Al Ittihad Al Islamiya

Al Ittihad Al Islamiya was a Salafi militant organization that operated in Somalia between 1984 and 1997.

Key Statistics

1984 First Recorded Activity
1992 First Attack
2019 Profile Last Updated

Profile Contents

Overview

Narrative of the Organization's History

Organization

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics

Major Attacks

First Attacks, Largest Attacks, Notable Attacks

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

Maps

Mapping relationships with other militant groups over time

Contact MMP

Send a message to the Mapping Militants team

Download Full Profile as PDF

Last updated February 2019

How to Cite

Mapping Militant Organizations. "Al Ittihad Al Islamiya." Stanford University. Last modified February 2019. https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/al-ittihad-al-islamiya

Organizational Overview

Formed: 1984

Disbanded: 1997

First Attack: January 1992: AIAI members killed a female UNICEF doctor in the Somali city of Bosasso as she was drinking tea at an outdoor café. (1 killed, 0 wounded)[1]

Last Attack: December 24, 1996: AIAI clashed with Ethiopian forces in the border region between Somalia and Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Defense Ministry accused AIAI of attacking across Somalia’s border into Ethiopia, while AIAI accused Ethiopia of occupying a Somali town. (unknown killed, unknown wounded)[2]

 

Executive Summary

Al Ittihad Al Islamiya (AIAI) was formed in Somalia in 1984 with the goal of establishing an Islamic state in East Africa. In the late 1980s, AIAI began to focus on armed resistance against Somalia’s dictator, Siad Barre. AIAI initially concentrated its attacks in Somalia. After the fall of Barre’s regime in 1991, AIAI allied with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist movement of ethnic Somalis living in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, to refocus on Ethiopia as its primary target. AIAI’s cooperation with the ONLF and attacks in Ethiopia provoked the Ethiopian government to invade Somalia in 1996 with the goal of eradicating AIAI. On January 4, 1997, AIAI announced its transition to become a political party, signaling the organization’s effective end as a militant group. AIAI has sometimes been blamed for attacks after 1997, but these attacks were generally conducted by former AIAI members rather than a centralized organization.

 

Group Narrative

Al Ittihad Al Islamiya (AIAI) formed in 1984 from the merger of two Salafi organizations, Al Jama’a Al Islamiya and Wahdat Al Shabaab Al Islam. However, AIAI did not formally announce its formation or begin conducting attacks until years later. AIAI’s constituent groups, which had been active since the 1960s, were religious organizations founded by Islamic leaders whose aim was to combat Western influence and support the creation of an Islamic state in the Horn of Africa. Upon AIAI’s formation, Sheikh Ali Warsame—the leader of Wahdat Al Shabaab Al Islam—assumed control of the new group. AIAI’s initial goal was to establish an Islamic state, originally through peaceful means, but in the late 1980s, the group began to focus on armed resistance against Somalia’s dictator, Siad Barre. Not long after the fall of Barre’s regime in the early 1990s, a Somali named Hassan Dahir Aweys assumed leadership of AIAI’s militant wing.[3] During AIAI’s early years, before the group formally announced its formation, Al Jama’a Al Islamiya and Wahdat Al Shabaab Al Islam initially operated somewhat independently.[4]

AIAI’s nationalist appeals and opposition to Barre drew wide support from Somalis. After Barre’s fall from power in the face of widespread opposition in 1991, AIAI officially announced its formation and explicitly stated its primary goal as the establishment of a new state ruled by Shariah law in the region. AIAI shifted focus to Ethiopia as its main enemy, beginning attacks across Somalia’s border into Ethiopia. Sometime in the early 1990s, AIAI allied with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist group comprised of ethnic Somalis living in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region; the two organizations frequently collaborated in attacking Ethiopian targets, especially Ethiopian soldiers, with the goal of controlling Ogaden. AIAI successfully staged attacks throughout Ethiopia, including in the capital of Addis Ababa, although the group’s low capacity constrained its ability to conduct highly destructive or violent attacks on Ethiopian targets. On August 9, 1996, after AIAI relocated its headquarters to a region of Somalia bordering Ethiopia, Ethiopian forces began an extensive military campaign against the group. The Ethiopian army entered Somalia, attacked AIAI’s strongholds, and ultimately destroyed the organization.[5]

