Shabaab forces march in Mogadishu

When Shabaab swiftly withdrew most of its forces from Mogadishu several weeks ago, Somali officials were quick to announce the defeat of the terror group. But Shabaab has characterized its withdrawal as a tactical shift, where it would no longer confront heavily armored African Union forces. Shabaab said it would continue to conduct attacks in the capital, and it has. Shabaab has clashed with Somali and African Union forces in select engagements, and has also carried out IED and other small-scale attacks. The al Qaeda-linked group has also terrorized the local population. Over the past two weeks, 11 people have been beheaded in the capital.

The Al Jazeera video above provides supporting evidence that Shabaab remains a potent force in Mogadishu. As the video makes clear, Shabaab is openly celebrating the end of Ramadan with hundreds of supposed supporters in the capital. Shabaab and its supporters march through the streets untouched. In the video, dozens of armed fighters with heavy weapons and battle wagons (or “technicals”) are also shown. And Shabaab’s top leader from the Banadir province appears on the video along with the group’s top spokesman, which indicates that the top leaders do not fear being seen in the capital.

Shabaab remains far from defeated in Somalia. This, from a Threat Matrix article on Aug. 6, still applies:

Despite the withdrawal from Mogadishu, Shabaab still remains in control of much of southern Somalia, including the southern port city of Kismayo and the southwestern city of Baidoa, which was once the seat of power of the Transitional Federal Government. Outside of Mogadishu, the Somali government maintains little control, save in some areas where the pro-government Sufi Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a movement holds Shabaab at bay. The African Union does not have the resources or the mandate to move against Shabaab in the outlying areas.

Keep in mind that Shabaab’s predecessor, the Islamic Courts Union, pulled out of Mogadishu in late 2006 after the Ethiopian invasion. Shabaab then launched an offensive in the provinces, taking over most of southern Somalia. Its forces then re-infiltrated the capital and retook control.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • ew says:

    Really? Freely marching? Dont you mean surrounding themselves with civilians for protection as usual? Starving their fellow Somalis is what they are doing where was the feast?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    ew, no matter how you slice it, what you’re looking at is a significant Shabaab fighting unit, with two senior Shabaab leaders, in Mogadishu. No one here disputes the fact that Shabaab starves and brutally

  • gerald says:

    Some Coast Guard or Navy snipers firing out of Little Birds would have been a great addition to the festivities.

  • Soccer says:

    Shabaab said that they killed 70 AU troops in a “huge firefight”, along with desecrating their corpses, stealing their weapons as “war booty”, and then using the area they conquered as an area to stage mortar attacks at the “AU headquarters” which killed another 140 soldiers, “including puppet apostate commanders”.

  • Rucko says:

    Deploy the drones to take care of these vermins.

  • CC says:

    Drones should be being produced on a mass scale at this point. Economies of scale dictates that the price per drone will decrease if production is maximized. We need to lessen our dependence on human capital and switch operations onto a fleet of thousands of drones. Obviously we still would need a presence on the ground, but this should be the way forward for any Middle Eastern conflict. Special Forces + CIA + Drones.

  • Paul D says:

    Who funds these cowards?

  • crusader says:

    paul d: they are funded by yemen and its AQ affiliate there. they get their weapons from there as well… i am sure saudi arabia has a part in it as well…
    cc: drones are the way of the future, the problem is the cost of it all…


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