Three leading African terrorist groups: similarities and differences8 October 2013
Three African Islamist terrorist organizations — al-shabaab, al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, and Boko Haram – have been responsible for many acts of terrorism. The three groups, or at least their leaders and most of their followers, adhere to a Wahhabi version of Islam, which is practiced in Saudi Arabia, and all oppose Western influence in the countries in which they operate. The groups also share a penchant for internal factional violence, and senior leaders of both al Shabab and Boko Haram were recently killed by rivals.
Policymic notes, however, that there are differences among the three groups.
Somalia-based al-Shabaab was formed as the militant youth wing of the now defunct Union of Islamic Courts in 2006. The group employs guerrilla tactics to gain territorial control of Somalia. The group’s operations extend to the Somali borders with Kenya and Ethiopia, and into Kenya, where the group has a residue of support in the Kenya’s Muslim community. The recent al Shabab’s attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi was in retaliation for Kenya’s repeated military incursions into Somalia to attack al Shabab’s bases, and for Kenya’s support of the UN-backed African Union peace keeping mission in Somalia.
Ahmed Abdi Godane is the leader of al Shabaab and was the main driver behind the group’s establishment of formal ties with al Qaeda in 2012.
One problem al Shabaab faces is that the radical form of Wahhabism it preaches is alien to the majority of Somalis, who follow the Sufi Muslim traditions....
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