On January 4, 1997, Aweys announced that AIAI would transition to a political party, signaling the organization’s effective end as a militant group. However, there is little public information on AIAI as a political party after Aweys’ announcement. AIAI has sometimes been blamed for attacks after 1997, but these attacks were generally conducted by former AIAI members rather than the formal group itself. AIAI as a cohesive militant group ceased to exist after 1997, although it may have continued for some time as a loose political front with vestigial militant factions. AIAI members often continued their militant activity through other groups, which were sometimes referred to as AIAI because of the high concentration of former members. In particular, many AIAI militants joined the predecessor of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which emerged in the late 1990s. Aweys, for example, became a leader of the ICU and its armed wing, which would become the militant group Al Shabaab. These groups shared AIAI’s goal of establishing an Islamic state.[6]



[1] Bryden, Matt. “No Quick Fixes: Coming to Terms with Terrorism, Islam, and Statelessness in Somalia.” The Journal of Conflict Studies 23, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 24-56. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

[2] “Issue Paper SOMALIA CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS APRIL 1995 - JANUARY 1997.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, February 1997. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

[3] West, Sunguta  “Somalia's ICU and its Roots in al-Ittihad al-Islami.” Jamestown Foundation. 4 Aug. 2006. Web. 1 Mar. 2019. <https://jamestown.org/program/somalias-icu-and-its-roots-in-al-ittihad-a....

[4] Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. West, Sunguta. “Somalia's ICU and its Roots in al-Ittihad al-Islami.” Terrorism Monitor 4, no. 15 (August 4, 2006). Web. 28 Mar. 2016. Loewenstein, Lara. “Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya and Political Islam in Somalia.” The SAIS Europe Journal, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

[5] “US Department of the Army: Analysis of Somalia, December 1993.” U.S. Department of the Army, 17 Dec. 1993. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. West, Sunguta. “Somalia’s ICU and its Roots in al-Ittihad al-Islami.” Terrorism Monitor 4, no. 15 (August 4, 2006). Web. 28 Mar. 2016. Loewenstein, Lara. “Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya and Political Islam in Somalia.” The SAIS Europe Journal, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

[6] “US Department of the Army: Analysis of Somalia, December 1993.” U.S. Department of the Army, 17 Dec. 1993. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. West, Sunguta. “Somalia’s ICU and its Roots in al-Ittihad al-Islami.” Terrorism Monitor 4, no. 15 (August 4, 2006). Web. 28 Mar. 2016. “Issue Paper SOMALIA CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS APRIL 1995 - JANUARY 1997.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, February 1997. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Associated Press. “Explosion in Ethiopian Hotel Kills 1.” The Intelligencer, 12 Sept. 2002. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Yan, Holly. “What is Al-Shabaab, and what does it want?”. CNN, 2 Apr. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Chazan, David. “Who are al-Ittihad?”. BBC News, 30 Nov. 2002. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

 

Organizational Structure

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

    Name Changes
  • Name Changes
  • Size Estimates
  • Resources
  • Geographic Locations
  • Leadership

Name Changes

There are no recorded name changes for this group.

