Black Banners in Somalia: The State of al-Shabaab’s Territorial Insurgency and the Specter of the Islamic State by Christopher Anzalone - CTC Sentinel
Abstract: For the past year and a half, al-Shabaab has continued to take advantage of the ongoing political and security turmoil between Somalia’s federal government, regional state administrations, and other powerful social groups, including the country’s clans and sub-clans and minority groups. Militarily, the jihadi-insurgent group retains significant capabilities to launch a range of attacks targeting both military and “soft” targets, including major suicide-vehicle bombings inside the most secure areas of the country such as central Mogadishu. In 2017, the group also overran a number of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali government military bases and forcefully reasserted itself in the northern Puntland region. Meanwhile, the Islamic State in Somalia, al-Shabaab’s main jihadi competitor, continues to lag behind it in terms of numbers, military capabilities, and media reach, though there are recent signs that the Islamic State-Somalia has been able to penetrate more deeply into the Afgooye area to the west of the capital and outside of its Puntland base.