The study aimed to determine whether Al-Shabaab’s affiliation to Al-Qaeda contributes to its capacity to instigate mass casualty attacks. In doing so, the study analysed the number of attacks instigated by Al-Itihad Al-Islamiya (AIAI), the Islamic Courts Union and Al-Shabaab between 1992 and 2017 in light of their respective attack, target and weapon type in comparison to Al-Qaeda from data obtained from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) by means of a statistical descriptive analysis. The performance of these terrorist organisations was considered against the absence of key members that constitute the affiliatory network between Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda. Particular attention was paid to the social capital in the form of tactical skills Al-Qaeda imparted to AIAI members who proceeded to be members of ICU and Al-Shabaab, and the impact they had on their organisations. The study finds that members of Al-Shabaab with ties to Al-Qaeda from the early 90s became highly skilled militants who occupied prominent positions as founders and senior leaders of Al-Shabaab, with considerable influence in directing the nature of Al-Shabaab’s attacks to be similar to Al-Qaeda’s attacks. Not only did this provide evidence of the tactical impact of the affiliation between Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda, but in the absence of these key members the former demonstrated increasing capacity to instigate mass casualty attacks. This indicated further distribution of Al-Qaeda inspired social capital from key members of the network to the rest of their affiliates, that continues to exist long after their elimination. The study therefore considered this to be a significant contributing factor to the capacity of Al-Shabaab to instigate mass casualty attacks.
Mini Dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2019.