Size Estimates

There are no available size estimates for the time that AIAI was an active militant group. The U.S. State Department and other organizations have estimated AIAI membership at around 2,000, but those estimates occurred after 1997, when the group had largely disintegrated. These numbers likely reflected AIAI’s vestiges rather than AIAI as a centralized group.[1]



[1] “Appendix C: Background Information on Other Terrorist Groups.” U.S. State Department, 30 Apr. 2003. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. "al-Ittihaad al-Islami (AIAI)." National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 2010. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

 

Resources

AIAI received funds, training, and logistical support from Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden himself allegedly contributed up to $3 million. The government of Sudan also supported AIAI with funds, training, and weapons. Additionally, AIAI received donations from diaspora communities in Europe, North America, and the Arabian Peninsula; from private financiers in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East; and from organizations such as the Muslim World League, the International Islamic Relief Organization, and Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation. These contributions from overseas sources comprised the largest portion of AIAI’s financing.[1]

AIAI also financed itself through criminal and business activities, which included imposing taxes on the Somali port of Bosasso and demanding protection fees in some regions of the country. AIAI provided security escorts for the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) in return for large payments.[2]



[1] “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. “SECURITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE PURSUANT TO RESOLUTIONS 1267 (1999) 1989 (2011) AND 2253 (2015) CONCERNING ISIL (DA'ESH) AL-QAIDA AND ASSOCIATED INDIVIDUALS GROUPS UNDERTAKINGS AND ENTITIES.” United Nations Security Council. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. "Chapter 8; Other Groups of Concern." Country Reports on Terrorism 2005. US Department of State, 30 Apr. 2006. Qtd. in “Al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI).” The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Web. 17 June 2016.

[2] “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. “V. Sudanese Government Military Support for Armed Opposition Forces.” Human Rights Watch. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Sii’arag, A. Duale. “The Birth and Rise of Al-Ittihad Al-Islami in the Somali Inhabited Regions in the Horn of Africa.” Maanhadal. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

 

Geographic Locations

Disclaimer: This is a partial list of where the militant organization has bases and where it operates. This does not include information on where the group conducts major attacks or has external influences.

AIAI mainly operated within Somalia. After the fall of the Barre regime in 1991, AIAI took control of the country’s northeast region, including the port city of Bosasso. AIAI established several strategic facilities at Bosasso as well as a large base near Qaw, to Bosasso’s west. In the mid 1990s, conflict with other militants forced AIAI to move its operational base to Gedo, a region close to the Ethiopian border.

AIAI’s major activities beyond Somalia occurred in Ethiopia, although the group may have also conducted attacks in Kenya and Djibouti. AIAI launched attacks throughout Ethiopia, including in the country’s capital city. The group was especially active in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, where it supported a separatist movement of ethnic Somalis.[1]



[1] “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Terdman, Moshe. "Somalia at War-Between Radical Islam and Tribal Politics," The S. Daniel Abraham Center for International and Regional Studies, March 2008. Web. Accessed 9 July 2013.

 

Leadership

Sheikh Ali Warsame (1984 to 1997): Warsame was a founding member of AIAI and served as the group’s top leader. Warsame had previously led Wahdat Al Shabaab Al Islam, one of the two Salafi organizations that merged to form AIAI. As AIAI’s leader, Warsame was the group’s major ideological influence and reportedly demonstrated reluctance for militant activity even while leading AIAI. Despite this reluctance, he may have recruited Hassan Dahir Aweys, who would become AIAI’s military commander.[1]

Hassan Dahir Aweys (Unknown to 1997): Aweys served as AIAI’s top military commander. He was allegedly recruited into AIAI by Warsame in the late 1980s or early 1990s, around the time of Barre’s overthrow. In 1997, Aweys announced that AIAI would cease to function as a militant organization and instead become a political party. After the effective collapse of AIAI as a militant group, Aweys assumed a leading role in the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and its armed wing, which would become the militant group Al Shabaab. Aweys later held leadership positions in other militant organizations, including the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS) and Hizbul Islam.[2]

Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki (Unknown to 1997): Turki reportedly led a faction within AIAI. He had close links to Al Qaeda, which he allegedly assisted in its attack on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi in 1998. Like Aweys, Turki also served as a prominent leader in the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) after AIAI’s collapse. Sometime after the ICU disbanded in the mid-2000s, Turki founded a Somali militant group known as the Ras Kamboni Brigade. He died of illness in May 2015.[3]

