Somalia's ICU Declares Holy War on Ethiopia

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 3 Issue: 40
October 17, 2006 04:04 PM Age: 9 yrs
Category: Terrorism Focus, Brief, Africa

After training its veteran fighters and newly-recruited students on jihadi tactics, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Mogadishu has declared a holy war on Ethiopia. On October 9, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad, the ICU leader who is seen as a moderate, emerged in the international press clutching an AK-47 rifle and donning a military jacket in a characteristic appearance often associated with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The declaration of a holy war came after the ICU accused Ethiopian troops of attacking the town of Bur Haqaba on the Mogadishu-Baidoa road.


The purpose of declaring a jihad against Ethiopia—a country that has a 45-50% Muslim population—is to provide religiously-indoctrinated Somalis the motivation to fight Ethiopian troops. The ICU announced on September 19 that they were recruiting and training students for holy war in order to defend Somalia against Ethiopian incursions. It is believed that a sizeable number of jihadis that may be used to fight Ethiopian troops could come from student recruits. If students become the foot soldiers of jihad, it will again raise similarities between the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the ICU in Somalia. There have already been accusations that Arab and Pakistani veterans from the Afghan jihad against the Soviets are in Somalia and are helping to train and indoctrinate segments of the Somali population (Somaliland Times, October 10). These reports, however, have not been proven and the ICU denies them.


The Somali press last month quoted ICU education official Fuad Mohammed Kalaf as saying that the Islamists will teach students military tactics for the purpose of defending Somalia. The students are seen as ideal for this role because they can be easily indoctrinated and are energetic followers. In response to questions regarding this policy, he said, "There is nothing wrong with our plan to train students. There are a lot of countries in the world that carry out such exercises." Kalaf said that the training camps had been opened in Mogadishu and that the ICU plans on recruiting students when they are on their school vacations (Shabelle Media Network, September 18). The ICU has asserted that recruitment is voluntary, but observers point out that the ICU has framed the conflict with Ethiopia in religious terms, making it difficult for students to resist enlistment.


These developments show that the ICU is working rapidly to increase its ranks and to add a group of radical and passionate fighters who will be useful in any large confrontation with Ethiopia. Reports that there are Ethiopian soldiers in Baidoa protecting the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have continued to anger the ICU and have increased the possibility of an outbreak in major fighting. In the event of renewed clashes, it is unlikely that Baidoa would easily fall to the ICU. The invincibility of the ICU is starting to come into doubt as resistance to its advancement increases.




    Donate to Jamestown 

    Support Jamestown



    Breaking News:

    Ukraine’s Security Challenges in the East and Military Reform

    July 15, 2015 02:00 PM


    On July 27, 2015, The Jamestown Foundation hosted former Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense, Admiral Ihor Kabanenko, and Vice President of Kyiv-based high-technology firm KM Core, Bohdan Kupych....

    Cat: Event
    go to Archive ->

    Media Appearances 

    Jamestown President Glen Howard Interviewed by Daily Beast

    August 24, 2015

    Jamestown Foundation President Glen E. Howard was interviewed on August 23, 2015, by the Daily Beast about Russian counterterrorism efforts and coordination between the FSB and FBI.

    Category: Media Appearance

    Jamestown Analyst Pavel Baev Quoted in Politico

    August 21, 2015

    Long-time Russia expert and Jamestown analyst Pavel K. Baev was quoted in an August 18 article of Politico regarding the state of Russia's military reforms, industry and capabilities.

    Category: Media Appearance

    Previous Articles

    Connect with us