TL_Al_Shabab_Terrorism
Timeline

Al-Shabab

2004 – 2017

With brazen terrorist attacks at home and abroad, the Somalia-based Islamist insurgent group has proved resilient despite strategic setbacks in recent years.

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Islamic Courts Union
ICU security forces patrol the streets of Mogadishu. Shabelle Media/Reuters
Islamic Courts Union Emerges

A coalition of eleven sharia courts form the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), naming Sharif Sheikh Ahmed its leader.

Transitional Federal Government
President Abdullahi Yusuf after a swearing-in ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya. Radu Sigheti/Reuters
Transitional Federal Government Formed

Somalia’s internationally backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG), comprising representatives of the country’s largest clans, is formed in exile in Nairobi. Abdullahi Yusuf is elected president of the interim body.

Mogadishu falls
Al-Shabab fighters seize the capital. Shabelle Media/Reuters
Mogadishu Falls

Backed by al-Shabab militants, the ICU wrests control of Mogadishu after clashing with a coalition of warlords.

Ethiopia Invades
Ethiopian troops ride on a military truck in Mogadishu. Sahal Abdulle/Reuters
Ethiopia Invades

Ethiopia, a majority-Christian nation, invades and takes Mogadishu with little ICU opposition.

Al-Shabab militants display weapons on the outskirts of Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab militants display weapons on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Mowlid Abdi/Reuters
A Turning Point for al-Shabab

Galvanized by the invasion, al-Shabab transforms into the most powerful Somali guerrilla group, well funded and thousands strong.

TFG Enters
Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf (left) talks to former President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan. Shabelle Media/Reuters
Transitional Government Enters Mogadishu

The TFG moves into the capital from its interim headquarters in the western city of Baidoa.

Ugandan soldiers arrive at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu.
Ugandan soldiers arrive at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu. Shabelle Media/Reuters
Regional Peacekeepers Arrive

The United Nations approves a regional peacekeeping force known as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to support the TFG in its battle against al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab fighters march on the outskirts of Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab fighters march on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Mowliid Ibdi/Reuters
U.S. Designates al-Shabab Terrorists

The U.S. State Department designates al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization, blocking anyone in the United States from providing financial support to the group.

Ethiopian troops as they leave Mogadishu.
Ethiopian troops as they leave Mogadishu. Ismail Taxta/Reuters
Ethiopia Pulls Out

Ethiopian troops withdraw from Somalia after a series of setbacks and are replaced by AMISOM forces. The country does not redeploy troops to Somalia until 2014, when it becomes a contributor to the regional force.

A Ugandan man waits to learn the fate of victims of the bomb blasts in Kampala.
A Ugandan man waits to learn the fate of victims of the bomb blasts in Kampala. Xavier Toya/Reuters
A Transnational Terrorist Threat

Al-Shabab, in its first foreign terrorist attack, carries out multiple suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, killing seventy-four.

AMISOM forces sit outside Mogadishu Stadium.
AMISOM forces sit outside Mogadishu Stadium. Feisal Omar/Reuters
AMISOM Turns the Corner

AMISOM and TFG forces push al-Shabab out of Mogadishu and other major urban centers after a year-long offensive.

Kenyan and Somali soldiers take part in a joint patrol at a charcoal depository.
Kenyan and Somali soldiers take part in a joint patrol at a charcoal depository. Noor Khamis/Reuters
Kenya Marches In

Kenya invades southern Somalia in Operation Linda Nchi following kidnappings claimed by the militant group. The country’s forces are integrated into AMISOM in February 2012.

An al-Shabab militant at an announcement of the group’s integration with al-Qaeda.
An al-Shabab militant at an announcement of the group’s integration with al-Qaeda. Feisal Omar/Reuters
Tying the Knot With al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri announces al-Shabab’s affiliation with the jihadi network.