Al Afghani (Unknown to Unknown): Also known as Ibrahim Hajj Jama and Abubakar al-Seyli'I, Afghani was described as a military commander of AIAI. Previously, Afghani had fought in Afghanistan, thus gaining his nom de guerre. He reportedly had strong links to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.[4]



[1] Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. West, Sunguta. “Somalia's ICU and its Roots in al-Ittihad al-Islami.” Terrorism Monitor 4, no. 15 (August 4, 2006). Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

[2] Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. West, Sunguta. “Somalia's ICU and its Roots in al-Ittihad al-Islami.” Terrorism Monitor 4, no. 15 (August 4, 2006). Web. 28 Mar. 2016. Masters, Jonathan, and Mohammed Aly Sergie. “Al-Shabab.” CFR Backgrounders, Council on Foreign Relations, 13 Mar. 2015. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.

[3] Ereli, Adam. “Designation of Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki under Executive Order 13224.” Press Statement, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., 3 June 2004. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

[4] Roggio, Bill, and Thomas Jocelyn. “Senior Shabaab commander rumored to have been killed in recent Predator strike.” The Long War Journal, 9 July 2011. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

 

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics

    Ideology and Goals
  • Ideology and Goals
  • Political Activities
  • Targets and Tactics

Ideology and Goals

  • Salafi
  • Wahhabi
  • Islamist

From its beginnings, AIAI espoused a Salafi ideology and pursued as its main goal the creation of an Islamic state in East Africa. The group advocated the institution of Shariah law as a solution to all of Somalia’s problems, and the group also condemned traditional Sufi practices. In the late 1980s, AIAI began to focus on forcibly ousting Somalia’s dictator, Siad Barre. Barre was ultimately overthrown in 1991 through the efforts of several opposition groups.[1] Several months after the ousting of Barre, AIAI released a document entitled, “The Manifesto of an Islamic Party,” in which it explicitly indicated the creation of an Islamic state as its primary goal and condemned the formation of political alliances with non-Islamist organizations. AIAI shifted focus to Ethiopia as its main enemy, launching attacks in support of a separatist movement in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, where many ethnic Somalis resided. AIAI collaborated with an Ogaden separatist group in attacking Ethiopian targets with the goal of controlling the Ogaden region.[2]



[1] Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. Loewenstein, Lara. “Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya and Political Islam in Somalia.” The SAIS Europe Journal, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

[2] “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Loewenstein, Lara. “Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya and Political Islam in Somalia.” The SAIS Europe Journal, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

 

Political Activities

On September 22, 1991, AIAI formally declared its existence and stated its goals by releasing a document entitiled, “The Manifesto of an Islamic Party.” However, AIAI operated as a militant organization rather than a political party from its founding to 1997, and it never engaged in negotiations with Somalia’s government. On January 4, 1997, AIAI military commander Hassan Dahir Aweys announced that the group would begin to operate as a political party, therebuy ending the organization’s centrally directed militant activity. However, information about AIAI as a political party and its activities is not available, which may suggest that AIAI did not successfully transition to politics.[1]



[1] Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. West, Sunguta. “Somalia’s ICU and its Roots in al-Ittihad al-Islami.” Terrorism Monitor 4, no. 15 (August 4, 2006). Web. 28 Mar. 2016. “Issue Paper SOMALIA CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS APRIL 1995 - JANUARY 1997.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, February 1997. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Associated Press. “Explosion in Ethiopian Hotel Kills 1.” The Intelligencer, 12 Sept. 2002. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Yan, Holly. “What is Al-Shabaab, and what does it want?”. CNN, 2 Apr. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Chazan, David. “Who are al-Ittihad?”. BBC News, 30 Nov. 2002. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Loewenstein, Lara. “Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya and Political Islam in Somalia.” The SAIS Europe Journal, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

 

