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The government of Canada lists al-Shabaab as a terrorist group:
Also known as
Harakat Shabaab al Mujahidin, al Shabab, Shabaab, the Youth, Mujahidin al Shabaab Movement, Mujahideen Youth Movement, MYM, Mujahidin Youth, Hizbul Shabaab, Hisb’ul Shabaab, al-Shabaab al-Islamiya, Youth Wing, al Shabaab al-Islaam, al-Shabaab al-Jihad, the Unity of Islamic Youth, the Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations
Al Shabaab is an organized, but shifting, Islamist group dedicated to establishing a Somali caliphate, waging jihad against the enemies of Islam, and removing all foreign forces and Western influence from Somalia. It is today the strongest, best organized, financed and armed military group in Somalia, and it controls the largest stretch of territory in Southern Somalia.
Al Shabaab has carried out suicide bombings and attacks using land mines and remote controlled roadside bombs, as well as targeted assassinations against Ethiopian and Somali security forces, other government officials, journalists and civil society leaders.
The group is believed to be closely linked with Al Qaida and has recently formally pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.
- Source: Currently Listed Entities, Public Safety Canada
Analyst Mark Schroeder examines al Shabaab's takeover of Hizbul Islam preceding the announcement that more African Union peacekeepers will be sent to Somalia -- Dec. 22, 2010.
A BBC reporter interviewed an al-Shabaab cell leader who said he had two aims: "to become a martyr and to ensure that the country is governed by Sharia law."
"As al-Shabab, we don't care about people who don't want Sharia law," he says.
"Our goal is to have Sharia as the permanent law of our country, and to get the infidels out of our country, whether they are Ethiopians or Americans."
His message to those Somalis who do not pray five times a day is clear.
"First of all, we will call them to return to Islam and pray - because what differentiates a Muslim and a non-Muslim is praying five times," he says.
"If they refuse we will call them again and again to pray. If they entirely refuse, we will jail them and we will keep them without food until they return to praying."
[M]any Somalis do not share al-Shabab's vision for an Islamic state in Somalia.
The Islam practiced in Somalia has traditionally been moderate and tolerant. Local cinemas, for example, thrive, showing Bollywood films featuring scantily-clad women.
There is no history of widespread support for radical religious movements, and this is why al-Shabab's ideology is at odds with that held by many Somalis.
But al-Shabab does not tolerate dissent.
I have been speaking to people in Somalia and outside who have had relatives killed by al-Shabab.
Some were killed because they were accused of collaborating with the transitional government, or Ethiopians, sometimes in the most minor ways - one man said his brother was killed for selling phone cards to Ethiopian troops.
None of the relatives I spoke to were prepared to do an interview, all saying they feared reprisals against them or their family.
In 10 years of visiting Somalia, what is really striking is not just the growth in extremism in the country but the fear among ordinary Somalis to talk about it.
- Source: Rob Walker, Meeting Somalia's Islamist insurgents BBC, Apr. 28, 2008
Though militants did not begin using the name al-Shabaab until 2006, they are part of the same Islamist insurgency that has plagued, and at times partially ruled, Somalia since the 1990s.
Al-Shabaab is often compared to al-Qaeda, but the two groups have little in common. While both are violently Islamist, only al-Qaeda is ideology-driven, espouses global ambitions, and a has history of terrorism simply for the sake of killing. Al-Shabaab seeks only to rule Somalia and to impose an extreme form of Islamic law. The group has long privileged its fight for control of Somalia over ideology.
- Source: Max Fisher, Why al-Shabaab Would Attack in Uganda, The Atlantic, July 12, 2010
A hardline Islamist group in Somalia is publicly whipping women for wearing bras they say violate Islam by constituting a “deception”, it was claimed yesterday.
Gunmen from al Shabaab have been rounding up any women with a “firm bust” and whipping them, say residents in the capital Mogadishu.
They are then told to remove their bras and shake their breasts.
One woman said: “They first introduced a hard fabric which stands stiffly on women’s chests. They are now saying breasts should be firm naturally, or just flat.”
- Source: Islamic militants ban bras, Daily Express, Oct. 17, 2009
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