Al Shabaab is a militant Islamist group and an off-shoot of the Islamic Courts Union. It took over most of southern Somalia in 2006, seeking to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state. With an estimated strength of 7,000–9,000 militants, it continues to aggressively recruit new members.? Al Shabaab has control of significant territory, mostly in rural south-central Somalia. It invests in infrastructure in occupied areas as well as collecting taxes, managing its aid organisation, managing prisons, and practicing Sharia law in its areas of control. By limiting access to humanitarian actors and distributing aid in occupied areas, Al Shabaab has reportedly broadened its base of popular support, which could be used to expand beyond current occupied areas. ? Al Shabaab typically targets Somali government officials, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, and perceived government allies. Attacks in urban centres and along transport routes are common.?? Al Shabaab-related violence is most frequent in south-central Somalia. Casualties also come from the explosion of landmines planted by the group, or from IEDs. In Mogadishu, Al Shabaab frequently targets public figures and public buildings, often using explosive devices. ?? Al-Shabaab is extorting money from communities and forcibly recruiting suicide bombers.?
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), and Somali National Army (SNA) forces
AMISOM is a regional military support mission mandated by the African Union to stabilise Somalia. The UN Security Council has requested the mission maintain a maximum level of 22,126 troops. Troops are from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.?AMISOM has started withdrawing from Somalia, with an end date set for 2020 - handing over control to Somali National Army forces. ?At the end of June 2017, 4,300 Ethiopian soldiers had withdrawn from Somalia. Uganda reduced its contingent by 1,000 troops by the end of December 2017. ? The withdrawal of Ethiopian troops was a major blow to AMISOM's mission as they were the most experienced of the peacekeeping force.? The UN Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which provides support in peace-building and state-building, until 31 March 2019. ?
The Somali National Army (SNA) consists of 12,000 active personnel and 24,000 reservists. ?The Somali National Army and AMISOM started a joint military offensive against Al Shabaab-held areas in March 2014.?SNA and AMISOM have since consolidated control over Mogadishu and the surrounding regions, including Bakool, though attacks persist.
Frequent disputes over unpaid salaries continue to undermine security operations by AMISOM and SNA. Salary delays are between 6-13 months for soldiers?
The US military supports the Somali federal government with drone strikes against armed groups. On 3 November, in Qandala, Bari region (Puntland), the US conducted its first drone strikes against the IS in Somalia. ?
Islamic State (IS)
There are two IS cells in Somalia, who have criticised Al Shabaab's links to Al Qaeda and seek to wage terrorism on a wider scale than Al Shabaab. The first cell operates in the Bari mountains of Puntland who are supported financially and logistically by IS fighters in Yemen. The second cell, Jabha East Africa, operates in the Raas Kaambooni area of southern Somalia.? Both groups face strong resistance from Al Shabaab, who view IS as a rival.? In 2017, IS claimed responsibility for three attacks in Bossasso, Bari region, most recently on 3 October, when gunmen killed one person and injured two. ? IS captured its first town in Somalia on 26 October 2016, when it overran Qandala, Bari region, but the town has since been retaken by Puntland forces. ??