More than Survival: The Role of al-Shabaab Secret Service, Amniyat, in Information-Gathering

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Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 22, Issue 1 (2023)


al-Shabaab, Amniyat, intelligence, security, Somalia


The article examines the development and employment of the al-Shabaab secret service, Amniyat, in its fight against African Union troops and security forces in Somalia. It first elaborates on the historical background of the terrorist group, which may serve as an introduction to understanding the roots of the organization and how its resurgence is tied to the effective management of Amniyat. The governance structure and intelligence activities of the terror group are also scrutinized. The study then analyzes the capacities and capabilities of the al-Shabaab intelligence apparatus, highlighting the elements that have contributed to its efficiency. In light of the growing importance of intelligence and counter-intelligence, the development of a secret service proved to be crucial for the survival of the terrorist group. Over the last decade, not only has al-Shabaab survived but also managed to thrive, presenting a number of obstacles to better-equipped multinational forces and the international community. Even if al-Shabaab were to be defeated, Amniyat could outlast its dissolution and may be “reborn” in various entities or merge into a criminal network.