Al Shabaab’s political tactics and internal dynamics are deliberately, systematically opaque, on the classic Islamist model. It is both nationalist and avowedly part of the global jihad. Shabaab’s fighters may number anything between 3,000 and 10,000 and it recruits across the region. The bombs in Kampala on 11 July, which Spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage claimed for Al Shabaab on 12 July, are a response to the Uganda People’s Defence Force’s key role in the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), sent to shore up Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG, AC Vol 51 No 6). For Shabaab, the bombings initiated a regional jihad while exploiting opposition to Amisom in Mogadishu, where it regularly lobs mortars into residential areas, killing civilians that Shabaab uses as human shields.
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