In 2005, following a series of disappearances and assassinations in Mogadishu, which the Islamic Courts claimed were the result of covert operations by the United States (US) government, a militant force known as Al-Shabaab emerged. Al-Shabaab became an important component of the extremist faction of the ICU, especially militarily when it came to seizing control of Mogadishu in June of 2006 before Ethiopian forces invaded and regained the capital city on the behest of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia. The humiliation of occupation and defeat by the Ethiopian army is said to have triggered Al-Shabaab to develop into a fully-fledged terrorist organization, instigating guerrilla assaults, bombings, assassinations and kidnappings. Since 2006, the Global Terrorism Database (2019) indicates Al-Shabaab has instigated 3 795 attacks even beyond the borders of Somalia to include Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2011, Al-Shabaab launched a major offensive to take control Mogadishu once again which prompted a joint military intervention of East African states known as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Kenyan Defense Force’s (KDF) Operation Linda Nchi. In retaliation, Al-Shabaab has committed more than 150 attacks in Kenya, the most notable of which include the attacks on Westgate mall in 2013, Garissa University in 2015, and a Kenyan military camp in El Adde in 2016, all resulting in over 400 casualties. In its deadliest attack, Al-Shabaab initiated twin bomb attacks on the 14th of October 2017 in Mogadishu, killing over 500 people resulting in the attack being dubbed as “Somalia’s 9/11”. Al-Shabaab continues to destabilise the East African region by demonstrating its ability to instigate attacks of great magnitude and consistently, except for 2014, been the deadliest terrorist organisation in Africa.


Individuals listed below are believed to be members of Al-Shabaab or said to have been involved in attacks on behalf of the terrorist organisation. However, some individuals listed here may have acted in the capacity of other terrorist organisations but went on to assist Al-Shabaab in later years and have therefore been listed here. It’s important to note that roles and memberships are fluid and difficult to categorize. For ease of reference, please see links to pages on prior and/or affiliated organisations with profiles of their members below.

Prior, Affiliated and associated Organisations

Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya

Al-Qaeda (in East Africa)

Hizbul Islam

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

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