The Jihadist Next Door

I would like to recommend this interesting and scary account of an American member of the Islamic group Shabab, which is trying to overthrow the ineffective, UN-determined transitional government in order to establish an Islamic state in Somalia.

The U.S. is inextricably linked to the chaos in Somalia, and not just because Shabab has ties to Al Qaeda. During the Bush administration, an group or federation known as the Council of Islamic Courts took control of the country and established a modicum of stability. Concerned that the emerging Islamic government might come to support terrorism, the U.S. backed an Ethiopian invasion which reestablished the transitional government. I consider that to decision to be a terrible one with long term implications both for the safety of the U.S., and the chances of a stable, non-violent Somalia. Somalia and Ethiopia have a very antagonistic relationship (on account of religious differences, and territory disputes, among other things) and the presence of Ethiopian troops created the conditions for the rise of a publicly-supported militant Islamic insurgency. Long story short, Shabab is the militant faction of the Council of Islamic Courts which controls much of the country and is fighting the transitional goverment. As the NYT article makes clear, Shabab is scary but they are also appealing to more than 2 dozen young Americans who have traveled to Somalia to become a part of their jihad.

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