The majority of the population in Kenya have always been Christians - Protestants and Catholics, together there are more than 80% of the total number of citizens of the country. Muslims are much smaller, only 10%. Basically, Muslims include Indopakistanis and Arabs living in the cities of the Kenyan coast. However, over the past two decades, the Muslim population in Kenya has increased significantly due to refugees from neighboring Somalia. After the unified state in Somalia actually collapsed and a bloody civil war broke out between various armed groups, refugees flowed to Kenya.
Eternal War in East Africa
Somalia has become the main hot spot in East Africa, and all its neighbors are currently suffering from the destabilization of the situation in this country. The terrorist act that claimed nearly one and a half hundreds of human lives was by no means the first in modern stories Kenya The fact is that Kenya is considered the closest partner of Western states, primarily the United States and Great Britain, in East Africa. Accordingly, the tasks of armed opposition to radical Somali factions were always assigned to it. Moreover, the northeastern province of Kenya, adjacent to Somalia, is inhabited by Cushite tribes related to Somalis. This territory is a hotbed of potential instability in Kenya itself and the Kenyan government is simply forced to fight the Somali radical groups in order to neutralize their influence on the Northeastern Province and Muslims living in Kenya itself. In addition, Kenya, as the most developed and pro-Western country in East Africa, is a major participant in the multi-year peacekeeping operation in Somalia and is fighting radical Islamist groups not only in its territory, but also in neighboring Somalia.
Somalis have always been known in Northeast Africa for their harsh mores. Radical Islam perfectly lay on the austere tribal philosophy of desert nomads. Somalis have always been honored by military prowess, the truth to show it, most often, it was possible only in tribal clashes and predatory raids. But, nevertheless, in Somalia there is a worthy history of anti-colonial resistance, although in the end it was possible to divide the territory of the country between England, France and Italy. Today, in the place of French Somalia, there is an independent state of Djibouti, inhabited by Afar and Issa tribes, and in the place of British and Italian Somalia, the state of Somalia, which since 1990's. in fact does not exist as a single political entity.
Union of Islamic Courts
A whole group of factors contributed to the spread of radical fundamentalist sentiments in Somalia. This, as we noted above, features of the worldview and lifestyle of Somali tribes, the total impoverishment of the Somali population, and most importantly - the bloody wars in the country and its actual collapse into clan quasi-states, unrecognized by the world community. In the middle of the 1990s, when the civil war in Somalia was in full swing, members of the Javiya clan - one of the largest and most influential Somali clans - created the Union of Islamic Courts organization. She was headed by Sharif Ahmed, who was once a school teacher of geography.
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed belongs in its origin to the Abgaal branch of the clan Hawiyah. He was born in 1964 in the province of Jackhe in northeastern Somalia and belonged to the Sufi tarikat Al-Idrissiyya. From a young age, he prepared himself for a religious career by enrolling in a school opened by Egyptian missionaries from Al-Azhar University. He received higher education at the University of Kordofan in Sudan and in Libya. While a student at the University of Kordofan, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood organization. In 1998, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed returned to Somalia and settled in Mogadishu, where he worked as a schoolteacher.
In 1993, the first Islamic court appeared in Mogadishu, the capital of the country, in the Medina district. The Islamic courts that were part of the union applied severe Sharia law against criminals, drug traffickers and rebels who robbed and raped civilians. Since sharia law prescribed particularly cruel treatment of criminals, Islamic courts quickly gained authority among the local population. Gradually, the “bailiffs” became a powerful military structure.
In 1999, the Union of Islamic Courts seized a number of important sites in Mogadishu. Gradually, the positions of the Union of Islamic Courts grew, especially since the organization was different from the rest of the rebel groups operating in Somalia, with harsh religiosity and not allowing itself many criminal actions. So, Islamic courts fought against piracy off the Somali coast. Armed detachments of the Union of Islamic Courts dealt with pirates and representatives of criminal groups. 5 June 2006 The city of the Islamic Courts was able to fully establish control over the entire territory of Mogadishu and keep the capital of Somalia under its rule until December 28 2006. This indicated the organization’s incredible power, because for almost twenty years none of the rebel groups had managed to bring the Somali capital under full control - various militant groups controlled specific neighborhoods and areas of the city, but could not gain power over all of Mogadishu. It was possible to oust the detachments of the Union of Islamic Courts from the territory of the Somali capital with the help of the regular army of Ethiopia, which came to the aid of the "Provisional Government of Somalia". However, the Union of Islamic Courts has not lost its position in the country.
