It has been a particularly rough week for al-Shabab. The al
Qaeda-affiliated Islamist militia that has been battling for control of Somalia
for the past few years has suffered three major setbacks in the course of a few
Just last month, prominent al-Shabab-affiliated cleric Sheikh Aboud Rogo was fingered in a leaked UN report on Somalia as a key
recruiter for the group in East Africa with strong ties to al Qaeda. On the
morning of Aug. 27, he
was shot in his car along with several members of his family as they drove
through Mombasa, Kenya.
No assailants have been identified, but crowds of thousands
of Rogo's outraged supporters have taken in the streets of Mombasa to protest
his death. At least one person has been
reported dead so far and two churches have been vandalized by mobs, Jeune Afrique reported.
According to the U.N. report, Rogo was a
key figure in the leadership of the Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) -- also known as
Al-Hijra -- one of al-Shabab's main support networks in Kenya:
"The MYC relies heavily on the ideological
guidance of prominent Kenyan Islamist extremists including Sheikh Aboud Rogo, a
radical cleric based in Mombasa, Kenya, known associate of member of Al-Qaida
East Africa and advocate of the violent overthrow of the Kenyan government. In
consultation with Rogo, MYC has not only changed its name, but reorganized its
membership and finances in order to permit its organization, the Pumwani
Riyadha Mosque Committee (PRMC) in Nairobi, to continue funding Al Shabab."
Only a few days before Rogo's death, the U.N. Security
Council announced that it was implementing
targeted sanctions against Abubaker Shariff Ahmed, another Mombasa-based Kenyan
national with deep links to al-Shabab.
Ahmed has been in prison for over two years in Kenya for his involvement
in a grenade attack on a Nairobi bus depot that killed three.
According to the Security Council resolution, Ahmed has six known aliases
and is "a close associate of Aboud Rogo." Rogo's name is the only one mentioned
in the Security Council resolution
condemning Ahmed. Both men were placed under sanctions by the U.S. at the same time
on July 5, 2012.
Also on the morning of Aug. 27, the AFP reported
that African Union AMISOM troops captured the coastal al-Shabab stronghold of
"The loss of Marka,
some 70 kilometres (45 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu, is another major
blow for the insurgents, who have been on the back foot for several months."
Al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu, the Somali
capital, last year and has suffered number of further defeats over the past
several months. However, they still maintain control of the two port cities of
Barawe and Kismayo, their main stronghold.
Whether these events represent different strands
of a coordinated regional crackdown on al-Shabab activities or whether the
group is encountering a rather startling wave bad luck remains unclear.
SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images