(Also known as: Al-Shabaab Al-Islaam, Al-Shabaab al-Islamiya, Al-Shabaab Al-Jihaad, Al-Shabab, Ash-shabaab, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, Harakat Shabab Al-Mujahidin, Harakatul Shabaab al-Mujaahidiin, Hizbul Shabaab, Hisb'ul Shabaab, HSM, Mujahideen Youth Movement, Mujahidin Al-Shabaab Movement, Mujaahidiin Youth Movement, Mujahidin Youth Movement, Shabaab, MYM, The Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations, The Unity of Islamic Youth, The Youth, Young Mujahideen Movement, Young Mujahideen Movement in Somalia, Youth Wing)
The following information is based on publicly available details about al-Shabaab. To the Australian Government's knowledge, these details are accurate and reliable and have been corroborated by classified information.
Division 102 of the Criminal Code provides that for an organisation to be listed as a terrorist organisation, the Attorney-General must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation:
Al-Shabaab, or 'the youth', is the name generally applied to the Somali militant group which was formerly the most prominent of the militia groups comprising the militant wing of the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC). The Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian forces ousted the CIC in December 2006. The TFG has governed Somalia since the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces in January 2009 and in June 2011 unilaterally extended its mandate to govern until August 2012 when elections are scheduled.
Al-Shabaab's objective is the establishment of an Islamic state in Somalia, based on Islamic law and the elimination of foreign 'infidel' influence. In pursuance of this objective, al-Shabaab has conducted a violent insurgency against the TFG, and foreign forces supporting the TFG. Al-Shabaab seeks the creation of an 'Islamic Emirate of Somalia', to include Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland, north-eastern Kenya, the Ogaden region of Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Al-Shabaab has an increasingly loose leadership structure with a number of regional factions and commanders. Factional disputes have been reported between al-Shabaab's senior commanders over strategy and ideology.
Al-Shabaab encompasses a number of elements, ranging from those focused solely on the domestic insurgency in Somalia to elements that support al-Qa'ida's global jihadist ideology. Estimates of al-Shabaab fighters vary from 3 000 to as high as 7 000, with most members being ethnic Somalis. Al-Shabaab has long recruited members from Kenya. However, a small number of al-Shabaab fighters are from other countries including the US and Canada.
Since the January 2009 Ethiopian withdrawal, al-Shabaab has established itself as the pre-eminent terrorist actor in Somalia and demonstrated its intent and capability to conduct terrorist attacks within and outside Somalia.
Al-Shabaab has continued its violent insurgency against TFG, Ethiopian and more recently, Kenyan forces inside Somalia and the border regions of Kenya. It has also carried out attacks against peacekeeping forces from Uganda and Burundi, who are in Somalia under the aegis of the AMISOM. The group's senior leadership has said al-Shabaab will continue to fight foreign forces in Somalia, and the TFG. Although al-Shabaab suffered personnel and territorial losses to African Union (AU) mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in the first six months of 2011, the group continues to present an enduring threat to East Africa-and to AMISOM and the TFG in particular.
Al-Shabaab's propaganda has also continued to develop, with the group's media campaign increasing in sophistication, including starting a Twitter account and continuing to spread its message through Radio al-Analus.
Al-Shabaab has prepared, planned and conducted frequent attacks since the beginning of 2007 against Ethiopian and TFG forces using mortar attacks, rocket-propelled grenades and firearms in these attacks. During 2007, elements of al-Shabaab adopted tactics used by Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Iraq including the employment of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), roadside bombs, suicide attacks and beheadings. Suicide-vehicle bombings in October 2008 in Hargeysa and Boosaaso, northern Somalia, were also widely attributed to al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab claims of attacks sometimes appear in internet statements in the name of the Young Mujahideen Movement in Somalia (YMMS), an al-Shabaab alias. There have been numerous statements claiming attacks including attempted assassinations of TFG officials, and against TFG security forces and Ethiopian forces in Mogadishu and surrounding areas.
Significant attacks for which responsibility has been claimed by or reliably attributed to al-Shabaab, include:
Al-Shabaab members have publicly advocated terrorist attacks in order to further the group's objectives:
On the basis of the above information, ASIO assesses al-Shabaab continues to directly and/or indirectly engage in conducting, preparing, planning, assisting, advocating or fostering the doing of terrorist acts involving threats to human life and serious damage to property. This assessment is corroborated by information provided by reliable and credible intelligence sources.
In the course of pursuing its objectives, al-Shabaab is known to have committed or threatened action:
Al-Shabaab primarily is linked to al-Qa'ida through leadership contacts and training. While al-Shabaab likely still largely operates independently, al-Qa'ida senior leadership previously has endorsed some al-Shabaab activities. On 9 February 2012 a public statement by al-Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu al-Zubair included a pledge of allegiance to al-Qa'ida and in a reciprocal message al-Qa'ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced that al-Shabaab had joined al-Qa'ida.
In late 2011 al-Shabaab-linked Australian citizens Saney Edow Aweys and Nayef El Sayed were convicted of conspiring to plan a terrorist attack in Australia. Aweys was also convicted of aiding and abetting another person to engage in hostile activities in Somalia under s6 of the Commonwealth Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978 in December 2010. Australian citizen Hussein Hashi Farah was also implicated in terrorist activity associated with al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab does not participate in the Somali political system, despite AMISOM appeals to the group to lay down their arms and join the Somali peace process.
The group was listed as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the governments of the United States in March 2008, New Zealand in February 2010, Canada in March 2010, the United Kingdom in May 2010, and by the European Union in April 2010.
Al-Shabaab is also included in the DFAT Consolidated List that refers to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 and in the Consolidated List UN751(Somalia and Eritria).