"Youth Mojahedin Movement"
Most of the militants were reorganized into new armed units and became part of the current 2003 - 2004. Al-Shabab organizations. Its fuller name - “Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahidin” - is translated as “Youth Mojahedin Movement”. The organization is also called the Popular Movement of Resistance in the Country of Two States. The core of Al-Shabab was made up of members of the youth wing of al-Ittihad al-Islamiya (Islamic Union). It was headed by Sheikh Ahmad Abdi Godan (Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubeir). Many yesterday’s militants of the Union of Islamic Courts joined the organization and entered into close cooperation with international fundamentalist organizations of the extreme sense.
After the defeat of the Union of Islamic Courts by the Ethiopian troops, its leader Sharif Ahmed fled to Eritrea. The Eritrean government almost at the official level assisted the Somali Islamists - including in the peak of Ethiopia, its traditional adversary. For assistance to the Somali Islamists, Eritrea has even been imposed international sanctions. Nevertheless, being in a forced exile, Sharif headed the newly created Alliance of Somalia. In October, 2008 between the leaders of the Provisional Government of Somalia and the Alliance for Somali New Liberation signed a joint management agreement. A gradual withdrawal of the Ethiopian army from Somalia began, which allowed Sharif to return to his homeland. He settled in the town of Jowhar in 90 km. from Mogadishu. Since Sharif was a relatively moderate and, at the same time, popular political leader, on January 31 2009, he was elected President of Somalia. He remained in this position until 20 August 2012.
Al-Shabab has the strongest positions in the south and east of Somalia. The activation of Al-Shabab on the terrorist level of action began in 2011. This was due to a number of objective political circumstances characteristic of the development of Somalia in the period under review. 6 August 2011 of the year Mogadishu was completely freed from Al-Shabab militants. Naturally, this situation could not appeal to the Islamic radicals. They declared that their withdrawal from the capital was only a maneuver to save their strength and move to a new offensive. However, instead of a direct military attack on the Somali capital, the militants launched terrorist acts. 4 October 2011, a suicide bomber exploded in a car in Mogadishu. Many soldiers and officials of the Somali government have died. Responsibility for organizing the explosion was assumed by Al-Shabab. So began the way of turning the politically active and, in principle, supported by a part of the country's population of the movement into a terrorist organization.
Gradually, “Al-Shabab” also proceeded to commit acts of terrorism against foreign citizens, as well as on the territory of other states. Actually, the long-standing enmity of this organization with Kenya goes back to them. It should be noted that originally "Al-Shabab" acted in Kenya rather with propaganda purposes. The fact is that in Kenya, as noted above, a significant number of Somalis live. This is not only the border Cushitic tribes or refugees in the camps, but also immigrants in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi. In this city, one of the districts is even called “Little Mogadishu”. It actually performs the role of the “Somali capital in exile,” since there are religious and cultural organizations, trading companies, shops owned by Somalis. Naturally, among the inhabitants of “Little Mogadishu” a large number of potential adherents of “Al-Shabab”. These are predominantly unemployed Somali youth who cannot find employment in Kenya and are forced to outlaw in crime or casual earnings. At the same time, there are supporters of the organization among reputable representatives of the Somali diaspora, who provide funding for Al-Shabab in Kenya and are engaged in ensuring the opening of Islamic cultural centers and mosques in Nairobi.
On October 1, 2011, Al-Shabab members abducted a French citizen in Kenya. On October 13, 2011, two Spanish citizens, employees of the Doctors Without Borders international organization, a noble cause, providing health care to Somali refugees in camps in Kenya, were abducted by militants of the organization. Doctors Without Borders hastened to partially evacuate personnel from Kenya because they feared for the safety of their employees. Naturally, the incident infuriated the Kenyan authorities. Nairobi's response to the activities of Somali militants followed immediately. On the border of Kenya and Somalia, a large grouping of Kenyan armed forces was concentrated, which included units of the ground forces, air force and navy of the country. The total number of Kenyan soldiers and officers involved in the group reached 4 thousand people. The group included the 1st Infantry and 78th tank Kenyan army battalions, 65th Kenya army artillery battalion and 77th artillery division, 50th airmobile battalion helicopters, Kenya Air Force F-5 squadron and a group of patrol and patrol boats deployed at the Kenyan Navy bases in Mombasa and the archipelago Lamu. In the city of Garissa, the central command post of the Kenyan group was stationed.