Targets and Tactics

During AIAI’s early years, the group’s leaders did not agree on armed jihad as the primary activity for AIAI. Warsame, for example, demonstrated reluctance for militant activity and favored advocating the creation of an Islamic state through other means. However, AIAI soon turned to armed struggle against the Barre government, which was deposed in 1991. Using firearms and explosives, AIAI also conducted attacks on international aid organizations as well as other militants in Somalia.[1]

After the fall of Barre’s regime, AIAI turned its focus to Ethiopia, supporting a separatist movement of ethnic Somalis living in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region. AIAI collaborated with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) to conduct attacks on Ethiopian targets, especially soldiers. Although it focused its militant activity on the Ogaden region, AIAI also launched attacks throughout Ethiopia, including several bombings of public places in Addis Ababa in the late 1990s.[2]

In areas of Somalia under its control, AIAI imposed its harsh interpretation of Shariah law. It also established Islamic social programs, including orphanages and schools.[3]


[1] Loewenstein, Lara. "Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya and Political Islam in Somalia," Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs. Web. 9 July 2013. “Appendix C: Background Information on Other Terrorist Groups.” U.S. State Department, 30 Apr. 2003. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

[2] “US Department of the Army: Analysis of Somalia, December 1993.” U.S. Department of the Army, 17 Dec. 1993. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. West, Sunguta. “Somalia’s ICU and its Roots in al-Ittihad al-Islami.” Terrorism Monitor 4, no. 15 (August 4, 2006). Web. 28 Mar. 2016. Loewenstein, Lara. “Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya and Political Islam in Somalia.” The SAIS Europe Journal, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016. “Appendix C: Background Information on Other Terrorist Groups.” U.S. State Department, 30 Apr. 2003. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

[3] “Appendix C: Background Information on Other Terrorist Groups.” U.S. State Department, 30 Apr. 2003. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Ploch, Lauren. “Countering Terrorism in East Africa: The U.S. Response.” Congressional Research Service, 3 Nov. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

 

Major Attacks

Disclaimer: These are some selected major attacks in the militant organization's history. It is not a comprehensive listing but captures some of the most famous attacks or turning points during the campaign.

January 1992: AIAI members killed a female UNICEF doctor in the Somali city of Bosasso as she was drinking tea at an outdoor café. (1 killed, 0 wounded)[1]

July 1992: AIAI members targeted the offices of an international relief organization in the city of Marka with a rocket-propelled grenade. (0 killed, 0 wounded)[2]

1993: AIAI and Al Qaeda allegedly cooperated in an attack on U.S. soldiers in Somalia. (18 killed, unknown wounded)[3]

May 1995: AIAI conducted a grenade attack on a market in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. (15 killed, unknown wounded)[4]

January 1996: AIAI claimed responsibility for a hotel bombing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (6 killed, 20 wounded)[5]

February 1996: AIAI claimed responsibility for a hotel bombing in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. (1 killed, 3 wounded)[6]

February 1996: AIAI claimed responsibility for the assassination of General Hayelom Araya, the head of Operations in the Ethiopian Ministry of Defence, although the Ethiopian government accused Eritrean agents of perpetrating the attack. (1 killed, 0 wounded)[7]

July 1996: AIAI attempted to assassinate Ethiopia's Minister of Transport, Abdul-Mejid Hussein. (0 killed, 1 wounded)[8]

August 5, 1996: The Wabe Shebelle Hotel in Addis Ababa suffered a bombing attack. The Ethiopian government accused AIAI of perpetrating the bombing. (2 killed, 11 injured)[9]

August 11, 1996: Suspected members of AIAI shot and killed two Ethiopian businessmen in the Somali city of Beledweyne, reportedly in retaliation for Ethiopia’s military actions in Somalia earlier that month. (2 killed, 0 wounded)[10]

December 24, 1996: AIAI clashed with Ethiopian forces in the border region between Somalia and Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Defense Ministry accused AIAI of attacking across Somalia’s border into Ethiopia, while AIAI accused Ethiopia of occupying a Somali town. (unknown killed, unknown wounded)[11]


[1] Bryden, Matt. “No Quick Fixes: Coming to Terms with Terrorism, Islam, and Statelessness in Somalia.” The Journal of Conflict Studies 23, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 24-56.

