Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Asafa Jalata

Committee Members

Jon Shefner, Michelle Christian


The rise of Al Shabaab was achieved primarily in three ways. The first way was through the power granted to them as the militant wing of the Islamic Courts Union.Governmental legitimacy allowed them to enforce sharia law throughout Somalia, and this was reinforced even further as they were able to fend off Ethiopia's invasion.Secondly, they were able to surpass tribal affiliations and use Islam as the rallying tool to organize, and gain support in the faced of a growing secular government. Lastly, Al Shabaab created alliances that provided them with logistical and financial support, to include Eritrea, Al Qaeda, foreign sympathizers, and displaced Somalis who fled previously, but were returning to support the organization. However, the aforementioned collective action caused problems. As power was gained, it was abused, and innocent civilians became casualties of their struggle to maintain legitimacy. Also, as allies increased from outside of Somalia, a movement that was once based on nationalism became elevated to one with international implications, causing internal strife between its members. Also, increased violence has made them more of a target for stronger forces that seek to destroy any forms of fundamental terrorism.

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