Fall of Kismayo
Kenyan forces serving with AMISOM enter the port city of Kismayo. Stuart Price/AFP/Getty Images
The Fall of Kismayo

Backed by local Somali forces, Kenyan troops sweep into Kismayo, ousting al-Shabab from its last major stronghold and cutting off a major source of the militant group’s funding.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at the State Department.
Clinton shakes hands with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at the State Department. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
A New Beginning

The United States recognizes the government of Somalia after a hiatus of more than twenty years. “There is still a long way to go and many challenges to confront, but we have seen a new foundation for that better future being laid,” says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A police officer secures an area inside the Westgate Shopping Center, where al-Shabab gunmen went on a shooting spree.
A police officer secures an area inside the Westgate Shopping Center, where al-Shabab gunmen went on a shooting spree. Siegfried Modola/Reuters
Terror in Nairobi

In a multiday raid on a Nairobi mall, al-Shabab militants kill sixty-seven people. It is the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya in fifteen years.

An AMISOM soldier keeps guard on top of an armored vehicle in Mogadishu.
An AMISOM soldier keeps guard on top of an armored vehicle in Mogadishu. Siegfried Modola/Reuters
U.S. Deploys Ground Troops

The U.S. military sends a small team of advisors to Mogadishu to assist AMISOM forces. It is the first U.S. deployment since eighteen soldiers were killed in the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

A news broadcast shows slain al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.
A news broadcast shows slain al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images
Al-Shabab Leader Killed

Ahmed Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah, becomes al-Shabab’s leader after Ahmed Abdi Godane, one of the group’s founders, is killed in a U.S. air strike.

Somali forces make their way to Barawe during the second phase of Operation Indian Ocean.
Somali forces make their way to Barawe during the second phase of Operation Indian Ocean. Feisal Omar/Reuters
Port City Liberated

Somali and AMISOM troops retake the southern coastal city of Barawe nearly six years after al-Shabab gained control of the area.

Students are evacuated from Garissa University College.
Students are evacuated from Garissa University College. Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Kenya Again Under Attack

Al-Shabab militants in central Kenya kill 148 people at Garissa University College. The fifteen-hour siege, in which gunmen hold more than seven hundred students hostage, exceeds the 2013 mall raid as the group’s deadliest attack in the country.

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed addresses lawmakers after winning the presidency.
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed addresses lawmakers after winning the presidency. Feisal Omar/Reuters
A Contentious Election

Former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed wins the presidency. The government hails the election as the final step in its decades-long path toward effective central governance, but international observers criticize the election as corrupt.

Civilians carry the dead body of an unidentified man from the scene of an explosion in Mogadishu.
Civilians carry the dead body of an unidentified man from the scene of an explosion in Mogadishu. Feisal Omar/Reuters
Mogadishu Bombings

In Somalia’s deadliest terrorist attack, truck bombings in the capital city kill more than five hundred people and injure another three hundred. Al-Shabab is widely believed to be behind the attack, though it does not claim responsibility. Two weeks later, Shabab militants kill at least twenty-nine during a siege on a hotel in Mogadishu; the dead include senior government and police officials.

Al-Shabab militants patrol southern Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab militants patrol southern Mogadishu. Feisal Omar/Reuters
U.S. Escalates Strikes

More than one hundred militants affiliated with al-Shabab are killed in a single U.S. air strike northwest of Mogadishu, according to the Pentagon. The strike is one of more than two dozen in Somalia authorized by the Trump administration in its first year.

Burundian soldiers board a UN plane at Bujumbura International Airport to replace AMISOM troops in Somalia.
Burundian soldiers board a UN plane at Bujumbura International Airport to replace AMISOM troops in Somalia. Renovat Ndabashinze/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
AMISOM Begins Drawdown

The UN Security Council approves the withdrawal of a thousand AMISOM troops by the end of 2017, the first time it has cut peacekeeper numbers in Somalia, as part of a transition of security responsibilities to the Somali government. Another reduction of a thousand troops is set to take place in 2018.

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Al-Shabab