Operation Linda Nchi
On October 16, 2011, Operation Linda Nchi began (translated from the most widely used Swahili language - “Protect the country!”), The purpose of which was to suppress the formations of the Al-Shabab organization in the territories of Somalia bordering Kenya and prevent possible seeping militants across the Kenyan border. Kenyan troops covered by aviation and artillery, crossed the border of Somalia. The next day, October 17, Al-Shabab demanded that Kenya immediately withdraw its troops from Somalia. However, the declaration of war on Kenya by Al-Shabab did not follow until October 27th.
It should be noted that in its desire to destroy or, at least, suppress Al-Shabab in the border areas, Kenya was not alone. On the side of Kenya were the troops of the Transitional Government of Somalia, a total of approximately four to five thousand militants, the regular Armed Forces of Ethiopia. From the sea, the cover of the operation was carried out by the French and US Navy ships. October 30 aircraft Kenyan aircraft bombed the city Djilib, killed 12 local residents. 10 November 2011 units of the Kenyan army advanced 120-130 km. deep into the border. Al-Shabab fighters were forced to turn to guerrilla tactics, unable to engage in open confrontation with regular army units.
On November 19, units of the Ethiopian Armed Forces entered 30 armored vehicles on Somalia. Thus, the ground forces of the opponents of Al-Shabab were going to attack the territory controlled by the group in three directions. Units of the Kenyan army attacked from the south, Ethiopian armed forces from the west and detachments of the Transitional Government of Somalia from the east. Al-Shabab declared a jihad of the Kenyan army and warned about the readiness to organize terror in Kenya itself, unless the country's authorities withdraw units of the Kenyan army from Somalia.
It should be noted that after the invasion of Somalia, the armed forces of Ethiopia began to play a key role in the conflict, taking the city by city by storm. On December 31, units of the Ethiopian army totaling three thousand soldiers and officers, overcoming the fierce resistance of Al-Shabab militants, stormed the city of Beledweyne, the capital of Hiran province. Air strikes against Islamist positions continued. Thus, on January 7 2012, as a result of an air raid by the Air Force of Kenya, about 50 militants were destroyed and 60 was injured. In parallel, parts of the Kenyan ground forces occupied a number of settlements. 22 February Baydabo city, controlled by militants, was taken by Ethiopian units. On March 2, the Somali Transitional Government troops and the African Union peacekeepers who helped them took the oil base by storm, which was used by the Islamists and located near Mogadishu. The next city, taken by the Ethiopian troops, was El Bour. This included a column of Ethiopian armored vehicles and a Somali detachment of Al Sunna Wallamah, loyal to the Somali Transitional Government.
In the central regions of Somalia, the main adversary of Al-Shabab was the Somali government units, supported by the African Union peacekeeping contingent. 21 May Peacekeepers and Transitional Government forces launched an operation to capture the city of Afgoye, which housed one of the largest military bases, Al-Shabab. 25 May operation was completed by the capture of the city. The total number of militants of the Islamist organization during the fighting declined to 6-8 thousand people. 700 militants were captured by the troops of the Transitional Government. However, in the hands of the militants remained a number of important points on the coast, through which they received weapon from international terrorist organizations.
The task of the Allied Coalition was to seize the port of Kismayo, through which arms, ammunition and food were supplied. 29 May city was shelled from Kenya's navy ships. In response to 30 in May, Al-Shabab militants organized an assassination attempt on Sharif Ahmed, the president of Somalia. After all, the yesterday’s leader of the Union of Islamic Courts was now their opponent - the leader of the Transitional Government. However, the president was not injured. 31 May Kenyan troops captured the second largest southern Somalian city of Afmadou. In early September, 2012, troops of the Transitional Government of Somalia seized the port of Mark and the city of Miido. September 29 as a result of a major battle captured the most important port of Kismayo - the capital of Al-Shabab in southern Somalia. Kenyan troops landed in the port with landing ships.
