Al-Shabaab (AS) is a Sunni militant Islamist group whose goals are to create an Islamist state in Somalia, expel all foreign forces, overthrow the Federal Government of Somalia and to rid the country of any practices it considers un-Islamic. The group also subscribes to the ideology of transnational jihad espoused by Al Qaeda (AQ) to which it pledged allegiance in 2012.
AS has claimed responsibility for several high profile bombings and shootings throughout Somalia targeting African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers and Somali officials and also claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, which claimed the lives of 67 people. Three Canadians died in this attack, including a Canadian diplomat.
AS suffered a series of significant blows to its leadership following several US counterterrorism operations against the group in 2014 and early 2015, including the killing of its leader, Ahmad Abdi Aw Muhammad Godane (alias Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubayr) in September 2014. After confirming the death of Godane later that month, AS announced the appointment of Ahmad Umar (alias Abu Ubaidah) as its new leader; and renewed its pledge of allegiance to AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
On November 22, 2014, 19 men and nine women were killed by AS militants after they hijacked a bus and shot dead the non-Muslim passengers in an area located 50 km from the town of Mandera, North Eastern Province, Kenya. Passengers who could not recite an Islamic creed were assumed to be non-Muslim.
On April 2, 2015, a group of AS fighters killed 148 people during an attack on Garissa University College in Kenya. The militants attacked and besieged the building, separating Muslim and Christian students, releasing some of the Muslims while executing the Christians. Four AS militants were killed by security forces during a subsequent raid on the campus building.
On January 21, 2016, at least 14 civilians were killed and 20 people wounded when AS militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) at the Beach View Hotel on Lido beach in Mogadishu, Somalia, before other militants, carrying small-arms, assaulted the building. A second SVBIED was detonated approximately one hour after the initial attack. Somali special forces raided the hotel killing eight attackers and arresting the attack's alleged leader.
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