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Title:Shifting the battleground: the transformation of Al-Shabab and the growing influence of Al-Qaeda in East Africa and the Horn
Author:Agbiboa, DanielISNI
Periodical:Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies (ISSN 1470-1014)
Geographic terms:Somalia
East Africa
Northeast Africa
Subjects:Islamic movements
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/02589346.2015.1005791
Abstract:The article sheds light on a two-dimensional explanation of the transformation of Al-Shabab from a Somalian nationalist organization to a global terrorist group. Following James Piazza's insights, these dimensions are characterized as 'universal/abstract' versus 'strategic' discourse to explain this phenomenon. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a discourse points to a narrative of 'particularistic' and 'symbolic'. The key argument is that Al-Shabab transformed from a 'particularistic' (Somali nationalist) and 'strategic' (violence as a means to an end) group into a 'universal' group that used 'symbolic' violence (as an end in-and-of-itself) because of its interaction and collaboration with Al-Qaeda that espouses a 'universal/abstract' ideology and uses 'symbolic' violence. The article further argues that Al-Shabab's Somali nationalism fits within Al-Qaeda's ideology of restoring Islamic power globally, and as such a proverbial rolling back foreign influence constructed as Western generally and USA in particular. Although the aims of the Westgate attack were decidedly local - to drive out forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia - the article submits that the attack nevertheless points to Al-Shabab's growing capability to shift the battlegrounds and strike at enemy targets outside Somalia. This may also indicate Al-Shabab's evolution as a transnational terrorist group with deepening ties to Al-Qaeda and its global jihadist movement. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]