Terrorist activity "Al-Shabab"
Naturally, throughout the active phase of the hostilities and after it, the Al-Shabab militants committed regular attacks in Somalia, against government forces and institutions, as well as in Kenya. 10 March 2012 was an explosion in Nairobi. 14 March a series of explosions was organized in Mogadishu. 4 April 2012 The explosion occurred at the National Theater in Mogadishu. In September 2013, militants of the organization attacked a shopping center in Nairobi. As a result of militant actions, 67 people died. This was followed by an attack by unidentified "commandos" on the territory of Somalia, as a result of which one of the houses in the city of Barawa was attacked. Apparently, high-ranking leaders of the Al-Shabab group were hiding in the house and a raid of unidentified special forces who had landed from a helicopter was planned against them. Also, the house was opened fire from the sea - from the ship. Serious damage that Al-Shabab suffered from the actions of the Kenyan and Ethiopian troops did not prevent the organization from retaining control over a number of southern regions of Somalia. The propaganda of radical views is carried out by the organization, primarily among young people, especially among adolescents. The overwhelming majority of ordinary militants of Al-Shabab are very young people, teenagers who have not reached the age of majority.
Another source of replenishment of the organization is repatriates from Yemen. A large number of Somalis traditionally went to Yemen. Despite the fact that Yemen itself is a poor country, in Somalia - even worse. Therefore, many young Somalis and went to the other side of the strait in search of happiness. Maybe someone will be able to get to work in a rich Saudi Arabia. However, the majority settled in the same Yemen, without means of subsistence. Many were enrolled in al-Qaida training camps located in Yemen. By the way, in 2012, Al-Shabab announced its membership in the international organization Al-Qaida. This decision has improved the financial and organizational support of Somali terrorists. The revitalization of the organization in 2014 forced the Somali government forces to launch a new operation called the “Indian Ocean”. September 1 killed Al-Shabab leader Sheikh Godun as a result of a missile strike.
Controlled by the African Union peacekeeping forces, Kismayo is still a very troubled city. Kenyan soldiers stationed here are at risk of being killed every day as a result of an explosion or attack from around the corner. Al-Shabab positions in Somalia are still strong. The organization has at least five thousand militants and is financed by international organizations. Radicals from various countries of the world come for Al-Shabab. But, of course, the bulk of the fighters are still impoverished Somali youth. They fall into the ranks of the militants, being psychologically zombied, drugged or lured by the opportunity to get hold of at least some financial means. Another thing - foreign "volunteers" who play a crucial role in the preparation and organization of militants.
Kenya Wall and the expulsion of "refugees" - a bonus to military operations
The terrorist attack at the University of Garissa 2 on April 2015 caused a new phase of confrontation between Al-Shabab and the Kenyan authorities. In Kenya, mass inspections of the Somali population by police and military personnel began. 6 April 2015. Kenya Air Force planes launched air strikes across Somalia, seeking to destroy the military and training bases of the radical organization. At the same time, Kenya launched diplomatic tools. The authorities have asked the United Nations to close the refugee camp in the Kenyan city of Dadab. Here, in Kenya, there are at least 335 thousands of Somali refugees. However, the Kenyan authorities, taking into account the number of unregistered inhabitants of the camp, estimate their number at least in 600 thousand people.
The world's largest refugee camp was opened in 1991 for people fleeing the horrors of the war in Somalia. But now the Kenyan authorities have good reasons to believe that under the guise of refugees there is a significant number of active and potential Al-Shabab militants hiding in the camp. 12 April 2015 Vice President of Kenya William Ruto stated that if the UN did not resolve the issue of closing the camp within three months, then the Kenyan government will fulfill this task. The Nairobi authorities also intend to build an 700-kilometer wall along the Kenya-Somalia border. According to the leadership of Kenya, this enforced measure should prevent the possibility of penetration into the territory of Kenya of Somali citizens, among whom may be terrorists and criminal elements. It seems that the terrorist attack in Garissa was the last straw of the Kenyan government’s patience and now the official Nairobi intends to solve the “Somali problem” on its territory no matter what.