Al Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012

Overview

Since early 2007 a new breed of combatants has appeared on the streets of Mogadishu and other towns in Somalia: the 'Shabaab', or youth, the only self-proclaimed branch of al-Qaeda to have gained acceptance (and praise) from Ayman al-Zawahiri and 'AQ centre' in Afghanistan. Itself an offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union, which split in 2006, Shabaab has imposed Sharia law and is also heavily influenced by local clan structures within Somalia itself. It remains an infamous and widely discussed, yet ...

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Al Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012

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Overview

Since early 2007 a new breed of combatants has appeared on the streets of Mogadishu and other towns in Somalia: the 'Shabaab', or youth, the only self-proclaimed branch of al-Qaeda to have gained acceptance (and praise) from Ayman al-Zawahiri and 'AQ centre' in Afghanistan. Itself an offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union, which split in 2006, Shabaab has imposed Sharia law and is also heavily influenced by local clan structures within Somalia itself. It remains an infamous and widely discussed, yet little-researched and understood, Islamist group. Hansen's remarkable book attempts to go beyond the media headlines and simplistic analyses based on alarmist or localist narratives and, by employing intensive field research conducted within Somalia, as well as on the ground interviews with Shabaab leaders themselves, explores the history of a remarkable organisation, one that has survived predictions of its collapse on several occasions. Hansen portrays al-Shabaab as a hybrid Islamist organization that combines a strong streak of Somali nationalism with the rhetorical obligations of international jihadism, thereby attracting a not insignificant number of foreign fighters to its ranks. Both these strands of Shabaab have been inadvertently boosted by Ethiopian, American and African Union attempts to defeat it militarily, all of which have come to nought.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"So far, no book-length treatment of Al Shabaab exists in the academic literature, and due to the political and military importance of the group in Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa, policymakers and development workers, as well as area specialists, are in urgent need of such a detailed account." — Markus Hoehne, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

"Essential reading ... Hansen focuses on the complex ideological detours and military tactics of the Shabab from its inception ... a succinct and definitive history." — The Economist

"Exceptional ... deserves a broad readership." — Nicholas van de Walle, Foreign Affairs

"An intimidatingly impressive book. No one else has amassed this level of detail and matched it with analysis. ... Stig Jarle Hansen knows more about the positions, decompositions and recompositions of Al-Shabaab than any Western scholar. This book is a real service to us all." — Stephen Chan, SOAS, University of London, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Studies

"Hansen has travelled widely through Somalia for years and is personally familiar with many of the members and leaders of the movement. As a result, his description of events carries a powerful sense of legitimacy ... [He] has put together a remarkably a remarkably detailed account of al-Shabaab's history ... [and] until the distant and unlikely day when something better comes along, Al-Shabaab in Somalia is the definitive book on the subject." — Richard J. Norton, Parameters, The US Army War College Quarterly

"Al-Shabaab in Somalia is a judicious and timely study of a poorly understood militant Islamist group. A brave attempt to both historicize and scrutinize Al-Shabaab, it is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand a group that has unleashed havoc in parts of Africa." — African Affairs

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199327874
  • Publisher: An Oxford University Press Publication
  • Publication date: 1/15/2013
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 316,336
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Stig Jarle Hansen is an Associate Professor in International Relations at the University of Life Science in Norway. He specialises in the geopolitics of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, as well as the links between religion, politics and war economies.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Setting the Stage: The Resurgence of Religion in Somalia
3. Origins
4. The first Expansive Phase 2005-2006, in the Shadow of the Courts
5. Phoenix from the Ashes, Insurgency (2007-08)
6. The Golden Age of Shabaab (2009-10)
7. The Era of Troubles (2010- )
8. Lose Some, Win Some
9. Conclusions

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