Shabaab Propaganda Indicates Growing Power, Anxiety

The Shabaab Movement has greatly accelerated its Arabic propaganda efforts in the last two weeks, keeping pace with its growing power in Somalia (compare it with their meager attempts just three months ago).  In the two week period there have been at least four major publications (video and audio). The acceleration might be attributed to more capable personnel or perhaps the organization has decided it needs to reach out more to the Arab world.  If the Taliban experience is any precedent, better propaganda = better insurgency.

But there’s also something else that is driving the recent acceleration: anxiety about losing “the fruits of jihad.”  This harvest metaphor is often invoked by Jihadis as part of cautionary tales of past militant groups who excelled at fighting but failed to consolidate their gains once the fighting ended.  The Shabaab employ it explicitly in the first publication below and implicitly in the second:

  • “So That the Way of the Criminals Is Made Clear” criticizes Sharif Ahmad, a former leader in the Islamic Courts Union that the U.S. and Ethiopia overthrew, and his Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia for their moderate Islamism and their willingness to cut deals with the enemy (Ethiopia, U.S.).
  • “No Peace Without Islam” charges Ahmad with turning the ARS into an Iraqi-style Awakening Council at the behest of his American sponsors.

Both pieces indicate that the Shabaab views the ARS as its primary rival once Ethiopia withdraws and that it’s not yet confident of defeating it.

Document (Arabic): 12-29-08-faloja-shabaab-statement-la-salam-bi-la-islam

Document (Arabic): 12-25-08-faloja-shabaab-statement-on-somali-criminals

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