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The impact of foreign elements over Somalia's al Shabaab

Westcott, Stephen (2011) The impact of foreign elements over Somalia's al Shabaab. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Al Shabaab is currently one of the most powerful groups operating in contemporary Somalia. In control of much of southern Somalia, al Shabaab has sustained an insurgency against the internationally supported transitional government and its allies throughout the country and beyond since early 2007. In contrast to previous Somali Islamist groups, al Shabaab also actively seeks to participate in the wider Islamist movement currently sweeping the Muslim world. As such the organisation has engaged a number of foreign elements to assist with its struggle. This thesis explores the double-sided impact that these various foreign elements have had and argues that they have been a crucial factor in al Shabaab‟s relative success. Ranging from al Qaeda and other militant Islamist movements to the foreign contingent that has travelled to Somalia to fight for al Shabaab to the multitude of minor actors the organisation engages for mutual benefit, these foreign elements have noticeably enhanced al Shabaab‟s tactical and strategic capabilities. There have been some serious negative repercussions stemming from this heavy foreign influence, alienating sections of Somali society and attracting the hostile attention of the West. However, this thesis concludes that the benefits provided by al Shabaab‟s engagement with foreign elements has notably outweighed the negatives and that the organisation, despite its recent setbacks, will continue to pose a threat at least within the region.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Makinda, Samuel
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