[2] Bryden, Matt. “No Quick Fixes: Coming to Terms with Terrorism, Islam, and Statelessness in Somalia.” The Journal of Conflict Studies 23, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 24-56.

[3] “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

[4] Bryden, Matt. “No Quick Fixes: Coming to Terms with Terrorism, Islam, and Statelessness in Somalia.” The Journal of Conflict Studies 23, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 24-56.

[5] “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.}} {{Rabasa, Angel, et al. Beyond al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2006.

[6] “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Rabasa, Angel, et al. Beyond al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2006.

[7] Bryden, Matt. “No Quick Fixes: Coming to Terms with Terrorism, Islam, and Statelessness in Somalia.” The Journal of Conflict Studies 23, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 24-56.

[8] Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Peter Chalk. “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

[9] Bryden, Matt. “No Quick Fixes: Coming to Terms with Terrorism, Islam, and Statelessness in Somalia.” The Journal of Conflict Studies 23, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 24-56.

[10] Bryden, Matt. “No Quick Fixes: Coming to Terms with Terrorism, Islam, and Statelessness in Somalia.” The Journal of Conflict Studies 23, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 24-56.

[11] “Issue Paper SOMALIA CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS APRIL 1995 - JANUARY 1997.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, February 1997. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

 

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

    Designated/Listed
  • Designated/Listed
  • Community Relations
  • Relationships with Other Groups
  • State Sponsors and External Influences

Designated/Listed

The United States, United Kingdom, and United Nations designated AIAI as a terrorist organization after 1997.

  • U.S. State Department Foreign Terrorist Organizations: September 23, 2001 to Present[1]
  • UK Proscribed Terrorist Organisations: October 2005 to Present[2]
  • United Nations ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List: October 6, 2001 to Present[3]

[1] “Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001.” U.S. Department of State. May 2002. Web. 7 Feb. 2019. <https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/10319.pdf>.

[2] “Proscribed Terrorist Organisations.” United Kingdom Home Office. 20 Aug. 2014. Web. 7 Feb. 2019. <https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa....

[3] “ISIL (Da'esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List.” United Nations Security Council. 19 Nov. 2018. Web. 7 Feb. 2019. <https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list>.

 

Community Relations

Between 1984 and 1991, AIAI membership grew substantially among Somalia’s disadvantaged populations. AIAI disseminated its ideology through its members, who worked in the civil service as well as military and academic institutions. AIAI also supported the foundation of small businesses, which were established based on AIAI’s Wahhabi ideology. Although it was a generally nonviolent organization in its early stages, AIAI members clashed several times with Sufis in the mid-1980s because of the group’s opposition to Sufi practices. These clashes, which occurred in Mogadishu, sometimes involved fatalities.[1]

After the collapse of the Barre government in 1991, AIAI gained control of some areas of Somalia and functioned as a government. In the territory under its control, AIAI strictly enforced Shariah law and provided security. The group also established Islamic social programs, including orphanages and schools, as well as various banks, shopping centers, aid organizations, and other businesses. AIAI established Islamic courts and provided employment to many Somalis. Additionally, the group provided security escorts for the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) in return for large payments.[2]

Despite AIAI’s initial popularity, some Somali citizens disagreed with the group’s policies. In the Gedo region on Somalia’s border with Ethiopia, for example, residents resented AIAI’s strict enforcement of Shariah law, its prohibition on the carrying of weapons by citizens, and its ban against ghat, a popular semi-narcotic herb in Somalia.[3]


[1] Sii’arag, A. Duale. “The Birth and Rise of Al-Ittihad Al-Islami in the Somali Inhabited Regions in the Horn of Africa.” Maanhadal. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Loewenstein, Lara. “Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya and Political Islam in Somalia.” The SAIS Europe Journal, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

