Al Shabaab is one of the century’s most successful violent jihadist movements. It has governing power, ruling over millions of Somalis and vast swathes of territory, and kinetic power, committing spectacular acts of violence. But what lies behind the headlines and the bloodshed? Who are Al Shabaab, and why do people join? How does this organisation govern, educate and indoctrinate?
Reporting on Somalia for twenty-five years, Mary Harper has gained extraordinary access to members of Al Shabaab—and, disturbingly, they in turn have access to her. In this engrossing book, she paints the complex picture of life for ordinary people in the group’s shadow—stories of tremendous loss, unbearable compromise, and unexpected profit. She reveals a resilient movement with many faces, and discovers that it can be difficult to know where Al Shabaab begins, and where it ends.
Mary Harper, the BBC Africa Editor, has reported on Africa and from its conflict zones for a quarter-century. The author of Getting Somalia Wrong?, she has served as an expert witness and advised the European Commission on the Horn of Africa, and contributes to The Times, The Guardian and The Economist.