November 14, 2011

Al Shabaab Leadership Profiles

Al Shabaab is al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia and operates primarily out of the country’s southern and central regions. The group is fighting an insurgency against the internationally recognized Somali Federal Government, which is based in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Al Shabaab has targeted African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers for their support of the federal government. The group has also repeatedly threatened the United States and the West and has demonstrated the capacity to strike beyond Somalia’s borders.

The structure of al Shabaab is important to understanding how the group operates. Al Shabaab leaders are members of a Shura Council; the number of council members is unknown.  The Shura Council has set al Shabaab’s policy in Somalia, and local administrations are expected to abide by this policy. The power that al Shabaab’s Shura Council holds over more local administrations varies geographically. Further, internal divisions within al Shabaab’s leadership materialized when the group began to publicly align itself with al Qaeda and the global jihad network.

The Critical Threats Project has produced profiles of the following al Shabaab leaders: 

Ahmad Umar (Abu Ubaidah), leader (emir)

Ahmed Abdi Godane (Mukhtar Abu Zubair), late leader (emir)

Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur), former deputy leader (deputy emir)

Ali Mohamed Rage (Ali Dhere), spokesman

Hassan Dahir Aweys, senior member and former leader of Hizb al Islam

Fuad Mohamed Qalaf (Shongole), senior member

Ibrahim Haji Jama Mead (Ibrahim al Afghani), late senior member