World #2 – Al-Shabab terrorists attack US military base in Somalia

(from The Washington Post by Max Bearak, with ABC News and CBS News)  Al-Shabab, a Somali Islamic terrorist organization affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed two attacks in Somalia on Monday, both targeting Western forces backing the government.

The U.S. Africa Command and the Somali government said no coalition members were injured or killed, but the brazenness of the attacks highlighted the insurgent group’s continued ability to destabilize the country. Al-Shabab is affiliated with al-Qaeda.

One attack, apparently led by an explosives-laden vehicle and followed by foot soldiers, took place at the gates of Baledogle airfield, where the U.S. military stations drones used to attack al-Shabab targets and trains Somali troops.

Map of the attacks in Somalia.

The second took place in the capital, Mogadishu, and involved the bombing of an Italian military convoy returning to base from a training exercise as part of a European Union training mission in Somalia.

“This attack, though ineffective, demonstrates the direct threat al-Shabaab poses to Americans, our allies, and interests in the region,” said Maj. Gen. William Gayler, U.S. Africa Command director of operations.

In response, U.S. forces carried out two airstrikes and engaged in small-arms fire with militants, killing 10, U.S. Africa Command said in a statement Monday.

Italy’s Defense Ministry said none of its troops were injured in the Mogadishu attack. Somalia’s deputy interior minister, Aden Isak, said the “failed attack” on the airfield in Baledogle resulted only in the deaths of al-Shabab fighters.

The U.S. base at Baledogle was recently expanded and is central to the U.S. military’s Somalia strategy, which largely relies on training Somali special forces and using drones to strike al-Shabab targets.

The U.S. military has conducted 55 airstrikes in Somalia this year, killing more than 300 fighters and continuing an upward year-on-year trend since President Trump relaxed rules of engagement in early 2017. The United States has 650 to 800 Defense Department personnel in Somalia, according to U.S. Africa Command.

The base is in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, where al-Shabab is most active.

Al-Shabab has waged what amounts to a guerrilla war against the Somali government…since it was dislodged from many of southern Somalia’s cities in 2011. The group now controls only rural areas in the south, but it regularly attacks Somali cities. It seeks to take over the government and impose a strict version of Islamic (Sharia) law.

Most analysts put the number of al-Shabab fighters somewhere just short of 10,000, although the true number is hard to discern, as many of the group’s members blend into civilian life. The group has carried out near-daily attacks across Somalia this year, killing more than 1,600 Somalis, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

From washingtonpost .com, with ABC News and CBS News. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The Washington Post.


1. For SOMALIA, give the following information:

  1. capital
  2. location/the countries that share its borders
  3. the religious breakdown of the population
  4. the type of government
  5. the chief of state (and head of government if different) If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? – include name of heir apparent for monarch
  6. the population

Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.

NOTE: Before answering the following questions watch the videos under “Resources” below.

a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) How does the U.S. military use the Belidogle airstrip base? (For what purpose is it used?)
c) How did the U.S. respond to the attacks?
d) How many airstrikes has the U.S. conducted against al Shabab this year?
e) What is al-Shabab’s goal?
f) The Washington Post reported on Aug. 30:
“Interviews with a dozen business owners in Mogadishu reveal al-Shabab’s quickly growing ability to tax the country’s most lucrative businesses (‘pay up or we kill you’), which analysts and former government officials say earns the group tens of millions of dollars per year, which it uses to fund its attacks on government and military targets, as well as on those who refuse to pay up.
What do you think is the best way to deal with al-Shabab? (pull all U.S. military out and let the Somalis deal with the terrorists themselves, continue training Somali forces while giving air support, take a more ‘hands-on’ approach and initiate a much more intense campaign to completely wipe them out, OR…)? Explain your answer.

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