PART OF THE SERIES OF RESEARCH NOTES FROM MY CURRENT PROJECT, "The Art of the Martyr & Mujahid," (All Materials Copyrighted) :
Somalia, in eastern Africa (on the Horn of Africa), has been wracked by violent civil war since the overthrow of the country's authoritarian president Siad Barre in late January 1991. The country was carved up by rival militia commanders, with clan divisions providing further dividing lines. A United Nations humanitarian mission (1992-1995) faced increasing attacks from several powerful commanders, including Muhammad Farrah Aidid. Following an attack on the U.N. in 2003 which resulted in the killing of 24, U.S. military forces attempted to arrest Aidid but failed to do so and came under intense attack from his militiamen, who killed 19 American soldiers in the famous "Black Hawk Down" incident. The U.N. withdrew in 1995.
In late 2006, the transitional Somali government, backed by Ethiopia and the U.S., was faced with a serious challenge from the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a powerful confederation of clans and Muslim leaders. The UIC, which brought together diverse groups from both the dominant Sunni Sufi Islamic mystical traditions in the country and the newer, more socially and religiously stringent Salafi movement, was formed in opposition to the transitional government, which many Somalis saw as inept and corrupt. The UIC controlled much of southern Somalia until late December 2006, when Ethiopia invaded the country to prop up its allies and clients, the transitional government, aided by the U.S. Many UIC leaders went into hiding in their strongholds in the south or fled to neighboring Kenya and Yemen. The Ethiopian occupation forces soon came under attack both from the more radical surviving elements of the UIC and residents of Mogadishu who were unhappy with their continued military presence in the capital and the country. African Union troops sent to "stabilize" the country have also come under attack.
Even after the election of a former UIC leader (from the Sufi faction), Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, in Febryary 2009, the more radical Salafi elements from the UIC, which reformed as Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Movement of the Mujahideen "Warrior" Youth), have continued to actively resist the authority of the transitional national government. The al-Shabab, as with their forefathers in the radical factions of the UIC before, have been aided by foreign Salafi jihadi fighters from neighboring countries, such as Kenya and Eritrea, and have received training and aid both from Eritrea, which has a longtime rivalry with Ethiopia, and al-Qa'ida "Central." In March, AQ Central chief Usama bin Ladin was featured in a video release from the organization's media wing, Al-Sahab (The Clouds), entitled "Fight On, Champions of Somalia" (see below for video with English subtitles).
View the video on the blog.
Featured below in a linked PowerPoint presentation is a collection of photographs and visual media pieces (motifs) from Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen and the ongoing jihad in Somalia.
Portraits of Jihad: Somalia
...or click HERE.
SEE PORTRAITS OF JIHAD, PART I: AFGHANISTAN & PAKISTAN, HERE.