Exposing Al-Shabaab’s Leadership Structure And Precept Ideology

The Al-Shabaab Mujahideen movement is an Al-Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia. Its leadership is a structure that comprises political hardliners, radical Islam adherents from Somali clans and foreign fighters, most of them drawn from Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, and Uganda. Although Al-Shabaab’s precept ideology originated outside Somalia, firstly it must be understood that the Al-Shabaab militant group emanated from the Somali society and thus their ideology is principally part of Somali Islam for the past three decades.

The militant group’s primary goal in Somalia is to wage jihad against the Federal government and subsequently implement sharia law. Al-Shabaab operates majorly in Somalia but has set foothold in some East African countries particularly Kenya and Tanzania. The militant groups’ leadership hierarchy as far as the chain of command is concerned appears flexible.

Al-Shabaab militant group comprises of multiple cells, units, divisions and figures each with distinct and diverse powers. In terms of hierarchical organizational structure of its leadership, Al-Shabaab is well organized with independent components drawn from separate regions. Based on research by Strategic Intelligence, vast OSINT, and CT literature reviewed by S.I, most adherents join the terror group for various reasons, one of them being socio-religious.

It is fair to point out that, Al-Shabaab foot soldiers are primarily concerned with clan-related affairs and monetary gains promised at the time of their recruitment as opposed to the global jihad, thus socioeconomic factors play out as factoring becoming adherents. They are also prone to infighting and shifting alliances as witnessed in Al-Shabaab where a faction led by Sheikh Abdikadir Mumin shifted fealty to ISIS in October 2015.

Research by scholars indicate that Al-Shabaab in Somalia seeks to exploit these vulnerabilities by manipulating clan networks and politics in order to retain power and destitute youths, continue to be easy fishing pool for Al-Shabaab recruitment and radicalization on promise of a better life fighting for a cause (jihad).

Source: Strategic Intelligence