Al Shabab’s Last Stand?

The Group Will Crumble—but Its Message Will Survive

Somali government soldiers walk near the wreckage of a suicide car bombing in Mogadishu, September 8, 2014. Feisal Omar / Courtesy Reuters

Last week’s deadly U.S. strike on Ahmed Abdi Godane, the leader of the Somalia-based Islamist militant group al Shabab, could be the group’s undoing. Although the organization was quick to name a successor, Godane’s death has thrown it into disarray, casting serious doubts on its future. Although that augurs well for Somalia, the region is not out of the woods. Al Shabab’s extremist ideology has already taken root across East Africa. Without further action against al Shabab and groups like it, militant Islam will only spread further.  


For years, al Shabab was guided by a small council of leaders who formed the group’s strategy and appointed its emir. That started to change with Godane, also known as Abu Zubayr, who was chosen as the top leader in 2008. He ruled the militant group like a dictator, marginalizing the council, crushing internal dissent, and even killing

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