It had been a while since the Al-Shabaab conducted any major attacks in Somalia. For a second there, everyone was almost convinced that there was hope for peace; but a week ago, several Al-Shabaab attacks were reported causing deaths and injuries on Somali Citizens.
Here are a few reasons that initiated their comeback.
1. Seek Relevance
If you are a keen follower of the Al- Shabaab operations, then you know that they live for first page on the newspapers, they live for the number one hashtag on the twitter trends and the moments their name comes after the word ‘Breaking News’. Last week, they decided to intensify their attacks all over again because we dared replace them with Covid-19. We had the audacity to give the first page and our entire attention to the virus; this irked them and now they are back to try reclaiming their ‘place’.
2. Somalia political scene has calmed down.
Somalia Government has been shaky for a very long time but this year, the political fights and the wrangles have moderated. We saw politicians making efforts to bring in harmony; a good example being the peace talks between Somalia and Somaliland in Djibouti.
On 16th August, the Al-Shabaab, who thrive more in an unstable environment, decided to set a bomb attack in Elite Hotel which had a number of legislators and senior government officials. At least 8 people were killed and 30 severely injured; there have been speculations that the Militia targeted Somalia Education Minister, Godeh Barre, who luckily enough escaped unhurt.
3. They were silently planning for a comeback.
When these militias went quiet for a while, media outlets published articles about how they are dying of Covid 19. Yes, there were a few attacks in Mogadishu but nothing as major as before. During the Eid Festivals, the Al-Shabaab came together, not only for the celebrations but to regroup and restructure their plans as well. Just a week ago, a top Al-Shabaab inmate caused the deaths of over 20 individuals in his attempt to escape prison. It was assumed that he was working with security guards and other Al-Shabaab members outside prison. This dangerous move of breaking out of prison shows how the militia have taken the time to make these meticulous plans silently and cautiously.
4. Attacking harmless fellow Somalis to send a message
The Al-Shabaab are a brainwashed group that believe this course is meant to fight for the Muslims; ‘a holy war’- they call it; but they have killed thousands of other Muslims who support the current government or openly rebuke their movement. In several of their bomb operations, they view their fellow Muslims as nothing but collateral damage. These desperate attacks have seen children lose their parents, wives losing their husbands and tones of innocent Somalis left with injuries that they have to nurse for the rest of their lives.
5. They are disregarding covid-19 protocols
Due to their rebellious spirit, the Al-Shabaab will always feel the need to do the complete opposite of what the government orders. They wear no masks neither do they sanitize; not because they do not believe the existence of Covid-19 but because they find satisfaction in defying orders. Resurfacing of the Al-Shabaab is indorsing the spread of this virus to innocent Somalis because due to the fear of these attacks, small families decide to crowd in one house for security.
6. Maintain their modus operandi
The Al-Shabaab follow their calendar of events very strictly. They have particular days of the month when they attack in order to commemorate their previous attacks. During Ramadhan, they maintain a low profile out of respect for their religion then immediately after, orchestrate a comeback attack. Last year, on August 14th they attacked a Somali Base and killed at least six Somali government soldiers. Last night, the Al- Shabaab released a video of their attacks against the Ethiopia military convoy in Somalia which killed several soldiers and some captured alive.
Soldiers and other security officials in Kenya and Somalia are on high alert during this period because the Al-Shabaab have proven to be unpredictable.