necessary that we pay attention to what strategy the Somali government and international organizations will choose against the newly noticed terrorist group ‘Al-Shabaab’.

Somali people seeing collapsed buildings caused by terrorism

Choi Ga-yun, reporter  rkxnsl@naver.com

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