[2] “Appendix C: Background Information on Other Terrorist Groups.” U.S. State Department, 30 Apr. 2003. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Ploch, Lauren. “Countering Terrorism in East Africa: The U.S. Response.” Congressional Research Service, 3 Nov. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. Sii’arag, A. Duale. “The Birth and Rise of Al-Ittihad Al-Islami in the Somali Inhabited Regions in the Horn of Africa.” Maanhadal. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

[3] Terdman, Moshe. "Somalia at War-Between Radical Islam and Tribal Politics," The S. Daniel Abraham Center for International and Regional Studies, March 2008. Web. Accessed 10 July 2013.

 

Relationships with Other Groups

AIAI allegedly maintained ties to Al Qaeda. Senior AIAI leaders, including Hassan Dahir Aweys and Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki, were closely linked to Al Qaeda members. AIAI received funds, training, and logistical support from Al Qaeda, with Osama bin Laden himself allegedly contributing up to $3 million. Bin Laden reportedly dispatched Al Qaeda members to Somalia in the early 1990s to assist AIAI in organizing its fighters and establishing local social services. Additionally, members of AIAI and Al Qaeda cooperated on at least one attack, and AIAI fighters may have assisted Al Qaeda in bombing U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998.[1]

After the collapse of the Barre regime in 1991, AIAI allied with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in its fight to control Ethiopia’s Ogaden region. The alliance began in the early 1990s when ONLF members fleeing Ethiopia received protection from AIAI in Somalia. The two groups cooperated in launching attacks on Ethiopian targets, especially soldiers, with AIAI providing funding for those attacks. The ONLF and AIAI maintained a close relationship until AIAI’s collapse in 1997.

After its collapse in 1997, many of its former members joined and led new militant jihadi organizations. The Islamic Courts Union (ICU), for example, was heavily influenced by AIAI members when it emerged in the early 2000s, and Hassan Dahir Aweys served as a prominent leader of the group. Because several Somali militant groups contained a high concentration of former AIAI members, those groups were sometimes called AIAI, even though AIAI did not exist as a cohesive militant organization after 1997.[2]


[1] “Terrorism in the Horn of Africa.” Special Report 113, United States Institute of Peace, January 2004. 30 Mar. 2016. Marquardt, Erich. “Al-Qaeda’s Threat to Ethiopia.” Terrorism Monitor 3, no. 3 (May 5, 2005). Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

[2] “US Department of the Army: Analysis of Somalia, December 1993.” U.S. Department of the Army, 17 Dec. 1993. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Page, Jacqueline. “Jihadi Arena Report: Somalia - Development of Radical Islamism and Current Implications.” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. West, Sunguta. “Somalia’s ICU and its Roots in al-Ittihad al-Islami.” Terrorism Monitor 4, no. 15 (August 4, 2006). Web. 28 Mar. 2016. “Issue Paper SOMALIA CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS APRIL 1995 - JANUARY 1997.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, February 1997. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Associated Press. “Explosion in Ethiopian Hotel Kills 1.” The Intelligencer, 12 Sept. 2002. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Yan, Holly. “What is Al-Shabaab, and what does it want?”. CNN, 2 Apr. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. Chazan, David. “Who are al-Ittihad?”. BBC News, 30 Nov. 2002. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

 

State Sponsors and External Influences

AIAI’s only reported external influence was the Sudanese government, from which the group received funding, training, and weapons. Sudan may have also allowed AIAI members to maintain safe houses and training facilities in Khartoum and surrounding areas. Specific details about the duration and extent of the relationship between AIAI and Sudan are not known.[1]


[1] “Al-Ittihad Al-Islam (AIAI).” Mackenzie Institute, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

 

Maps

The project develops a series of interactive diagrams that “map” relationships amonggroups and show how those relationships change over time. The user can change map settings to display different features (e.g., leadership changes), adjust the time scale, and trace individual groups.