Wayne Downing-General US. Army (retired), Distinguieshed's Al-Qaida's MisAdventures in the Horn of Africa PDF

By Wayne Downing-General US. Army (retired), Distinguieshed Chair Combating Terrorism Center US Military Academy

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72 22 Al-Qa’ida did find success in certain distinct areas which may provide some clarity for analyzing the threat from foreign terrorists operating in Somalia today. One area where al-Qa’ida was successful was in recruiting some youth away from clans in 1993 and 1994. There are three reasons for this success. First, the call to jihad resonated more with younger individuals seeking adventure. Secondly, the costs for youth to leave the clan were markedly smaller than for more elder individuals. The longer one has been in a tribe or clan, the more benefits, tangible and intangible, the clan member gains from remaining in the tribe.

The basic problem faced by developed nations seeking to support counterterrorism in weakly governed states is that these weak states often derive benefits and positive externalities from tolerating some degree of terrorist activity within their borders. The overall utility for weak states is not always reduced as the level of terrorism decreases. This leads to an agency problem similar to that faced by terrorist leaders. In an ideal world, donor and recipient states would strictly prefer less terrorist activity to more, thus deriving the highest level of utility when no terrorism exists and incrementally less as terror levels increase.

However, hardline Islamists have also exploited the prolonged collapse of the state in Somalia. As discussed below, hardline Somali Islamists were able to capture control of the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) in 2006 and drive that umbrella movement into increasingly radical and ultimately self-destructive policies. These Islamists also forged links to foreign al-Qa’ida affiliates in the 1990s and later provided several terror suspects safe haven in Somalia. Hardline Islamists in Somalia were very successful at exploiting two commodities which Somali communities desperately craved after fifteen years of civil war and state collapse–a sense of public security and a sense of unity.

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Al-Qaida's MisAdventures in the Horn of Africa by Wayne Downing-General US. Army (retired), Distinguieshed Chair Combating Terrorism Center US Military Academy

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